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The Russian Federal Space Agency Is Russia's Official Space Agency.

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The Russian Federal Space Agency, commonly known as Rosaviakosmos, is the government agency responsible for Russia's Space science programme and general aerospace research. Roskosmos headquarters are located in Moscow and its main operational center is located near the Russian capital, in a town known as Star City. In March 2004 Anatoly Perminov became Roskosmos' General Director and since then he has led Russia's efforts to consolidate its space program.

History of Russian Federal Space Agency.

RKA logo
Russian Federal Space Agency logo.
Space Shuttle Atlantis.
The American Space Shuttle Atlantis docked to the Russian Mir Space Station.

RKA was formed after the breakup of the former Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Soviet space program. The RKA uses the technology and launch sites that belonged to the former Soviet space program. The RKA has centralized control of Russia's civilian space program, including all manned and unmanned non-military space flights.

Initial Progress of Russian Federal Space Agency.

Like the Soviet space program before it, the Russian Space Agency was constantly at a lack of funding. This complicated efforts, such as the Soviet attempt at a moon mission, and later cooperation with the International Space Station. The 1990's saw a decreased cash flow, which encouraged Roskosmos to improvise and seek other ways to keep space programs running. This resulted in Roskosmos' leading role in commercial satellite launches and space tourism. While scientific missions, such as interplanetary probes or astronomy missions during these years played a very small role, Roskosmos managed to operate the space station Mir well past its lifetime, contribute to the International Space Station, and continue to fly additional Soyuz and Progress missions.

Renewed Activity in 2005/2006 of the Russian Federal Space Agency.

As the Russian economy boomed throughout 2005 from high prices for exports, such as oil and gas, the outlook for future funding in 2006 appeared more favorable. This resulted in the Russian Duma approving a budget of 305 billion rubles (about 11 billion USD) for the Space Agency from 2006-2015, with overall space expenditures in Russia total about 425 billion rubles for the same time period. The budget for 2006 was as high as 25 billion rubles (about 900 million USD), which is a 33% increase from the 2005 budget. Under the current 10 year budget approved, the budget of the Space Agency shall increase 5-10% per year, providing the space agency with a constant influx of money. In addition to the budget, Roskosmos plans to have over 130 billion rubles flowing into its budget by other means, such as industry investments and commercial space launches.

Current programs of the Russian Federal Space Agency.

The Zarya module.
The Zarya module was the first module of the ISS, launched in 1998.

The Russian Space Agency is one of the partners in the International Space Station (ISS) program, it contributed the core space modules Zarya and Zvezda, which were both launched by Proton rockets and later were joined by NASA's Unity Module. Roskosmos is furthermore responsible for expedition crew launches by Soyuz-TMA spacecrafts and resupplies the space station with Progress space transporters. After the initial ISS contract with NASA expired, RKA and NASA, with the approval of the US government, entered into a space contract running until 2011, according to which Roskosmos will sell NASA spots on Soyuz spacecrafts for approximately $21 million per person each way (thus $42 million to and back from the ISS per person) as well as provide Progress transport flights ($50 million per progress as oultined in the ESAS study). RKA has announced that according to this arrangement, manned Soyuz flights will be doubled to 4 per year and Progress flights also doubled to 8 per year beginning in 2008.

RKA also provides space tourism for fare-paying passengers to ISS through the Space Adventures company. Currently three space tourists have contracted with Roskosmos and have flown into space, each for an announced fee of $20 million. Despite the price, the space tourism venture has proven to be very popular and all tourism flights are fully booked until 2009.

Roskosmos has committed itself to further provide two additional modules to the ISS, both scheduled to be launched by Proton rockets. The first one, the Multipurpose Laboratory Module is currently scheduled for launch in 2007 or 2008, with one Russian Research Module following in 2009.

Science programs of the Russian Federal Space Agency.

RKA operates a number of other programs for earth science, communication, and scientific research. Future projects include the Soyuz successor, the shuttle Kliper, scientific robotic missions to one of the Mars moons as well as an increase in Earth orbit research satellites.


Roskosmos is using a launch family of several rockets, the most famous of them is the R-7, commonly known as the Soyuz rocket, capable of launching about 7.5 tons into Low Earth orbit (LEO). The Proton rocket (or UK-500) also developed in the 60s but still flying, has a lift capacity of over 20 tons to LEO. Smaller rockets include Cosmos-3M, the German-Russian cooperation Rockot and other launchers.

Currently rocket development encompasses both a new rocket system, Angara, as well as enhancements of the Soyuz rocket, Soyuz-2 and Soyuz-3. One modification of the Soyuz, the Soyuz-2a has already been successfully tested, enhancing the launch capacity to 8 tons to LEO, with the Soyuz-2b to follow this year with a launch capacity from Baikonur of 8.5 tons.

RKA manages by far the most commercial launches per year, in 2005 it performed nearly 50 % of all commercial satellite launches into space.


Winged Kliper mockup.
Winged Kliper mockup at the Le Bourget Air Show.

One of RKA's projects that has made a large impact on the media in 2005 is Kliper, a small lifting body reusable spacecraft. While Roskosmos has reached out to ESA and JAXA as well as others to share development costs of the project, it also has stated that it will go forward with the project even without support of other space agencies. This statement was backed by the above-described approval of its budget for 2006-2015 which includes the necessary funding of Kliper.

Information on Kliper's entry into service and development status vary. Some sources state 2010 as the target year of first orbital test flight, others, 2012. In January, 2006, the final decision on Kliper was anticipated to be made from among three proposals from several Russian contractors with a decision to be announced in February. Later, the result of formal bidding on the project was expected to be revealed in July. However, RKA reportedly issued a statement in late July that bidding for the Kliper program had been cancelled due to the insufficiency of the bids tendered. It was believed that there would a two-year period within which the future direction of the program would be determined.

Launch control.

The military counterpart of the RKA is the Military Space Forces (VKS). The VKS controls Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome launch facility. The RKA and VKS share control of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, where the RKA reimburses the VKS for the wages of many of the flight controllers during civilian launches. The RKA and VKS also share control of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center.

Links For The Russian Federal Space Agency.

Encyclopedia Cosmonautica - one of the most visited Russian language air-space site on the Internet. Chronology of space exploration 1920-2000. Cosmonauts biographies. Projects and space equipment. Weekly space news updates. Only in Russian.
Space Russia
Data Processing Department of the Astro Space Center
RSSI Homepage
Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Aerospace Guide
Russian Aviation and Space Agency
Russian Space Science Internet
SMIS home page
Sputnik Server

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