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Tricky for Russia to cash in on space industry

09-29-2011 15:14 BJT Special Report:Tiangong I - China's first space rendezvous and docking task |

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Since the retirement of the US space shuttle program, countries with ambitions to explore the final frontier are now having to rely on Russia to ferry people and cargo to the International Space Station. Moscow is set to make millions of dollars from it, as well as other space projects. However, as CCTV correspondent Anya Ardayeva reports, turning space exploration into a lucrative enterprise is proving to be a tricky business for Russia.

The Progress supply ship, carrying more than 2.5 tons of supplies, failed to reach its planned orbit and crashed into an uninhabited area in the Russian region of Altai.

Chris Cassidy, US astronaut, said, “At the end of the day, space systems are space systems regardless of what country you are in and you need air, you need pressurization and you need various things, you need to fight fires and we train the same systems, the same systems in the US than we do in Russia, it’s just with different equipment.”

The accident occurred at a time when Russia carries the sole responsibility for ferrying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station onboard Soyuz rockets, which have been the workforce of the Russian space program since 1966.

This joint water rescue training took place at a base just outside Moscow. Now American and European astronauts have to learn Russian to train with Russian cosmonauts and using Russian equipment.

Chris Cassidy, US astronaut, said, “At the end of the day, space systems are space systems regardless of what country you are in and you need air, you need pressurization and you need various things, you need to fight fires and we train the same systems, the same systems in the US than we do in Russia, it’s just with different equipment.”

According to the deal it has with with NASA, Russia gets more than 50 million dollars for every US astronaut it carries to space. In the past, Russia also sold seats to space tourists for 20 million dollars - but this project has been terminated due to lack of space at the ISS.

Moscow, however, still hopes to earn more money. Alexei Korostylev from Dept. of Int’l Cooperation, RFSA, said, “We understand quite well, together with Russian research institutes and design bureaus that space can be sold, of course. And if there’s high-quality product, of course space industry can sell it. So we are establishing better conditions for doing that.”

Alexei Korostylev from Dept. of Int’l Cooperation, RFSA, said, “We understand quite well, together with Russian research institutes and design bureaus that space can be sold, of course. And if there’s high-quality product, of course space industry can sell it. So we are establishing better conditions for doing that.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has named space technology as one of the key areas of his modernisation programme. In 2009, federal spending increased to 2.4 billion dollars – and in 2011, the government said it would spend 3.8 billion on national space programs.

The new chief of Russia’s Space Agency Vladimir Popovkin said recently that Russia wanted to shift focus from manned flights, which take almost half of the budget, to more lucrative technology-oriented projects and attract private capital. He said the agency would concentrate on satellite communication, navigation systems and meteorological study.

Experts say that while Russian space technology bears a lot of potential, Russia also needs to improve its crash record-the loss of Progress cargo ship is just the latest in a string of accidents involving Russian spacecraft. In the course of just one year, there have been at least three incidents involving different rockets, with Russia losing three pricey navigation satellites when a Proton rocket crashed into the Pacific Ocean in December.

 

Editor:Zhang Dan |Source: CNTV.CN

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