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National Space Agency estimates Russian spacecraft to total 70 by 2015

Moscow, July 13 (RIA Novosti) - The National Space Agency, Roscosmos, has estimated that Russia will have more than 70 spacecraft by 2015.

The Russian government's space program for the coming decade envisages the launch of a number of communications, TV, weather monitoring and scientific research satellites, as well as of two Sterkh craft, which will make it possible for Russia to contribute to an international search and rescue system, an agency official said. It also provides for the construction, in cooperation with foreign specialists, of a Kliper shuttle, the cutting-edge launch vehicles Angara and Souyuz-2, and a Fobos Grunt apparatus, intended for collecting samples of the soil on Mars' satellite Fobos.

The program also prioritizes the support and development of the International Space Station's Russian segment and the launch sites at Baikonur and Plesetsk, the spokesperson said. About $10 billion will be allocated for its implementation from the treasury coffers and an additional $4.5 billion will come from extra-budgetary sources.

The 2006-2015 federal space program will be Russia's third. The first such program, designed for the period through 2000, and the second, to be completed before the end of this year, were 40% and 70% funded by the government, respectively.

"Hopefully, the third program will prove more fortunate," the source said.

A report released by the National Space Agency in April this year notes that only 39 of Russia's 99 satellites are fully operational and that 60 of the spacecraft currently used are already well beyond their service life.

A lack of funds led to the cancellation of a relaunch of three global navigation satellite systems (GLONASS) in 2003 and the postponement of the GLONASS-K satellite's 2005 relaunch until 2008.

As of April 2005, 849 satellites of varied function are operating in space. More than half of them, 425, are American-made.

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