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I'll take a shuttle any day they want to give me a seat on one.
What a difference four years makes: In 2001, when Mir plunged out of orbit, it looked as if Russia's space program was going down with it, scraping by on a budget of less than $200 million a year.
Today, boosted by Russia's oil revenue, the government has committed to a 10-year plan for space exploration, funded to the tune of $1 billion a year. That's far less than the price tag for NASA's 13-year, $104 billion plan to return to the moon. But while America's space effort is struggling with safety issues and tight budgets, Russia is now seen as having the world's safest, most cost-effective human spaceflight system.