Putin Appoints Mr. Trampoline Man to Head Roscosmos

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Well, it’s official.

Dmitry Rogozin, who presided over a sharp decline in Russia’s space program for seven years as deputy prime minister, has been named as head state corporation Roscomos.

Putin said Rogozin knows the industry and would strengthen the space company’s leadership. The Russian president also said the new Roscosmos head would have the opportunity to implement a number of good ideas and reforms.

Others, however, see potential trouble ahead.

“Everything he says is silly from a technical point of view,” independent space expert Vadim Lukashevich told AFP.

Lukashevich said Rogozin, 54, was an outsider and lacked the necessary education and expertise to head the space agency.

“He is the head of the industry’s burial party.”

Another independent space expert, Vitaly Yegorov, said he was concerned about the prospects for international cooperation.

Space exploration is one of the few areas where cooperation between Russia and the United States has not been wrecked by tensions over Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere.

Putin appointed Rogozin to oversee the space program in 2011 amid a series of launch failures. (He also oversaw the defense sector.) The failures continued throughout his tenure as the number of Russian launches declined in the face of competition from SpaceX.

In 2014, the United States placed Rogozin under sanctions as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. In response, he suggested American astronauts reach the International Space Station using a trampoline instead of Soyuz Russian spacecraft.

Report: Rogozin to Become New Head of Roscosmos

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

It appears as those celebrating the dumping of Dmitry Rogozin as overseer of the Russian space program may have been doing their vodka Jell-O shots too soon.

According to the Google Translate version of this article, the bombastic Rogozin — who had been overseeing the space and defense sectors as deputy prime minister — has been offered the opportunity to take over Roscosmos, the government corporation that runs the nation’s space program.

The offer came after he was dumped from the Cabinet for Vladimir Putin’s fourth term as president.

Rogozin would replace Igor Komarov, a former auto industry executive who was brought in as deputy head of Roscosmos in 2013 and placed in charge of consolidating the space industry. Komarov became head of Roscosmos in January 2015.

Rogozin was among a number of high-level government officials placed under sanctions by the United States following the invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. In response, he tweeted that NASA should send it astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) using trampolines instead of flying aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Rogozin didn’t follow through on the implied threat.

The Roscosmos gig appears to be a pretty lucrative one. The website Crime Russia reports that Komarov’s income totaled almost 109 million rubles ($1.76 million), including 71.5 million rubles ($1.15 million) from his job at Roscosmos. His income from other sources was not disclosed.

“The official owns five plots of land with the total area of almost 12 sq m, a house of 2.5 thousand sq m, an apartment (118 sq m), a gas pipeline section, and non-residential premises,” the website reported. “The Roscosmos head’s car fleet includes LADA Largus and Mercedes-Benz Viano.”

Rogozin Out as Overseer of Russian Defense & Space Sectors

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Dmitry Rogozin, the blunt talking Russian deputy prime minister who once suggested NASA use a trampoline to launch its astronauts to the International Space Station, has been dumped from the government as Vladimir Putin begins his fourth term as Russian president, according to media reports.

Rogozin, who has overseen the defense and space sectors since 2011, was not on a list of government officials submitted to the Duma for approval by Dmitry Medvedev, whom Putin has nominated to continue serving as prime minister.

Rogozin is being replaced as overseer of the defense and space sectors by Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov.

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Rogozin Seems to Throw in Towel on Launchers

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Well, this is interesting.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin believes that Russia should by no means seek competition with Elon Musk and his company SpaceX on the market of launch vehicles, because this segment constitutes a tiny 4% of the overall market of space services.

“The share of launch vehicles is as small as 4% percent of the overall market of space services. The 4% stake isn’t worth the effort to try to elbow Musk and China aside,” Rogozin said in an interview on the RBC-TV channel on Tuesday.

TASS also reports that Rogozin believes that Russia should concentrate on satellite manufacturing, which is where the real money is. That raises the question, how good exactly are the Russians at building satellites? Do they have the technology and skilled workers to compete?

