Roscosmos aired its frustration over the emergence of spaceflight competition as Elon Musk's SpaceX prepares to start ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station.
Roscosmos 'Concerned' Over NASA Commercial Crew Program
The Russian space agency dispelled doubts about its space program after it had successfully launched astronauts from the Baikonur Cosmodrome to the orbiting outpost on Monday, Dec. 3.
Astronauts Anne McClain of the United States, David Saint-Jacques from Canada, and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko arrived safely at the ISS on board a Soyuz. This is the first manned Soyuz launch since the Oct. 11 failure that caused Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague to make an emergency landing minutes after liftoff.
Despite the successful launch, the Russian space agency continues to face problems. Roscosmos has experienced a series of setbacks in the past couple of months, including a mysterious hole in one of the docked capsules in the ISS. It is also facing the prospect of reduced revenue now that its contract to ferry astronauts to the orbiting outpost is about to end.
In its annual report, the Russian space agency blamed SpaceX for its financial misfortunes now that the United States is no longer relying on the Soyuz program to launch astronauts to space.
"They share some of the same problems we do — there's a finite amount in the budget in our countries and space flight is part of the discretionary budget," shared NASA Associate Administrator William Gerstenmaier to Bloomberg.
SpaceX's Dragon 2 capsule is scheduled to make uncrewed and crewed test flights by next year. The company received a $2.6 billion contract from NASA for six missions, each carrying up to four astronauts.
Boeing, meanwhile, received a $4.2 billion contract. Administrator Jim Bridenstine named the first group of astronauts to fly on the commercial spacecraft by SpaceX and Boeing to the ISS.
Problems At Roscosmos
However, international competition is not the only problem at Roscosmos. The report also revealed a corruption problem with an equivalent of billions of dollars "stolen" from the Russian space agency. Alexei Kudrin from Russia's Audit Chamber revealed that an investigation is currently ongoing to find out where the fund has been misallocated.
Roscosmos also argued that sanctions and weak currency have caused the space agency's financial decline.