Russia is assembling a new group of engineers who will be responsible for crafting the nation’s lunar exploration strategy. It’s another sign that a highly ambitious human space program is gaining steam in Moscow.
The new department was created inside RKK Energia space corporation, Russia’s premier developer of human spacecraft that is responsible for the venerable Soyuz.
Officially, Moscow has been on a path to put a human on the Moon since 2013, when President Putin approved a general direction for human space flight in the coming decade. The program had been stalling for several years due to falling prices for oil, the main source of revenue for the Russian budget. Last year, however, the Russian lunar exploration effort was given a new impetus when the Kremlin made a strategic decision to cooperate with NASA on the construction of a habitable outpost in the orbit around the Moon, known as Deep Space Gateway, DSG.