Russia: May 12, 2001


: The fire at Russia's satellite control center will take two to three weeks to repair. Meanwhile, other facilities (with the ability to broadcast and receive satellite signals) will fill in. Russia's satellite fleet has declined, both in quality and quantity, over the last ten years. Just before the Soviet Union went poof in 1991, Russia had 190 satellites in orbit. Now there are some 90, sixty percent of them military, or mixed civilian and military use (like communications.) Military satellites are kept in orbit longer than they were designed for and this makes ground control even more important. Ground controllers must constantly monitor these ageing birds and make frequent adjustments to make sure they are facing in the right direction and not dropping out of orbit. This situation is repeated throughout Russia's military-industrial complex. Russia is living off the past, lacking the money to buy new technology for satellites or weapons. 

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