Russia space programme on brink of collapse due to ‘moral decay’

The Russian space programme is on the brink of collapse due to corruption, financial violations and “moral decay,” according to reports.

A government appointed watchdog found that 92 billion rubles (£1.2 billion) were misused by the Roscosmos space agency during 2014 alone.

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International Business Times reports that the head of the investigation team, Tatyana Golikova, reacted in disbelief when the extent of the financial mismanagement was revealed. It has also been confirmed that Roscosmos will be shut down and replaced with a state-owned corporation for later this year.

The replacement space agency will be responsible for formulating mission objectives, managing employee salaries and modernising Russia’s space programme.

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told the state television channel Rossia-1 that repairing the country’s space industry would take some time.

"It will take maybe another two to three years to intensively technically re-equip the rocket and space industry," he said. "We have uncovered acts of fraud, abuse of authority (and) document forgery. With such a level of moral decay, one should not be surprised at the high accident rate."

Russia’s efforts have struggled to keep pace with those of private enterprises, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. The national space programme has also suffered a number of embarrassing setbacks, including failing to supply the International Space Station (ISS) with water and fuel. The Progress cargo ship spun out of control after leaving the Earth’s atmosphere and burnt up over the Pacific Ocean earlier this month.

The incident has also caused a delay in the return of three of the astronauts on board the ISS, which were due to land back on Earth in early May, but have had their scheduled arrival pushed back a month.

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The task of reinvigorating the Russian space programme has been made more challenging by the difficulties currently being experienced by the country’s economy, which has been hit hard by economic sanctions and falling oil prices.