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Russia Adding $50 Billion To Space Effort 130

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
An anonymous reader sends news that Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled today a new $50 billion effort to maintain and extend the country's space capabilities. Part of this initiative is a new spaceport located in Russia, which will lead to the first manned launches from Russian soil in 2018. Manned launches currently originate from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. "The Russian space programme has been hurt in recent years by a string of launch failures of unmanned probes and satellites, but Putin vowed Moscow would continue to ramp up spending. He said that from 2013-2020, Russia would be spending 1.6 trillion rubles ($51.8 billion, 38 million euros) on its space sector, a growth far greater than any other space power. 'Developing our potential in space will be one of the priorities of state policy,' Putin said at a meeting in the regional capital Blagoveshchensk. ... speaking to Canadian spaceman Chris Hadfield, currently commander of the ISS, Putin hailed cooperation in space which meant world powers could forget about the problems of international relations and think 'about the future of mankind.'"
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Russia Adding $50 Billion To Space Effort

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  • by orzetto (545509) on Friday April 12, 2013 @09:23AM (#43431969)
    I read the headline like some anonymous oligarch pledged the money out of its own pocket...
    • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday April 12, 2013 @09:30AM (#43432041)

      I read the headline like some anonymous oligarch pledged the money out of its own pocket...

      You sound skeptical Mr Bond.

    • by am 2k (217885)

      I read the headline like some anonymous oligarch pledged the money out of its own pocket...

      Well, he's not anonymous, but Putin rules Russia like it's his own anyways, so you're pretty much right on the second part.

      • I think his eye might have been drawn to the "anonymous reader" part of the summary to fill in details. Mine was too.

      • There is probably no one else in the entire world having as much fun as Putin. I, for one, am genuinely jealous of that lucky bastard
      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Though if he wanted to put $50B of his own money in, he almost could. Despite his claims that his net worth is less than a million, real estimates (due to his shares from plundering - I mean privatizing - the Russian oil & gas industry) is closer to $40B. The current Russian regime makes the US robber barons of the late 1800s look like small potatoes...

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I read the headline like some anonymous oligarch pledged the money out of its own pocket...

      In Capitalist West one misplaced n gives one man credit over a nation.

      In other news - the United States of American all belongs to one rich, rich person.

    • well, does it matter where the money comes from really ? now if vlad and barack and maybe the chinese collective and japan if they can overcome their past would please be so kind as to get round the table before this turns into a race where no one benefits from in the end and all that's left is epic presidential speeches and conspiracy theories so many years later ?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ($51.8 billion, 38 million euros)

    Am I missing something, or has the exchange rate really gotten that bad for the dollar?

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      ($51.8 billion, 38 million euros)

      Am I missing something, or has the exchange rate really gotten that bad for the dollar?

      According to this converter [likeforex.com] it is 39.6 million - but the same ballpark

      • Re:Inflation (Score:5, Informative)

        by jeffmeden (135043) on Friday April 12, 2013 @11:03AM (#43432953) Homepage Journal

        ($51.8 billion, 38 million euros)

        Am I missing something, or has the exchange rate really gotten that bad for the dollar?

        According to this converter [likeforex.com] it is 39.6 million - but the same ballpark

        a "Billion" in the US isnt the same as a "billion" in the EU. Most euro countries use the term "Billion" to mean a million million, which is the US "Trillion".

        Not that it makes it right, since a Million is the same in the US and EU. They should have said "38 thousand million euros" or "38 milliard euros".

        • Nonsense and bullshit. In general, the whole planet has acquiesced to the US convention of 1 billion == 1 000 000 000. Those who don't agree are doomed to be misunderstood and sidelined.

        • by fuzzywig (208937)
          That used to be the case, but in the UK we generally use billion to mean 10^9, as with the US usage.
    • Yeah, we can get a new macbook for a euro now a days. It kinda sucks because everything costs 1 eurocent, which is a little over 13 USD. You pretty much have to buy in bulk.
  • Thankyou Putin! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StatureOfLiberty (1333335) on Friday April 12, 2013 @09:25AM (#43431979)
    It sure would be nice if this served as a wake up call to Congress. Our space program could use some attention too (...the good kind).
    • Agreed! We could use some competition to scare congress into action.
    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      If only we could get the NRA to endorse NASA.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Just need to get them to think we are shooting the moon.

