MOSCOW, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Russia would resume its program of inter-planetary explorations after a long break with an unmanned mission to the Martian satellite Phobos, a Russian space company said Thursday.
According to Victor Khartov, head of the Lavochkin Scientific and Production Company, the launch of the Phobos-Grunt vehicle was scheduled for November.
"Our country is about to return to planets and stars. We must learn how to fly to deep space, to Mars, after a 20-year break," Khartov told the Interfax news agency.
He admitted the Phobos mission would be "very risky", but said "the first step must be made".
Russia had spent about 5 billion rubles (161 million U.S. dollars) preparaing for the three-year mission, which would include drilling Phobos' surface and returning 200 grams of soil back to Earth in 2014, he said.
The mission would also collect bacteria samples for two Russian and one U.S. biological experiments.
According to the director of the Russian Space Explorations Institute Lev Zeleny, scientists want to find out if the bacteria can survive a long space trip.
The vehicle itself would be disinfected before the launch to prevent micro-organisms being inadvertently transferred between Earth and Phobos.