“Race to the Moon”, Newsweek/MSNBC. Starts off with a none-too-flattering remark about Sergei, much to his admirers’ indignation! (This author included!) As the article goes on, it seems that Sergei is (not surprisingly) unhappy with the chronic underfunding of his country’s manned space program, which is bad for morale. (He isn’t the only cosmonaut who is – see 14/1 entry.
For a space hero, Sergey Krikalev is something of a grump. Krikalev holds the world’s record for time spent in outer space – he has logged an incredible 803 days, including time on Russia’s Mir space station back in the 1980s, when the International Space Station was still a distant dream. Between flights, Krikalev works at Energiya, which makes some of the biggest and most reliable rockets in the world. Despite these accomplishments, however, Krikalev, like many of his colleagues in Russia’s space program, seems to spend much of his time complaining about a lack of funds. He may have a point. Energiya’s glass and concrete offices outside Moscow are drab 1970s retro. Salaries at Energiya average a mere $400 a month, though Krikalev, at the top of the scale, gets $1000.
This legendary stinginess is the bane of Krikalev, and Russia’s ace in the hole. Although it lost the moon race in the 1960s, since then Russia’s space program has made a habit of performing heroic deeds on a shoestring – in many respects besting its well-heeled U.S. rival. While NASA struggled with its unreliable and fabulously complex space shuttle, Russia was racking up the mileage with its simple, durable Proton boosters – even during the chaotic years following the Soviet Union’s collapse. Now, despite Krikalev’s complaints, Russia’s space program is emerging from the lean years.
(Comments at CollectSPACE on the article)
Some brief summaries from Novosti Kosmonavtiki №603:
Colonel-General Vladimir Popovkin of the Space Forces (Космические войска) said that an officer from the Space Forces could go into space in five years to carry out “experiments in the interests of the military department.” One Space Forces officer has already done a short flight: Yurii Shargin. C-G Popovkin also thinks that Russian manned spaceflight should have a “national idea.” The Space Forces are now at 100% strength in staffing levels.
He also said that Svobodny Cosmodrome is to be closed, or at least not used for rocket launches. (There seems to be some confusion about this as it is not officially confirmed?)
(Svobodny Cosmodrome to closed in 2007 at NASASpaceflight.com)
On 30 December 2006 Michael Fradkov, the Chairman of the government of the Russian Federation, signed the order №1860-P which approved the prospective financial plan of the Russian Federation for 2007-2009. According to the plan, the financing of Federal Space Agency activities in 2007 is stipulated in volume of 32 985 322,3 thousand roubles, in 2008 – 34 327 724,8 thousand roubles, in 2009 – 36 903 201,1 thousand roubles. From these sums it is supposed to allocate for national defense 4 103 067,6; 3 758 094,0 and 3 861 377,5 thousand roubles accordingly, and on national economy 28 818 454,7; 30 486 976,2 and 32 951 892,0 thousand roubles accordingly. The rest of the means allocated from the budget to the Federal Space Agency, will be spent for housing-and-municipal construction (55 800,0; 60 654,6 and 65 931,6 thousand roubles accordingly) and on social policy (8 000,0; 22 000,0 and 24 000,0 thousand roubles accordingly). In spite of the fact that in the budget of the Federal Space Agency financing works in the field of national defense, not all of money which Russia spends for military space is stipulated. Some amounts “are buried” in the budget of the Defence Minister.