While concerns grow over the US Administration’s funding of the NASA budget, the Russian government has approved funding and support for their federal space program for 2006, through to 2015.
In a wide-ranging mandate, the Russians will aim to lead the competitive space launch market, support the increase of their GLONASS global satellite navigation system, prepare for a manned mission to Mars – and while the US aims to end its Shuttle Program and ISS international contracts, the Russians will build their version, the Klipper, while committing to their ISS obligations.
“The programme in particular envisages the broadening of international cooperation in the space field and fulfilling Russiaâ€™s international obligations in this sphere,” said a Federal Space Agency official to the ITAR-TASS news agency this morning.
“(This) will allow creation of space systems and complexes, competitive on the international market.”
Also on the manifest of missions for the Russians is the start-up of their version of the Vision for Space Exploration, almost worded to sound like they wish to have a jump start on the Americans.
The plan calls for research probes to sent to Mars – and its moon Phobos, with a roll call of volunteers wishing to take up the challenge of a manned mission to Mars. There was no mention of a mission to the Moon, with a real indication the Russians intend to aim for Mars ahead of the Americans.
Heading the timeline is the increase in capability of the global satellite navigation system, GLONASS – the Russian version of the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system. Currently orbiting as a fleet of 14 spacecraft, the plans call for that figure to increase to 18 – by 2007.
Within three years, the Glonass-M and Glonass-K will be added – which have increased lifespans of seven and ten years respectively. Once at full capacity, GLOSNASS will be able to provide positioning information for an unlimited number of people, anywhere in the world, to a precision of one meter.
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