Russia’s long and proud history of space exploration needs no introduction. In the 1950s, the Soviet space program took off on a journey that would see numerous feats and firsts – successes that carry on to the present Russian state and its principal corporation overseeing its activities in space – Roscosmos.
It was the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, that just last year made headlines when he is said to have called Venus a “Russian planet“. Whether ironically or not, Russia does have the right to boast of lively activity in relation to the planet. While it was NASA’s Mariner 2 that flew past Earth’s sister planet in 1962, it was the Soviet Venera 7 (Russian for Venus) that was first to make a soft landing in 1970. It was the first to transmit data from a planet to Earth.
After the gruelling, yet successful Venera program to Venus, Russia now plans to re-ignite its legacy.
Last year, upon the unveiling of the united government program of Russia’s space exploration for 2021-2030, and right after US and British scientists discovered the chemical phosphine with potential to be linked to biological activities in Venus’ atmosphere, Roscosmos officials declared that Venus was once again in its sights. While the phosphine was more likely to be ordinary sulfur dioxide according to a new study from January of this year, Rogozin was adamant that Venus was more interesting than Mars. The mission taking them there would be called Venera-D (the “D” stands for dolgozhivushaya, meaning “long lasting”).
Since then, there has been little concrete public information about the planning process and how they intend to reach the goal of launching the planned mission to the planet for the year 2029. That is, until earlier this week.
On March 4, the scientific director of the institute of Space Research, Lev Zeleny, gave an interview to TASS where he declared that the technical design of the project had commenced and that they would reach their intended goal if everything runs on schedule.
According to the director, it will not be a single mission but will involve three separate ones with the other two journeys being planned for 2031 and 2034. Venera-D will, however, be the first and will carry out an extensive study of the planet – it’s surrounding plasma, atmosphere and surface.
Within the framework of the Venusian program, there is also a plan to deliver soil from Venus to Earth. It will be implemented after the completion of the landing program, which will involve an examination of the samples and the landing area.
While the initial plans were to include the United States and NASA as a joint mission to the planet, this changed only in September of last year when Rogozin commented that it would ultimately be an “independent national project without extensive involvement of international cooperation”, but stressed that this was not a refusal of cooperation with the US.
Will Russia reach Venus by 2029? At Evolvera, we will continue to follow the story as it develops.
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