|Russia mulls new-generation lunar lander
Around half a century after a first fruitless attempt to put a cosmonaut on the Moon, a new generation of Russian space engineers embarked on the development of a piloted lunar lander, in accordance with the nation's 10-year space plan starting in 2016. However, unlike the one-seat module of the first Moon Race, the future lander had to support long-term exploration of the Moon and deliver crew anywhere on the lunar surface.
Russian lunar lander concept circa 2015.
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In 2015, after several years of preliminary studies, the Russian space agency, Roskosmos, made plans to begin funding the development of a lunar lander and associated systems which would be necessary to deliver crews from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon.
In the official documentation, the project was officially identified as Lunar Ascent and Descent Complex, LVPK.
According to the Russian lunar exploration plans circa 2015, the lander would be delivered to the lunar orbit by a dedicated rocket without a crew. It would then rendezvous and dock with a piloted transport vehicle in the lunar orbit. The lander would then deliver the crew to the surface and its ascent stage would carry cosmonauts back to the lunar orbit for a rendezvous with a transport vehicle for trip back to Earth.
Several concepts of the lunar lander were formulated in 2016. At the time, the spacecraft had the following specifications:
Proposed budget for the R&D work in the LVPK vehicle in the Federal Space Program, FKP-2016-2025 (in millions of rubles):
Comparison of lunar landers systems:
A notional concept of a lunar lander circa 2010.
This artist rendering depicts a concept of a lander used in the early planning of Russian lunar expeditions. The spacecraft is shown in the lunar orbit, preparing for descent on the surface. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2008 Anatoly Zak
This artist rendering depicts a concept of a lander on the surface of the Moon. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2007 Anatoly Zak
PTK NP spacecraft would dock with lunar module in orbit around the Moon. Two crew members would then transfer into the lander for the final leg of the trip to the Moon. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2016 Anatoly Zak
A lunar lander conceptualized during 2015 to be compatible with the Angara-5V rocket. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2016 Anatoly Zak
This artist rendering depicts one of several concepts of the lunar lander evaluated in 2016. Credit: RKK Energia