The world should cooperate to send the first manned space flight to Mars, a former Russian cosmonaut said at an event in Mexico held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first man in space.
Yuri Gagarin made the first manned space flight April 12, 1961, and orbited Earth for 108 minutes before landing safely near Russia's Saratov town.
"I think that man's first flight to Mars will happen in the mid-term timeline," former cosmonaut Nikolai Budarin said,"I believe Russia will work closely with the Americans and Chinese."
Budarin said much attention is now being given to flying to Mars. The Mars-500 programme simulating a Mars mission is currently under way in Russia.
The project was launched June 30, 2010, with six volunteers who will spend 520 days "in space and on Mars".
Budarin praised the Russian government for giving more attention to space programmes.
"We are now building our own Russian space launch centre, Vostochny, in the far east and the government has allotted 27 billion rubles ($963 million) to the first stage of construction, and we are planning to finish the project by 2020," Budarin said.
Budarin said he was only eight years old when Gagarin flew to space.
Budarin's first space flight was in 1995 at the age of 42 as an engineer on board the Mir space station. He flew two more missions in 1998 and 2003, spending a total of 444 days in space and making eight space walks.