Vladimir Putin, recently re-elected in Russia, recently announced that he was planning to send manned and unmanned missions to Mars by 2019. He also plans to send missions to the Moon and deeper into space.
The race is on. Who will get first to Mars? SpaceX? NASA ? And why not the Russians? This is in any case the wish of Vladimir Putin. According to recent reports, Russia is hoping to make the most of the game and set foot on the red planet by 2019. If this is the case, the Russians would be there years before SpaceX’s competing missions — which plans to send humans to the red planet in 2024 — and NASA in the 2030s.
Vladimir Putin has indeed announced his ambitious plan to send Russians to Mars in a documentary uploaded to the Russian social media site VKontakte, reported by Newsweek. “We are planning manned launches and — later — in deep space, as part of a lunar program and a Mars exploration program,” Putin said. “The closest mission is for very soon, we plan to launch a mission to Mars in 2019. Our specialists, at first, will try to land near the moon’s poles, because there is reason not to hope for the presence of water ice. From there, research on other planets (and therefore on Mars) can be undertaken.”
No additional information given for the moment. If the will is strong, remember however that concerning Mars, Russia remains a failure. In 2011, the Russian probe Phobos-Grunt was moving towards the red planet, with the aim of bringing back to Earth samples from one of its moons, Phobos. But it found herself trapped in Earth’s orbit and finally dropped back into the Pacific. And this is only the most recent of several decades of interplanetary failures.
Vladimir Putin also did not explain why he wanted to send Russians to Mars. Whether to bring glory to his homeland, to deepen scientific understanding or to assert an international domination, one thing is certain, Russia wants a part of the game.