MOSCOW, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Russia plans to launch several moon and Mars missions in the next few years, the head of a Russian aerospace company said Tuesday.
"In 2015, we plan the Luna-Glob mission," Victor Khartov, head of the Lavochkin firm, told a scientific gathering in Moscow.
Russia will then launch the Luna-Resurs-1 moon orbiter in 2016, he said, which will be followed by the Luna-Resurs-2 vehicle, which will land near the moon's south pole to drill the soil and bring it back to Earth.
A 2-ton probe with a 660-pound martian rover built by the European Space Agency will launch on a Russian rocket in 2018, RIA Novosti reported Khartov as saying.
Russia would launch its own rover mission dubbed Boomerang to the martian moon Phobos by 2020, Kharkov said, and his company is also considering construction of a probe for explorations on Venus.
Last December Lev Zelyony, director of the Russian Academy of Science's Space Research Institute, said Russia has set ambitious goals to be the leading space power by 2023.