In a world that’s constantly evolving with new technology and opportunities, leaders of all shapes and sizes are searching to take advantage of the current environment. For instance, President Vladimir Putin recently announced that he is planning to launch a mission to the red planet (Mars) within the next year. After an initial testing phase with unmanned launches, a manned launch will be designed to take astronauts into deep space as part of a plan for Mars exploration.
The revelation from Putin came just before a presidential election in March that experts widely expect the president to win. Success in the campaign will give Putin his fourth term leading Russia, during which time he hopes to send Russian citizens to Mars. According to the press release, the closest mission will be launching soon, followed by another in 2019. Putin didn’t offer any additional information on when launches might take place.
A Race into Space for the US and Russia
If Putin’s manned mission to Mars in 2019 is successful, it means that Russia will get to the red planet a few years before competing missions from NASA and SpaceX. Even the fast-paced SpaceX company suggests that they won’t be able to launch a similar mission until 2024. NASA also plans on sending a second unmanned mission to Mars during 2020 to search for signs of life beyond the microbial level.
Founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, recently announced that he plans on testing the BFR — a ship intended to take humans to Mars during 2019. The Russian president is clearly ahead of the game with his announcement which he delivered during a documentary uploaded to Russian social media website Vkontakte.
During the manned Mars mission, Putin noted that his astronauts will be looking for opportunities to land as close to the poles as possible, as they believe that’s where they’ll find water. After research into Mars, Putin wants to go ahead with other plans to explore the deeper regions of outer space.
An Uncertain Track Record in Exploration
While Russia’s plans for the future look positive, the recent track record for the country has left some experts feeling uncertain about whether or not the Mars missions will be successful. During 2011, a Russian probe called “Phobos-Grunt” took off in the direction of Mars but ended up stuck in the orbit of the Earth before it eventually fell into the Pacific Ocean.
Of course, there’s a good chance that Russia’s technology has improved since that failure, which means that we could see information coming down about the red planet a lot sooner than we expected. While Putin didn’t elaborate in his speech on why he was planning to put Russians on Mars, it’s safe to assume that he wants to get ahead of the rest of the world with some innovative exploration tactics.
If the space program within the country has worked out its kinks, then Russia might have a decent shot at achieving global glory. Spectators can only wait and see what the future brings.