Russian President Vladimir Putin Holds Space & Rocket Development Meeting

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a video conference meeting with top space officials on April 10, 2020. (Credit: Russian government webcast screenshot)

The following is a Google translation of the Russian language transcript of a video conference that Russian President Vladimir Putin held on Friday concerning the nation’s space program.

Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin and other top officials provided updates on space and rocket development.

Rogozin discussed a plan to lower launch prices to compete with what he alleges is American dumping of launches at artificially low prices due to U.S. government subsidies.

There are also updates on Russia’s new heavy and super-heavy launch vehicles, a replacement for the Soyuz crewed spacecraft, robotic lunar missions, the OneWeb bankruptcy’s effect on launch plans for 2020, the suspension of Soyuz launch vehicle production, and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the space industry.

The translated transcript follows.

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin: Dear colleagues, good afternoon!

Yesterday we discussed the situation at the leading enterprises of the military-industrial complex. The rocket and space industry, of course, is one of the same vital sectors of the national economy, it solves problems that require uninterrupted, rhythmic work.

The intensity of work in connection with understandable circumstances, in connection with the pandemic, has decreased, and today I gathered you to talk about how work is organized in today’s conditions, what measures are taken to protect those people who work and whose work cannot be suspended, and as you plan, dear colleagues, to build the work of the entire industry in the medium and longer term, bearing in mind the need to restore its full work, in full. Of course, if you observe today and in the near future, as I said, all the necessary requirements related to the sanitary and epidemiological situation.

What I would like to pay special attention to.

The first one. Among the unconditional priorities is the development of a manned flight program. Traditionally, this is the strength of Russian space exploration, and leadership must be maintained here.

The solution to this problem is largely related to the creation of a new generation transport system. Flight tests of the new manned transport ship are planned to be carried out in 2023 from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. Please inform today what measures Roscosmos is taking so that the launch takes place on schedule, on time.

The second one. Russia must strengthen its position in the global launch services market. At the same time, it is extremely important that our means of elimination remain competitive and in demand.

In a timely manner, an infrastructure for heavy-class and super-heavy-class missile systems should be created at Vostochny Cosmodrome. The beginning of their flight tests is scheduled for 2023 and 2028, respectively.

The third. To implement the tasks facing the industry, it is necessary to more actively use the opportunities and mechanisms of public-private partnership. You know, this is a global practice that allows you to quickly and efficiently achieve the desired results, including creating innovative high-tech developments and commercially successful products.

Today I would like to hear how to stimulate such a partnership, in your opinion, what we need to do here, what new forms we need to use in order for this direction to develop successfully, how to attract additional investments into the industry.

Let’s get to work. The floor for the speech is Nikolai Alekseyevich Testoyedov, [General Director] of Academician Reshetnev JSC “Information Satellite Systems”.

N.Testoedov: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich!

At the Academician Reshetnyov Information Satellite Systems JSC, the state defense order of 2020 was organized under restrictions in the conditions of the coronavirus epidemic. The required number of employees per enterprise has been withdrawn; all one hundred percent are provided with personal protective equipment.

Moreover, launch plans with the manufacture of spacecraft are fully implemented. In 2020, these are ten spacecraft, two of which are already launched, two are at the cosmodrome, the rest are either in storage or in the manufacturing process.

In addition, the volume of sales of this year’s state defense order can also be fully implemented. Both by nomenclature, subject to clarification of the stages handed over by experimental design work, and by the volume of work. For this, it will be necessary to involve in the commissioning of the work the specified stages of the previous years, 2020 and partially already completed work of 2021.

Thus, a decision of the Ministry of Defense is necessary on the acceptance of work on the stages of the previous years, the current year, and 2021 specified by industry. Work with cooperative enterprises is organized, there are no problems.

The report is completed.

Vladimir Putin: Good. Thanks.

Dmitry Baranov, Progress Rocket and Space Center, please.

D. Baranov: Good afternoon, Vladimir Vladimirovich!

The company works to ensure the state defense order in 2020. Out of 16,700 people, approximately in the first week, when certain restrictions were introduced, several hundred people worked. We left in the work only the most critical areas of spacecraft, through the Ministry of Defense, where work was not interrupted at all.

This is our main carrier along the launch vehicle, Soyuz-2 rocket, assembly work has been stopped, since we have about 12 launch vehicles at cosmodromes and about 40 launch vehicles are now in storage at the enterprise. There is a certain margin of safety. Nevertheless, we also did not stop work on testing these missiles, which were already manufactured, and on conducting annual routine maintenance, because we believe that this is also a critical area.

