New Russian spacecraft “Federation” will probably start regular manned missions from 2025.
According to TASS news agency Roscosmos is planning to start regular flights to Moon orbit from 2025 with new “Federation” spacecraft. “Federation” is under development since 2008, when Russia cancelled participation in joint project of new spacecraft with ESA. New spacecraft will replace in service Soyuz space vehicles, which has been utilized for last 49 years (present version of Soyuz, Soyuz TMA, has its origins in Soyuz 7K-OK version which started service in 1967). On May 28, 2016, TASS announced that Roscosmos seriously considers intensification of Moon exploration; quoted anonymous source from TsNIImash (Central Research Institute of Machine Building managed by Roscosmos -main research and certification organization in Russia focused on developing rocket and spacecrafts) stated that missions will cover flyover the Moon and landing on Moon surface. “Federation” will also fly to Earth-Moon libration points (there are five libration points between Earth and Moon where spacecraft could easily remain in stable flight without risk of being pulled by Moon or Earth gravitation). Same source also confirmed that “Federation” will be under tests in Vostochny cosmodrome with first scheduled unmanned flights already on 2021. First manned test mission is planned for 2023 from Vostochny along with one unmanned mission-both performed with Angara-A5. According to Source, four flights on atop of Angara-A5 are necessary to finish test phase of the “Federation”, what gives reason to assume that 2024 is possible date for the first official maiden mission of “Federation” to International Space Station. Only one year after, on 2025, Roscosmos is planning first two flights to the Moon. It is very ambitious program, especially if we take under consideration that Roscosmos is also planning unmanned robotic missions to Moon under Luna-Avtomat program in 2019-2024 (with announced in 2015 landing of Luna-25 on South Pole of the Moon). It is hard to predict if Roscosmos will manage to carry on with two expensive programs, not to mention about continuing development of Angara-A5 (which next flight is planned for the end of 2016) which will also stretched budget. On December 2015 Igor Komarov claimed that Moon and Mars are ultimate goals for Roscosmos but first flight around the Moon with utilization of new heavy launch vehicle (what clearly points to Angara-A5 and “Federation”) will be postponed to second half of the next decade:
“The flight around the Moon with the use of heavy-class carrier rockets has been postponed from 2025, as previously planned, beyond the period covered by the program,”
These words were referring to new draft Federal Space Program which in December 2015 still pointed that Moon flight is possible after 2025. Now it seems that Roscosmos is increasing pace and put first flight around the Moon to 2025. Same situation appears with number of flights required for finishing tests of “Federation” and Angara. On November 2015 TASS claimed that at least six flights are necessary what was in clearly opposition to statement by chief of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation (RKK Energia) Vladimir Solntsev who claimed that four launches are enough. Roscosmos would like to perform Moon flight in 2025 and on May 13, 2016, it was unveiled that date for next launch of Angara will be probably set for December. It is clear sign that Moon is now main goal for Roscosmos and probably it will be so for the next years.
On picture above: Mir and Moon in the background – past and the future of Roscosmos.