Understanding Nature "Will Be Impossible Without Space Exploration Programs," Putin Tells Space Policymakers
April 12, 2011 • 10:26AM

Speaking on April 7 to a meeting with policymakers to discuss the future of Russia's space program, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recalled the "legendary event" of Yuri Gagarin's flight 50 years ago as starting "a new chapter in human history." In closing remarks, Putin said, "our colleagues have just mentioned that we noticed certain signs of the earthquake that struck Japan before it happened. And we understand the tragic consequences of this disaster. Naturally, in conncetion with this we seriously need space programs."

"There is still a lot that we have yet to understand about the way nature works," he continued. "And this will be impossible without space exploration programs, without the space industry you work for, and which makes us proud."

Over the past few years, Prime Minister Putin has pushed hard for rebuilding the Russian space program, which was savaged under the British-led monetarist oligarchs. The Buran space shuttle was scrapped, as was the giant Energia rocket. Over the past five years, however, Russia increased space spending by 40%, and earmarked $7 billion for 2010-2011.

"In 2013, we are to begin flight development tests of light and heavy [lift] Angara carrier rockets at the Plesetsk space center," Putin reported. "We will also design and manufacture the Rus-M launcher to orbit manned and cargo spacecraft," the successor to the Soyuz rocket, and "the first manned flight is scheduled for 2018."

The Prime Minister mentioned Russia's current program to return to the development of space nuclear power systems "to base promising space projects on." That program, he explained "will allow interplanetary flights, lunar exploration, and the study of primary planets." In fact, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is due in Moscow later this week, and Russian experts hope to place nuclear rocket development on the agenda for cooperation.

Putin said that, based on the successful international cooperation in the space station program, and satellite search and rescue, Russia proposes to the space station partners — U.S., Europe, Canada and Japan — "to study the Moon, Mars, and other planets together." He called on Russia's Federal Space Agency to "join hands with the Russian Academy of Sciences for the long-term planning of space exploration." A report they are preparing, he said, would be ready in August.

The Prime Minister ended his prepared remarks referring back to the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's flight, saying that he is "confident that Russia will make many more breakthroughs in space exploration."