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February 4-10, 2013 / Vol 32, No 5 / Hawai`i Island, USA

1 Feb 2013, 21:44 UTC
February 4-10, 2013 / Vol 32, No 5 / Hawai`i Island, USA
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Russia Rebooting Planetary Exploration Program: First Step – Luna
The surge of national, international and independent / commercial interest and activity toward exploration and development of our Moon is rising by the day. Now Russia, with the RSA under command of Vladimir Popovkin, is consolidating and simplifying a range of complex planetary missions and objectives into a reasonable plan for near-term robotic lunar exploration. The one-time leading Space Power plans to launch Luna-Glob Orbiter in 2015 with a small impactor probe, followed by Luna-Glob / Lunar-Resurs Polar Landers destined for the Moon North / South Pole by 2016 / 2017. The missions have been significantly down scoped from their original designs, some dating back over a decade, but still have the potential to contribute to the understanding of mineral and water ice distribution, particularly in the less explored polar regions believed to have the highest concentrations of volatiles. Less complicated spacecraft and mission architecture / objectives should lead to a higher rate of follow through and success for Russia. Also on the lunar horizon are: China missions Chang’e-3, 4 and 5 scheduled for 2013, 2015 and 2017; USA LADEE Orbiter in 2013; India Chandrayaan-2 Lander, Rover possibly in 2015; and ...

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