MOSCOW, May 8 (RIA Novosti) – Russia has drafted a program for colonization of the moon, and plans to send the first expeditions to build a permanent lunar base in 2030, the Russian Izvestia daily said Thursday, citing an official document.
"The moon is a space object for the future exploration by terrestrial civilization, and a geopolitical competition for the Moon's natural resources may begin in the 21st century," said a report on a potential lunar program prepared by the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Roscosmos space agency and Moscow State University.
The program aims to build an inhabited moon base and testing ground by the middle of the century, which would allow mineral extraction on Earth's only natural satellite.
The project calls on developing a range of long-distance space technology to ensure the country can explore the moon independently from foreign partners. Earlier proposals for lunar exploration focused on strong international cooperation, as it was believed no single country could afford interplanetary projects on its own.
Russia will plan separate three- or four-year-long lunar projects for the next 16 years, according to the plan. The first four will take place between 2016 and 2025 and will focus on defining the physical and chemical composition of the moons south pole, where the future base will be sited. Space roundtrips are scheduled for 2028-30, and manned lunar exploration for 2030-40.
The first stage will cost the government 28.5 billion roubles ($800 million), Izvestia said.
Previous lunar expeditions, which started with the USSR's Luna program in 1959 and the US landing the first man on the Moon 10 years later, discovered aluminum, iron, titanium, rare earths and other minerals.