      • by Wookact (2804191)
        I would support arming the next space shuttle and enacting stand your orbit laws, if it got us back into orbit.
        • The "next space shuttle" may take a while, but there have certainly been guns in space [nbcnews.com].
          • by kermidge (2221646)

            Did a search on "soviet secret space stations" because I remembered reading of them - my memory was refreshed about the Almaz program, in itself fascinating reading.

            Further, if one reads the linked article and at the end clicks to the main page, there is a wealth of researched and referenced material on all manner of space efforts, manned and unmanned.

            If you or anyone has interest, you may wish to check it out:

            Space History Notes
            http://www.svengrahn.pp.se/histind/histind1.htm [svengrahn.pp.se]

            • by fuzzywig (208937)
              The US version was Manned Orbiting Laboratory [wikipedia.org] and was pretty similar in intent, although it was cancelled before it flew.
              • by kermidge (2221646)

                Yup, hadn't forgotten MOL, which I thought at the time could have been pursued usefully, but thanks for the tip. So far as I know none of the MOL missions involved anti-sat weaponry. According to what I've read, at least one of Almaz stations was armed with a cannon ~23mm and test fired. Somewhere I still might have some links, but can't find them. (my lack of organization is really pissing me off these days) This link gives some good info on Almaz:

                http://www.astronautix.com/craft/almazops.htm [astronautix.com]

                Came acro

    • by Trepidity (597)

      NASA's budget is actually still higher than even this new, massively increased level of Russian spending. Depending on whether the 2013-2020 period Putin mentions is inclusive (8 years) or not (7 years), $51.8 billion is around $6-8 billion/year. NASA's budget, meanwhile, is around $18 billion/year.

    • It sure would be nice if this served as a wake up call to Congress. Our space program could use some attention too (...the good kind).

      I doubted this was Newt Gingrich, too... until I saw the 33333. Total money.

    • My question is whether he will actually commit the money.....or whether he is following the example of Bush, Obama, Newt, Romney, and every other presidential candidate by promising that the space program will be amazing in order to get votes. Then after he has the votes not delivering the money.
      • by khallow (566160)
        Well, they've announced all sorts of plans over the years. In the past, they wouldn't even bother hanging a price on the scheme. So actually giving a price tag is a considerable step forward.
    • Unless you limit your definition of "space program" to "boldly creating ever more impressive publicity stunts"... our space program is doing pretty dang good, and will only improve once Dragon becomes fully operational and we have our own manned access to space.

  • Funny how broke-ass Russia can afford to spend 50B next year on their space program but the much richer USA pleads poverty and will spend less than 1/3 of that. No wonder Russia/USSR has consistently had a better space program than the Americans.

    • by alen (225700)

      all that money we spent on the shuttle, insane

      space travel is going private like it should

    • by Anonymous Coward

      We are too busy arguing about who gets a subsidized 'obamaphone'. And making sure we spend 800billion in fighting in some country we stomped 10 years ago. Then making sure our education system spends another 400 billion teaching to the test.

    • OK, I'll go ahead and correct myself before the "fact nazis" can. [shakes tiny fist at those who require facts] I misread the summary as saying they would be spending the 50B next year instead of over the next 8 years. Currently, 1/2 of the Russian space budget goes to the ISS, hopefully this additional money will allow them to expand some exploratory programs that have been cut.

    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      No wonder Russia/USSR has consistently had a better space program than the Americans.

      In defense of the U.S., we've accomplished a lot for a country that didn't have Sergei Korolev.

    • "Funny how broke-ass Russia can afford to spend 50B next year ..."
      Priorities... you have your national budget and you decide how you want to spend it. Most people think their government should spend more on X (the thing they are passionate about) and less on Y (the thing they don't care about). I guess you have to decide how to slice up the cake.

