Russia’s president Vladimir Putin announced earlier this week that the country plans a mission to Mars next year. Russia faces fierce competition when it comes to Mars colonization from the United States, China, UAE, Europe, and India.
Putin also unveiled that there are many unmanned and manned launches pending as part of the country’s lunar and Martian exploration programs.
The closest mission is very soon, we are planning to launch a mission to Mars in 2019,
the President of Russia told reporters in a televised interview.
RT confirmed Thursday that the new mission to Mars would not have a crew. The purpose and specifics of the mission remain unclear. The announcement came as a big surprise as Russia had planned the next mission to Mars for 2020.
The country is involved in a mission to Mars called the ExoMars rover mission, which is jointly operated by Russia’s Roscosmo and Europe’s ESA. ExoMars is looking for present or past microscopic life on Mars.
The orbiter that ferried the ExoMars robotic rover to Mars, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, reached the Red Planet’s orbit in October 2016. The rover crash landed on the planet.
U.S., China, UAE, and India Eyeing Missions to Mars Too
NASA’s InSight is the next U.S. mission to Mars, which will be launched in May 2018. The space agency Mars 2020 mission is scheduled for 2020, when China promised to launch its own mission to Mars, as well.
It is unclear if the Chinese mission will be successful since the country’s space agency has had many troubles with a heavy-lifting rocket called the Long March-5.
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates plan a mission for 2020, while India envisions a follow-up mission to the Red Planet one or two years later.
Putin also announced that the next missions to the Moon would focus on the polar regions. Russian researchers expect to find water near the Moon’s poles. Putin is confident that the research done there could help with the advancement of other missions to other destinations.
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