MOSCOW, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Russia plans to launch an unmanned space vehicle to the Moon in 2015, federal space agency Roscosmos said on Tuesday.
"In 2015, the first launch from the Vostochny cosmodrome will be the Luna-Globe launch," Vladimir Popovkin, head of Roscosmos, told reporters.
Vostochny is a new Russian space center under construction in the Far Eastern Amur region.
The Luna-Globe vehicle would carry a minimal set of scientific equipment because the mission was mainly aimed to work out the Moon landing operation itself, he said.
The 1,400-kg spacecraft would drop a 500-kg landing module on the Moon's South Pole, he added.
The unmanned Moon landing mission was designed to prove Russia's ability to land on other space objects, Viktor Khartov, general director of the Lavochkin Research and Production Association, told local media.
Russia's space strategy charted by Roscosmos until 2030 regards the Moon missions as a step toward a manned flight to Mars.
Russia also plans to launch in 2018 from Vostochny a brand-new manned spacecraft that would gradually replace the Soyuz spaceships, Russia's space working horse since 1967, Popovkin of Roscosmos said.
The Soyuz has become the world's only manned link to the International Space Station since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle program last year.