While Obama Destroys NASA, Russia Speeds Up Its Own Moon-Mars Project
April 7, 2011 • 11:11AM

While insane President Barack Obama is destroying the U.S. manned space program, the Russians remain committed to going to the Moon and Mars. In an interview with Bloomberg, Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said Russia will accelerate planned missions to the Moon that could put a man on the Moon within 10 years.

"It is the first time that the government has allocated decent financing to us," Perminov said in a phone interview on April 2. The agency's $3.5 billion budget for 2011 is the highest since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. "We can now advance on all themes a bit," Perminov said.

"We are increasing the space budget as the time has come for a technological breakthrough," Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, also told Bloomberg. "We need to replace outdated infrastructure and continue to support the flagship status of the space industry." Russia intends to continue allocating more funds for the space industry, Peskov said. "We'll increase financing if possible, depending on the budget balance, because the industry was and remains one of our priorities," he said.

On April 5, Russia's Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft, with three astronauts, including one American, was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome en route to the International Space Station. April 12 marks the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's first mission as the first man to go into space. Alexander Samokutiaev and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, and NASA's Ron Garan are scheduled to arrive at the station on April 7, Roscosmos said on its website.

Russia now receives $752 million from the U.S. for sending crews to the ISS through 2015. Of course, Bloomberg points out that this is happening just as Obama is scrapping the U.S. manned space program, and NASA is seeking an $18.7 billion budget for next year, $300 million less than the funding targeted for this year.

"We need the Mars flight, as it will help create new large-scale technologies," Yuriy Karash, member of the Russian Space Academy, told Bloomberg. "It means there will be new rockets, new engines, new anti-radiation medicine that will protect people in outer space." Russia may be able to complete a Mars mission within 12 years if it is included in the new Federal space program, Karash said. Roscosmos is working on a plan that will start in 2015, to focus more on outer space than before, Perminov said in the interview. A flight to Mars is more likely in cooperation with other space programs, according to the Roscosmos plan.

Russia will need a new rocket, a new manned spacecraft for crews of between four and six members, and a new launch site to operate manned flights as early as in 2018, Perminov said. The new rocket, Rus-M, which is to become Russia's main vehicle for manned spaceflights, should be ready for the 2015 start of Russia's new space program, he said.