Russia is launching an ambitious series of missions to the Red Planet, starting with an unmanned Mars mission in 2019, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview, according to RT.
“We are planning unmanned and later manned launches into deep space, as part of a lunar program and for Mars exploration. The closest mission is very soon, we are planning to launch a mission to Mars in 2019,” the president said in an interview shown in a new documentary by Andrey Kondrashov.
He added that the lunar exploration program would target the polar regions of the moon.
“Our specialists will try landing near the poles because there are reasons to expect water there. There is research to be done there, and from that, research of other planets and outer space can be undertaken,” Putin said.
The plans for Russia’s lunar program include a landing test at moons’ southern pole scheduled for 2019, testing technology that can be used for a permanent lunar outpost in 2023 and a soil retrieval mission in 2025. A base on the moon may be established sometime in the 2040s or 2050s.
Russia has not attempted any Martian missions since the failed launch of Phobos-Grunt in 2011, but has collaborated with other nations. The 2016 Schiaparelli EDM lander mission was part of a joint program by Russia’s Roscosmos and the European Space Agency, and utilized a Russian rocket.