Khrunichev Investigation Focuses on Acquisition of ILS Shares

Proton rocket
Proton rocket

In 2008, Khrunichev paid two and a half times more for a 51 percent share in the U.S.-based International Launch Services (ILS) than the company it bought it from had paid only two years earlier, according to Izvestia.

The disparity between the purchase prices has vexed Russian investigators, as have the identities of those who controlled the British Virgin Islands company that sold its shares in ILS to Khrunichev.

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Russian, Ukrainian Rockets Prone to Failure in Recent Years

Another fine day for Russia's space program. A Proton crashes with three GLONASS satellites.
Another fine day for Russia’s space program. A Proton crashes with three GLONASS satellites.

The spectacular crash of Russia’s Proton rocket on Tuesday — with the loss of three navigation satellites — was simply the latest in a series of launch failures that have bedeviled the Russian and Ukrainian space industries over the last 30 months.

The table below shows a tale of woe that began in December 2010 and has resulted in the loss of 15 spacecraft and cost the heads of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and launch vehicle builder Khrunichev their jobs.

RUSSIAN & UKRAINIAN LAUNCH FAILURES SINCE DECEMBER 2010

Date

Rocket

Upper Stage

Payload

Result

Cause

Dec. 5, 2010ProtonBlock-DM3 GLONASS satellitesCrashed in Pacific OceanBlock-DM overfilled with fuel making it too heavy to send satellites into orbit
Feb. 1, 2011RockotBreeze-KMGEO-IK 2Stranded in useless orbitFailed restart of Breeze-KM
Aug. 18, 2011ProtonBreeze-MExpress-AM4Stranded in useless orbitBreeze-M under performance
Aug. 24, 2011Soyuz-UBlock-I (3rd stage)Progress M-12M freighterBurned up over SiberiaBlocked fuel line in third stage
Sept. 27, 2011ICBM
(Possibly Avangard)
Missile failed during initial test, crashed 5 miles from launch siteFailure of first stage
Nov. 9, 2011Zenit-2SB
(Ukraine)
Fregat (Russia)Phobos-Grunt (Russia)Stranded in Earth orbit, re-entered atmosphereFregat upper stage failure
Dec. 23, 2011Soyuz-2.1bFregatMeridian-5Re-entered over SiberiaFailure of Block-1 third stage engine
Aug. 23, 2012ProtonBreeze-MTelkom 3 (Indonesia), Express MD2Satellites stranded in useless orbits;  Breeze-M later exploded, creating large debris fieldBreeze-M failure
Dec. 8, 2012ProtonBreeze-MYamal-402Placed satellite in wrong orbit; satellite reached planned orbit using on-board propellantEarly shutdown of Breeze-M
Jan. 15, 2013RockotBreeze-KM3 Strela 3M Rodnik satellitesOne satellite reportedly lost, two others placed in orbit; controllers unable to maneuver upper stage to lower orbit for rapid re-entry into Earth’s atmosphereErratic behavior of Breeze-KM
Feb. 1, 2013Zenit-3SL
(Ukraine)
Block DM-SL (Russia)Intelsat 27Rocket and satellite fell into the seaFirst stage failure
July 2, 2013ProtonBreeze-M3 GLONASS SatellitesCrashed at launch siteFirst stage failure

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Putin to Perminov: You’re Fired!

Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov

As expected, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has fired Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov, ending his seven-year reign as head of the Russian space program. The dismissal, officially because Perminov was about the exceed the 65 year age limit for government officials, came after an embarrassing series of failures and harsh criticism that Roscosmos was falling behind on key projects. His departure was announced earlier this month.

Putin appointed former First Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin to replace Perminov. Popovkin, 53, previously served as commander of Russia’s Space Forces. He retired from the Army with the rank of general in March 2009.

Perminov’s downfall began in December when a Proton rocket failed, sending three valuable navigational satellites crashing into the Pacific. The failure, caused by a fueling error, infuriated Russia’s political leadership because the satellites would have completed the nation’s high-profile GLONASS navigational constellation. An angry Russian President Dmitry Medvedev fired the deputy heads of Roscosmos and Energia and reprimanded Perminov for the accident.

Matters grew worse in February when a launch stranded a military satellite in a useless orbit. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov ripped into Roscosmos, accusing the agency of making silly mistakes and falling behind in the production of spacecraft.

The final straw seems to have been a brief delay in the much-hyped launch of a Soyuz flight intended to mark the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic spaceflight. Following the delay, which caused top Russian leaders to alter their travel plans, Ivanov said that Perminov would have to retire due the government’s age limit.

