Spaceflight Insider

Russia plans to send crews to Moon regularly starting in 2025

Russia's Federation spacecraft at the moon.

An artist’s rendition of Russia’s “Federation” spacecraft at the Moon. Image Credit: Roscosmos

Russia plans to send cosmonauts to the Moon on a regular basis as soon as 2025, the Roscosmos State Corporation has recently revealed. According to Russian authorities, the country could carry out one or two launches yearly of its crewed spacecraft called “Federation”—currently in development—in order to transport people to lunar orbit.

This ambitious plan envisages the Federation spacecraft orbiting the Moon as well as humans landing on the lunar surface. Moreover, the project includes sending cosmonauts on a trip beyond the Moon’s orbit to the so-called Lagrangian points.

The first tests of the "Federation" spacecraft conducted on the ergonomic simulator.

The first tests of the “Federation” spacecraft conducted on the ergonomic simulator. Photo Credit: Energia RKK

The planned missions would be launched into space by Angara-A5P rockets. These 700-metric-ton boosters are currently being designed to launch Russian-crewed endeavors beyond Earth’s orbit. The Angara-A5P rocket would be a powerful launcher, capable of lifting up to 18 metric tons into low-Earth orbit (LEO).

Before Russia starts sending regular missions to Earth’s nearest celestial neighbor, it will need to conduct three test flights of the Federation spacecraft first. In 2021, an uncrewed launch from the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Far Eastern Amur region is planned to take place. Two years later, one uncrewed mission, as well as one crewed test mission, will be carried out.

The Federation spacecraft, which is being developed by RKK Energia, is expected to be finished in 2021. The company has just started the first tests of the vehicle as the spacecraft’s crew-machine interface elements were successfully examined on a unique ergonomic simulator in May of this year (2016). Launch, insertion, autonomous flight, and docking processes were checked out during these tests. The engineers also examined the flight phase toward an orbiting space station as well as circumlunar trajectories.

The results of the initial tests will now be verified and RKK Energia will make further decisions regarding the development of the spacecraft. The company will decide on implementing one or another of the interface elements.

Federation is expected to be Russia’s next-generation reusable spacecraft and is meant replace the country’s flagship Soyuz vessel. It should be capable of delivering people and cargo to the Moon and to space stations positioned in LEO. The name of the spacecraft was chosen in January 2016 through a public naming contest.

When complete, the vehicle will measure 20 feet (6.1 meters) in length and have a mass of approximately 14.4 metric tons when in flight to the International Space Station (ISS). The lunar version would have a mass of nearly five metric tons more.

The spacecraft should be capable of sending up to four cosmonauts to space as well as to be able to operate autonomously for up to 30 days, with the possibility of staying attached to the ISS for up to one year. The start of the construction of the vehicle is planned for this summer. It will cost Russia an estimated $734 million over the next six years.


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 is encouraging to see that both the Russian and Chinese space agencies have plans for their future manned spaceflight program.

Maybe NASA should try this too.

Russian space plans tend to be divorced from reality, though. To listen to them, they were supposed to have a moon base by now. In reality, they spent two decades just making a new rocket, Angara, with a modified Soviet engine.

NASA are planning to send people around the Moon in 2022

Ce sera un trésor grand jour, je suis très heureux pour la Grande Russie

I think you have the payload of the angara rocket wrong, 18 tonnes is less than proton or falcon 5. It would only be able to lift the spacecraft to LEO to go to the Moon would require an escape stage making the paypoad 4 times that.

Khrunichev lists 24 tonnes to LEO for A5 (a little more than Falcon 9) and up to 37.5 for А5В.

Still not enough to send the spacecraft to the Moon.

They could go on-orbit assembly. On one launch serve the service module and some cargo, in the second you send the remaining cargo and the crew capsule. I’m a third launch you can send your lunar lander and habitat. Then you duck them all together and send it to the Moon.

Also, sorry for the typos, I’m on mobile.

Interesting development. One wonders how the “lunar module” will be configured as well as the mission profile for the moon landing missions.

Hard to believe this vessel is being made in the land of Lada.

Wikipedia gives it 33m^2 pressurized volume vs Orion’s 19m^2 (due to the Federation’s Service Module being habitable as well).

Built-in unisex toilet behind a door vs Orion’s (and CST and Dragon’s) portable camping style units.

Looks like soft plastic interior and none of the sharp bare metalwork of Orion (that stuff will mangle one even during a minor knock).

Certainly seems much more comfortable for a long duration and multi-gender Moon trip. ESA may have made a mistake to pull out of the project..

I’ll believe it when I see it. Much skepticism is needed when talking about the future space plans of ANY country, maybe even more so with Russia. We’re talking about a country that didn’t follow through on Buran after launching the first test flight and didn’t fund and build their reusable Kliper spacecraft (put on indefinite hold in 2006). They also failed to follow through on two different manned lunar programs (Zond flyby missions and the landings that would have used the N1 moon rocket). A few years ago there was chatter about lunar missions as early as 2020, and now they’re talking about lunar missions in 2025. They’ve yet to build or fly even a test vehicle for their “next-gen” Federation capsule, which started as CSTS in 2006, let alone any of the hardware mentioned for their lunar program, such as landers, space tugs and lunar orbital space stations. At the pace they’ve been proceeding, it seems unlikely they’ll be on the Moon in 2025.

Good Luck is what most needed in this regard.
I truly hope to see MOON BASE in this lifetime.

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