Popovkin: Soyuz, Angara Launches on Track

Roscosmos Head Vladimir Popovkin held a press conference during the Paris Air Show earlier this week. The Russian space agency’s new leader provided updates on a number of key programs, including Soyuz, Angara, Rockot and GLONASS. A summary of his remarks via Roscosmos PAO follows.

The maiden launch of Soyuz-ST from Guiana Space Center was slated for Oct. 20, pending readiness of payload Galileo satellites. The Russian rocket is totally ready for the mission.

The first test launch of Soyuz-1 rocket is to occur from Plesetsk, Northern Russia, in early 2012. This launch is pending completion of the rocket’s firing tests, as well as readiness of the payload Lomovosov satellite to be provided by Moscow State University by 2012.

Advanced national launcher Angara is slated for test flight in 2013. Before this mission, one more Korean KSLV-I with Angara’s first stage is to be launched. Financial issues related to Angara launch facility construction at Plesetsk has been solved by the Ministry of Defense, Mr. Popovkin noted.

One or two launches of Rockot will be made in 2011, Roscosmos Head said. Rockot launches were on hold since Geo-IK-2 incorrect injection in early 2011. According to Popovkin, the cause of the failure has not been detected as it happened out of the Russian Ground Station visibility. A set of verifications is to be carried out prior to restarting Rockot operation.

V.Popovkin also stated that Roscosmos had almost completed development of the new GLONASS Federal Special Program which covers period till 2020.

“We are now completing the draft of the Glonass Federal Special Program. We are requesting 402 billion rubles for the program through 2020,” Popovkin said.

The funds would be used to maintain the navigational system’s satellites and to develop and maintain navigational maps. Some of the funds would also be combined with financing from the regions to develop supplemental technology to make the GLONASS system more attractive.

Proton-M with three Glonass satellites may be launched from Baikonur in 2011, Roscosmos Head stated. However the rocket will use Breeze-M upper stage instead of DM-03 blamed for the last year’s failure which caused loss of three Glonass-M satellites. The launch spec is under coordination by the Ministry of Defense, Popovkin said.  DM-03 undergoes necessary checks.

Speaking about restructurization of the rocket and space industry, Mr. Popovkin explained that 3 or 4 holdings will be organized under Roscosmos. Each holding is to deal with a particular branch: satellite design and development, rocket production, etc.

The Head of the Russian Federal Space Agency also informed about a working group which is to define future space exploration objectives organized by Roscosmos, NASA, ESA, French and German space agencies.

V.Popovkin noted that the goal to be both ambitious and feasible was to be implemented under international cooperation.

On the other hand, some items of the project shall be included into national program, such as advanced launchers for Vostochny space port.