When it comes to space exploration, the last couple decades have been pretty tough going for Russia. Now, leaked documents have revealed the country's plan for getting back on the path to deep space success — and holy crap, is it ambitious.
RIA Novosti reports that the plans were submitted to the Russian government earlier this week by the country's space agency, Roscosmos. The strategic document reportedly provides a step-by-step, 18-year plan for rebooting the country's space industry, a task that will involve the design of brand new spacecraft, and launching numerous missions to destinations throughout the solar system.
According to the proposal, mission objectives include sending probes to Jupiter and Venus, deploying a permanent network of research stations on the surface of Mars, and conducting "a demonstrative manned circumlunar test flight, with the subsequent landing of cosmonauts on [the Moon's] surface."
And remember: this is all scheduled to take place before 2030.
If it sounds to you like Roscosmos is aiming high with this strategy, that's because it is (Russia has announced lofty plans for space exploration in the past, but this is evidently the first time the country has set an actual deadline on something as ambitious as a manned lunar mission); but this is precisely the kind of determination that Russia will need if it wants to "solidify its position" among the world's top space powers, as the document claims.
Russia's had a pretty abysmal string of luck in the way of deep space exploration missions, and Vladimir Putin has made it clear that the country does not aim to play the role of "international space ferryman" forever (in reference to the country's assistance to shutting astronauts to and from the ISS). Finally succeeding at not just one, but several, deep space missions would be an enormous boon — not just to Russia's status as a space-faring nation, but to the country's morale in general. [RIA Novosti; The Guardian]