MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev agreed to slash funding for Russia’s space program 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 program budget for 2016-2025 to be cut from 2 trillion rubles ($29.24 billion) to 1.4 trillion rubles.
“It is a large program, but we need such big programs, 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, fueled 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.
Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by