Friday, September 30, 2005

[geek] Cosmonaut Keep

No, not Ken MacLeod's fine book... There were a couple of space-related items that caught my eye this morning, not the least of which is this look at the state of Russia's space program: Russia thriving again on the final frontier:
Russia's 10-year plan for space What a difference four years makes: In 2001, when Mir plunged out of orbit, it looked as if Russia's space program was going down with it, scraping by on a budget of less than $200 million a year. Today, boosted by Russia's oil revenue, the government has committed to a 10-year plan for space exploration, funded to the tune of $1 billion a year. That's far less than the price tag for NASA's 13-year, $104 billion plan to return to the moon. But while America's space effort is struggling with safety issues and tight budgets, Russia is now seen as having the world's safest, most cost-effective human spaceflight system.
While apocryphal stories of the differences between NASA's approach to space vs. Russia's abound, the Russians do seem to take a view of space that is somehow both more pragmatic and sweepingly dramatic than anything we've managed to keep hold of. Wired also has a look at the upcoming X Prize Cup, the successor to the Ansari X Prize. Personally I think they're doing a (small) disservice to the broader space community by focusing too much on the participation of Armadillo Aerospace, but hey - this is Wired we're talking about, and I understand the editorial impulse... And I suppose if DOOM legend John Carmack can help increase public awareness of (and enthusiasm for) private-sector space endeavors, so be it.

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