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Russia revises space ambitions

Reporter: Daria Bondarchuk 丨 CCTV.com

09-14-2016 12:40 BJT

Russia has been forced to revise its space exploration plan and curb the budget due to a sluggish economy.

Once a pioneer in space travel, Russia, which sent Yuri Gagarin into space and produced the first man-made satellite, is now reconsidering its presence in earth's orbit.

It may cut down its three-people crew at the International Space Station by one astronaut - and start selling tickets to a space ride. Russia hopes to make its launches more cost-effective by cutting down each one by $20 million dollars.

"It’s a direct consequence of the economic crisis in Russia. And now Russia’s Space Agency is looking to attract new commercial space travellers in the next couple of years to fill in the vacating seat," Ivan Moiseyev, scientific director of Moscow Space Club, said.

Having once pioneered in space exploration, Russia is now revising its space ambitions, and given current economic challenges, it is uncertain whether Russia will be able to maintain its positions among global space powers.

Russia has already curbed its 2025 Federal Space Strategy and its entire budget for space travel for the next ten years is equal to NASA’s yearly budget on Earth Science.

If this trend maintains, experts say, Russia may soon lose its inhabited outpost in space.

"It’s very difficult to replace the ISS with something entirely of our own. And chances that we’ll be invited to participate in an international manned programme, by the United States, for in stance, are rather small. After the ISS terminates its mission, it is quite possible that Russia leaves, and the Chinese and the Americans will stay," Ivan said.

Russia may turn to other allies in space exploration in the future. China, whose Space Program has been steadily and rapidly advancing in the past decades and is now nearly on-par with Europe and Russia. Beijing and Moscow already cooperate at the United Nations on crucial issues like non-weaponisation of outer space among other projects.

"The Chinese navigation system, which is BeiDou, and the issue of interoperability and compatibility with Russian Glonass navigation systems is also developing. Plus when China says about its manned flights ambitions they already declared at the United Nations that they want other states to joint them," Ivan Kosenkov, analyst with Space Cluster of Skolkovo Foundation, said.

Areas like space bio science may also become points of joint scientific and space exploration in the future. But first the Russian government has to make a tough decision - whether to keep its astronauts in orbit not.

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