  • USD must suck (Score:2, Redundant)

    by sanosuke001 (640243)
    Wow, I knew the euro was doing better than the dollar but I had no idea that $51.8 billion == 38 million euros...
    • The Federal Reserve is running the printing presses day and night to print new US dollars to pay debts. Now, where have I heard of that happening before and how did it turn out?
    • Its worse then that, the Canadian dollar has been matching and often outpacing the US dollar for much of the time since the 2008 collapse.

      • by Wildclaw (15718)

        Its worse then that, the Canadian dollar has been matching and often outpacing the US dollar for much of the time since the 2008 collapse.

        The CND has pretty much the exact same relative value as it had before the 2008 collapse (1:1). The EUR has significantly less relative value (it was at 1.6 and is now 1.3).

  • Russian GDP is $2T. 50B/2T = 2.5% of GDP for this project.
    Maybe a decimal place is off somewhere?
    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2001.html#rs [cia.gov]
    • Nevermind.... it's over several years... duh
      • by isorox (205688)

        Nevermind.... it's over several years... duh

        It's a great trick

        "I pledge 50 billion"
        "(over 10 years)"
        "(( to be paid 10 dollars per year for 9 years and the balance in year 10))"
        "((( I'll re announce this every year for the next 5 years)))"
        "(((( I'll quiely cancel the project in year 6, and announce a replacement 10 year pledge, and repeat))))"

  • by Prokur (2445102)
    Currently allocated budget for 2013 is $5.6 bn
    Considering $51.8bn is going to be spent during 7 years then it is less than 5% growth per year.
    Keeping in mind the inflation, there is no groowth at all!
  • At least one manned launch a year for next four years. One more to their current space station. Then a new, larger three part space station.

    Hey, its one more launch a year than the Americans who will have no more this decade.

    Perhpas the Russians are competing with the Chinese now. I think they are more concerned about the possible lost of Baikanor.
    • by khallow (566160)

      At least one manned launch a year for next four years. One more to their current space station. Then a new, larger three part space station.

      Where are these "ambitious plans"? They could have done the above in the 90s. Sure, it does look a bit more ambitious than NASA's plans (especially when one considers the relative budgets of each), but I'd point to SpaceX for someone with actual ambitious plans. Falcon Heavy is scheduled for later this year. 50 metric tons to LEO!

      SpaceX incidentally plans the first manned Dragon capsule mission in 2015 for NASA which would be this decade.

      • by peter303 (12292)
        NASA internal shuttle replacement has slipped from 2014 to 2018 already. If I was a betting man, I'd double the time again.

        There are three private developed bids out. Only Dragon has launched. Even they wont get human certification until the late part of this decade at the earliest. Especially after the snafu in the last launch. NASA wants all LEO manned private if they can find somebody.
        • by khallow (566160) on Friday April 12, 2013 @01:03PM (#43434143)

          NASA internal shuttle replacement has slipped from 2014 to 2018 already. If I was a betting man, I'd double the time again.

          I wouldn't bet on NASA ever completing a Shuttle replacement. And I am on occasion a betting man. I think by 2018, we're going to see performance deterioration with the Space Launch System (SLS) like was seen with the Ares I rocket design. Politically driven paper rockets suffer greatly when real engineers start looking at the design and someone actually starts to bend metal for them.

          For example, they're still chained to ATK's solid rocket motors. I don't think they'll see thrust oscillation issues like the Ares I had (they're using the same trick that the Shuttle used to limit thrust oscillation), but they still have at least two big problems - the mass and risk of solid rocket motors.

          That leads to several major infrastructure issues. First, expensive vehicle integration facilities are exposed to considerably more risk. If a solid rocket motor prematurely ignites on a launchpad, you probably will be able to recover most of the pad. If not you can always have a back up one ready to keep the launch tempo going.

          If a solid rocket motor prematurely ignites in the Vehicle Assembly Building [wikipedia.org], you just lost a key part of your launch infrastructure and can't do anything until you make a new one in a few years. That incidentally should give you a good idea of how screwy NASA can be about risk management.

          If that solid rocket motor ruptures shortly after launch, it will create a hotter and more dangerous fireball than a liquid fuel equivalent. Any crew on board would have to have a faster escape system to get further away from the fireball. That means more mass taken away from a payload and more risk to the crew. It also puts deeper constraints on launch trajectories to achieve that "manned certificate".