Also, work on the Soyuz-5 launch vehicle was not stopped. We understand that this has affected a super-heavy car, and here we have a state contract for Soyuz-5 – the end of 2022, we have to hand over and launch the first car.

Next week, we increased slightly, and now we are approaching in numbers somewhere between 1,5 and 2 thousand people and are planning after the 20th, we’ll look at the situation, consider the issue and completely withdraw the enterprise, subject to appropriate security measures, of course.

Regarding cooperation with the regional government and the governor, we have no questions. On transport support and other issues we solve in the working order, promptly, we are in direct contact.

To ensure launches – we provide work now directly at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, including yesterday’s launch, launch of a cargo transport ship in late April. And we are working with the Ministry of Defense at the Plesetsk cosmodrome. For example, in the coming days a train arrives, we send another launch vehicle to the Plesetsk cosmodrome. The work is planned, there can be no disruptions.

We will look at the situation, perform. In the medium term, we understand what to do. In the long run, it is also clear that it is necessary to fulfill the 2020 target. We work in compliance with, I repeat, sufficient, as we believe, the maximum possible security measures.

The report is over.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you, Dmitry Alexandrovich.

Andrey Vasilyevich Okhlopkov, please, General Director of TsENKI.

A. Okhlopkov: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich!

We continue to work, the company did not stop. Just yesterday, we returned from Baikonur, where, under the leadership of the head of Roscosmos, a manned launch was carried out.

We support events at all spaceports. Taking into account the fulfillment of quarantine measures now and taking into account the buildup of the tasks that we are facing, planned and by the state defense order, production and taking into account cosmodromes, we have increased the personnel to 70 percent for the unconditional fulfillment of the tasks set.

Thanks to the decisions made by the head of Roscosmos and the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, in the current difficult situation, we were able to carry out two launches, and are preparing for the third launch. It was possible to carry out the transfer of a large number of people and equipment across the border. The tasks are carried out unconditionally and with proper quality.

At the moment, we are working to ensure the fulfillment of the tasks of the Ministry of Defense at the Plesetsk cosmodrome. We work in the Guiana space center. The main part of the calculation, taking into account the termination of tasks by our partners, we evacuated. Now we have left our small calculation of 21 people together with the Lavochkin NGO – this is to bring the technological equipment into a safe condition. From the 27th to the 30th we plan to evacuate these payments here to us, home, to quarantine events.

In the Vostochny, taking into account the isolation of the cosmodrome, the volume of creation in the “Angara”, in the heavy carrier rocket, complex, even managed to increase slightly. Thanks to the leaders of the constituent entities of the Federation, the supply of equipment and the production of equipment for the spaceport proceed without delay and without disruption.

Vladimir Vladimirovich, we as a system-forming enterprise will certainly fulfill the task.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Our colleagues, who have just made small presentations, represent industrial enterprises and groups of enterprises. There are other colleagues working in the industry directly. At the beginning of our meeting today, our meeting [there was] a question for all the assembled representatives of the industry: are there any problems that you would like to pay special attention to? No. Good.

Then Dmitry Olegovich Rogozin, please. [General Director of the State Space Corporation Roscosmos]

Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

D. Rogozin: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich!

Let me start the presentation on the issues that were stated at the beginning of our meeting. I would like to summarize some of the results of 2019 at the beginning.

Last year, we carried out 25 launches of space rockets, which is a quarter more than in 2018. All starts are trouble-free.

The military calculations of the Ministry of Defense also carried out 10 successful launches of combat missile systems, which were made at the enterprises of Roscosmos.

In 2020, 33 launches are planned, of which 12 launches of satellites – under the Federal Space Program, nine launches of commercial vehicles, three from the Guiana Space Center.

We have already carried out five launches. Yesterday’s launch was quite important and difficult, because for the first time we tested with the participation of the crew a bunch of Soyuz-MS and Soyuz-2.1a missiles with a fully Russian digital control system. Everything is fine.

Due to the spread of coronavirus infection and the bankruptcy of OneWeb, we estimated that there were at least nine launches in the risk zone. The launch of the ExoMars device has already been postponed to 2022. This problem is quite a big one for us, Vladimir Vladimirovich, because the devices that we have to launch at our launch sites physically simply do not arrive on the territory of Russia, since Roscosmos today was probably the only space agency in the world that continues to operate. Everyone else stopped.

In 2019, Russia’s share in the start-up services markets in the middle and heavy classes increased to 41 and 21 percent, respectively.

To increase our presence in international markets, we are working to reduce the cost of start-up services by more than 30 percent, reducing non-production costs and increasing the operational efficiency of the enterprise.

