Now that the last United States Space Shuttle Flight has taken place, Russia is the sole provider of flight services into space and to the International Space Station. While less impressive looking as the now defunct shuttle, the Soyuz rocket is now the only rocket capable of sending men to the International Space station.
Developed decades ago, and modified little since Yuri Gagarin became the first Russian launched into space, the Soyuz Rocket is promoted as reliable. Roskosmos went as far as to declare this as an era of reliability.
While giving credit to the United State’s Shuttle program, that has been regarded as a pioneer in space exploration, Roskosmos talked up the Soyuz Rocket. Using a parachute to land vertically back upon earth, the Soyuz Program is more cost efficient.
The United States is now interested in focusing its spending on designing a new rocket that can take man back to the moon, an asteroid and even possibly Mars and beyond. Fighting back criticism that the Soyuz rocket is too old, it was pointed out that the TMA-M version is updated and they continue to update the rocket.
The newest United States program will be ready by 2016 at earliest, as the United States will pay the Russians in the mean time to fly astronauts to the International Space Center. The Russian space program is also looking for development of a new rocket, but says that the newest model must pass the same safety standards as the current Soyuz Rocket.
Roskosmos and NASA both had 2 disasters in their current programs. The NASA Shuttle program met tragedy in 1986 on the Challenger and in 2003 on the Columbia. Roskosmos has not seen a disaster in decades, but Soyuz-1 and Soyuz-11 both came with disastrous ends.