Bolden Meets With Perminov in Moscow

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

ROSCOSMOS PAO — Presidents of Russia and the USA established Russian-US President Commission in July, 2010. A Space Cooperation Working group in the framework of the Commission is led by the Heads of Roscosmos and NASA. The 4th meeting of the Group took place in Roscosmos premises on April 15.

The introductions by Anatoly Perminov and Charles Bolden were followed by discussion on:

Russian and US space policy and future plans of the space agencies;

International Space Station
(program status, International Docking Standard IRD status, ISS Advisory Board, ISS application for space research beyond LEO);

Space exploration issues (US LRO/Russian LEND neutron detector mission data; Progress status of the International Coordination Space Exploration Group wrt scenarios for human space exploration as a part of the road map (strategic plan) for global space exploration developed by the International Coordination Group; Space communication and navigation; Propulsion systems);

Life science
(Possible cooperation in exchanging Russian Bion-M1 bio-experimental data);

Earth and space science
(2011-s launch preparation status of US mars rover MSL with Russian neutron detector DAN, recent science cooperation agreements).

The parties also discussed other issues in constructive and productive manner.

The meeting was concluded by a protocol. The results are to be reported on the level of the state leaders.

Perminov Out as Roscosmos Chief

Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov

In a stinging rebuke, Russia has announced that embattled Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov will step down after seven years at the helm of the Russian space agency. The announcement comes less than a week before Perminov is set to host the heads of 40 space agencies for the 50th anniversary celebration of the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin and conduct high-level negotiations with NASA.

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Russia, China Eye Human Expeditions to the Moon, Beyond

As the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight approaches. Russia and China are laying out their plans for human missions to the Moon and beyond. They are similar in schedule if somewhat different in scope, with Russia seeing international cooperation as the key while China weights building a monster rocket capable of lifting 130 metric tons into orbit.

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Deputy Prime Minister Slams Roscosmos for Errors

Roscosmos is weathering severe criticism for losing four satellites over the last two months and delays in producing new spacecraft, AFP reports:

Russian space agency Roskosmos has committed “childish” errors and failed to build enough spacecraft, the government said Monday in an unprecedented rebuke to the Russian equivalent of NASA.

Russia’s powerful Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov issued the dressing down at a meeting with Roskosmos’s leadership after two satellite launches ended in partial or complete failure in the last three months….

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Perminov Sees International Human Mars Mission in 2035 Using Nuclear Propulsion

Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov

ROSCOSMOS PRESS RELEASES

Mission to Mars shall be implemented under international cooperation, Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov stated, answering the questions from the Twitter in Echo-Moscow web.

“No country is able of performing Martian mission by its own in the nearest future. That’s an issue of propulsion. In our program, we have human flight to Mars no earlier than 2035. On the other hand, advanced nuclear propulsion can be developed in 8 years or so, provided necessary funding. With this system, you can get to Mars in about 90 days,” Roscosmos head said.

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Perminov: We’re Staying at Baikonur Forever

Soyuz rocket

There’s a great scene in the 1988 movie, Married to the Mob, in which Connie Russo (Mercedes Ruehl) explains the facts of Mafia life to Angela de Marco (Michelle Pfeiffer).

“We’re your friends, Angela, whether you like it or not,” she declares.

Angela was family, and there was no escaping it. Not even after Connie’s covetous husband, Tony “the Tiger” Russo (Dean Stockwell), rubbed out Angela’s hit man husband, “Cucumber” Frank de Marco (Alec Baldwin).

The situation is not so different for Kazakhstan. Nearly 20 years after it became the last Soviet republic to declare independence, the nation remains joined at the hip with Russia through its Baikonur Cosmodrome. And don’t expect that to change — ever.

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Russia Plans Ambitious Year in Space

Soyuz rocket

Speaking to media editors-in-chief today, Roscosmos Head Antaoly Perminov laid out plans for a very busy year in space that includes four dozen launches, Russia’s first interplanetary probe in 15 years, a greater role in the International Space Station, and the development of new rockets and infrastructure.

