Putin unveils $50 bn drive for Russian space supremacy (Update)

Apr 12, 2013 by Stuart Williams
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a live link-up with the multinational crew of the International Space Sation (ISS) from the new Vostochny (Eastern) cosmodrome Russia is building in the Amur region of the Far East, on April 12, 2013. Putin unveiled a new $50bn drive for Russia to preserve its status as a top space power, including a new cosmodrome from where humans will fly to space

President Vladimir Putin on Friday unveiled a new $50 billion drive for Russia to preserve its status as a top space power, including the construction of a brand new cosmodrome from where humans will fly to space by the end of the decade.

Fifty-two years to the day since Yuri Gagarin became the Soviet Union's greatest hero by making the first human flight into space, Putin inspected the new Vostochny (Eastern) cosmodrome Russia is building in the Amur region of its Far East district.

Putin said in a live link-up with the multinational crew of the International Space Sation (ISS) that Russia hoped to have the first launches from Vostochny in 2015 and the first manned launches in 2018.

"It's going to be a great launch pad. It took a long time to choose but now work is fully underway," said Putin in comments broadcast on state television, adding that Vostochny would be fully operational by 2020.

Russia still carries out all manned launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan—the same place where Gagarin made his historic flight. But this has been clouded in recent years by disputes with the Kazakh authorities over lease terms.

Putin announced that the town being built around the new cosmodrome to house its engineers and families would be called Tsiolkovsky, in honour of the Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky who pioneered rocket design in the early Soviet era.

The Russian space programme has been hurt in recent years by a string of launch failures of unmanned probes and satellites, but Putin vowed Moscow would ramp up spending.

He said that from 2013-2020, Russia would be spending 1.6 trillion rubles ($51.8 billion, 38 million euros) on its space sector, a growth far greater than any other space power.

Putin complained that Russia was behind other states in space activities other than manned flights, which he said had long been the "priority" of the Russian space programme "to the detriment" of other projects.

With up to 58 percent of the Russian space budget going on manned space flight, Russia had lost ground to other powers, in particular in unmanned deep-space exploration, said Putin.

"We need to preserve what we have achieved in manned space flight but also to catch up in these other areas," said Putin, who said he also did not rule out the creation of a ministry of space.

One of Russia's most embarrassing failures was the loss of its Phobos-Grunt probe to Mars in 2012 which ended up crashing back into Earth rather than even coming close to completing its mission of visiting a Martian moon.

The disaster underlined Russia's weaknesses compared with US space agency NASA, which has basked in the huge public successes of its unmanned Mars missions in recent years.

But speaking to Canadian spaceman Chris Hadfield, currently commander of the ISS, Putin hailed cooperation in space which meant world powers could forget about the problems of international relations and think "about the future of mankind."

Russia's veteran Soyuz rocket and capsule system, based on the same principles as the system that launched Gagarin, is currently the sole means of transporting humans to the ISS since the retirement of the US shuttle.

Putin said that cosmonauts returning to Earth after lifting off from Vostochny would most likely splash down in the Pacific Ocean rather than land as they currently do in Kazakhstan.

"Most probably, according to specialists, they will come down on the ocean. So our cosmonauts will splash down rather than touch down," Putin said.

The head of Russia's space agency Roscosmos, Vladimir Popovkin, meanwhile said Moscow was targeting 2030 as the year in which it could begin creating a base on the moon for flights to Mars.

"The moon is a great launch pad, it's basically a big space object on which a whole load of things could be accommodated. Not using it would be sinful," he told state television.

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Birger
3.2 / 5 (5) Apr 12, 2013
Putin likes to talk but does not walk the walk. Klipr, the intended successor to Soyuz became yet another paper project, and so did its intended Angara booster.
Putin preferred to spend money on anything except long-term projects, to the point that even the vital oil and gas industry has gone without funds for necessary maintenance and prospecting.
This is what cleptocracy looks like action.
Anda
5 / 5 (2) Apr 12, 2013
In Russia and everywhere "natello", that's why all the world is in the current situation...

"Russia's veteran Soyuz rocket and capsule system, based on the same principles as the system that launched Gagarin, is currently the sole means of transporting humans to the ISS since the retirement of the US shuttle."
Things where "solid" and well made in those times. Not like today.
tverbeke
not rated yet Apr 13, 2013
$51.8 billion = 38 million euros are you kidding me?
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (3) Apr 13, 2013
In Russia and everywhere "natello", that's why all the world is in the current situation..
But not in such an order of magnitude like at Russia.
Things where "solid" and well made in those times.
Only because many failures of cosmic program were covered with propaganda in the past.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Apr 13, 2013
This remote new launch complex is for launching of spacecraft with nuclear engines which may be operational by 2017.
http://rt.com/new...ion-120/
fmfbrestel
not rated yet Apr 13, 2013
Evidently Elon Musk reads this site. His twitter just linked to this article.
GaryB
1 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2013
I think space tech has reached enough maturity that it can start to be privatized as what the US is doing with Space-X etc and that a huge new gov program is the wrong way to go. Note, I'm not libertarian. No government, no Space-X that much is clear. But, after another decade of nursing, we can perhaps have a self sustaining private industry starting now.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Apr 14, 2013
But not in such an order of magnitude like at Russia.

You're right. Other countries are worse.
As an example I'll give you a few from the US (but you can find plenty in other countries as well):
The big dig (boston tunnel): projected at 2.8bn$. Cost 14.6bn$

Span replacement of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge: Estimate 780mn$. First bid 1.4bn$. Final cost 6.3bn$

F-22: planned at 22bn$. Cost: over 66bn$ (about 340mn$ per aircraft)

F-35: cost per plane has already more than doubled. And the entire lifetime cost for that one (useless) plane will be over a trillion dollars.

Well, military projects are notorious for cost overruns. It's the perfect tool for siphoning taxpayer money to the rich, as the 'product' you buy never needs to show its capability (and if it does it is in an 'extreme' situation where any 'surprising' shortcomings can be excused away)
BrianH
not rated yet Apr 14, 2013
SpaceX would exist without the government; it is one among many customers. Its technology and capabilities will leapfrog both US and Russian government agencies, especially in value per dollar. No featherbedding there!
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2013
You're right. Other countries are worse.
As an example I'll give you a few from the US
But why not start with the fatherland?

"Disastrous Public Works Projects: A History of Political Deception in Germany

"Berlin's airport debacle is turning into what seems like a never-ending scandal, with critics worrying the capital city has seriously damaged its image. But it's not the only place in Germany that has seen projects plagued by delays and exploding costs."
http://www.spiege...856.html

-This list appears to be much longer than yours and far more embarrassing. Stimmt?
http://mymemory.t...h/stimmt
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2013
military projects are notorious for cost overruns. It's the perfect tool for siphoning taxpayer money to the blahblahblah
Military systems in particular must employ the very latest and most advanced technology. In addition, they often take a long time from inception to deployment.

And so they are often planned and designed with the understanding that components which are not yet available, will become available when they are needed. This often results in overruns and even dead ends, but is the only way to ensure battlefield superiority for as long as possible.

A stellar example is the M1A1 tank which provided overwhelming superiority in the gulf war.

Western hardware is the only reason israel still exists. Much of it, especially aircraft, was fielded long before it was optimum.

Really AA you shouldnt be commenting on things you dont understand, either due to lack of interest in educating yourself or because you are too overwhelmed by pacifist propaganda to reason clearly.
SnowballSolarSystem _SSS_
1 / 5 (3) Apr 25, 2013
Discover life on Europa and all else will be forgiven.