jonerik writes "Space.com (via MSNBC) has this article about the declining prestige — and size — of Russia's cosmonaut corps in these post-Soviet years of wild 'n' woolly Russian capitalism. Where at one time the mighty Soviet space program could count on thousands of applicants offering their services as cosmonauts, today the vast majority of young Russian civilians prefer more lucrative private sector careers, though recruitment among Russian Air Force pilots is still good since the pay is higher in the cosmonaut corps. Russia currently has a total of 37 active cosmonauts in three units, and though these numbers are considered sufficient, there would be fewer available reserves if the ISS crew expands to six, as had been originally intended. 'In the 1960s one would dream of becoming a cosmonaut, now the young men are dreaming of becoming bankers,' says Sergei Shamsutdinov, an editor at the Novosti Kosmonavtiki magazine. 'The romantic aspect of the manned space exploration is no longer there; it has been replaced by gray daily routine.'"
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