The competition cools: Due to budget pressures, Russia has once more cut what it plans to do in its as yet not finalized 10-year space plan.
Not only do they expect to fly fewer satellites during the plan, they appear to either have dropped or are significantly curtailing their plans for their own space station after they pull out of ISS in 2024.
The corporation has also lost some of the original ambitious projects, including creation of two autonomous modules (transformable and power generating ones, ordered by the Russian Academy of Sciences), meant for the creation of a Russian orbital station. The project is absent from the latest version of the program. A transformable module was to be created in 2020-2025 and its launch was scheduled for 2025. Its service life was estimated at five years and design and manufacturing costs, 12.3 billion rubles.
In addition, it appears they are cutting back their plans for planetary research.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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