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Russia slashes space funding by 30 percent as crisis weighs
March 17, 2016 / 2:00 PM / 2 years ago

Russia slashes space funding by 30 percent as crisis weighs

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.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev speaks during an interview on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 13, 2016. REUTERS/Dmitry Astakhov/Sputnik/Pool

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

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