A Friday story in the Huffington Post suggests that Russia’s territorial ambitions, so well illustrated in the takeover of the Crimea from the Ukraine, is not limited to the surface of the Earth. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin suggested that his country is planning to build a base on the moon. He is quoted as saying, “We are coming to the moon forever.”
The remarks were made as Russian President Vladimir Putin was touring the Cosmonautics Memorial Museum in Moscow in advance of the Cosmonaut Day celebration on April 12. The celebration commemorates the first orbital space flight of Yuri Gagarin in 1961. It is celebrated in the West as “Yuri’s Night.”
Gagarin’s first space flight shocked the United States, inspiring President John F. Kennedy to issue the challenge to land a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Just over eight years later the flight of Apollo 11 fulfilled that challenge when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked in the moon. The last Apollo lunar voyage took place in 1972 and humans have not been back to the moon since. Two presidents named Bush have tried to restart deep space exploration, including a return to the moon. President Obama cancelled the last American lunar effort, Project Constellation, in 2010, according to Fox News.
Russia’s lunar ambitions begin with a series of unmanned probes scheduled to start in 2016. Its manned lunar effort is apparently going to be conducted as a marathon, rather than as a sprint as occurred in the 1960s. Rogozin suggested that the Russian lunar base would be established in 2040, 26 years hence.