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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

President Calls for a Stronger Space Industry

President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia must bolster its once-formidable space industry, saying it was essential for national security and could yield wider economic benefits for the country.

Speaking at a meeting with Cabinet and regional officials that focused on space, Putin said the government should encourage a broader use of space technologies in the national economy to increase Russia's competitiveness. "A decade of economic difficulties has had a negative impact on our space industry, and we still fail to use our advantages here," Putin said.

He gave no figures or pledges of new government financing, but he emphasized in particular the need to activate the country's satellite navigation system. Glonass, the acronym for Global Navigation Satellite System, was developed during Soviet times as a response to the U.S. Global Positioning System, or GPS.

Also Thursday, IT and Communications Minister Leonid Reiman said two satellites would be launched this year at a cost of 3.4 billion rubles ($131 million) in a bid to meet the country's communications requirements. Russia plans to have 26 telecommunications and broadcasting satellites in orbit by 2015.