Russia plans 12 person lunar base by 2030

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

The competition heats up? Russia has announced plans to build a 12-person lunar base by 2030.

Color me skeptical. Since the late 1990s I have been reading these stories about ambitious Russian space plans, none of which has ever happened. In fact, they all remind me of the dozens of ambitious space plans announced by NASA over the years, none of which ever happened either. Typical of big government projects, they end up on the scrapeheap because government can’t do things quickly or efficiently.


  • Matt in AZ

    Our vaporware space program is bigger than your vaporware space program!

  • Nicholas Paizis


    “they all remind me of the dozens of ambitious space plans announced by NASA over the years, none of which ever happened either”

    Did you really mean to say none? I can certainly go along with “some” or even “many” but none?

  • You are right, I overstated things somewhat, out of a general disgust with the overall lack of achievement from NASA since Apollo They accomplished a number of things quite well (planetary probes, astronomical telescopes), performed great engineering in what were overall failures (space shuttle, ISS), but in total I am quite unsatisfied with what NASA has given us during my life.

  • wodun

    ESA also wants a Moon village. Maybe Russia and ESA will get together and get one done?

    And maybe an American company will build a lagrange point station that can service their village.

  • Edward

    I am pretty sure that I posted this link in another post, perhaps last week, but it is part of my evidence that American companies are already eager to expand onto the Moon and to Earth-Moon L1. (7 minutes)
    “The key to the long term success of the space enterprise is creating a self-sustained economy.”

    As long as each station, base, satellite, transfer vehicle, and manufacturing habitat is productive — provides goods or services — then a Lagrange point station can successfully sustain the servicing of a productive Russian or ESA Lunar village. The trick is to have each asset be worth more than it costs, which is hard for governments to do, but companies are motivated to do it efficiently.

    The reason that so many ambitious space plans fail to materialize is that in the past they have been government plans, riding on the whims of government committees and budgets. NASA had many ideas and plans in the 1960s, and a lot of research for them were funded. This is where we got things such as the aerospike and NERVA engines.

    When companies commit to plans, they have usually thought them out and created business plans that detail how success is achieved, including customer demand.

    The video that I linked, above, is not a plan, it is a plausible idea. It requires that someone, such as the Russians, build a productive and permanent lunar base. It also requires that Bigelow’s space habitats or Orbital’s proposed Cygnus outposts succeed.

    But the true key is that space-based services (e.g. communications or surveillance) and production provides high value goods, services, or power for sale on Earth.

    We should not forget the third party companies that make money or reduce their costs from spaced based assets. GPS allows deliveries to reach the right destination quickly. Communications allows inexpensive distribution of information. Surveillance helps farmers understand multi-year trends or disaster relief to understand where help is most urgently needed.

    Future space based manufacturing could provide better medications or materials that improve life on Earth.

    Russia, various Luxembourg space-mining companies, and other interested parties could do very well by establishing manned or unmanned bases on the Moon. Russia’s 12-man lunar base would be part of ULA’s idea that 300 people would live and work in space by 2031.

  • LocalFluff

    The ISS may very well be replaced by a permanent Lunar base. ESA is eager to cooperate on human spaceflight and if China wants to they could contribute alot too. But Russia won’t do it alone. Even Soviet got help from their European “allies”. I think they make unrealistic plans as propaganda, the space program is popular in Russia and a national pride.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *