Russia will revise its space program and plans to reduce spending, the country’s national space agency, Roscosmos, said Tuesday in a statement to Reuters. The statement came after Izvestia, a Russian newspaper, reported that Roscosmos had proposed billions of dollars in spending cuts, including to its ambitious moon exploration plans.
The Roscosmos statement, without providing any details, said that several Russian government ministries were revising the country’s space program up to 2025. The Izvestia reported proposed cuts of about $1.22 billion to the manned flights segment of the lunar exploration program, which was more than a fifth of its total budget of about $5.74 billion. The report added, however, that funding to build a spaceship to fly to the moon was not expected to suffer much.
According to reports last year, Russia was planning to explore the moon in 2016 and colonize it by 2030, setting up a permanent base there that would serve as a platform for further research.
Roscosmos did not comment on the specific figures in the Izvestia report, but said that the revised program was still extensive, Reuters reported. It also declined comment on whether Russian plans for a moon base were still on, but reportedly said the first manned flight around the moon would not take place before 2029.
“The revised project of the federal space programme for 2016-25 envisages the study of the Moon by automated orbiters, as well as by building up scientific and technical potential for further studies, including by manned missions,” it said, according to Reuters.
Economic hardship brought on by low oil prices, Western sanctions and a falling ruble are believed to have contributed to the country’s decision. The Russian government is also in the process of scaling back expenses across a range of sectors from healthcare to the 2018 soccer world cup.
Russia’s space program has also been hit by technological failures in recent times. Igor Koramov, former head of the now-dissolved Russian Federal Space Agency said last year that the country was focusing on the moon and was not in a “space race” with the United States, where NASA is focusing on Mars.