President Vladimir Putin announced an investment of
more than 50 billion dollars in Russia's space programme Friday, the
anniversary of the world's first manned space flight by cosmonaut
Yuri Gagarin in 1961.
Calling on Russia to take economic advantage of space, Putin said, "The market is growing, and we should grow with it."
Speaking at the construction site of the future Vostochny launch station in eastern Russia, Putin called for reforms, saying because parts of Russia's economy remained influenced by Soviet policies, the country had lost ground to the United States, Europe and China.
"Our space industry lacks motivation, innovation and talent," he said.
Among the changes mentioned by Putin was the possible formation of a space ministry.
The Vostochny launch station is set to be completed in 2015 at a cost of 7.4 billion euros (9.7 billion dollars).
Russia's current launch site in Baikonur in Kazakhstan would remain in use, Putin said. Russia pays Kazakhstan about 4 million dollars annually for the site where Gagarin blasted off 52 years ago.
Vladimir Popovkin, the head of Russia's Roskomos space programme, said Russia was aiming first to put its cosmonauts on the moon and afterwards build a space station there by 2030, from which a manned flight to Mars could take place.
Since the retirement of the US space shuttle programme, Russia is currently the only country that can pilot astronauts to the International Space Station.
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