These are not the best of times for the Russian space industry. Due to budgetary reasons, Roscosmos has reduced the number of cosmonauts on the International Space Station from three to two. Because of technical problems with its rockets and cost pressure from SpaceX, the country’s once-lucrative commercial launch industry is fading. And soon, conditions may worsen.
As soon as next year, the United States plans to stop paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year to Russia for Soyuz seats, because it is developing its own transport to the space station. And the European Space Agency has signaled that it will stop launching Russian Soyuz rockets from its French Guiana-based spaceport in the early 2020s.
Russian space editor Andrei Borisov has captured the fading zeitgeist of the Russian space program in a lengthy article on the new leader of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, and the changes he has proposed. “The ‘Russian Space’ Rogozin is trying to create reminds one of the Dark Ages in Europe,” Borisov writes on Lenta.Ru, where he serves as editor of science and technology. “In it, there is no place for modernization, there is only the mission of survival.”