Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree dissolving Roscosmos, one of the most advanced space agencies in the world. Starting January 1st, 2016, a state-run corporation will replace the space program.
"You can compare it to the fall of the Roman Empire... The Russian space industry is collapsing," an analyst and science associate at the Russian Academy of Sciences told IBTimes UK.
A statement by Roscosmos hinted that the decision was made due to government cutbacks during the economic crisis brought on by low oil prices and economic sanctions. The Kremlin is currently trimming government spending across the board, including medical care and welfare.
The dissolution of Roscosmos comes with the abandonment of Russia's ambitious moon exploration program. In April, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced that Moscow sought to build a base on the Moon that would serve as a platform for scientific breakthroughs by 2025.
As a result of the agency's closure, nearly all works concerning manned flights to the Moon for the years 2016 to 2025 have been scrapped. "The creation of a lunar landing/takeoff complex, a lunar orbital station, construction of a lunar base, the designing of a spacesuit for operations on the Moon, and designing of a system for robotic maintenance on the moon have been removed from the list of financed programmes," the newspaper Izvestia reported.
Roscosmos partners with NASA on multiple projects, including the International Space Station. At this time it is unclear what impact the agency's dissolution will have on US-Russian cooperation in space.