© roscosmos.ru
Ground control to Major Artyom? In the same week that NASA and SpaceX made headlines for performing a type of splashdown landing that the Soviet Union perfected in the 1970s, Russia is looking beyond mere orbital space travel.

The man behind Russia's latest spacecraft, the Oryol, says it will be able to fly to asteroids and Mars, as well as to the Moon. Igor Khamits made the comments during an interview with the Russian Space magazine, published by the federal space agency Roscosmos.

The Oryol is projected to begin crewed missions in 2025, with unmanned operations starting two years earlier. The capsule is scheduled to make an uncrewed flight around the Moon in 2028.

"The technical specifications do not stipulate a flight mission to asteroid," Khamits explained. "However, a flight can be carried out as part of an asteroid (inter-planetary) system, as well as a flight to Mars."

One of the basic tasks of the spacecraft is to make crewed flights to the Moon, he stressed. "Also, the technical specifications stipulate the transportation of crews to the International Space Station," the craft's chief designer said.

Khamits was appointed in June as the chief designer developing the Oryol spacecraft. Before that, this work was directed by Yevgeny Mikrin who died of a Covid-19-linked cause on May 5.