The statement followed warnings by another cosmonaut that Russia risks losing its edge in space research by relying solely on Soviet-era achievements and doing little to develop new space technologies.
“We were the first to fly to space and have had a great number of achievements, and we mustn’t lose our advantage,” Mr. Medvedev said during a visit to Mission Control outside Moscow.
On Monday, Svetlana Savitskaya, who flew space missions in 1982 and 1984 and was the first woman to make a spacewalk, harshly criticized the Kremlin for paying little attention to space research after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
Russia’s importance will grow even more after the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis closes out the U.S. program this summer, leaving the Russian spacecraft as the only link to the station.
“Salaries in space industries are much lower than average salaries in banks and commercial companies,” Mr. Chertok, 99, told reporters last week. “We need [more] people of Korolyov’s caliber.”
Mr. Korolyov, a visionary scientist as well as a tough manager, led the team that put the world’s first manmade satellite in orbit Oct. 4, 1957. He then spearheaded a massive effort to score another first with Mr. Gagarin’s mission.
“Our competition with America was spurring us to move faster to make the first human spaceflight,” said Valery Kubasov, a member of Mr. Korolyov’s design team who later became a cosmonaut.
Mr. Gagarin’s accomplishment shocked the United States, prompting it to declare the goal of putting a man on the moon.
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