Russia aiming for a permanent base on Moon
USA has dominated the space exploration scene for decades now but is facing big problems with the safety of their Space Shuttle fleet. So much so, that they are now taking help from Russia to continue their space program and send supplies to the International Space Station.
Russia on their part has expressed their desire to setup a permanent base on the Moon in the next decade. The head of a leading Russian space company has said that they want to go ahead with their plans to setup a base on Moon by 2015.
However, this statement looks more like a request to the government for more funds for space research considering the company has not given a detailed info on their plans to go ahead with their mission.
Nikolai Sevastyanov heads the state-controlled RKK Energiya company and they are the manufacturers of Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. He claims that the company would mine helium-3 which is a big source of energy and would use their base on the moon to do so. He is not the first person to suggest such a plan but the government has not shown interest until now and has not expanded the budget for such missions.
The atmosphere of Earth is such that there is little Helium-3 available here. However, scientists claim that this substance would be available in abundance on the surface of the moon. Lack of enough material has resulted in little study on the energy prospective and this alone might get Russian government to ignore the demand.