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Russia to Launch Robotic Moon Missions in 2014 | Space.com


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Russia launched its last moon mission in August 1976, when it was still the Soviet Union. That mission, called Luna 24, was the last in the Luna series and featured a spacecraft that landed on the moon and returned samples of the Mare Crisium (Sea of Crisis) region. [10 Surprising Moon Facts]

The former Soviet Union's robotic lunar program achieved a number of notable  "firsts" on Earth's satellite, including the first spacecraft to impact the moon; first flyby and photograph of the lunar farside; first soft landing on the lunar surface; first lunar orbiter; first circumlunar probe to return to Earth; first automatic return of lunar samples; and, of course, the first moon rover Lunokhod.

Today, Russian space scientists are scripting a new plan to reconnect with the moon.

"Exploration of the moon is an important part of the program," Mitrofanov said. 'I just want to emphasize that Russia is a spacefaring country not only with the robotic but also manned flight."

Mitrofanov said that the lunar pole is a most favorable place for future outposts for humans in deep space and emphasized that moon exploration was a step toward future Mars journeys.

Moon timetable:

http://www.space.com/20461-russia-moon-robots-missions.html?cmpid=514648

So was Russia the last country to visit the moon?

The last American moonwalk was December 1972:

http://pandawhale.com/post/18512/the-last-photograph-of-a-man-on-the-moon-jack-schmitt-december-1972

Hmmm, not only has the U.S. not been on the moon since 1972, but it will take China decades to do so:

China is frequently presented as the space power that will soon rival, if not surpass, the United States. Some say it even could put a man on the Moon before the US tries again!

However, what have the Chinese done since the launch of their first unmanned Shenzhou capsule in 1999? They only flew six more Shenzhou, three of them piloted by a total six taikonauts who spent nine days in space. In comparison, during the first ten years of their piloted programs (1960–1969), the Soviet Union and the United States each flew three dozen such spacecraft (manned and unmanned). Twenty-four Soviet cosmonauts spent 42 days in space, and 44 American astronauts spent 96 days. And during these years, the United States even walked on the Moon twice! Don’t forget also that many argue that the Chinese didn’t develop their own piloted capsule, but instead acquired Soyuz blueprints from Russia.

During the decade the US took to go to the Moon, it launched some 600 rockets and 800 spacecraft, in comparison to China’s 132 rockets and 166 satellites in 40 years. These numbers are not simply rhetoric: they show that, in the process, the US learns how to deal with the unexpected. As far as we know, the Chinese haven’t been confronted with any emergencies. In 40 years of space activities, they haven’t even experienced the pace of space operations needed to conquer the Moon. As the American experience shows, you don’t have to learn only how to fly in space, but also how to react in face of the unexpected and at life-threatening emergencies. You have to prove that you’ve got the “right stuff.” After 40 years of space activities, the Chinese are far from that.

Could they be on the Moon in the 2020s? At the pace they are progressing, it will take them decades to do so. The fact is: we have plenty of time before China becomes a space power able to rival Russia and the United States.

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