Russian moon mission said funded, ready

Oct. 12, 2012 at 4:17 PM

MOSCOW, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Russia's proposed moon missions have been fully funded and the first is planned for 2015, a space industry official says.

The project, revised after last year's failure of the Phobos-Grunt probe mission intended to return samples from Mars' moon Phobos, has been fully financed, said Viktor Khartov, director general and designer general of the Lavochkin scientific and production center.

"We must touch down on the moon in 2015. We must show that we can do it," Khartov told ITAR-Tass.

Successful lunar missions would help to mount a second mission to Mars successfully, he said.

"The Phobos probe failure is a scar on all of us," he said.

The probe was launched last November but never left Earth orbit and scientists lost contact with it shortly thereafter. It burned on re-entry in January.

Space projects must be carried out step-by-step, going from simple to complex, he said.

"I think it is a right trend, that at first we must touch down on the moon to show to ourselves that we can do it."

During the moon missions, he said, Russian spacecraft would collect ice on the moon and return it to Earth for research.

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