Russia slashes space funding amid economic woes

PM Medvedev cuts space budget by 30 percent in an effort to reign in spending in the face of deepening economic crisis.

    Space exploration is a subject of national pride in Russia, rooted in the Cold War 'space race' with the US  [EPA]
    Space exploration is a subject of national pride in Russia, rooted in the Cold War 'space race' with the US [EPA]

    Russia has slashed funding for its space programme by 30 percent in an effort to rein in state spending in the face of a deepening economic crisis

    Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered Russia's space programme budget for 2016-2025 to be cut from 2 trillion roubles ($29.24bn) to 1.4 trillion roubles.

    "It is a large programme, but we need such big programmes, even in circumstances when all is not well with the economy," TASS news agency quoted Medvedev as saying on Thursday.

    Space exploration is a subject of national pride in Russia, rooted in the Cold War "space race" with the United States, and has been touted by President Vladimir Putin as a symbol of his country's resurgent global standing.

    But along with other large-scale and costly projects, such as preparations for the 2018 football World Cup, state support for Russian space agency Roscosmos has fallen victim to Russia's steep economic downturn, fuelled by a collapse in global oil prices and Western sanctions.


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    In addition, Moscow has been involved militarily in the conflict in Syria, costing the country almost $500m, according to Putin.

    After launching an aerial campaign against the opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last September, Russia began drawing down its forces on Tuesday.

    In line with its reduced funding, the space agency has agreed to delay a manned flight to the moon by five years - to 2035 from 2030 - and scrap plans to develop a reusable rocket, a potentially valuable cost-saving technology.

    A spokesman for Roscosmos previously said the agency would reassess its plans after 2025.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And Reuters


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