In only 15 years after the horribly devastating nazi invasion with 27+ mln. perished and large part of its territory in ashes, Russia was the first nation in history of mankind to break through into space. Still the first in space today, even after decade of post-soviet chaos and poor management.
Not only that, Russia also helped greatly to improve American educational system by inspiring the infamous Sputnik crisis in early 60s. Yet NASA never really caught up, so now Russia generously gives them a ride. Why not.
Always feared and envied by the Western Cold War hawks and their poodles no matter what Russia does, because the West fears and envies everything they cannot swallow or control. Russia is repeatedly attacked and backstabbed only to patiently put offenders back in line and then spoon-feed them. Helped the French to discover their babysitting talents in 1812 and relieved Germans of their mental issues in 1945.
After each setback Russia emerges more powerful than before.
The first man in space was Russian. (And woman too)