What if the Soviet Union had sent a manned mission to Mars decades ago? Would it have been successful? Credit: John Mattos

The Soviets Planned Manned Missions To Mars In 1985

Evidenced by a declassified CIA document.


The Soviet Union had real plans to send humans to Mars decades ago. This was revealed in a declassified document of the CIA, provided by John Greenewald, founder, and owner of the Black Vault.

Quite obviously, such a mission never occurred and despite that these exact plans must have been abandoned decades ago, details about this mission remained secret until 2018.


You can find the whole declassified document by following this LINK but the file itself is quite long and we have summarized it for you in the following lines.

The Allegedly Planned Soviet Mission to Mars

Before we begin, I would like to mention that all information in the declassified document includes data available as of 1985. The CIA had admitted to having many other documents that cannot be revealed to the public and this was the only one they authorized according to the law.

And since we do not know about their further investigations and information, most of what was written was assumptions and possible outcomes of the Soviet attempts to send a mission to Mars. Moreover, huge parts of the declassified document were redacted or hidden which means there was more to it than the CIA wants the public to know.

As the document suggests, the technology for a manned flight to Mars did not exist back in 1985 but there were clear indications that the Soviet Union was working on its development.

In the early 80s, the Soviets expressed their confidence in future missions to Mars in official documents to the USA, also stating that they are far ahead in the development of technologies than the Americans.


In comparison, the first American plan for manned exploration of Mars was published in 1952, and in the years after, there were different studies and debates on how it could be accomplished. There was an official goal to send people to Mars by the end of the 20th century, as well as to create a permanent settlement by 2010. Of course, we all know none of this happened.

One of the indications for the Soviet efforts, stated in the declassified document, was the occurrence of long-term manned spaceflights. According to them, the Soviets were sending longer and longer missions that suggested their interest in planetary missions.

The other clear indicators were the technologies in sudden development. We will not dive deep into these technologies but the document clearly states at least three approaches that the Soviets could have attempted in sending a manned mission to Mars.

In the end, no such mission ever occurred or maybe it did in complete secrecy. Both the document and the Soviet documents from this time suggested that it could happen in the late 90s but as far as it is publicly known, the first manned mission to Mars is yet to come.

Do you think it could be possible that there have been missions to Mars, whether Soviet, American, or else? About a month ago, the former space security chief of Israel stated that the Americans have been in contact with alien civilizations for decades and there have been joint missions to Mars. He even stated that there are plans for an underground base on the Red planet under development. Interesting but unlikely, right?

In each case, there are major plans for the exploration of Mars for the upcoming decades. Whether the necessary technology exists today or not, it is being developed for real now and will surely be revealed soon enough.

I believe that this endeavor should be a joint effort by the governments, rather than a race which space exploration has always been in the past. I understand the desire to be first and better than the opposing side but I believe the time for this has passed.


Neither the Americans nor the Soviets managed to send a manned mission to Mars in the past but now when technology is progressing by the day and there are real possibilities for such an achievement, it could all happen sooner if we all work together.

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Greenewald, J. (2020, December 21). Soviet Plans for a Manned Flight to Mars, May 1985.
LLC, R., NASA, P., & Ressmeyer, P. (2015, November 11). Here’s Why There’s Still Not a Human on Mars.
Portree, D. (n.d.). Shuttle-Era Manned Mars Flyby (1985).
Soviet Plans for a Manned Flight to Mars ( [PDF]. (2018, March 22). The Black Vault.

Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

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