As Russia celebrates 49 years since the first manned orbital launch, head of the national space agency has outlined its immediate plans. He brings bad news for tourists and optimism for a Mars satellite sampling mission. Next year, a Phobos-Grunt mission is to travel to Mars’ satellite. The automated craft will sample Phobos’ soil and return with it to Earth. Another prospective project is the development of a nuclear spacecraft engine. Roscosmos estimates the project at several billion dollars and plans to publish first design details in 2012. The engine will be ready for testing in space by 2018, Perminov said.
April 12th, 2010