Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Russian Exploration Plans/Ideas

Pawel G., one of this blog's readers, sent me two links to sites the describe Russia's planetary ambitions.  I don't read Russian (those Russian classes in college a few decades ago went to waste I guess).  I believe that these are wish lists much as various scientific communities in the United States draw up lists of missions they'd like to see fly.  I doubt that Russia has or will budget the funding for more than a few of these.  If any you know differently, please let me know.

The first website, http://www.novosti-kosmonavtiki.ru/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=257249per what I could gleam using Google translate, discusses a list of missions of which Phobos-Grunt and Venera-D I believe are approved (the former is largely built).  Grunt in Russian reportedly means 'soil,' so the grunt missions below are probably sample return missions.

Luna-Glob (two)
Lunar Ground
Mars Aster
Mars Primer
Gipersat (Saturn-Hyperion-Iapetus)
Obertur (Uranium-Oberon-Titania)
Netra (Neptune-Triton)

The second presentation, http://www.novosti-kosmonavtiki.ru/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=8434, appears to be from a conference and is partially in Russian and partially in English.  This presentation lays out the engineering approach to enabling a number of missions.  In this approach, standard modules such as in insertion module, a cruise module (also shown with landing legs, so perhaps the science platform module might be a  better description), and a sample return module would be combined for different missions.

Editorial Thoughts:

It's good to see Russia returning to planetary exploration.  The idea of modular spacecraft stacks is intriguing, and might be key to enabling a number of missions while holding down costs.  

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