Speech at a Meeting with Cosmonauts and Space Veterans 2001-04-12 00:00:00 Star City, Moscow Region Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, First of all, I congratulate you on the holiday. April 12 forty years ago saw an event that shook mankind. It was a triumph of mankind. We say today that it was our national triumph, but actually it marked an important step forward for the whole human race. We are glad that the first man in space was our compatriot. It is a holiday for all those who gave years of their lives, and a holiday for the relatives of those who gave years of their lives to exploring outer space. It is a holiday for cosmonauts, a holiday for scientists, a holiday for military and civilian specialists, a holiday for those who produce space technology. Only a few years ago, as we remember, voices were heard in this country which said that perhaps we shouldn’t spend so much to develop outer space; why should we do it, they argued, if we are short of other, more important things? Thank God, the critics of that period have rearranged the thoughts they expressed then and have come to see what they were criticising us for in a different light. Today we all understand that it is impossible to imagine either our country’s defence capabilities without space exploration, or to solve other perfectly peaceful tasks. It is impossible to create new modern materials that are vital for some industries; it is impossible to effectively search for minerals or to study the Earth without outer space. It is impossible to forecast the weather without outer space. It is impossible to proceed without space navigation. Communications are impossible without outer space. It is important that society is coming to understand many elementary things and to support them. You have indeed lived through hard times together with the country. And I would like to pay tribute to all those who stood their ground against heavy odds. Those who stood their ground, preserved the foundations of science, preserved the human resources and our potential to develop in this key area. This is an area in which Russia is undoubtedly competitive. It is a high-tech sphere, which can and must drive many other areas of industry and science. And of course, the human resources in this area are a priceless part of our national heritage, the people who have worked, are working and I am sure will work effectively in this sphere. This is not a business meeting, so I doubt that we will be able to discuss all the problems facing the industry today. But I would like to assure you that we are aware of the problems and, together with the experts and your chief executives, intend to address them to the best of our abilities because the space industry is one of the key industries in the development of the country. I would like to give you this assurance. Once again, sincere and warm congratulations on your holiday. I wanted to call it your professional holiday, but I think that would have been a mistake. I congratulate you on the national holiday, Cosmonauts’ Day, and on the 40th anniversary of Yury Gagarin’s space flight. I wish you all the best.