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Russia Reinvigorates Lunar Missions
January 15, 2013

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Russia has announced renewed efforts to send an unmanned probe to the Moon, the head of the country's space agency said.

Vladimir Popovkin, director of Roskosmos, said that his organization would launch a craft called Luna-Glob (Moon-Globe) in 2015 from Vostochny, a new cosmodrome being built in Amur, a region in the far east of Russia. The half-ton craft will include an orbital module and a probe, which will land on the lunar surface and send back information, including data on surface samples.

The last Russian unmanned landing on the moon was in 1976, when the country was part of the Soviet Union. The Luna-24 mission featured an unmanned probe that brought lunar surface samples back to Earth.

The Luna-Glob announcement follows a report from December 2012 that Russia had set a target of 2030 for the completion of a manned mission to the Moon, along with a space station orbiting the Moon and the dispatch of robotic craft to Venus, Mars, and Jupiter.

The completion of the Vostochny cosmodrome, near the border with China, would also diminish Russia's need to lease the Baikonur Cosmodrome, now owned by Kazakhstan.

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