Russia's plan to embark on a moon exploration may have to wait because of economic crisis. Roscosmos, the country's federal space agency, is now facing budget cuts from the government, imperilling major space programs.
Russia's economy is currently in the midst of hard times. The Russian rouble is falling, western sanctions are piled up and oil prices are getting lower. With this, the government had to implement cutbacks on the budgets of different sectors. All departments including those in charge of health and welfare are also affected by the cuts.
Roscosmos said some government officials are looking at revising the space program up to 2025. Although detailed information and particulars were not provided, the statement of the agency suggests that the ambitious space exploration plan may have also been struck by the economic turmoil that Russia is presently battling.
According to Izvestia, a Russian broadsheet newspaper, Roscosmos sent a draft proposal of some amendments to the moon exploration program, which shows big slashes on its budget.
Among the proposals in the draft is the cut of funds for the manned leg of lunar flights by 88.5 billion roubles ($1.22 billion) to 329.67 billion roubles ($4.51 billion). The funds for the spacecraft, however, will not be affected significantly.
Roscosmos is yet to comment on the numbers, and all the agency said was that the plan is a very extensive one.
In April 2014, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the country planned to build a large station on the moon, which will pave the way for numerous scientific breakthroughs.
"The revised project of the federal space program for 2016-25 envisages the study of the Moon by automated orbiters, as well as by building up scientific and technical potential for further studies, including by manned missions," said Roscosmos.
The agency did not conclude that the moon base plan has been cancelled already. The only information it shared is that a manned flight to the moon will not happen before the year 2029.
Russia: Still A World Leader In Space Exploration
Despite the obstacles being faced by the Russian space force, it may still be considered one of the leading space exploration teams in the world.
President Vladimir Putin repeatedly said in the past that it is time to look back at the Soviet-era space glory. In 1957, the USSR was the first to launch the artificial "sputnik" satellite. The agency was also the first one to send a man into space and perform the first spacewalk in history.
Russia's biggest rival, the U.S., landed on the moon six times from 1969 to 1972. The N-1 heavy rocket of the Soviet, which was designed to send humans to the moon, has not been able to complete even one successful mission.
Photo : Christopher Michel | Flickr