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First Russian cosmonaut to be sent to the Moon in 2024

The first Russian cosmonaut can go to the Moon on the American Orion spacecraft roughly in 2024 to participate in the installation of the Russian airlock at the international near-moon station Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing a source in the country’s rocket and space industry.

In September 2017, Moscow and Washington signed an agreement on intentions to create Deep Space Gateway near-moon station. Recently, the name of the project was changed to the Lunar Orbital Platform - Gateway. According to preliminary agreements, Russia can produce a lock chamber for the crews' exit into outer space. It is expected that the construction of the station will begin in 2022, and the Russian section will be added to it in 2024.

"As part of the talks, sketches of future manned missions to the near-moon station were made. In particular, the possibility of flying a Russian cosmonaut in the Orion aircraft crew, which will tow the Russian airlock to the Moon, is being discussed. The Russian cosmonaut will have to provide on-site integration of the module into the station," the source said.

This information was confirmed to RIA Novosti by a source at the Energy rocket and space corporation, the future manufacturer of the module. According to it now planned four manned missions to Deep Space Gateway. The Russian cosmonaut must accompany the module during its transportation to the Moon.

The source did not specify the possible terms of the second cosmonaut's flight – it will be held earlier or later than 2024. The first flights of crews to the near-moon station are supposed to be carried out on American Orion spacecraft, which will be launched by SLS super-heavy missiles.

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