          As I mentioned solid rocket motors are heavy. Because they are mounted in vehicle integration, they have to be carried as part of the vehicle stack all the way to the launch pad. You add at least 1,000 tons to the mass of the resulting vehicle and much more than double the weight you have to move (liquid propellants are pumped in on the pad). But if you had used liquid fueled rockets all the way, you could wheel it up on a heavy duty rail, faster and cheaper.

          Similarly, they have lower ISP than liquid fuel rockets (though a bit more thrust). You need a higher mass fraction and hence more propellant mass overall for the same dry and payload mass.

          Another traditional area of performance deterioration is cost per launch. Currently, I believe they are claiming half a billion per launch. I think, once you include fixed costs per year and the really low launch frequency of three a year, that the revised estimate per launch will end being well on the other side of a billion dollars - and they'll still be at least years away from launching.

          By that time, we should have a working Falcon Heavy rocket which puts 50 metric tons in LEO for far less per kg than the SLS can ever manage. I think the SLS at that point will make so little sense politically, economically, and financially, that they'll deep six it.

        • by khallow (566160)

          Even they wont get human certification until the late part of this decade at the earliest.

          As to that, they'll probably have one or more manned missions under their belt by the time they get human certified. And if they happen to get certified before their competitors do, they will also be the first in history to be human certified.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Friday April 12, 2013 @09:47AM (#43432265) Homepage
    The Russian space programme has been hurt in recent years by the catastrophic collapse of the USSR

    Fact: the USSR basically owned space lock, stock, and barrel.
    For perspective: the USSR was the first to put a person in space, the first to launch a satellite and the first to place an autonomous rover on the moon. they also invented the ion engine, the space suit, space food, the space station salyut 1, the luna 1 space probe, and quixotically the baikonur cosmodrome. they landed a rover on mars 30 years ago. the USSR was, for lack of more appropriate descriptor, the swinging dick of technology and science. at least until america decided with the truman doctrine to embark on a 45 year mission to shit all over it.
    but hey. at least theyre not communist anymore.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
      Aww, do we have a butthurt Communist sympathizer here? I think we do!

      Hint: the USSR didn't collapse due to the Truman Doctrine. It collapsed under its own weight because its system didn't fucking work.

      • I guess that explains all the "Lenin was here" and "All your moonbase are belong to us" signs the Soviets left on the moon to annoy Neil Armstrong.
      • by progician (2451300) on Friday April 12, 2013 @11:08AM (#43433005) Homepage

        If you're comfortable in the European and Russian history, then you would know that it did work in many aspects!

        1) It modernized the country in the industry and politics. What they performed was a forced shift from an economy based on agriculture to an industrial one.
        2) It "freed" the population from the land completely, and first the party managers, and now capitalist oligarch can rule them by wages.
        3) The zone of interest of the USSR expanded to reach even other continents, and even our huge satellite, so one has to admit it, that this is no little accomplishment for a country, that was ruled by Father Tzar not even hundred years ago.

        This is no small feast for capitalism because after all, by all means, it was explicitly capitalist country since the '20s [wikipedia.org], and even before the policies were that of a failed war-economic ones. Capitalism doesn't need free market, in fact, it only holds a certain illusion of "free" market anyway. Free markets in capitalism are always deemed to transform in to monopoly playground, which seizes the political system. In the case of the USSR however, it was the inherited bureaucratic structure that produced capitalism where there was little. If you take your time, and look up the ideological genealogy of Bolshevism/The Communist Party, you'll find that in fact, they were no more than a rather extreme version of social democracy, and communist/anarchists/radicals of all sorts were systematically eliminated, imprisoned, forced out of the country. Stalin's re-interpretation of Marxism-Leninism (that this radical social democratic theory, the top-down approach to the working class and communism as a Party led process, instead of a revolutionary movement) were only slight changes, in order to make the Soviet-Russian imperialism "acceptable", as the USSR external image as the agent of internationalism (which is, in many ways, just the same ol' lie creepily similar to the USA's line of bringing about liberty and democracy - both means that expanding the zone of military-political-economical interest).

