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Space exploration cannot develop without state’s leading role, says Kremlin

On Sunday, a flight to the edge of space was held by the billionaire and Virgin Galactic founder Branson and the company’s five other staff members

MOSCOW, July 12. /TASS/. Space exploration using only private investment cannot develop without the participation of the state, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.

"Of course, space exploration is actually impossible without the state’s leading role. The process is too costly, too enormous and capital-intensive," Peskov said, replying to a question about whether private space initiatives could emerge in Russia without the state’s participation similar to the suborbital flight performed by British billionaire Richard Branson on July 11.

Space projects based on private money only "are also a very rare example," the Kremlin spokesman stressed.

"Normally, private cosmonautics is linked to the state’s quasi-support in one way or another. This relates to various forms of subsidies, loans, government contracts and so on," he explained.

Nonetheless, investments in this field will increasingly grow and the applied nature of space exploration will also increase," the Kremlin spokesman stressed.

"As this applied nature expands, the amount of private investment will grow," Peskov said.

Private initiatives in space exploration are also being implemented in Russia, Peskov pointed out. "We are the country where private investments have been made for several years now. You can recall the Sea Launch project where private investment made up a substantial part," the Kremlin spokesman said.

Branson’s suborbital flight

Billionaire and Virgin Galactic founder Branson and the company’s five other staff members made a flight to the edge of space on Sunday, climbing to an altitude of 86 km aboard the Unity-22 rocket-powered space plane. The space journey lasted about an hour while the space travelers experienced weightlessness for several minutes. Apart from the billionaire, the crew comprised test pilots Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, Virgin Galactic Research Operations Chief Sirisha Bandla, Lead Operations Engineer Colin Bennet and Chief Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses.

Head of Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin told TASS that, hopefully, Russian billionaires would also "start spending money" on developing space technologies.