Russia still leads the world in total number of space missions launched, but for how long? Here is an unusually blunt assessment of the state of that nation’s space program by the always loquacious Dmitry Rogozin.
From the Moscow Times:
“Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has been left red-faced after telling reporters that “Russia will never catch up to the United States in the space race,” the Interfax news agency reported.
“Our space industry has fallen behind the Americans ninefold. All of our ambitious projects require us to up productivity 150 percent – and even if we manage that, we will still never catch up with them,” Rogozin originally said to Interfax Friday.
Rogozin took to Facebook later in the day to say that his quotes had been taken out of context.
In the field of space-rocket engine construction Russia are much more competitive than the US both in terms of quality and prices, he said.
“I said that, considering our ambitious plans of to increase labor productivity in the space industry, we will never catch up with the Americans in that regard,” the deputy prime minister said.
“But this absolutely does not mean that we are behind them [the United States] in every other aspect of space exploration.”
Quite an admission from the same man who threatened that NASA could be forced to use a trampoline to reach ISS if Russia withdrew its launch services in anger over US sanctions regarding Crimea and Ukraine.
Rogozin’s frustration, while aimed squarely at his own faltering space industrial base, might be equally applied to a number of other space powers who, while having mastered the basics of reaching orbit, and even other planets, are completely unprepared, and more importantly, incapable, of responding to the iterative improvement process being driven by SpaceX. Taxpayers in the European Union have every reason to be just as appalled as ministers in Russia, as their governments prepare to plow billions into the development of an Ariane 6 rocket which will be obsolete before it ever reaches the launchpad.
Most amazing of all though, is the fact that the U.S. Congress, rather than seizing a historic opportunity to set the nation whose interests they are supposed to represent on a path to commercial space dominance which would rival the British navy at its the height of its glory in the age of sail and steam, instead behaves no better than the entrenched interests which have fossilized the Russian space program.