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Russian govt. to spend more on space in 2006-15 - official

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MOSCOW, April 7 (RIA Novosti) - Government spending on space programs will increase in the next ten years, the country's top space official said Friday.

Space agency head Anatoly Perminov said the government would allocate 5 billion rubles ($180 million) more for its space program this year than last, and would boost funding further in the next decade.

"Some 18.3 billion rubles [about $663 million] was allocated for the implementation of the old federal space program last year, and this year we already have 23 billion [$832 million] under the new program," he said.

Perminov also said that in the past few years all treasury money earmarked for space projects had arrived without delay.

The agency said underfunding in 2001-2003 prevented completion of seven projects under the previous federal space program, which ran through 2005. Actual allocations then fell 26% short of the due sum, curtailing construction of the Express-M, Luch-M, Gonets-M, and Resurs-DK satellites, a Soyuz-2 launch vehicle, and a Nadezhda booster.

But if steady funding is maintained, the agency said, the number of Russian spacecraft in orbit will increase dramatically in the next decade.

The agency plans to launch 21 telecommunications satellites, a two-satellite multipurpose relay system, 12 mobile communications satellites, five meteorological satellites, five environmental monitoring satellites, and a number of observatories and spacecraft for astrophysical and biomedical research, as well as for solar and lunar exploration.

Russia will also contribute two spacecraft to the global satellite-aided search-and-rescue system Cospas-Sarsat and seven modules to the International Space Station, the agency said.

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