During an appearance at the Club of the Leading Russian Media Editors-in-Chief in Itar-Tass, Perminov discussed the country’s space plans, which include:

  • 48 launches, an increase from 31 last year
  • October launch for Phobos-Grunt, an ambitious mission to return samples from the Martian moon Phobos
  • assumption of the sole role in transporting crews to and from the International Space Station once the American space shuttle retires
  • construction of roads, railways and worker housing for Russia’s new Vostochny spaceport in the Amur Region
  • completion of the GLONASS navigational satellite constellation
  • debut of the Soyuz launcher in French Guiana
  • development work on the Angara and Rus-M launchers
  • launch of the Resource-P remote sensing spacecraft, which will have  0.4-0.6 meter resolution
  • operation of the Electro-L satellite launched earlier this year
  • design work on the Arctica space system.

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Russia to Spend $6 Billion on New Spaceport, Rocket and Human Spacecraft

Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov

Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov told the media that Russia will spend $6 billion through 2015 to build its new Vostochny spaceport and to develop replacements for the Soyuz rocket and spacecraft, Interfax reports.

“The total cost of building a promising manned transport system, a new space rocket complex, Rus-M, the ground processing facility will be about 180 billion rubles by 2015,” he said.

Perminov said that the new Rus-M rocket being developed by TsSKB Progress will be capable of launching up to 24 metric tons into orbit. The new rocket will be tested in 2015, with human launches of a new six-person spacecraft being built by RSC Energia planned to begin in 2018. Designs for the new rocket and spacecraft were drawn up last year.

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Perminov Gets a New Deputy

Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov has a new deputy. Alexander P. Lopatin was appointed to the post on Jan. 13. He replaces Victor Remishevsky, whom President Dmitry Medvedev fired last month in the wake of a Proton launch failure that send three GLONASS navigation satellites to the bottom of the Pacific.

Roscomos PAO posted his bio:

Lopatin was born on April 14, 1956. Formerly, he served in Space Forces as Deputy Commander (2005 -  2009), Deputy Director General at TSNIIMASh and Deputy Chairman of the State Board (2009-Jan. 2011).

He graduated from Zhitomir High Command Radio Electrical Engineering School in 1978, and Dzerzhinsky Military Academy in 1987. From 1974 to 2005 he served in Russian Military Forces in various positions, including Deputy Chief of Mozhaisky Military Academy.

Lopatin has several state awards, including Order For Military Merit, The Order of Honor, Governmental science and engineering awards.

Russians Gear Up for Gagarin 50th Anniversary Celebrations

Russia will name the Soyuz spacecraft scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on March 30 after Yuri Gagarin, who became the first human in space almost 50 years before on April 12, 1961.

This is just one of many commemorations being planned to mark the historic anniversary. The Voice of Russia reports that Roscosmos has invited the heads of 49 space agencies as well as astronauts and cosmonauts who have flow on Soviet and Russian spacecraft to attend gala celebrations in Moscow on April 12.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the Organizational Committee at the Mission Control Center on Tuesday. Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov gave him a briefing on the status of preparations. Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center Chief Sergey Krikalev reported about the celebrations set for Star City. Smolensk Region Gov. Sergey Antufiev told Putin about events planned for Gagarin’s native land.

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Russia Allocates $3.8 Billlion for Space Program in 2011

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin tours RSC Energia in July. (Credit: Russian Federation Government)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced that the government will spend 115 billion rubles ($3.8 billion) on national space programs in 2011, RIA Novosti reports. Putin said that Russia’s space plans include:

  • Launch of about 50 spacecraft in 2011
  • Long-range development of the GLONASS navigational system until 2020
  • Long-term plan to increase global market share through development of new automated and human spacecraft
  • Construction of a new spaceport in the Russian Far East.

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French President Honors Roscosmos’ Perminov for Soyuz Guiana Contributions

Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov (right) with ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain. (Credit: Roscosmos)

ROSCOSMOS PAO

In accordance with the Resolution of the French President, Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov is awarded with Honored Legion Order of the Republic of France for his outstanding contribution into the Soyuz and Guiana Space Center project.

The European Space Agency (ESA) set up the program “Soyuz at the Guiana Space Center (CSG)” to bolster collaboration with Russia on launch vehicles. The program is organized as follows:

  • ESA is contracting authority and program manager and provides the Soyuz Launch Complex facilities to Arianespace.
  • Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) bears overall responsibility for the program on the Russian side, and coordinates the activities of the Russian industry involved in the program.
  • French space agency CNES is project prime contractor and system architect for the Soyuz launch system at CSG.
  • Arianespace is responsible for the supply of Russian systems to CSG, coordination and support of the Russian activities for the development phase. Arianespace will be the Soyuz-ST launch operator at CSG for the operational phase.