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The competition heats up: The completion of Russia’s much delayed ten-year space policy plan, originally planned for last year and then planned for November, has likely been delayed again.
The program was supposed to be submitted to the government for approval late last year, but the collapse of the ruble, ongoing launch failures and related mishaps, leadership shakeups at the federal space agency, and an industry-wide reform plan have all conspired to delay the final draft. A draft was expected this summer, but in March a senior Roscosmos official was quoted by the TASS news agency as saying that the proposal had already been significantly altered, and “looks completely different” than it did when originally completed in 2014. The biggest change to the draft was the level of funding dedicated to Russian space exploration over the 10-year period from 2016 to 2025, which was reduced by 10 percent between drafts to 3.4 trillion rubles ($52.5 billion).
Just like the Soviet era’s many repeated five-year plans, expect the goals of this policy statement, once announced, to fail repeatedly. They will have some initial success, but in the end this top-down government program, like NASA’s SLS, will have more to do with creating non-productive jobs than actually building spaceships and rockets.