Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian space programme was in disarray.
Starved of funding and with cosmonauts orbiting in the Mir Space Station having lost the nation that sent them, even the main launch site at Baikonur was no longer in the same Union.
But a legacy of solid, reliable rockets has ensured their future as a commercial launch provider.
In particular, Russian rockets have been the main vehicles for delivering both cargo and crew to the International Space Station.
With the end of space shuttle flights, they will, for a while at least, be the only way of getting humans to the ISS. They have even flown fare-paying tourists.
In this programme, Richard Hollingham reviews recent successes and asks a panel of experts what the next 50 years might hold for the Russian space programme.
Frank de Winne (ESA astronaut who has commanded the International Space Station)
Dr Iya Whiteley (Psychologist at UCL, the European Astronaut Centre and the Univer