Russian Space Engineers Paid Less Than Cell Phone Sellers

Soyuz rocket

AFP takes a look at the problems with the Russian space industry, which has lost four rockets and six spacecraft in under 9 months. It’s not a pretty picture:

  • The previous leadership of Russia’s space agency Roskosmos “paid little attention to the production and operation of spacecraft,” concurred Konstantin Kredenko, the editor of the specialised Vestnik Glonass magazine.
  • “The series of accidents with Russian satellites is not by chance. It is a crisis in the sector. This is an alarm call. It shows that monitoring has failed. Before, they would not have let through a defect at the checking stage.” — Igor Lisov, an expert at the Novosti Kosmonavtiki journal
  • Experts blamed the changing priorities of post-Soviet society, with once privileged scientists in the space sector now earning miserable salaries.
  • “This will go on as long as people considers that an engineer in the space sector can earn half as much as someone who sells cell phones in a kiosk,” Lisov said. “This is a matter of priorities and the values of society. When consumerism becomes the top priority, this leads to a crisis.

Uh-oh. The International Space Station program is now largely dependent on a space program that has been in long-term decay for 20 years and has deep structural problems that can’t be fixed any time soon.

Yikes!

Congress needs to fund commercial crew properly. And the Russians may need to pull back on some of their more ambitious projects (new rockets and spaceport) to rebuilding its human infrastructure.