The Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) announced a ten-million ruble ($300,000) tender on Thursday to develop a blueprint of a heavy rocket-carrier that would be capable of carrying manned spacecraft to the moon, according to the official website that tracks state purchases.
According to the tender, the proposals, to be submitted before August 28, must lay out the details of the rocket-carrier itself as well as the ground systems. The project must be completed by May 31, 2013.
On July 18 Roscosmos’s head Vladimir Popovkin said that the country’s planned manned spacecraft capable of flights to the moon will not fly until 2018.
When produced, the new piloted spacecraft will replace the aging Soyuz craft on trips to the International Space Station, as well as fly to the moon.
The heavy moon rocket, which is expected to be launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Amur Region, will also be capable of landing with precision in an area just one-tenth the size of the current Soyuz, which uses a parachute system to land.
Russia’s RKK Energia Space Corporation won a tender in 2009 for the development of the future piloted spacecraft, to be built in several models and capable of flying to Earth and near-moon orbits, as well as picking up discarded satellites and large fragments of space junk.