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A space treatise
Russia becomes a space educator
America’s Neil Armstrong being the first man on moon notwithstanding, what has not got much publicity – albeit aided by the Russian style of shrouding everything in secrecy – has been Russian endeavours and achievements in space. These, incidentally, much before Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin even put their feet on the moon. Typical to the western style of functioning, the disintegration of the Soviet Union brought a seat of the pants sense of jubilation among the Americans who assumed that this would draw curtains on Russian competition against NASA. However, soaring oil and minerals prices in the international market was all that Russia needed to resurrect itself; and once again to pose a challenge to its bete-noire, the NASA.
Russia’s exports of gas and minerals has not only rejuvenated a dying economy to be a trillion dollar GDP giant now, but has also given enough impetus to fund their federal space programs with a handsome 305 billion rubles. The trend has been continuing throughout this decade with the space budget doubling by 2009. And changing times however have taught Russia the art of marketing and minting money out of its space exercises. In 2005, Russia’s federal space agency further declared their preparedness towards cosmic tourism. It will have moon visit programs costing $100 million. This announcement was in line with the launch of NASA’s space shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Station. In order to exploit this opportunity to the maximum, Russia is investing around $100 billion in their space stations (Soyuz capsule and Progress craft) and cosmonaut centres. Russia has opened up its cosmonaut centres to the common man to perhaps make the new age Russian take more pride in erstwhile glories of USSR.
Hopefully, these endeavours of Russia would revive the interest of youth in space with an emphasis on knowledge rather than on using the same for war. Space truly contains the final frontiers for mankind, an ‘enterprising’ voyage surely; and perhaps, just perhaps, one day, the urge to explore space will go beyond exhibitionism – on who reached Mars first – and reach the realms of exploration for the advancement of mankind.
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