Roskosmos, Russia’s space agency, has previously floated the idea of a Moon base - possibly built in collaboration with the United States and Europe - and has also spoken of the option of constructing a space station that would orbit the Moon.
It is planning to send two unmanned missions to the Moon by 2020 and there have been reports that it is weighing a manned mission there too.
Russian scientists and cosmonauts have suggested lunar colonisers could take shelter in what they believe is a network of underground caves left by the Moon’s volcanic past.
“It’s too far and too expensive to Mars,” space industry expert Igor Lissov told the state RIA news agency. “We must start with the moon. We must give ourselves realistic goals.”
Rogozin said the Moon project could be a jumping-off point for future deep space projects.
Space agency chief Vladimir Popovkin said on Monday that Russia would recall the rocket type which caused the multi-million dollar loss of Indonesian and Russian telecom satellites last month.
Such failures for Russia, which conducts some 40 percent of global space launches, risk undermining its standing in the market, strengthening competitors such as Europe’s Ariane rocket.