        For all intents and purposes, the USSR produced super-wealthy class, who at some point dissociate themselves from the ideological facade, broke away even from the illusion of managing this wealth in the name of the people. Economy isn't something of being good or bad. It is a tool in the hand of the powerful. In economic crises it is always the most wealthy who survives the transformation, those who actually create policy... economic policy.

        • by nbauman (624611)

          Nikita Krushchev invites his mother to the Kremlin to show off his success. He takes her through the palatial rooms, the luxurious furnishings, the uniformed guards, the gourmet meals.

          His mother says: "Very nice, Nikita. But what if the Communists take over?"

          • by k6mfw (1182893)
            did this actually occurred? it's almost a new twist of variation of "in Soviet Russia..." or great Quote Of The Month.
            • by khallow (566160)

              did this actually occurred?

              Of course, it happened! Those Nigerian princes would crack down hardcore if anyone tried anything, you know, shady on the internet.

        • This is no small feast for capitalism because after all, by all means, it was explicitly capitalist country since the '20s

          New Economic Policy was a brief reversal to market economy to fix the mess that the country has gotten into after three years of "war communism". It was terminated after running for a few years, and USSR reverted to the usual socialist centralized planned economy.

    • lol what planet are you from, Mr. New Alien Visitor? The Soviets had a lot of firsts, but what the US had been doing has far surpassed Russia. Russian dominance ended with the Apollo program. Even now when the US is in a lull, our achievements in manned and *unmanned* space exploration and commercialization are unmatched.

      Launching a metal soccer ball into space before any one else 60 years ago doesn't mean shit in the grand scheme of things.

      • by Njovich (553857) on Friday April 12, 2013 @10:56AM (#43432871)

        The Soviets had a lot of firsts, but what the US had been doing has far surpassed Russia. Russian dominance ended with the Apollo program. Even now when the US is in a lull, our achievements in manned and *unmanned* space exploration and commercialization are unmatched.

        By the current manned space exploration of the US, I suppose you mean paying the Russians to get American people to ISS? ;-)

        Look, of course, Americans added a lot, especially in terms of communication systems, material science and military applications. But don't believe our own western propaganda too much...

        Don't forget, most of the truly important stuff to enable space travel was done by Germans. The original American space programme was essentially a continuation of the Nazi one. Fundamentally not much has changed in terms of getting something in space (a lot has changed in other parts). We use different fuels, and larger rockets, but it's basically more of the same.

      • The dominance was German. See: German SS guy, herr VonBraun, head of the Apollo mission.

    • the USSR was, for lack of more appropriate descriptor, the swinging dick of technology and science.

      Oh yeah, surely no other country has done so much to promote Lysenkoism and Lamarckism. No one cared about science more than the Russians. And you know what? Their history departments were especially devoted to discovering the truth.

    • by schnell (163007) <`ten.llenhcs' `ta' `em'> on Friday April 12, 2013 @11:59AM (#43433459) Homepage

      The USSR was, for lack of more appropriate descriptor, the swinging dick of technology and science

      Not quite. The Soviets pwned the rest of the world from the beginning of the Space Race through the mid/late '60s. But after that, the US threw more and more money at it until it won hands down. Viz. the Apollo program and space shuttle program, which the USSR couldn't match. (The Buran and exploding rockets [wikipedia.org] don't count.)

      Elsewhere, the Soviets stayed strong competitors to the West in science and technology up into the '70s but then they ran into an area of tech that they just couldn't compete in: computers. The Soviet economy had prioritized guns over butter for decades, so computing research went into big iron and military needs. Once the Western free markets began to realize economies in scale on microcomputers, the Soviets had no mechanism to match it and they were left in the dust. There's a lot of great anecdotes about this in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Dead Hand. [amazon.com]

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Why doesn't Buran count? It was a monumental achievement in its own right. The first shuttle to fly and land completely autonomously. We were not able to pull this off until mid-00's (with Boeing X-37).

        • by schnell (163007)

          Why doesn't Buran count? It was a monumental achievement in its own right.

