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SPACE FLIGHT 2005 - Russian Space Activities

With financial support by a slowly improving national economy growing slightly over previous years, Russia and the Ukraine in 2005 showed increased activity in space operations from 2004, launching seven different carrier rockets. Out of 55 launch attempts worldwide in 2005, 26 space launches were attempted by Russia, placing it solidly in the lead of spacefaring countries including the US. Its total of 26 attempts, achieving 23 successful launches, was three more than its previous year's 23 attempts (all successful): Five Soyuz-U, six Soyuz-FG (two crewed), seven Protons (-K & -M), four Zenit-3SL (sea launch, counted above under U.S. Activities), one Molniya-M (failed), three Kosmos-3M, one Volna (failed submarine launch of a test version of an Euro-Russian inflatable atmospheric reentry shield), one Dnepr, and two Rokots (1 failed). The upgraded Soyuz-FG rocket's new fuel injection system provides a five percent increase in thrust over the Soyuz-U, enhancing its lift capability by 200 kg and enabling it to carry the new Soyuz-TMA spacecraft, which is heavier than the Soyuz-TM ship used in earlier years to ferry crews to the ISS. Soyuz-TMA was flown for the first time on October 30, 2002, as ISS mission 5S. It was followed in 2003 by Soyuz TMA-2 (6S) and TMA-3 (7S), in 2004 by TMA-4 (8S) and TMA-5 (9S), and in 2005 by TMA-6 (10S) and TMA-7 (11S) (see International Space Station, above). In 2005, Russia's Federal cabinet (Duma) gave final approval to a 10-year civil space plan that prioritizes satellite telecommunications, navigation and Earth observation, under the purview of the Federal Space Agency Roskosmos. The plan calls for 305 billion rubles (~$10.6 billion) for space projects from 2006 through 2015. Other priorities outlined in the plan include the development of the "Angara" family of heavy-lift rockets, new modifications of the Soyuz-2 launch vehicle, and development of a new space crew capsule, such as the proposed six-seat "Klipr" (Clipper), to replace the current three-seat Soyuz TMA craft.

Russian cosmonauts continue to hold the worldwide lead in spaceflight endurance, headed by Sergei Krikalev with 803 days on six Mir/Shuttle/ISS missions. In second place is Sergei Avdeyev with 748 days (three Mir missions), followed by physician Valery Polyakov with 679 days (two Mir missions), Anatoly Solovyev (652d on five Mir missions) and Alexander Kaleri (611d on 4 Mir/ISS missions). The US astronaut with the longest space duration, holding the U.S. record, is Michael Foale (374d on six Mir/ISS missions).

Commercial space activities.The Russian space program's major push to enter into the world's commercial arena by promoting its space products on the external market, driven by the need to survive in an era of severe reductions of public financing, increased in 2005. First launched in July 1965, the Proton heavy lifter, originally intended as a ballistic missile (UR500), by end-2005 had flown 238 times since 1980, with 14 failures (reliability: 0.941). Its launch rate in recent years has been as high as 13 per year. Of the seven Protons launched in 2005 (2004: 8), six were for commercial customers (AMC-12 & -23, Ekspress AM-2 & AM-3, DirecTV 8, Anik F1R, the seventh for the state/military (three GLONASS/Uragan navsats). From 1985-2005, 186 Proton and 414 Soyuz rockets were launched, with ten failures of the Proton and ten of the Soyuz, giving a combined reliability index of 0.967. Until a launch failure on October 15, 2002, the Soyuz rocket had flown 74 consecutive successful missions, including 12 with human crews on board; meanwhile, another 26 successful flights were added, including six carrying 17 humans.