- As the first country to launch a satellite (Sputnik) and send a manned spacecraft into orbit (piloted by Yury Gagarin), the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) long held the lead in the Cold War–era space race against the United States. However, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent economic hardships under Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s space program fell into disrepair, and came to rely on space tourism to supplement state funds. In order to maintain the Soviet space station Mir (Peace), the Russian Federal Space Agency (FSA or Roscosmos) was forced to collaborate with NASA, its American counterpart. Mir was de-orbited on 23 March 2001.In 1998, the two agencies, along with the space programs of Canada, Japan, and 10 European Union countries, started construction on the International Space Station (though the U.S. later signaled its desire to abandon the project). Under Vladimir Putin, the federal government has committed a massive investment toward expanding the space program, including replacing Soyuz spacecraft with the new Kliper model, expanding the Glosnass network, and sending unmanned flights to the moon and Mars.While Russia signed a deal to maintain its lease on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan until 2050, it is simultaneously developing its Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Arkhangelsk and Vostochny (formerly Svobodny) Cosmodrome in Amur Oblast for future launches. The general director of the FSA is Anatoly Perminov. Roscosmos’s headquarters are located in Moscow, while the space flight operations center is located in the suburb of Korolev. The Yury A. Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center (GCTC) is in Star City in Moscow Oblast. The Russian Space Forces are a special division of the military dedicated to extraterrestrial operations.
Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. Robert A. Saunders and Vlad Strukov. 2010.
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