Thursday, 24 May 2012

Russian Federal Space Agency

The history of the Russian Space Program dates back to the early 1900s. Most of the research was military based, so much of the inforamtion about the program was deemed classified. Early rockets were designed to be intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and could carry a payload of about 10,000 pounds. This capacity made a good rocket for the fledgling space program.
In 1956, initial plans were approved for space travel. Original plans called for gaining knowledge about space with the Sputnik Program, develop a spy satellite program, and then attempt to fly humans into space in 1964. The succesful launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957 created a large political success, and the manned spaceflight portion was accelerated.
On April 4, 1961, Yuri Gagarin was launched into space aboard Vostok 1, and became the first human in space. Several more Vostok Missions followed, all designed to beat the USA to any kind of firsts. During the Vostok Program, Russia also started to launch unmanned probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, and the Moon.
In the mid 1960s, Russia focused on building a reliable rocket, and in 1967, the Soyuz rocket was unveiled. The Soyuz rocket is still used for launches in 2009. Other notable achievements of the Soviet Space program in the 1960 include first soft lunar landing in 1966 with the Luna 9 probe.
After the USA successfully landed humans on the moon in 1969, the space race cooled down somewhat, and focus shifted to scientific research. On April 19, 1971, the first Space Station, Salyut 1, was launched. Salyut 1 was in orbit until October 11, 1971 when it reentered the atmosphere.
In 1985, the Soviet Space Program launched MIR, the first permanently manned space station. The Soviet commitment to the International Space Station (ISS) meant that MIR could no longer be kept. After a failed attempt at a private sale, MIR was deliberately deorbited on March 23, 2001.
In 1992, the Soviet Space Program was officially renamed The Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA).
Looking for ways to offset costs, the RKA began searching for people who might be interested in flying to space as a tourist. On April 28, 2001, Dennis Tito made history by becoming the first person to pay for a space flight to the ISS. Since then, in cooperation with Space Adventures, the RKA has launched several space tourists to the ISS for approximately $20 million each. The RKA can be thanked as the first agency to pioneer space travel and tourism.

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