Friday, April 25, 2008

I'm surprised Russia does as well as it does

There were some complications recently with the Soyuz capsule which returned the International Space Station crew to Earth. The capsule made a steeper-than-normal descent and missed its target landing zone by 260 miles, and though some systems were damaged, the passengers are fine. I've always heard before that though the Russians seemed to compete with the US on the space race, they were never able to develop the precision technology that would be required to land a man on the Moon. I don't know if I believe that, but 260 miles does seem like a pretty big error.

However, I think what is more remarkable is the annual budget of the Russian Federal Space Agency, and their remarkable accomplishments with basically no funding. The annual budget of NASA is around $16 billion, with around $500 million spent on each shuttle launch. Compare that to the annual budget of the Russian space agency, which is around $900 million. With those kind of numbers, I am amazed that Russia is the space force it is.

Additionally, it makes a bit more sense why Russia would allow space tourists to pay $20 million for a ride up to the space station. With one passenger, they can increase their budget by 2%. You think NASA would let someone come along for the ride for an extra 2%, or $300 million? I hope they would.