Luna 27: Race to settle human colony on the Moon

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A joint mission led by Russia's federal space agency aims to settle a human colony on the Moon.

The Luna 27 mission is set to launch a spacecraft to explore the Moon's south pole in five years time.

A series of journeys will determine the availability of water and raw materials for fuel and oxygen.

Professor Igor Mitrofanov from the Space Research Institute in Moscow said the project will pick up where the Soviet Union program left off in the mid-1970s.  

"We have to go to the Moon," he told the BBC. "The 21st Century will be the century when it will be the permanent outpost of human civilisation, and our country has to participate in this process."

The European Space Agency is partnering up on the latest mission.

Search for the origins of life

Dr James Carpenter from the European Space Agency said the project will be investigating the use of water as a future resource. He said the mission also aims to reveal more about the origins of life in the inner Solar System.

"The south pole of the Moon is unlike anywhere we have been before," he told the BBC.

"The environment is completely different, and due to the extreme cold there you could find large amounts of water-ice and other chemistry which is on the surface, and which we could access and use as rocket fuel or in life-support systems to support future human missions we think will go to these locations."

Bérengère Houdou from European Space Research and Technology Centre (Estec) said there is an urgency to complete the task.

"We have an ambition to have European astronauts on the Moon. There are currently discussions at international level going on for broad cooperation on how to go back to the Moon," he told the BBC.

Europeans and Russians in a race against the Chinese

In the 1960s, the race to the Moon set the backdrop for Cold War enmity. Three cancelled Apollo missions later, countries deemed missions to the Moon to be too expensive to the taxpayer.

The potential for the Moon to hold water and minerals to support human life has renewed interest in the Moon missions, with China joining the race to extract valuable minerals and energy.

China has plans to launch robotic spacecraft to the Moon in the 2030s and also hopes to lead the development of human flights.

Source SBS News

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