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Vladimir Putin dissolved Roscosmos, Russia's federal space agency

It'll be reborn as a state-run corporation later this week.
Chris Velazco, @chrisvelazco
December 28, 2015
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With the flourish of a pen earlier today, Russian president Vladimir Putin officially put an end to Roscosmos, the country's federal space agency. That decree capped off over a year's worth of organizational despair as the agency saw its ten-year budget cut (again), the loss of a handful of spacecraft and the misuse of over 92 billion rubles (or $1.8 billion) in part thanks to a pervasive culture of corruption. Don't worry about the country's spacebound ambitions, though — Roscosmos will be reborn as a state-run corporation on January 1.

So, what does that actually mean? Well, we're not really sure yet. With some luck, the new Roscosmos will operate with a stricter level of government oversight to help reign in costs and complete the construction of a 342 square mile Cosmodrome near Russia's far-eastern border with China. Its structure as a corporation, though, could mean the revived agency is better equipped to compete in the realm of commercial spaceflight — a notion Putin is clearly fond of. After all, the rise of ambitious US competitors like SpaceX could put a damper on Russia's surprisingly lucrative spaceflight business. In mid-2015, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told Congress the going rate to stick six US astronauts on Soyuz rockets through 2017 would be $490 million — that works out to a cool $82 million per seat, up from roughly $70 million the year before. Feeding and swapping out our astronauts in low-Earth orbit is big business, so don't expect a whole lot of the organizations day-to-day launch business to change much.

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