Space: Russia Rebuilds

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September 5, 2007: Russia has spent tens of billions of dollars in the past few years to upgrade its satellite launching capabilities, and its space program in general. This includes moving launches from sites in Central Asia (that used to be part of the Soviet Union) to Russia, and upgrading launch facilities inside Russia. Cold War era launcher technology has been replaced. Poisonous rocket fuels, which are costly, and dangerous, to handle, are being phased out (as soon as existing rockets that use the stuff are fired off into space). Many of these rockets had ancient (analog) control systems, that have been replaced with more reliable and efficient digital ones. Existing rocket designs have been upgraded so they can lift more weight, and many are being modified so they can launch military or civilian payloads. Some of the satellites are also dual use.

Russia is also abandoning early warning radars outside of Russia. These radars were in parts of the Soviet Union that became independent in 1991. Since then, there have been problems with those governments, particularly with sharply increased fees demanded. Russia has decided that it would be safer, if not cheaper, if all the early warning radars were on Russian territory. The new radars use much more modern technology, as do a growing number of Russian ground control stations.

 


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