The two largest space powers outside the U.S. had wildly divergent records in 2011, with Beijing boasting 19 launches and demonstrating in-orbit docking for a future space station while the Kremlin ordered an investigation into a string of high-profile engineering failures plaguing Russia's space program. The implications for Russia of a nosedive in the quality of its space efforts could be especially serious. The failures have been condemned by President Dmitry Medvedev, and the ...

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