Today is the last day for Roscosmos

Exactly what will be different about the new configuration isn't entirely clear.
By Brooks Hays  |  Dec. 31, 2015 at 4:17 PM
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MOSCOW, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Russia's space-based ambitions aren't going anywhere, but Roscosmos, also known as the Federal Space Agency, will soon be no more.

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree dissolving the agency. December 31, 2015, is its last day in existence.

Starting January 1, Russia's space missions will be planned and executed by the Roscosmos State Corporation, a combination of the Federal Space Agency and United Rocket and Space Corporation -- an entity created in 2013 to renationalize Russa's space industry. The corporation will still be called Roscosmos.

Exactly what will be different about the new configuration isn't entirely clear, but Russia's leaders apparently thought a reshuffling and a fresh start was necessary for a space agency that suffered a number of embarrassing rocket, cargo capsule and satellite failures, as well as allegations of corruption.

Space officials in Russia hope the new consolidation will help diminish corruption and keep missions on schedule moving forward, but critics aren't so sure.

"Russia, when it encounters a problem -- and Roscosmos, indeed, has got a lot of problems -- it always chooses a bureaucratic method and instead of one bureaucratic structure, they create another one, arranging a management shake-up," Alexander Golts, a defense analyst and deputy editor of Russian newspaper Ezhednevny Zhurnal, told VOA News. "But this shake-up only means a victory of one bureaucratic clan over the other. It doesn't mean that things in Roscosmos will improve."

NASA and the American space companies it works worth also suffered a number of delays and failures this year. But a private American space industry has also enjoyed a number of promising innovations. Russia's space-faring ambitions will face stiff competition from Elon Musk's SpaceX, which recently demonstrated its reusable rocket technology.

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