Robots will carry out the bulk of the work on a Russian base, which is set to be built on the surface of the Moon, and people will visit it to set up equipment, Lev Zelyony, Deputy Chairman of the Council on Space Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director of the RAS’s Space Research Institute, told TASS.
Under the project, Russia plans to build two strategic observatories on the Moon for radio astronomy studies, cosmic ray research and other tasks, he noted.
"Most operations there will be performed by robots. These observatories should operate in a semi-automatic mode with rare human intervention," the scientist explained.
Zelyony specified that a permanent human presence is simply not needed considering that robots are taking on more functions. That being said it is dangerous for humans to stay for a long time on the Moon because of radiation. "However, human presence on a rotation basis to check out and set up the equipment is very useful," he stressed.
The deputy chairman didn’t elaborate on the timeframe for the construction of the lunar observatories.
Russia’s lunar exploration program
On November 28, the RAS Council held a session with the participation of Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin and RAS President Alexander Sergeyev, where the Moon exploration program had been discussed. A source in the space industry told TASS that day that the RAS Council on Space Research supported projects on establishing an inhabited base and observatories on the Moon.
The lunar exploration program should start with the launch of automated stations, followed by a preliminary Moon orbiting mission with cosmonauts, and finally landing and establishing infrastructure. The launch of the first automatic mission, the Luna-25, is scheduled for 2021.
Zelyony previously said that Russia’s Moon exploration program would be completed by next spring. Neither the timeframe for the implementation of its stages, nor its estimated costs have been announced yet.