With the demise of the Soviet Union, the Russian space program was now controlled by three Republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Russia, the Ukraine, and Kazakstan. Russia had all the training facilities and command and control centers, the Ukraine built many of the booster rockets, and Kazakstan contained the most important launch center, Baikanour. Russia had maintained the MIR space station complex attached to the Kvant and Kvant 2 modules through the 1980s. During the 1990s, even with limited funds, the total planned MIR complex was completed by launching the remaining modules, Kristall, Spektr, and Priroda. The Kristall expansion module is dedicated to materials processing, the Spektr modules is to be used for remote sensing, and the final module, Priroda, would be used for microgravity experiments and remote sensing for international users. MIR was suppose to last for 15 years, but due to budget limitations and Russia's financial obligations to the International Space Station, MIR may be deorbited before the end of the decade.
Russia attempted one interplanetary spacecraft during the 1990s, Mars 8. Unfortunately, it ended up in the Pacific Ocean after an upper stage malfunction.
Russia continued its programs for remote sensing with the Foton and Resurs satellites. It also launched a large scale commercial remote sensing spacecraft called Almaz 1 using radar imaging instead of photographic or infrared imaging similar to Landsat or SPOT. It had been constructed from the abandoned parts of a planned military space station. All of its communications and weather satellite program continue to be replenished. It has branched out into the unmanned materials processing arena with the Foton series. It has tried to mirror some of NASA Great Observatories series of satellites with its own spacecraft called Gamma used for observing gamma rays. Finally Russia joined the international weather monitoring group by supplying a geosynchronous Elektro 1 satellite.
Nicholas M. Short, Sr. email: [email protected]
Jim Rosalanka ([email protected])