Vladimir Putin to Roscosmos: Do More with Less

Russian President Vladimir Putin tours Vostochny Cosmodrome in September 2019. (Crredit: Roscosmos)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Russian President Vladimir Putin has Roscosmos taken to task for failing to compete a series of goals even as his government prepares to cut the budget of the Roscosmos state corporation that runs the nation’s space program by more than $500 million.

Finanz.ru reports that a draft budget law under consideration by the Russian Duma would reduce the Roscosmos budget by 16 percent from 250.6 billion rubles ($3.53 billion) this year to 210.2 billion rubles ($2.97 billion) in 2022. The space company’s budget would be provided with 209.6 billion rubles ($2.95 billion) in 2023 and 209.8 billion rubles ($2.96 billion) in 2024.

The space program’s budget for research and development (R&D) in space would be cut from 1 billion rubles ($14.1 million) in 2021 to zero next year. The money would be transferred to a different program of science and technical R&D whose budget totals more than 1 trillion rubles ($14.1 billion).

Finanz.ru said that Roscosmos’ net profit has fallen from 12.5 billion ($17.6 million) to 292.6 million rubles ($4.1 million).

Roscosmos, which is the parent company for Russia’s government-owned space industry, is dealing with a series of issues that have reduced revenues. NASA is no longer paying $90 per seat to fly astronauts on Roscosmos’ Soyuz spacecraft now that SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is operational. The Russian launch sector has also lost business to SpaceX and other foreign companies as competition has heated up.

Roscosmos has been impacted by Western sanction imposed after the country’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Russia’s federal budget has also been adversely affected by the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

Putin criticized Roscosmos for failing to complete 30 of 83 goals last year during a meeting that he chaired a meeting on Sept. 29. More than half of the missed goals — 18 — related to spaceports. Russia’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome, which is still under construction, has been plagued by years of delays as well as waste, fraud and abuse.

Despite the problems, the legislation would reduce the budget for spaceport development from 48.5 billion rubles ($683.2 million) to 35 billion rubles ($493.1 million).

Roscosmos made more progress on its GLONASS satellite navigation system by completing 16 of 20 objectives. GLONASS is a rival to the U.S. Global Positioning System.