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Putin lays out priorities of Russia’s space program on Cosmonautics Day

Russian President Vladimir Putin visiting the Cosmos pavilion at the all-Russian Center of Achievements of the National Economy (VDNKh) in Moscow on April 12, 2018.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visiting the Cosmos pavilion at the all-Russian Center of Achievements of the National Economy (VDNKh) in Moscow on April 12, 2018. Photo Credit:

Russian President Vladimir Putin made remarks regarding essential elements of his nation’s space program on Thursday, April 12, when the country celebrated Cosmonautics Day.

Cosmonautics Day in Russia celebrates the anniversary of Yuri Gagarin becoming the first person to orbit the Earth. For Russian officials, the day is considered to be the perfect occasion to recall the achievements of the country’s space program – and to outline potential future goals.

This year, Putin visited the Cosmos pavilion at the all-Russian Center of Achievements of the National Economy (VDNKh) in Moscow, where he made remarks about Russia’s future space exploration plans. In one of his first statements, Putin declared when the first tests of a new super-heavy rocket will be carried out.

“The super-heavy rocket, the first trial is planned in 10 years,” Putin said.

These tests are currently planned to be conducted at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East. However, Putin added that in order to perform these trials, a special infrastructure is needed there, including a dedicated launch compound.

“One more launch pad needs to be created at the Vostochny Space Launch Center,” the Russian president acknowledged.

Putin went on to note that work on the rocket and the launch site required to support it – should be carried out simultaneously.

“When we discussed all these issues, we agreed that one project should be synchronized with the other, so that we can have the launch pads and rockets simultaneously. Otherwise it makes no sense,” Putin said.

Answering questions from cosmonauts, including Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, Putin also promised to push ahead with the nation’s lunar program. He noted that the first step of a crewed mission to the Moon by 2030 is creating a space station in lunar orbit. He was referring to the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway – an international cislunar space station.

“A Moon orbiter will come first. Then modules on the Moon itself will emerge. At least that is what the plans are. I hope they will come true,” Putin revealed.

The Russian president added that the super-heavy rocket is planned to play a major role in Russia’s lunar program as well as the next-generation spacecraft known as “Federation.” RKK Energia, the spacecraft’s manufacturer, plans to complete the construction of the first vessel by 2021.

In addition to remarks regarding the super-heavy rocket and lunar program, Putin also told the crowd that Russia has no intention of withdrawing from international cooperation in space. The statement came when tensions between Moscow and the West are rising and there are concerns that this growing tension could jeopardize international space projects, like the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway.

“We are not going to upset anything or to quit these programs. We are determined to complete them. We have partners in the exploration of Mars and the Moon – the United States, Canada, Japan, and the European Union,” Putin said.





Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

Reader Comments

It would be a Greek tragedy if the International Space Station proved to be the last joint space effort involving the U.S. and Russia. I’m old enough to remember how former NASA and then-Soviet cosmonauts gave their blessings to the ISS back in 1993. I was excited when Krikalev flew STS-60 in ’94 and, a year later, Thagard rode a Soyuz to Mir. 25 years on and we are witnessing the worst of geopolitical posturing. Our choice is plain: either humans will keep pushing outwards or shrivel up and eke out a mediocre existence on a soon-to-be overpopulated and polluted world.

I don’t understand what the purpose of the ‘Gateway’ is nor why it is needed. It seems to me to be an extra and unnecessary step before setting up a base on the Moon.
Can someone please explain why it’s needed?

From Nasa web site: This first phase of exploration near the moon will use current technologies and allow us to gain experience with extended operations farther from Earth than previously completed. These missions enable NASA to develop new techniques and apply innovative approaches to solving problems in preparation for longer-duration missions far from Earth.

In addition to demonstrating the safe operation of the integrated SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft, the agency is also looking to build a crew tended spaceport in lunar orbit within the first few missions that would serve as a gateway to deep space and the lunar surface. This deep space gateway would have a power bus, a small habitat to extend crew time, docking capability, an airlock, and serviced by logistics modules to enable research. The propulsion system on the gateway mainly uses high power electric propulsion for station keeping and the ability to transfer among a family of orbits in the lunar vicinity. The three primary elements of the gateway, the power and propulsion bus and habitat module, and a small logistics module(s), would take advantage of the cargo capacity of SLS and crewed deep space capability of Orion. An airlock can further augment the capabilities of the gateway and can fly on a subsequent exploration mission, Building the deep space gateway will allow engineers to develop new skills and test new technologies that have evolved since the assembly of the International Space Station. The gateway will be developed, serviced, and utilized in collaboration with commercial and international partners.

“I envision different partners, both international and commercial, contributing to the gateway and using it in a variety of ways with a system that can move to different orbits to enable a variety of missions,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The gateway could move to support robotic or partner missions to the surface of the moon, or to a high lunar orbit to support missions departing from the gateway to other destinations in the solar system.”

Space should be explored together as one. Leave the politics on earth with the politicians etc…

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