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For Russia, SpaceX success is 'wakeup call'

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Russia has lost its long-held monopoly as the only country able to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station following the flawless manned launch by US company SpaceX.
May 31,2020
Russia has lost its long-held monopoly as the only country able to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station following the flawless manned launch by US company SpaceX.
The Russian space agency congratulated the United States and Elon Musk’s SpaceX on the first crewed flight ever by a private company, but experts said the launch should be a wakeup call for Roscosmos.
“The success of the mission will provide us with additional opportunities that will benefit the whole international programme,” cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, Roscosmos executive director for crewed space programmes, said in a brief video address.
Saturday’s launch was the first of American astronauts from US soil since the mothballing of the US shuttle programme in 2011 that left Russia’s more basic and reliable Soyuz spacecraft solely responsible for transporting crews.
Astronauts since then have all trained at Star City outside Moscow and studied Russian before blasting off from Baikonur launchpad in Kazakhstan.
“These flights have been an unexpected chance for Moscow to keep producing Soyuz and retain a significant voice in negotiations over the ISS,” said Isabelle Sourbes-Verger, a specialist in space policy at the French National Centre for Scientific Research.
The Russian space agency has also earned large sums by ferrying astronauts: a seat in the Soyuz costs NASA around $80 million.
If SpaceX starts taking up all US astronauts, “the annual losses could be more than $200 million, a significant loss for Roscosmos’s budget of around $2 billion,” said Andrei Ionin, an expert at the Tsiolkovsky Space Academy in Moscow.

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