Russia has launched a new lunar research program, Russian Academy of Sciences Vice President, Academy Space Research Institute Director Academician Lev Zelyony told Interfax-AVN on Thursday.
"The first stage of our lunar program is already being implemented. The construction of the first three vehicles - Luna-25, Luna-26 and Luna-27 - is being financed," Zelyony said.
Luna-25 and Luna-27 will land on the Moon on a research mission. Luna-26 will be positioned in a lunar orbit for remote probing and retransmission purposes.
In his words, the Luna-25 mission is due in 2016, Luna-26 in 2018 and Luna-27 in 2019.
Two lunar rovers, which successfully accomplished their missions, were built in the Soviet period. There were also three successful automatic missions, which delivered lunar soil to the Earth.
"That was an outstanding achievement. The latest successful delivery was made in the 1970s by Luna-24. Hopefully, our Luna-25 will also land on the Moon. Yet we are not planning to visit the areas examined in the 1970 but will be studying the lunar poles. These polar areas have not been studied well enough although they have certain qualities of interest to scientists," Zelyony said.
He noted that the second stage of the lunar program outlined the Luna-28 and Luna-29 automatic vehicle missions. "Lunar soil will be delivered to the Earth, and a lunar rover will operate on the surface of the Moon," the academician said.