Russia is planning to put a manned colony on the moon as soon as 2030, and is racing to dispatch the first robotic rovers to explore the lunar surface two years from now.
According to Russian-language newspaper Izvestia, Russia would be ready to send manned missions to orbit the moon by 2028, and in the program's final stage, humans would be sent to the lunar surface to set up the infrastructure for a colony using local resources, The Moscow Times reported.
The first stage of the program is expected to cost around 815.8 million dollars, though Russia hopes to attract private investors to help bankroll the project.
Benefits of establishing a moon colony include access to the "treasure trove" of rare and valuable minerals, as well as the strategic importance of using the moon as a launchpad for future missions into deep space.
The paper added that China, India and Japan are also developing lunar exploration projects, and a California-based company, Moon Express, is planning to send its first robotic spacecraft to the satellite next year, according to the company's website.