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Russia slashes space funding by 30 pct as crisis weighs

MOSCOW, March 17 (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev agreed to slash funding for Russia's space programme by 30 percent on Thursday, an effort to reign in state spending in the face of a deepening economic crisis.

Approving a plan submitted by Russian space agency Roscosmos in January, Medvedev ordered Russia's space programme budget for 2016-2025 to be cut from 2 trillion roubles ($29.24 billion) to 1.4 trillion roubles.

"It is a large programme, but we need such big programmes, even in circumstances when all is not well with the economy," TASS news agency quoted Medvedev as saying.

Space exploration is a subject of national pride in Russia, rooted in the Cold War "space race" with the United States, and has been touted by President Vladimir Putin as a symbol of his country's resurgent global standing.

But along with other large-scale and costly projects, such as preparations for the 2018 soccer World Cup, state support for Roscosmos has fallen victim to Russia's steep economic downturn, fuelled by a collapse in global oil prices and Western sanctions.

In line with its reduced funding, the space agency has agreed to delay a manned flight to the moon by five years - to 2035 from 2030 - and scrap plans to develop a reusable rocket, a potentially valuable cost-saving technology.

A Roscosmos spokesman previously said the agency would reassess its plans after 2025.

($1 = 68.3957 roubles) (Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by)