It's been an exciting few years for proponents of space exploration. NASA's roadmap to Mars, the success of New Horizons and Rosetta, China's expanding space capability, and now this - Russia and the ESA collaborating to put astronauts on the Moon by the end of the 2020s.
It's going to take a lot of work to get there - lifter technology needs dusting off, a lunar lander needs to be built, tested in LEO, tested in translunar flight (and possibly an unmanned landing) before finally the astronauts take humanity's first steps back on the Moon since 1972.
From there? Roscosmos and ESA scientists are certainly proponents of colonisation, with plans to collaborate with China for a station in lunar orbit and potentially even colonies on the lunar surface. And all this may serve to spur the USA's space ambitions ever higher, driving the political will and public support necessary to support NASA's ambitious plans for Mars.
Russia says it will launch a manned mission to the Moon in 2029, according to the Russian space agency, Roscosmos. A spacecraft for the venture is currently being built. Its maiden flight is expected to take place in 2021. Vladimir Solntsev, head of Roscomsos Energia, made the announcement on Tuesday, saying, “A manned flight to the moon and lunar landing is planned for 2029.” The spacecraft, specially designed to carry out missions to the moon, is being built in Moscow. Its first scheduled flight is due to take place in 2021, Sputnik reports. The subsequent plan will be for the spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station in 2023 and then send an unmanned mission to the Moon in 2025.