From Volume 38, Issue 15 of EIR Online, Published Apr. 15, 2011
Russia and the CIS News Digest

Gagarin's Flight: 'A Giant Leap in Our Evolution as a Species'

April 9 (EIRNS)—That is the way U.S. astronaut Ron Garan characterized the significance of the first human space flight by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, 50 years ago on April 12. Garan, who believes he is related to Gagarin through a great grandfather who immigrated to the United States under the name Ivan Gagarin, launched on April 4 to the International Space Station, aboard a Russian Soyuz, with two Russian colleagues. That rocket took off from the same launchpad as did Gagarin, a half century ago. This rocket was uniquely decorated with a likeness of Yuri Gagarin, and was named for him.

In January, Prime Minister Putin declared 2011 to be the Year of Russian Cosmonautics. Celebrations, student space contests, exhibits, lectures, and conferences are taking place not only in Russia, but around the world. On April 7, the UN General Assembly declared April 12 the International Day of Human Space Flight, and visiting cosmonaut Oleg Kotov opened a photo exhibition celebrating Gagarin's flight. Conferences are scheduled in the U.S., and heads of space agencies, including NASA, will be in Moscow next week, for discussions on future cooperation.

"Gagarin's name is a symbol of the conquest of space," Garan said, "a symbol of the dreams of generations of people to fly from our planet beyond the bound of what is possible."

On Gagarin Anniversary, Russian Scientists Look to Moon-Mars Project

April 6 (EIRNS)—While insane President Barack Obama is destroying the U.S. manned space program, the Russians remain committed to going to the Moon and Mars. In an interview with Bloomberg, Roscosmos leader Anatoli Perminov said Russia wants to accelerate planned missions to the Moon that could put a man on the Moon within ten years.

"It is the first time that the government has allocated decent financing to us," Perminov said in the phone interview on April 2. The agency's $3.5 billion budget for 2011 is the highest since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. "We can now advance on all themes a bit," Perminov said.

"We are increasing the space budget as the time has come for a technological breakthrough," Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, told Bloomberg. "We need to replace outdated infrastructure and continue to support the flagship status of the space industry." Russia intends to continue allocating more funds for the space industry, Peskov said. "We'll increase financing if possible, depending on the budget balance, because the industry was and remains one of our priorities," he said.

Russia now receives $752 million from the U.S. for sending crews to the International Space Station through 2015. Bloomberg points out that this is happening just as Obama is scrapping the U.S. manned space program, and NASA is seeking an $18.7 billion budget for next year, $300 million less than the funding targeted for this year.

"We need the Mars flight, as it will help create new large-scale technologies," Yuriy Karash, member of the Russian Space Academy, told Bloomberg. "It means there will be new rockets, new engines, new anti-radiation medicine that will protect people in outer space." Russia may be able to complete a Mars mission within 12 years if it is included in the new Federal space program, Karash said. Roscosmos is working on a plan that will start in 2015, to focus more on outer space than before, Perminov said in the interview. A flight to Mars is more likely in cooperation with other space programs, according to the Roscosmos plan.

Russia will need a new rocket, a new manned spacecraft for 4-6-man crews, and a new launch site to operate manned flights as early as in 2018, Perminov said. The new rocket, Rus-M, which is to become Russia's main vehicle for manned spaceflights, should be ready for the 2015 start of Russia's new space program, he said.

Russia Proposes Global Space Security Monitoring System

April 4 (EIRNS)—In an interview today with the English-language television network "Russia Today," the head of Russia's Space Agency, Anatoli Perminov, reported that he has suggested the creation of a global space security monitoring system, which 23 countries have endorsed. The plan is to for international centers on each continent to process the massive amount of data that is being collected by many nations' Earth remote sensing and weather satellites. This would produce useful data from the observations, and enable recommendations to be made to governments, in order to warn of earthquakes and other natural disasters. Perminov stated that the United States and China are "seriously considering joining."

Perminov said that poorer countries, which, like Indonesia, are vulnerable to earthquakes and floods, do not have their own satellites, and many governments cannot make sense of the raw data. Asked by the interviewer when such processing centers could be in operation, Perminov replied that right now, "there is no timeframe."

Perminov posed the project as a system of systems, addressing common concerns of mankind: "Each space-faring nation, you know, possesses different data, depending on the satellites they use for remote sensing and for meteorological research. We are proposing that these nations put their data in processing centers, and that these centers be located on different continents: in North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Europe. Based on the data received in the centers, recommendations would be made to world leaders.... All the data will be processed in the computer centers and supplied to every country in [the] form of risk warnings, saying, for example, that an earthquake hazard will be high in several places around the globe in the course of the next two weeks. In that way, mankind will be prepared for an earthquake."

Perminov said the program should have a galactic dimension: "Notification may also touch upon what is happening in distant galaxies. It's possible that stars concentrated there will produce an impact on Earth. Or in four years, some asteroid will approach the Earth within a distance of 200 kilometers. That would be a very serious threat. Precisely such information is, in fact, what governments need, rather than just telemetry from a space craft."

Russian Researcher Predicts More Turbulence at End of April

April 5 (EIRNS)—Warnings of more earthquakes, possibly followed by another tsunami at the end of April in the region of Japan and Kamchatka, were issued by Ivan Tikhonov, the head of the Seismology Lab at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Marine Geology and Geophysics on Sakhalin Island. Tikhonov predicts a "possible quake of magnitude 7.5 to 8.5."

"Such a tremor could cause a tsunami," he said, "and therefore, it is best to prepare for such an eventuality." In his view, the epicenter of that tremor will lie along a deep-water channel some 200 kilometers east of the epicenter of the March 11 quake. For Kamchatka, he said, the dangerous period would be after April 25. The most vulnerable region would be southern Kamchatka, reaching to the northern Kuriles Islands. The turbulent period for the southern Kuriles began in August of last year.

"The Sakhalin district is one of the most vulnerable regions in Russia," Tikhonov said, "because it's located on the edge of the Pacific Ocean seismic belt." Dr. Kan Chin-suk from the North Korean seismological administration had earlier noted that the magnitude 9 earthquake that hit Japan was the fourth-largest known to have ever hit the planet. "Aftershock tremors of level 7 or 8 on the Richter scale may continue for years, if not decades," he said. "It is a very alarming situation."

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