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1 Nov, 2016 21:13

NASA in talks with Russian space agency over joint mission to Venus - report

NASA in talks with Russian space agency over joint mission to Venus - report

The US and Russia may join efforts in exploring the second planet from the Sun, as NASA and Russian space agency Roscosmos are discussing a joint mission to Venus, Russian media reports.

NASA has already drawn up a number of scenarios for the joint mission with their Russian counterparts to Venus, director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences Lev Zeleny told the Izvestiya daily.

The goal of the project dubbed Venus-D is to design a capsule that would manage to survive extreme conditions on the surface of the Earth’s closest neighbor for up to a day, he added.

“A joint working team put forward several scenarios of the project in October, with Russian and American competences complementing each other. After that we discussed the matter with NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, who confirmed NASA's interest to the Venus-D project,” Zeleny said in an interview with Izvestiya published on Tuesday.

The discussions on the possibility of cooperation with NASA on the Venus-D project have been in place for nearly two years. Last November, the talks were resumed after having been suspended due to sanctions imposed against Russia over Ukraine. The sides still haven’t come to a final decision on the mission.

During Newman’s visit to Moscow, the subject of the Russia-led project was brought up, however, NASA press service told the newspaper that it was only a discussion and no official agreements were reached.

NASA is not the only one thinking of cooperation with Roscosmos as a number of European and Chinese agencies have also expressed their willingness to take part in the mission to the planet, Roscosmos press service told Izvestiya.

Roscosmos considers launching a full-scale program to explore Venus that would involve an orbiter, subsatellites and atmospheric sounders, it also said. Sharing responsibilities and efforts is expected to promote technical level of engineering and scientific output of experiments.

Venus has long been out of space experts’ sight with the last landing dating back to 1985 when a capsule of the Soviet Vega-2 robot station reached the planet.

The main elements of the construction – the orbiter and the lander – are to be produced in Russia while NASA is considering assembling an entry vehicle, the Venus Atmospheric Manoeuvrable Platform (VAMP).

The launch of Venus-D is preliminary scheduled for 2026-2027. The date is yet to be confirmed by the Russian space agency.