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Moscow State University hopes to reach for the stars with new space faculty

Moscow State University hopes to reach for the stars with new space faculty
The International Space Station (Image: NASA)

25 November 2016

Russia’s oldest university, Moscow State University (MSU), is hoping to revive the country’s space industry by launching its own space faculty.

“We have been discussing this for quite a while now, and, actually, in a matter of days, we are going to open such a faculty,” said university rector Viktor Sadovnichy in a statement to the TASS news agency earlier this week, adding that the faculty will educate a new generation of “space research specialists”.

While the new faculty aims to respond to what it sees as a lack of young specialists in the field, some have warned that a lack of educational facilities is not the key issue facing the industry.

“We have a space academy in Siberia, several universities that specialise in technology all over the country have aerospace faculties,” space industry analyst Pavel Luzin said in an interview with The Moscow Times. “It is just that their graduates are not keen to build careers in Russian space industry.”

This lack of enthusiasm is likely related to low wages and a lack of cutting-edge technology in the Russian industry, which is monopolised by the state. At its peak in 1989, the Soviet space programme employed over a million specialists. Critics have suggested that the sector would now be better served by private companies.

“Many services are only possible because of satellite technologies, like weather monitoring, Internet reception, geolocation,” says the former State Duma deputy Dmitry Gudkov, who fought for a bill on private cosmonautics (in vain). “These services have become part of our economy, and they can and should be carried out by private companies.”

In 2015, Roscosmos — the governmental body responsible for Russia’s space science programme and aerospace research — predicted that the industry would need to recruit a minimum of 110,000 university graduates over the next decade if it is to be reinvigorated — will MSU make all the difference, or will the new faculty prove to be an empty and expensive gesture?

Source: The Moscow Times