January 25, 2012
Russia Boosts Space Program Through 2016
Russian media sources have reported that the Kremlin has agreed to fully finance numerous space research programs for one of the country´s top aerospace engineering companies through 2016.
According to Viktor Khartov, chief of the Research and Production division of the state-owned aeronautics firm Lavochkin, the Russian government has authorized full funding for two planned Moon missions, one trip to Venus and a handful of new scientific research satellites that will be used for probing deep space.
“All the projects planned for 2015-2016 have been financed rationally with the clear deadlines for their completion,” Mr. Khartov told the press at a cosmonaut conference in Moscow on Tuesday.
Khartov also noted that Russian researchers were collaborating with the European Space Agency (ESA) to plan several joint missions, including two to Mars in 2016 and 2018, and another to Jupiter.
He also stated that there had been several proposals discussed for a joint mission to the near-Earth asteroid known as 99942-Apophis. The purpose of such a trip, he said, would be to plant a radio beacon directly onto the asteroid in order to help scientists better monitor its interstellar trajectory in the event that it gets too close to Earth.
Preparations for Lavochkin´s other space missions have been behind schedule due to the failure of the Phobos-Grunt probe a few months ago. The sample-collecting mission to the Martian moon Phobos collapsed shortly after launch in November, leaving the unmanned spacecraft stranded in low-Earth orbit for over two months before it finally plummeted back to Earth in an uncontrolled reentry on January 15.
Insisting that the agency would not be put off by the mission´s costly failure, a resolute Khartov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying: “We have no other option. Russia must fulfill the task it has set for itself.”
Originally founded in 1937 during the Soviet era as a fighter-jet manufacturer, Lavochkin Association has become one of the leading stars of Russia´s space program in recent years and was responsible for designing many of the later Sputnik spacecraft.