Series of Science Conferences Planned in Russia
March 4, 2012 • 10:03AM

Izvestia reports that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin is planning "a series of scientific conferences" with key personnel in Russia's space sector, and has suggested that Russia ought to examine the possibility of establishing a manned scientific base on another planetary body rather than seek to extend the life of the International Space Station (ISS).

Fielding journalists' questions regarding the future of manned space flight, he stated: "Let's say, if we are speaking about the ISS, is there a point in continuing this program as an international expedition which orbits the Earth? Then again perhaps, in fact there would be sense in attempting to address such questions by locating a station of this type directly on other planets. It needs to be considered."

The first of his projected conferences will take place in April, with a view to determining ambitious goals in space exploration—in spite of the setback suffered when the recent Phobos-Grunt mission, which was intended to travel to the Martian moon of Phobos, but managed to get no farther than Earth orbit due to a hardware failure after its initial launch. The doomed orbiter and lander therefore suffered the indignity of a fiery re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, where it burned up over the Pacific.

Rogozin clearly finds the prospect of manned space exploration an alluring one. Quite how much valuable data has been mined from the imperfect analogue of a mission to Mars provided by the Mars 500 Project, which concluded in Star City just outside Moscow last year, remains to be seen, but perhaps it has "spurred Rogozin and others within Russia's space sector to reconceptualize what may be possible in the near future, with a view to once again putting Russia at the forefront of cutting edge science," Izvestia notes. Therefore, the prospect of seeing human feet once again make bold impressions in the lunar dust, and possibly alighting for the first time on the surface of another planet, such as Mars, is there again.