Russia is celebrating its Day of Cosmonautics in grand fashion today. President Vladimir Putin has announced a new multi-year plan to develop the country's spacefaring efforts, which will be funded to the tune of some 1.6 trillion roubles (just over $50 billion) between now and 2020. Underlining Russia's proud heritage of space exploration and engineering, Putin describes this new drive as being instrumental to Russia's economic competitiveness as well as maintaining its position as a leading space power.

Visiting the construction site of a new spaceport today, Putin said that the new funding will be spent on modernizing Russia's outdated rockets and other equipment, stimulating the development and use of homegrown components, and catching up to the rest of the world in the field of unmanned space exploration. Echoing the words of American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Putin also anticipates there will be many trickle-down benefits from funding further research into space technologies — everything from medicine and transportation to telecommunications and defense systems stands to potentially benefit.