Created: 8/1/1964

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Military-Economic Intelligence Memorandum



CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Office of Research and Reports



Military-Economic Intelligence Memorandum



This materialNational Defensethe meaning ofSC,

Lon affecting ilted Statesaws, the trans-

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGEJiCV Office of Research and Reports


FOR space programs*


Soviet investment in space programs has been expensive but has paid handsome dividends in the formumber of spectacular spacethat created an image of military strength and technological superiority. Well-publicized Soviet space "firsts" and on official policy of concealing failures have imbued the Soviet space effort vith an aura of virtually unblemished success, although veil over one-third of all Soviet space attempts have ended in failure. In spite ofresulting from the use of military boosters and facilities, total Soviet outlays for space are estimatedelatively high degree of confidence to lieange ofillionillion through fiscal. The magnitude of this range results primarily from different assumptions regarding the timing of the Soviet manned lunar landing progrem. Total US space expenditures, as of the same date, have been substantially greater than those of theillion for all civilian and military space programs.

* The conclusions in t'nis nemorar.dum represent, the best judgment of this Office as of.


There Is no direct information available on the actual expenditures of the USSR for Its space effort. In the absence of directlt haa been necessary to divide the Soviet space effort into two main categories for tbe purpose of estimating costs: hosefor which launches have occurredhose which may bebut are still in the pre-launch stages. Estimates of costs for programs in the flight phase ore node by valuing each observed Soviet program as if it vere conducted in the US. This approach entailsUS costs to reflect fundamental differences in programhardware characteristics, and operational procedures. TheSoviet costs are then ranged to account for uncertainties inherent in the estimative process. Still greater uncertainties are Involved in estimating the cost of Soviet programs in the second categoryhose programs that may be underway but have not been identified through the detection of flights.

Uncertainties as to the coat of individual programs have caused such costs to be estimated in termselatively broad range of values. Because the magnitude of these ranges is believed tothe most likely alternatives, thereelatively high degree of confidence that actual Soviet expenditures foil within the limits of the ranges estimated. Current estimates of annual Sovietand tho actual US expenditures for Bpace programs are given in The magnitude of the range for any given year reflects the level of confidence in the estimates; far the distant post, when Soviet space activities are fairly well established, the magnitude is narrower than for more recent years, when unknowns in the Soviet space program are more numerous. For those programs in the flight test phase, It is estimated that the USSR hodhe equivalent of aboutillion and perhaps as much asillion through fiscal. Additional expenditures for programs that aoy bo ur.dcrvay, but not identified through the detection of flights, may be on the order ofillion to p* billion.

Space outlays have been high for both the US and the USSR and will continue to grow as more advanced programs arc undertaken. Although the space race has imposed some strains on the economic andresources of both countries, tha US, wilh its substantially higher absolute level of economic activity, its generally more advanced technology, and its considerable unused capacity, probably is better able to support costly space programs without affecting other priority national objectives. In the USSR tho space effort, together withweapons programs, probably hasarge share of the scarce high-quality materials and skilled manpower that also are needed to increase the efficiency and rates of growth of the Soviet econory. Nevertheless, in spite of economic strains, the USSR has continued lo

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allocate substantial resources to its spacend there seems little doubt that Soviet expenditures for space arc destined to growesult of new missions and space systems evidently programed for the next few years.

Table 1

Estimated Soviet and Actual US Space Expenditures

Fiscal Year


US $


and before





In later years the upper lioit of estimated Soviet expendituresanned lunar landing program competitive with "the US Apollo program; the iowec'limitoncompetitive lunar program. The balance of estimated expenditures contained in both limits of the range reflects an allowance for programs other than the manned lunar landing.

A means of gauging the relative importance of the space effort In the two countries is provided by comparing the share of total defense ar.ti space RAD expenditures devoted tc space activities. The share* of csti mated Soviet expenditures for space in tbe total defense andccount in recent years is less than the share of actual US spacein the corresponding US total (see hen the range of uncertainty about Soviet space activity is relativelythe Soviet space share is aboutercent, while the US share is l3 percent. In 1 6when the estimates reflect some expenditures for

* Technically the share of space programs ir. Soviet, defense andshould be measured in rubles to reconstruct the situation asviews it rather than in terms of equivalent US costs. At tnetime,however, the ruble estimates of Soviet defense and spacebe disaggregated, and the-oostsoflf .thepacely li b 1

a manned lunar landing program, the Soviet share is abouter cent compared with U6 percent for the US. Thus, even if the USSR isompetitive manned lunar landing program, the share of space in current Soviet defense andxpenditures probably is still less than that for the US.

Table 2

Soviet and US Space Expenditureshare of Total Defense andxpenditures a/

by Fiscal.

Fiscal Year


Total Billion US $ otototowhich:

US $ otototo lt.0

as atotal

Total Billion US % f -Men:


Space as


S this total Is vhe sum of the research, developnent, test, sr,dexpenditures of the beportnen. of Defensehe Atonicand the National Aeronautics and Sps-je Adninis-ration (NASA). For thetotal refers in concept to classified works of national^importance,nuclear eneror, and spacectivities. It is derived frowfinancial allocations, the precise sjape of widen is uitiir.ovn, and,eatinatesange to reflect this uncertainty. Theae allocations arein current rubles and converted to tljliors.

the estimatec, because theyange, res-.ilt in aof percentages, this range is not significant, and, therefore,percentage rounded to the nearest '? Has been used for these years.

Clearly the most complex and most costly program that the USSR might be able to accomplish in this decadeanned lunar landing program. The US Apollo program will cost anillion.

and peak annual expendituresill be on the order ofillion. Although no pertinent Soviet eost data areit is estimated that it could cost the USSR as much as the US toanned lunar landing mission. On the other hand, if the USSR were able to effect economies in carrying out the program through.the useifferent mode* and different hardware, the total cost might be somewhat lesserhaps the equivalent ofillion. oviet program competitive with the US program thus mightillion and probably would require peak annual expenditures on the order ofillion toillion.

Having used its space program to create an image of strategicand technological prowess, the USSR can ill afford to ignore the challenge offered by the US manned lunar landing program. Aside from concern about the Soviet image should the US be the first toan on the moon, the leadership would have to consider the possible implicationsolitical, scientific, and militaryf establishmentS lunar base ins, even though the consequences ofroject cannot now be fully foreseen. If the USSR chooses notompete directly, it may try to offset the US programessachievement, suchircumlunar flightanned earth orbital space station, and by extensive unmanned exploration of space, the moon, and the nearby planets. In any event, the Soviet space program will be increasingly expensive, not only in aggregate monetary terms but also in terms of the scarce human and material resources that are needed for other high-priority military and civilian programs.

* The USSR appears to favor an earth orbital rendezvous mode rather than the lunar orbital rendezvous mode adopted by the US.

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