technologies can put cosmonauts on Moon
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei
Despite Russia’s 30-fold disadvantage in
financing its space effort as compared with America’s, it has greater chances
of being the first in reaching the Moon this time, or perhaps the Mars.
The paradox is that the Americans have put
all their money in the transport system being developed by NASA (the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration) and its budgetary division.
According to an article in the influential
newspaper “The Washington Post” of November 24, the American president’s
program of space research is having serious financial difficulties. Budgeted
sums are just not enough. Most of them have been spent on upgrading the space
shuttle system and looking for causes of the Columbia disaster of February 1,
2003. Reports also say that the idea is mooted to abandon the shuttle program
altogether and save money for lunar and Martian missions.
But such a step is unlikely to meet the
emerging deficit in NASA’s budget, which may grow to $6 billion at the peak of
preparations (2006-2010) for interplanetary expeditions. Only extra cash
injections can allow the agency to develop and build a new generation manned
spacecraft by 2012 that is necessary for a lunar mission scheduled by President
Bush for 2020. At the moment, however, the White House is flatly refusing to
commit any more money to the space effort.
It appears that American astronautics is
hostage to fortune, in fact, to one of its own programs, or rather to the
enormous sums sunk into its implementation.
However, the odds are that it is neither
shuttle craft, which can be operational for a long interim period, nor the
overspending, that are plaguing ambitious American space projects. The likeliest
explanation is the sheer size of the task that keeps NASA from focusing on
specific projects and grasping how much it needs to spend on each of them.
Meanwhile, Russian technologies, despite
falling well behind in financing terms, promise to put cosmonauts on the
Moon’s surface in seven to nine years’ time, with the whole exercise to cost
no more than $2 billion. “We could bring about a landing,” said Nikolai
Sevastyanov, president of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, “as early
as 2012-2014 by using the technology of Soyuz-type spacecraft. If we had a $2
billion program, we could land on the Moon after mounting only three
It is believed in the corporation that the
first step should be to fly round the Moon, then try a circular orbit and land a
lunar module, and only then to put a man on its surface. The Energia chief
emphasized: “a mission to the Moon can be financed only by the state, but no
such task is set yet.”
But if the need arises, Russia already has
the first launch of its space shuttle “Kliper” scheduled for 2012. “The
first regular lift-off is scheduled for 2012, while a complete transport system
will be in place by 2015. The “Kliper” will be able to orbit and deorbit
payloads between 500 kilograms and 1.5 tons. It can carry a crew of six: two
trained cosmonauts and four untrained ‘civilians’,” noted Sevastyanov.