The federal space agency Roscosmos has launched a feasibility study of a project to build a manned base on the Moon, Academician Lev Zelyony, director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Space Research Institute, said on Friday.

"Our nearest task within the limits of the planning horizon is the construction of a piloted outpost on the Moon. A working group was recently set up at the order of Roscosmos's head Vladimir Popovkin," Zelyony said at Space Science Day events at the Space Research Institute.

The working group will integrate proposals made by the leading space firms and institutes specializing in the exploration of the Moon, he said.

A plan to build a spacecraft for a flight to the Moon, proposed by the space rocket corporation Energia, as well as projects to launch spacecraft to the Moon, proposed by the Lavochkin research and production association and the Space Research Institute, are expected to be assessed, he said.

"A spectrum of concrete tasks for crews to deal with on the Moon have been put forward. But even on the Moon humans will have a difficult life. Long-duration missions on the Moon could only be possible in special shelters, most probably under the lunar surface," Zelyony said.

He said space radiation is the main hurdle to long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars.
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