Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
We are here to discuss Russia’s federal policy in the space sphere today.
We all know only too well that there is more to it than Russia’s national prestige, although prestige is important. It involves advanced technologies and promotes Russia’s competitiveness and security. Moreover, it would be no exaggeration to say that today space exploration ensures global stability.
It would be extremely irresponsible to squander the results of the immense work done by the previous generations.
Unfortunately, we have not been making rapid progress in space exploration. The federal target space programme for 1996–2000 was only completed by only 40%. We have not had any notable success in the civilian or military space projects. Research has been virtually suspended. Most of the spacecraft and ground equipment used today is obsolete; its technological resource is stretched to the limit.
As a result, our space systems are no longer effective in upholding the country’s national security. But the military-space component is what makes any country’s armed forces up to modern standards by improving their operational capability. Without this component, it would be impossible to improve global strategic stability.
Space technologies should be given higher priority in industry, especially in research-intensive sectors. Space systems should provide television and radio coverage on Russia’s vast territory. We should seriously consider how to make manufacture and space technologies mutually attractive. And, importantly, we should determine the conditions and principles of interaction between the government and businesses in the use of outer space.
I believe that Russia can benefit from international space cooperation. Along with economic effects and scientific advancements, cooperation projects will promote Russian innovations on the international markets, and will help establish trust between partners and exchange experience and technologies.
Before drafting a relevant state policy, we must determine its principles and set goals. The most important principle, as I see it, is the safety and preservation of the environment in a broader sense – prevention of technology-induced disasters and the militarisation of outer space. Our peaceful space initiatives, formed along these lines, were presented at the Millennium Summit in New York.
I would like to emphasise here that we need to learn how to focus on the most important projects, to channel our resources, to save money and effort, to select priorities and distribute the resources wisely.
In this connection I have to mention the Mir space station, which has been plagued by frequent flaws in the past few years. I agree with the experts who think it is unwise to invest in projects which have long become outdated, and call for a technological breakthrough. So if space engineers decide on sinking the Mir, then those working on the project will still need to see that all the technological requirements are met and the station’s sinking does not entail any technological problems or adverse environmental consequences.
The space programme we are discussing today, the draft space policy of the Russian Federation for the period until 2010, clearly spells out how to achieve the desired effect. This document should help remedy the situation in Russia’s space industry.
But before approving a long-term federal space programme, we need to devise a detailed scheme for its sourcing and financing. What I would like to hear today is a well-argued and economically clear proposal.
In conclusion, let me underline that along with a shortage of funds, there were other reasons for the lamentable situation in Russia’s space industry. A series of presidential decrees and Government instructions had not been fulfilled properly, and no effective measures had been taken in this sphere for the past few years.
So let me point out that all the decisions we make today should be fulfilled unconditionally.
I want to say a few more words behind closed doors, so I would like to thank all the journalists present for their cooperation. Thank you.