The pricing procedure that we proposed is, in fact, our response to dumping from US companies funded by the US budget, and if the market launch price, for example, at SpaceX is about $60 million, then NASA pays one and a half for the same service up to four times more.

We would like to show a number of those measures that would need to be implemented in the near future.

The first one. Since the electronic component base of space significance is produced abroad in such a way that it does not reach us as a result of sanctions, and the Russian microelectronics develops, but in insufficient volumes, we would like to focus primarily on this: we need Russian-made microelectronics.

The second, most important thing is to introduce mandatory coordination between the Russian Ministry of Defense and the corporation on the application of circuitry solutions for the creation of military spacecraft, production cooperation in organizing the order for the production of spacecraft and military systems and, of course, the negotiation of prices for government contracts, which The Ministry of Defense as a customer concludes with our enterprises.

Why is it important? Two customers should not order at the same Roscosmos enterprise two different types of spacecraft with the same functionality. Therefore, I offer the closest cooperation at the pre-order stage, and the role of general designers is very important here. We at the working level with the Ministry of Defense began this work with the space forces. I think that soon we will come to substantive agreements.

I cannot but say about the extremely negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the implementation of our plans and ongoing activities.

Firstly, international cooperation has stalled. The Guiana space center, where we are launching foreign spacecraft on the Soyuz-2 rocket, is almost completely paralyzed, the French personnel left it. Our people stayed there in order to ensure safe storage and neutralization of booster blocks that were refueled before canceled launches.

Secondly, the shutdown of a number of civilian production during the quarantine period, namely, the majority of workers are involved in them, entailing additional costs for enterprises to pay wages and maintain production capacities, as well as to combat the spread of the virus.

At the same time, I want to say again: the personnel of the Roscosmos enterprises, which are involved in fulfilling tasks in the interests of the Ministry of Defense, as well as in continuous production, at the control and testing stations of all our promising missiles, which we must pass for testing this year, of course , The Mission Control Center, – not only the main one that ensures the work of the International Space Station, but also other orbital constellations – are all in the field. Organizations ensure the delivery of their employees with their own transport and provide them with all the means that should prevent infection.

I finished my report. Thanks.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

I would ask Kolmykov Vladimir Afanasevich, Director General of the S.A. Lavochkin Research and Production Association, to comment on what Dmitry Olegovich said in the part related to your enterprise.

V. Kolmykov: Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich!

Yes, indeed, to date, work has been launched on the lunar program. The Luna-25 device has already left for assembly today and at the beginning of the test. Yes, there are small problems regarding cooperation, but today we are solving them. I hope that the year 2021 will be fulfilled with regard to the launch of the Luna-25 apparatus.

On Luna-26 and Luna-27 the work is also deployed. At the moment, contracting in terms of the state contract is ending, we conclude a through contract before launch. With the cooperation at the moment, work has also been established, and in principle there is great confidence regarding the fulfillment of this task for the Luna-26 apparatus in 2024 and the Luna-27 apparatus in 2025.

The company currently works in all directions.

Thanks. The report is over.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.

Dmitry Olegovich, dear colleagues!

What I would like to say in this part of our work. The situation in Roscosmos is changing. Slowly, but still for the better. We see it.

It is clear that the need to combat coronavirus infection makes its own adjustments both in the life of the country, and in the economy as a whole, and in the work of Roscosmos.

At the same time, what I would like to warn you against is the temptation to solve all unresolved issues, and there are still many, all flaws, and there are also enough of them, to blame for coronavirus infection. Incidentally, this applies not only to Roscosmos, but to all branches of production and all types of activities. Hope to be heard by those concerned.

We now turn to the closed part of our meeting.

Meeting Participants

Dmitry Olegovich Rogozin – General Director of the State Space Corporation Roscosmos

Dmitry Medvedev – Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation

Yuri Ivanovich Borisov – Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation

Maksim Stanislavovich Oreshkin – Aide to the President of the Russian Federation

Dmitry Vladislavovich Shalkov – Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation – Head of the Control Department of the President of the Russian Federation

Anton Germanovich Siluanov – Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation

Sergey Kuzhugetovich Shoigu – Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation

Dmitry Alexandrovich Baranov – General Director of Progress Rocket and Space Center JSC

Aleksey Grigoryevich Varochko – General Director of JSC “State Space Research and Production Center named after MV Khrunichev”

Vladimir Afanasevich Kolmykov – General Director of JSC “Scientific and Production Association named after S. A. Lavochkin”

Andrey Vasilievich Okhlopkov – General Director of JSC TsENKI

Nikolay Alekseevich Testoyedov – General Director of JSC “Information Satellite Systems” named after Academician M.F. Reshetnev “