Is Russia Planning to Build a Permanent Moon Base?

Russia, which currently has the fourth-largest space budget in the world (it follows NASA, the European Space Agency and France) and partnerships with many influential agencies (it is on Russian Soyuz spacecrafts that NASA astronauts will visit the International Space Station [ISS] in coming years, post-Space Shuttle), may be planning on building a permanent base on the moon.

"Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday that his country's plans go well beyond transporting crews to the International Space Station," according to the Huffington Post, which wrote about the issue after pulling together several different news reports from recent days. "Russia should not limit itself to the role of an international space ferryman," Putin reportedly said outside of his Moscow residence at a meeting recognizing the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's spaceflight. "We need to increase our presence on the global space market."

Various records and reports suggest that Putin hopes to both build a base near the moon's north pole and travel to Mars by 2030. "Russian scientists are ... said to have touted the moon as a potential source of energy, saying it contains large reserves of helium 3, a sought-after isotope that may be the key to a new way of generating power," according to the Huffington Post.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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