          That's true - it was a technical success. I only think of it as a failure from a program perspective because for all the time, money and effort that went into it, it never accomplished its primary goal of a sustainable manned mission program. The STS was arguably a failure as well when considered against its original program goals too, but it did get at least as far as ~100 manned missions (with two terrible failures) with some significant accomplishments, and the collateral benefit of inspiring a whole lot

    • by nbauman (624611)

      Sergei Brinn's parents were both PhDs, educated in the Soviet educational system, which was in some ways the best in the world. It's true that Sergei came here at the age of 6, so he never actually studied in the Soviet system, but you get your fundamental education from your parents.

      So maybe that was the greatest accomplishment of the Soviet Union: Google.

    • by DarthVain (724186)

      Not to mention MIR... which holds many records to this day.

      Canada and Russia, Comrades!

  • The spotless Democrat Putin plays with space planes instead of fixing his country.

  • ...Space program funds YOU fund Space program funds YOU fund Space program funds YOU fund - ...

    ?OUT OF MEMORY
    READY
    _

    • by siddesu (698447)

      Yes, it funds you, but "funding" and "you" have a very narrow and specific meaning.

      "You" are someone who is so close to the regime that "you" can pocket the increase without risk of scrutiny, while your satellites proceed to explore the depths of the ocean one after the other.

      "Funding" is known as "otkat" (recoil) in Russian -- because a part of it has to be handed back to the person who approved the appropriation that's funding "you".

    • by schnell (163007)
      I see what you did there.
  • by fiordhraoi (1097731) on Friday April 12, 2013 @10:54AM (#43432849)
    Putin his money where his mouth is.
  • Nice grand announcement but seems like it could have been done earlier, or later to iron out pesky details. However, Putin faced with same problems as USA. It's one thing to make plans, it's another to keep the multi-year funding rolling. But then Russia always announces some grand plans every few years or so but nothing ever gets beyond the artwork. One thing certain, Soyuz on its R7 derived booster will continue (Korolev lives on).
  • by nbauman (624611) on Friday April 12, 2013 @12:19PM (#43433675) Homepage Journal

    When I went to high school in the 1950s, we were were in an arms race and a space race with the Soviet Union.

    A bunch of clever educators -- here and in the USSR -- used the the arms race to get broad support for science education. That was the easiest time I can think of to get a good education without too much money. Some of the best colleges, like CCNY, were free. The state university systems and land-grant colleges were almost free. They had to be. We were competing with Moscow University.

    None of this bullshit about going into debt for the rest of your life to pay for college tuition. I got scholarships. Go read the autobiographies on the Nobel Prize web sites. Lots of scientists say they never could have afforded to go to college if it wasn't free.

    They were spending money on basic science then like they're spending money on the military today. And there was a lot of spillover into the rest of education.

    The Democrats and Republicans were competing with each other to see who could spend more for scientific research. They put a lot of money into basic research -- and it worked.

    The one thing the Soviet Union did well was their education system. Talk about German rocket scientists. How many Soviet scientists and engineers came here during the 1980s? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Brin [wikipedia.org]

    If competition is good, the Soviets were the best competitors we could have had. America would probably be better off if they were still here.

    • America would probably be better off if they were still here.

      Assuming the entire modern world survived the Cold War for that long that is. MAD wasn't just a rule. It was a guarantee!

      • by nbauman (624611) on Friday April 12, 2013 @04:14PM (#43435889) Homepage Journal

        With Gorbachev, the good guys basically won. Gorbachev wanted nuclear disarmament (Reagan didn't). Gorbachev was more interested in growing chickens than in conquering the world. Gorbachev invited Sakharov back to Moscow from exile. In American terms, Gorbachev was the best leader they could possibly have had.

        During the entire history of the Soviet Union, their leaders were afraid to let down their guard, take a risk, and cooperate with the West, for fear the West would stab them in the back. Gorbachev was a leader who was finally willing to take a risk to get peace and cooperation. What did the West do? They stabbed him in the back.

  • it is my duty to state that the only way to properly address Russian initiative this is to invade another country.

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