Russia to be the first to land cosmonaut on Mars : Academician

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Moscow, Jan 8 (UNI) Russia is technically ready for a manned flight to Mars in the early 2020s, the Director of the Space Researches Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academician Lev Zelyony said today.

''It is prestigious and real and it is Russia's priority to land a cosmonaut on Mars. This task can be solved both economically and technically,'' Zelyony told Interfax-AVN military news agency.

He said if one starts preparing a flight to Mars in the near future, a Russian cosmonaut could land on Mars in 2023-2025.

Russia has done more than any other country, including the US, as far as such an expedition to Mars is concerned, he added.

''We have a certain handicap in this race, because we have the widest experience as to manned space flights. The Mir station worked even in dark in 1990s, then the International Space Station appeared. This means that a chain of manned flights has never been torn,'' Zelyony said.

He said a manned expedition should include unmanned equipment, such as satellites and Mars rovers, because automatic equipment can carry out most of researches.

''Generally, a person proceeding from purely scientific basis may not fly either to the Moon or Mars: this is unprofitable. However, an aspiration to study new things is inherent to the nature of a human, and thank God, this breakthrough cannot be stopped,'' Zelyony added.

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