A leaked strategy document from Russia’s space agency apparently shows that a spacecraft will “conduct a demonstrative manned circumlunar test flight with the subsequent landing of cosmonauts on [the Moon’s] surface and their return to Earth” by 2030.

Russia beat the Americans to launching the first man to orbit the Earth with Yuri Gagarin, in 1961.

However, the Yanks then trumped the Russians when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Jr landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. Perhaps in a huff, the Russians then cancelled its lunar programmes.

Last week, Russian space agency Roskosmos made the news after reports surfaced that the head of the agency, Vladimir Popovkin, had sustained head injuries after an alleged brawl at work.

Yury Karash, a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics, seemed unimpressed with Russia’s plans to send man to the moon when he said: “[I]t is hard to find a better way to hurt Russian prestige and emphasise Russian technological backwardness than by sending cosmonauts to the Moon around 2030, 60 years after Apollo.”

He suggested that resources would be better spent on a manned flight to Mars.

Barack Obama said in 2010 that he hoped to send astronauts to Mars by the 2030s, but cut funding for robotic missions to the planet last month.

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