Russian Doubts About The Future in Space

The following quotation is from an interview with former cosmonaut Vladimir Kovalyonok, now a "Colonel General" (3-star) in charge of the Zhukovskiy Military Air Engineering Academy. It was published in the Russian army newspaper "Red Star" (Krasnaya Zvezda) on Nov 21, 1995:

"Today Russia is also finding it extremely difficult to hold onto its space achievements. Everyone in the world was familiar with two words: Volga and Gagarin. They were our calling card. And we must hang onto space by all means in our power -- these are state priorities. The days and nights we spent in orbit in the past were achieved at the cost of people's health and people's lives. Each and every one of us was aware that the flight was the crowning glory of the vast labor by hundreds of thousands of ordinary people in our country. We learned to work in space. No matter what efforts were made by the Americans, we still managed to prove that our programs were better. Look at the orbital stations. We started to really recoup our expenditures through studies of natural resources, through oceanology -- or look at my work on taking the fisheries fleet out into the open waters of the world ocean. This is reality, after all.

"But that which is happening today, when we are proudly handing all our achievements over to the Americans in exchange for 'greenbacks', is a cause for bitterness and even an insult to a certain extent. I must admit that I shed a tear of regret when I heard the applause in the Flight Control Center following the shuttle's docking with Mir. Yuriy Nikolayevich Koptev may be offended by these words. I can understand his position: we have to manage to survive somehow. We have embarked on cooperation with the Americans in order to somehow preserve what we have. But we have also lost a great deal: autonomy, dignity, and the eventual loss of jobs at the Flight Control Center. After all, we already have a flying specimen of what the Americans call the space station of the future. And we achieved this on our own, without anybody else's help. They, on the other hand, are developing their Alpha with help from everybody, and still could not manage it without Russia's participation. And yet there is not a single word, not even a murmur anywhere about Russia's contribution.

"And it is said that the space station will give the U.S. people confidence in their future. Their nation is being brought up with a sense of superiority, of special national pride. Yet we are losing ours. This is an unforgivable mistake."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on November 21, 1995 5:09 PM.

NASA Staff Meeting Minutes 16 October 1995 was the previous entry in this blog.

Mir Extension Update 12-16 June 1995 is the next entry in this blog.

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