I guess we’ll find out.

Does Russian Space Czar Dmitry Rogozin Know What He’s Doing?

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Back in December 2011, Vladimir Putin appointed Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin as the special overseer of the nation’s sprawling military industrial complex. His task: clean up the inefficient, failure prone and graft riddled sector and bring it into the 21st century.

The appointment came in the midst of an embarrassing string of launch failures that had infuriated Putin and damaged the nation’s reputation as a reliable launch provider. Fixing the space industry’s quality control problems was one of Rogozin’s top priorities.

Despite his strenuous efforts, launch failures continued to occur regularly in the six years since Rogozin’s appointment. On Tuesday, a Soyuz-2.1b launch failed with a weather satellite and 18 CubeSats aboard.

The continued failures have raised questions about the effectiveness of Rogozin’s efforts. His actions following the launch on Tuesday did nothing to dispel the impression that he may not know what he’s doing.

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The Vostochny Follies: Another Year, Another Hunger Strike

As Russia unveiled a fancy new 2,000 ruble banknotes featuring the Vostochny Cosmodrome this week, some of the construction workers at the spaceport were dealing with all-too-familiar problem: not getting any banknotes at all.

Construction workers at Russia’s Far East spaceport are staging a hunger strike for the third year in a row demanding salaries that they haven’t received in six months….
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As Russian Space Industry Tumbles, the Kremlin Steps In — Again

The Progress 65 spacecraft is pictured at its launch pad Nov. 29 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Last year was not a particularly good one for the Russian space program.

The country fell behind China and the United States in launches. Its 19 attempts were the lowest in years. The Proton rocket flew only three times before being ground for more than half a year due to a launch anomaly. In December, a Soyuz malfunction sent a Progress cargo ship crashing back into Earth’s atmosphere — the latest in a long string of failures going back to 2009.

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Rogozin Bemoans Uncompetitive Russian Space Industry Amid Continued Anomalies

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has bluntly declared that the Russian space industry is uncompetitive with its American counterparts except in the crucial area of rocket engine development.

The harsh comments by Rogozin, who oversees the space and defense sectors, come amid continued quality control problems that affected two recent launches and a review of Roscosmos ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

Rogozin was unusually candid in his negative assessment of his nation’s space program.

“Our space industry has fallen behind the Americans ninefold. All of our ambitious projects require us to up productivity 150 percent – and even if we manage that, we will still never catch up with them,” Rogozin originally said to Interfax Friday.
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Russians Say N(ot)yet to Reusable Rockets

Roscosmos_logoIt looks as if Roscosmos will not be following Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos down the road of reusable rockets. Instead, the newly privatized company will spend the next decade developing a new medium-lift launch vehicle that will serve as the foundation of a super-heavy booster.

That’s the word on the latest draft of Russia’s incredibly shrinking space budget. With its revenues battered by low oil prices, the government has cut back planned spending for 2016-2025 from 2 trillion rubles ($24.4 billion) to 1.4 trillion rubles ($17.1 billion). The government might allocate an additional 115 billion rubles ($1.4 billion) after 2021, TASS reports.

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Putin Demands Massive Government Space Agency Stay Competitive

Vladimir Putin inspects construction at Vostochny. (Credit:  Presidential Press and Information Office)
Vladimir Putin inspects construction at Vostochny. (Credit: Presidential Press and Information Office)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that his nation’s bloated space sector remain competitive with the West as the entire industry is consolidated under the control of the government-owned Roscosmos space agency.

“Special attention needs to be directed in the course of [new space] programs at strengthening our positions in the spheres of manned spaceflight and in orbiting cargo, primarily in commercial launches,” Putin said at a meeting of space industry officials in Sochi on Thursday.
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First Launch from Vostochny Delayed Until Spring

Soyuz launch complex at Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)
Soyuz launch complex at Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Vladimir for Life Putin visited Russia’s delay- and scandal-plagued  Vostochny spaceport on Wednesday and officially threw in the towel on the effort to launch a rocket from the Far East cosmodrome by the end of the year.

