The race to explore and develop the moon's resources has begun and Russia must remain a player despite the failure of its first lunar mission in 47 years, the head of Russia's space agency Roskosmos said on Monday.
Russia's Luna-25 spacecraft spun out of control and crashed into the moon on Saturday after a problem preparing for pre-landing orbit, underscoring the post-Soviet decline of a once mighty space programme.
Roskosmos chief Yury Borisov, looking downbeat during an interview with the Russia-24 state TV station, said it was in Russia's vital national interests to remain committed to lunar exploration.
"This is not just about the prestige of the country and the achievement of some geopolitical goals. This is about ensuring defensive capabilities and achieving technological sovereignty," he said in his first public comments after the aborted mission.
"Today it is also of a practical value because, of course, the race for the development of the natural resources of the moon has begun. And in the future, the moon will become a platform for deep space exploration, an ideal platform."
Russia has said it will launch further lunar missions and then explore the possibility of a joint Russian-China crewed mission and even a lunar base. NASA has spoken about a "lunar gold rush" and explored the potential of moon mining.
The United States in 2020 announced the Artemis Accords, named after NASA's Artemis moon program, to seek to build on existing international space law by establishing "safety zones" on the moon. Russia and China have not joined the accords.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
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