Russian PM Medvedev agrees to slash funding for space programme

Russia cuts space budget by 30 percent in effort to reign in state spending in face of deepening economic woes

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Russian Prime Minister Medvedev and President Putin.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev agreed to slash funding for Russia's space programme by 30 percent on Thursday, an effort to reign in state spending in the face of a deepening economic crisis.

Approving a plan submitted by Russian space agency Roscosmos in January, Medvedev ordered Russia's space programme budget for 2016-2025 to be cut from 2 trillion roubles ($29.24 billion) to 1.4 trillion roubles.

"It is a large programme, but we need such big programmes, even in circumstances when all is not well with the economy," TASS news agency quoted Medvedev as saying.

Space exploration is a subject of national pride in Russia, rooted in the Cold War "space race" with the United States, and has been touted by President Vladimir Putin as a symbol of his country's resurgent global standing.

But along with other large-scale and costly projects, such as preparations for the 2018 Soccer World Cup, state support for Roscosmos has fallen victim to Russia's steep economic downturn, fuelled by a collapse in global oil prices and Western sanctions.

In line with its reduced funding, the space agency has agreed to delay a manned flight to the moon by five years - to 2035 from 2030 - and scrap plans to develop a reusable rocket, a potentially valuable cost-saving technology.

A Roscosmos spokesman previously said the agency would reassess its plans after 2025.

TRTWorld, Reuters