Russia plans to regain world leadership in space and remain among the top three space powers, a draft of a space exploration strategy until 2030 submitted to the government by the country’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos says.
The draft strategy has not been unveiled to the public. Some information has been leaked to the media, allowing us to assume that the new strategy is very ambitious. Among other goals, Russia plans a manned moon mission, following a series of lunar rover probes. It also plans to send probes to Venus and Jupiter, and place several research stations on Mars. The new strategy also suggests producing a heavy missile launcher capable of carrying up to 180 tons of cargo from the Vostochny spaceport. Another task will be to start building a new generation space station. All these goals are possible to achieve, says Igor Marinin, chief editor of the Novosti kosmonavtiki (News of cosmonautics) magazine:
"A one-time lunar mission will attract investment into the Russian space industry and will give a boost to space technology. At the same time, it is not a very costly project: to organize a mission is one thing, while building a permanent base on the moon is another. If somebody joins us after we successfully carry out our first mission, we will seek more flights. Together with other countries we will be able to build a base on the moon."
A high level of Russian spacecrafts will be ensured through their upgrading. By 2020 the percentage of parts produced abroad will be reduced drastically. The move comes amid the failure of the Phobos-grunt probe late last year, which some experts blamed on flawed foreign parts. Russia’s Ministry for Atomic Energy said it was ready to produce all necessary equipment for Roscosmos.
Although experts admit that all tasks are possible to fulfill, they criticize the authors of the draft strategy for outlining all goals at a time, with little information provided on the sources of financing, both federal and privately-owned. Alexander Zheleznyakov, member of the Russian Space Academy, believes that although space industry is not very attractive for businessmen, some of them have shown their interest in joining in…
"Nowadays they do not expect a return on investment within 1-3 years. Farsighted businessmen are ready to invest in long-term projects. If they are offered a favorable investment climate, they will cooperate. But the authorities should work with them on equal terms, and share the profit."
Anyway, there is a reason for optimism: Russia has increased its spending on space industry. Ten years ago the US would spend on space exploration 25 times more than Russia. Now this difference has reduced, with Russia investing in space industry just four times less than its American partners.
Russia plans to create a special presidential council on space exploration to ensure the implementation of the 2030 strategy.