Russia may accelerate planned missions to the moon and Mars as it seeks to maintain its lead over China in space exploration and close the gap with the U.S.
Russia may start manned flights to the moon by the end of the decade, 10 years earlier than previously planned, and establish a base there by 2030, according to Russia’s Roscosmos space agency. Russia may also send a man to Mars by 2040.
“It is the first time that the government has allocated decent financing to us,” Anatoly Perminov, Нead of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said in a phone interview.
The agency’s $3.5 billion budget for 2011 has almost tripled since 2007, reaching the highest since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. “We can now advance on all themes a
bit,” Perminov said.
Unlike 50 years ago, when beating the U.S. into space marked a geopolitical victory in the Cold War, Russia is focusing on the commercial, technological and scientific aspects of space travel. President Dmitry Medvedev has named aerospace one of five industries the government plans to nurture to help diversify the economy of the world’s largest energy supplier
away from resource extraction.
“We are increasing the space budget as the time has come for a technological breakthrough,” Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, said by phone. “We
need to replace outdated infrastructure and continue to support the flagship status of the space industry.”