“We do not need any drumbeating reports, we need high-quality results,” Putin said. “So let us agree: you finish the work related to water supply and wastewater disposal. It is necessary to prepare spaceships for launches. And be ready to carry out the first launches in 2016, somewhere in the spring.”

“If you do that before Cosmonautics Day, that will be fine,” the president added.

The project, designed to lessen Russian dependence on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, has been troubled by lengthy delays and embezzlement scandals. Workers have complained about not being paid for months while executives from some companies have been arrested for alleged graft.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin ha threatened to tear the heads off anyone delaying the program. No reports yet on whether he has carried out any of these threats.

Putin Approves Roscosmos Reorganization as Officials Eye Export Sales to China

Roscosmos_logoRussian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law to consolidate the nation’s space industry under the control of a revamped Roscosmos as officials eye export sales to China as a way to offset budget cuts in the nation’s space program.

The law will combine the United Rocket and Space Corporation with Roscosmos, which will become a state corporation. The new company will be led by former auto industry executive Igor Komarov.

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Roscosmos Wants to Speed Up Transition From Proton to Angara

FAILI! A Proton takes a nose dive at Baikonur. (Credit: Tsenki TV)
FAILI! A Proton takes a nose dive at Baikonur. (Credit: Tsenki TV)

The head of the Russian space agency, Igor Komarov, wants to speed up the replacement of the trouble-plagued Proton launch vehicle with new Angara rockets, TASS reports.

‘It is necessary to expedite the transition of launches from Protons to the Angara rocket,” he said at a meeting held by Vice-Premier Dmitry Rogozin in the Siberian city of Omsk.

Vice-Premier Rogozin said last week Russia should switch to digital designing in the space rocket industry, gradually giving up Proton boosters and opting for other models, like the Angara rocket.

“Generally, our conclusion is also related to the need to switch exclusively to digital designing and modelling of this sort of situations and, of course, it is necessary to expedite the transition to modern carrier rockets like the Angara, gradually giving up the Protons,” Rogozin said.

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Russian Audit Committee Finds Mind Boggling Financial Violations at Roscosmos

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

More bad news for Russia’s struggling space program:

Russia’s Audit Chamber has discovered $1.8 billion of financial violations in the Roscosmos space agency. According to Chamber head Tatyana Golikova, this included accounting violations, misuse of budget funds and inefficient spending on construction.

“At first I didn’t believe the inspectors,” Golikova said, Interfax reported.

The Audit Chamber has observed a sharp rise in violations at Roscosmos since last year, she said. “It was an absolute surprise for me. I conducted a budget inspection last year, and now in 2014, the number of violations has grown sharply.”

Earlier, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin blamed corruption in the space industry for the recent high accident rate of Russian spacecraft. Speaking in the State Duma on Tuesday, he said Roscosmos’ partner, the state company producing Proton rockets, is facing eight criminal cases.

One of the projects apparently seething with violations is the new Vostochny (Eastern) Cosmodrome. According to Golikova, its construction saw an overspending of about 13 billion rubles ($260 million). She says this resulted from overpricing and use of fraud schemes. The numbers are being looked into by the Russian Investigative Committee.

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Putin, Skolkovo and the Fate of Russia’s Space Program

putin_vostochny3
I recent found a couple of interesting analytical pieces about the state of Russia’s struggling high tech sector and space program. Together, they paint a rather dismal picture of the prospects that Russia will be able to revive its once-proud space effort and break free of its economic reliance upon oil, gas, minerals and heavy metals.

In “The Short Life and Speedy Death of Russia’s Silicon Valley,” James Appell looks at the declining fortunes of Skolkovo, the Russian government’s $4 billion incubator outside Moscow that was designed to be the nation’s answer to America’s famous tech center. Then-President Dmitry Medvedev launched the ambitious effort in 2009 after visiting California as a way to diversify the Russian economy.

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