A state-aligned Russian newspaper reviews the space program—and it’s scathing

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin visits the construction site for the launch pad for the rocket boosters of the Angara family, at the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

Enlarge / Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin visits the construction site for the launch pad for the rocket boosters of the Angara family, at the Vostochny Cosmodrome. (credit: Yegor AleyevTASS via Getty Images)

A long and strikingly critical article that reviews the state of the Russian space program was published in the state-aligned newspaper MK this week.

None of the findings in the 2,800-word article were particularly surprising. Western observers who track the Russian space industry realize the program is deeply troubled, and to a great extent running on the fumes of its past and very real glory. What is notable, however, is that a major Russian media outlet has published such a revelatory article for a domestic audience.

Increasingly, Russia’s space program seeks to project its greatness in space through symbolic acts rather than technological achievements—such as the launch of a Russian movie star, sending a robot nicknamed Fedor to space, or making (entirely) hollow promises about a Moon landing in 2030. But now it has been called out on these acts in a publication closely aligned with the Russian government.

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