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Russian Lunar Polar Probes, 2015-2020

The last Russian probe to the Moon was Luna 24, which returned a 176 gram sample to Earth, in 1976.

The Russians are finally planning to return, with Luna 25 scheduled for 2015. The plans are currently as follows:

  • Luna 25 planned for 2015, also known as the Luna Glob Lander, would land on the south pole of the Moon, mainly just to test the lander technology and communications systems, with anything in addition being a bonus.

  • Luna 26 planned for 2016, also known as the Luna Glob Orbiter, would be an orbiter to at 100 km to do detailed mapping and look for a landing site for future missions, as well as measure the extremely thin lunar atmosphere.

  • Luna 27 planned for 2017, also known as Lunar Resource-1, would be a large lander going to the south pole to test drilling systems and analyze contents.

    If all goes well, then another two missions are on the drawing board:

  • Luna 28 planned for 2019, also known as Lunar Resource-2, would return samples to Earth, keeping them extremely cold during transit.

  • Luna 29 planned for 2020, also known as Lunar Resource-3, would land a rover which will drive long distances to sample different locations. The rover is often referred to by the traditional name Lunokhod (see history below).

These may be followed up on by manned missions.

From these sources, there is a lack of indication of the Russians intending to set up permanent colonies on the Moon or develop major manufacturing in space, and Russian officials still talk of a manned mission to Mars being the ultimate objective, unfortunately.

A bit of history:

The Soviets were the first to go to the Moon with unmanned probes, and the last in 1976 to soft land a spacecraft on the surface (as of the time of this writing in 2012). The Russians were the first to do many things in the 1959-1966 period, including the following:

  • In 1959, Luna 1 was the first lunar flyby by a man made object.
  • In 1959, Luna 2 was the first man made object on the Moon, albeit an impact.
  • In 1959, Luna 3 took the first photos of the far side of the Moon.
  • In 1966, Luna 9 was the first object to soft land on the Moon, and also the first to take photos from the surface.
  • In 1966, Luna 10 was the first man made object to go into orbit around the Moon.

However, the Russians never sent astronauts, as they "lost the space race" to the Americans when Apollo 11 landed men on the Moon in 1969 and returned samples to Earth.

The first Soviet attempts in 1969 to robotically return lunar samples failed, including before Apollo 11 was launched (and a later rush attempt crashed on the Moon while the Apollo 11 men were there).

Nevertheless, the Russians did have three successful robotic sample return missions starting in 1970, which were Luna 16, Luna 20, and Luna 24, and also deployed two robotic vehicles to drive around exploring the Moon, Luna 17 and Luna 21, which deployed the Lunokhod 1 and Lunokhod 2 rovers.

That was all in the era of the Soviet Union when they were competitors with the United States.

It has yet to be seen how committed and successful the Russians will be in the next decade, and how much of the work will be in cooperation with other governments or multinationals rather than nationalistic strategic competition.

The above plans have multiple sources which corraborate each other fairly well, as the Russians are a lot more open now. > Lunar Resources (Mining The Moon) > Probes, History and Future > Russian Luna 25-29, 2015-2020


PERMANENT needs a PHP / MySQL (actually, MariaDB) programmer. Are you a PHP / MySQL programmer interested in getting into space development as a career, or already working in space development? Or do you know somebody else who might be interested?

There is an ongoing process to update this website in 2019 with a target relaunch in 2020.
This website is actually very out of date. Much of the website text content was written in the 1980s to early 2000s, but that's a different matter. As regards PHP / MySQL, some offline databases go into the 2010s, as regards professional publications, engineers, companies, etc., and this is what we need programming help with. We are updating our databases on people, organizations, publications, and other things, for open source space development for all.

The current status is we have some working databases which we have been using internally for a long time for organizing professional publications, and to track people (authors, R&D people, other professionals, quality volunteers, journalists, etc.) and organizations. We want to put information online for the general public pending a security review of the programming code.

Step 1 is fixing some bugs in what we already have, the PHP code. It is functional, and been used a long time, but there are some bugs.
Step 2 will be improving the system. Some small improvements would help its usability.
Step 3 will be a security check for putting it online for the general public to be able to access and use, but with reasonable protection against hackers.
After Step 3, the main mission is accomplished, as regards PHP / MySQL, though of course we hope to keep people engaged and happy, and the sky's not the limit.

This is a volunteer, unpaid role at this point in time. A limited paid role would be considered on a tight budget, such as for at least bug fixing with some minor improvements, and/or a security review of our code before it goes online publicly. If you or one of your friends or associates may be interested, please send an email to spaceprogrammer at ... of course this domain.

Reasons to do something yourself:

  • It will help save life on our special planet -- be part of the solution in your generation.
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  • It could be an interesting, cool, and a fun adventure for your life!

You can join us and volunteer to help out,

... or ...

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