In a documentary, President Vladimir Putin implied that Russia might beat NASA in sending a space mission to Mars. The said documentary made rounds on social media and revealed just how Russia plans to conquer space.
As reported by Newsweek, Putin revealed that Russia plans to launch the mission in 2019, one year ahead of NASA.
“We are planning unmanned and later manned launches, into deep space, as part of a lunar program and for Mars exploration. The closest mission is very soon, we are planning to launch a mission to Mars in 2019.”
Russia Plans To Enter Space Race
Aside from the country’s plans to land a rocket on Mars, Putin also revealed Russia would launch a mission to the Moon. They plan to land the rocket on the polar regions since studies suggest that there could be water there. Following their moon mission, their plans for space exploration could extend to other planets and bodies in the universe.
Putin mentioned 2019 as Russia’s target date for landing a spacecraft on Mars, but he did not specify when they plan the launch. Russia has never succeeded in any of its missions to Mars. The country launched the Phobos-Grunt probe in 2011 with the purpose of bringing back samples from Phobos, Mars’ natural satellite. However, the mission failed since the probe was not fired in the planet’s orbit.
In 2016, the Russian space agency Roscosmos partnered with the European Space Agency on a joint mission to test the technology for soft landings on the Martian surface. The Schiaparelli EDM lander mission was declared successful since it fulfilled its mission but the signal was lost about one minute from the surface during the final stages of landing. NASA released imagery on October 2016 through the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter of what could be the landing site of the Schiaparelli lander.
NASA’s Mars 2020
NASA also revealed their plans for a Mars mission which will take place between July and August 2020. The space agency chose this date since this would be the best time to land a spacecraft on the red planet based on the position of Mars and Earth.
U.S. President Donald Trump also expressed support for the Mars mission. As reported by Sentinel Source, Trump plans to “top” President John F. Kennedy by achieving a huge milestone in the current space race – sending astronauts to Mars.
— Curiosity Rover (@MarsCuriosity) March 16, 2018
Mars 2020, NASA’s latest mission in the Mars Exploration Program, will look for biosignatures in areas deemed to be habitable by analyzing soil and rocks. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the space agency in Pasadena, California is hard at work in testing the spacecraft which will be used for the launch.
Whether or not Russia sticks to the plan outlined by President Vladimir Putin and beats NASA remains to be seen, but it’s worth noting that there the private sector wants to explore Mars too. SpaceX has been making much progress in launching rockets, and Elon Musk is intent on putting people on Mars to serve as a Plan B civilization.