From now on, close cooperation in the space sphere between Russia in the person of the Federal Space Agency (FSA) and the European Union in the person of the European Space Agency (ESA) will develop more intensively. Russian President Vladimir Putin has entrusted by his decree the government of the Russian Federation with directly leading the space and nuclear industries.
On May 24, ESA director general Jean-Jacques Dordain confirmed once again that Europe intended to closely cooperate with Russia in the sphere of space exploration.
This cooperation, which started more than 20 years ago, is of a special importance for Russia and Europe today. Presently, both sides are becoming main characters in implementing the chief international space project of the International Space Station's programme.
It has become obvious after the crash of the American space shuttle Columbia that the United States will not be able to use its shuttles for a long time, and that the whole responsibility for the fate of the station falls upon Russia. But after the announcement of the ambitious and far-reaching American plans of exploring the Moon and Mars, it has become clear that the Americans become less and less interested in the problems of the near-earth international complex.
This can be seen from the fact that the date of the first flight of the shuttle directly to the International Space Station (ISS) has not yet been named. In such conditions, taking into account that the station's programme is the basis of Russia's national space programme and is the only possibility to develop European piloted cosmonauts, close cooperation between the Federal Space Agency and the European Space Agency in space becomes the dictates of the time.
On the other hand, any advanced economic, scientific and technological cooperation in the sphere of space is impossible without a high state status of the sides.
"The giving of the status of ministry to the FSA will speed up the solution of procedural issues, connected, above all, with international activity," the FSA chairman commented on the presidential decree.
Apart from that, the most perspective space project in the history of Russian-European relations in the space sphere will develop now at an accelerated speed. This project provides for orbiting expensive satellites by new Russian Soyuz-2 rocket-carriers from the ESA space launch area Kourou in French Guiana. The decree of the Russian President simplifies the procedure of adopting resolutions by the government of the Russian Federation on launching space vehicles both domestic and foreign.