Pilot-Astronaut Georgy Grechko sharply criticized the position of Russian aeronautics recently. On Tuesday he visited the Mordovian capital of Saransk, and conducted an Internet press conference.
He said that in the last 20 years Russian space agency directors have made 'great mistakes' in working out a strategy of development of domestic cosmonautics. 'We didn't handle the Mir orbiting station correctly, at the beginning we repaired it and then we wrecked it, though it could have served the country for several more years,' he said.
Answering a question about the weak financing for cosmonautics, Grechko said that all the material problems connected with the national space program could be decided by selling space technology. With this lucrative source of financing, we could build a new orbiting station Mir-2; however, the wrong decision was made to reduce the national space program in favour of Russia's participation in international space projects.
'As a result, the level of domestic cosmonautics has become strongly dependent on the US,' he said. Grechko also said that soon 'Russia's place in space will be taken most likely by the Chinese who are quickly developing a national space agency of their own.'