Russia plans unmanned moon mission in 2015

The Russian Federal Space Agency says it will send an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2015 from a new launch pad in the country's far east.

President Putin plans to invest roughly $1B Cdn to build launch pad in eastern Russia

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-07M spaceship blasts off from the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in December. Russia's space agency says that in 2015, a rocket booster is expected to deliver a space exploration vehicle with up to 25 kg of scientific equipment to the moon. (Dmitry Lovetsky/Associated Press)

The Russian Federal Space Agency says it will send an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2015 from a new launch pad in the country's far east.

Vladimir Popovkin, head of the space agency, commonly referred to as Roscosmos, told Russian news agencies on Tuesday that the rocket booster would deliver a 499-kilogram space exploration vehicle with up to 25 kilograms of scientific equipment that would search for water and take soil samples.

Popovkin said the moon-bound spacecraft would be launched from Russia's new Vostochny cosmodrome.

President Vladimir Putin has vowed to invest roughly $1 billion Cdn in building this launch pad in the Amur Region not far from the Chinese border.

Russia's last and only moon mission was accomplished in 1973.

In mid-December, a Russian space capsule carrying Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and two colleagues blasted off from a Russian-leased launch facility in Kazakhstan.

The crew is docked at the International Space Station and will return home in May.