Nobody ever says "I want to be a cosmonaut when I grow up." Or at least they don't anymore in Russia, where devoting your life to the final frontier will net you less than $767 a month.
Students of Moscow's best technical schools snub manned exploration of space.
"I dream to get a good job with a high salary and I don't think there are too many students left who would be romantic enough to abandon material gains for cosmonautics," David Tarkhanyan, a second year student at the Bauman University, told Space News in an Oct. 30 phone interview.
With only 37 cosmonauts currently on call in Russia, things are a bit desperate. But space just isn't very sexy these days, so even glamour can't offset bad pay:
"The romantic aspect of the manned space exploration is no longer there; it has been replaced by gray daily routine," said Sergei Shamsutdinov, an editor at the Novosti Kosmonavtiki magazine, which is published "under the aegis" of the Federal Space Agency and the Space Forces.
One commander recalled the good old days of Communism: "I cannot say there is no one at all, but it is very different from the times when we had thousands standing in line."
Standing in line–now there's something Russians are awfully good at.