In recent years, Roscosmos has largely concentrated on crewed missions, struggling to get a spaceprobe to its intended destination. But Luna 25 hopes to change that. The moon probe, set to launch in 2024, will mark a return to the moon for Russia, which hasn’t landed a probe on the moon since 1976. It’s a surveyor for an even bigger goal: a crewed landing and lunar base.
Tomasz Nowakowski at SpaceFlightInsider writes, “The proposed base would include a solar power station, telecommunication station, technological station, scientific station, long-range research rover, landing and launch area, and an orbiting satellite.” The moon base, if it comes to fruition, would be built in the 2030s.
But without a probe landing to the moon since the Soviet days, and with N1/L3 moon landing program never getting beyond craft fabrication, it could be a tall order for the country. Roscosmos engineers are saying that, in part, one of the big challenges will be relearning to land a probe on the moon. And without a probe landing, a crewed landing seems ever more unlikely, though the country has proven canny at most other crewed spaceflight accomplishments.
Around 2024, Russia will also resurrect the Venera program, a successful fleet of vehicles that explored Venus, including a few landings. However, two post-Soviet missions to Mars failed to even reach Earth orbit, let alone make it to the red planet, so Russia will have to relearn its rocketry outside low earth orbit as well. But if they did it before, they can do it again.