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Russia is accelerating its space program.
“It is the first time that the government has allocated decent financing to us,” Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said in a phone interview on April 2. 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.