- (Photo: Reuters/NASA/Handout)
Reports indicate that the Russian government is preparing to send an unmanned probe to the moon more than 40 years after they were last in space.
The new space probe, called Luna-Glob, which roughly translates to Moon-Globe, will blast off sometime in 2015, according to the director of Russia's space agency Vladimir Popovkin.
The rocket will takeoff from a new facility the Russians are building in the Amur region located in the eastern part of the country. It will replace the need to use the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the former Soviet nation of Kazakhstan, according to the Interfax News agency.
"We will begin our exploration of the moon from there," Popovkin, director at Roskosmos, said in a statement.
Russian space officials revealed that the unmanned mission would put in place an orbital module as well as a probe that would land on the moon, collect samples and then relay the information back to scientists back on Earth.
The Russians are credited with sending the first probe to orbit the Earth in 1957. The Russians are also credited with sending the first person into orbit when Yuri Gagarin exited Earth's atmosphere aboard the Vostok spacecraft in 1961.
While the Soviet Union was able to win the race into space, they lost the race to the moon when the United States landed on the lunar surface in 1969. The Russians have yet to put a man on the moon.
Plans to send the probe to the moon came after Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev approved a plan in December to spend 2.1 trillion roubles ($70 billion) on their space program in order to develop equipment to explore both the moon and Mars. The Defense Ministry also revealed that it had recently, and successfully, launched a rocket that was carrying three military satellites in orbit.