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Russia To Boost Space Program

Putin said Russia will significantly expand its space program

Putin said Russia will significantly expand its space program

Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin has said Russia will boost its efforts to explore the solar system and seek a bigger share of the market for space launches in the next decade.

Speaking ahead of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's pioneering space flight, Putin said Russia's plans go beyond transporting crews to the International Space Station.

"In 2013 we should start flight and construction tests of Angara carrier rockets of both light and heavy classifications at the Plesetsk cosmodrome," Putin said. "Beside that we are to build the Rus-M carrier rocket, which will bring manned and cargo spaceships into orbit."

Energy-rich Russia's space budget for 2010-2011 is $7.09 billion, which Putin said made it the world's fourth-largest spender on space after U.S. space agency NASA, the European Space Agency and France.

But Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Klepach predicted Russia would face a space spending squeeze in 2015-2016 unless it makes long-term budget plans.

compiled from agency reports