The active study of the Moon continues to be the focus of attention of many countries, each of which seeks to discover the secrets of the Earth's satellite and appropriate its potential resources. Among the leading participants in lunar programs are the USA, China and India. Russia has recently joined this race.
The United States is implementing the ambitious Artemis program, which aims to create a permanent habitable community on the Moon, which will become a solid foundation for plans for Mars exploration. In the first stage, unmanned and manned flights around the Moon are planned, after which astronauts will land on its surface. Then it is planned to start regular flights to the Moon and deploy the necessary infrastructure. From 2028, the construction of the Lunar Gateway lunar base is planned, and within the next 15 years, astronauts will already appear on the Moon.
NASA uses the superheavy SLS rocket for space launches and the Orion spacecraft for lunar missions. The launch of the Artemis program with a crew is scheduled for November 2024. Other countries are also participating in the program, including the UK, Japan and Australia.
China has significantly increased its space exploration ambitions in recent years. The country recently sent the Chang'e series of probes to the moon and completed construction of its own space station, Tiangong (translated as "Heavenly Palace").
According to the plans, by 2028, China plans to deploy a self-governing base on the moon, and by 2030, people will already land on the moon. It is assumed that the lunar rover, which will be used for scientific research, will be piloted by two astronauts. In addition, China and Russia have agreed to cooperate in the creation of a lunar station, the installation of which is planned to be carried out by 2035.
The Indian space program is also actively involved in lunar exploration. In early August, India launched the Chandrayaan-3 autonomous space station to explore the South Pole of the Moon. The station includes the Vikram lander and the Pragyaan lunar rover, which will study the moon's surface, including soil layers, craters and traces of tectonic activity.
Its predecessor, the Chandrayaan-2 mission, was partially successful, but the country has ambitious plans for the future, including joint missions with Japan.
Russia recently launched Luna-25 (Луна-25), an autonomous interplanetary lander, marking the country's return to lunar exploration after a nearly 50-year hiatus. The mission, originally planned for 2015, has been postponed several times.
The Soyuz-2.1b rocket with the Fregat second stage was used for the launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, which should bring Luna-25 to a suborbital trajectory, and then to lunar orbit.
The lander must land near the south pole of the Moon to conduct research there and uncover the secrets of lunar evolution and resources. The mission also seeks to pave the way for future lunar exploration and potential resource extraction, especially rare earth metals, by exploiting the unique conditions of the lunar polar landscape.