Russia Plans to Increase Spending, Restore and Surpass Soviet-Era Space Capabilities
December 29, 2012 • 10:00AM

High level government officials have announced that Russian spending on its space program will be substantially increased from 2013 to the year 2020. This, in order to re-establish the broad range of stellar capabilities — including launch vehicles, manned spacecraft, and Earth-orbital systems — that made it a leader before the post-Soviet take-down of the Russian economy. Responding to a string of launch vehicle failures over the past two years, government leaders have called for a package of new policies, and this week's announcements signal their intention to fund it.

On Dec. 27th, Prime Minister Medvedev told RIA Novosti that Russia will spend 2.1 trillion rubles, or about $70 billion, on development of its space industry over the next eight years. This average $8.75 billion annually is about double what the government has been allocating for the space industry, and most likely includes contributions from what NASA pays to launch astronauts to the space station, what companies earn from commercial launches, etc. But comparisons of rubles-to-dollars spent are of little value, in any case, since there is little correspondence between what NASA or Boeing pays engineers or scientists, and what Roscosmos pays. What is important is the direction, and the intention of rebuilding capacity.

Medvedev stated that the total funding will enable Russia to "effectively participate in forward-looking projects, such as the ISS, [and] the study of the Moon, Mars, and other celestial bodies in the Solar System...." Roscosmos chief, Valdimir Popovkin told Itar-Tass that "by 2015 we shall restore the capabilities we had back in the Soviet era, and in 2015-2020, we are [going] to create conditions for a breakthrough on the basis of new technologies."