The Best Laid Plans, Moscow Edition: Ukraine Invasion Damages Russia’s Launch Business

Soyuz-2 rocket launches a military satellite from Plesetsk Cosmodrome. (Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Ambitious launch schedules typically go awry when a rocket suffers a catastrophic failure that takes months to investigate and implement modifications to ensure the same accident doesn’t happen again. In the majority of cases, the failures involve a machine launching a machine. All that can be replaced, albeit at substantial cost.

Russia’s ambitious launch plans for 2022 fell apart due to a far more momentous and deadly action: the nation’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision ruptured cooperation with the West on virtually every space project on which it was safe to do so. The main exception was the International Space Station (ISS), a program involving astronauts and cosmonauts that would be difficult to operate safely if Russia suddenly withdrew (as it indeed threatened to do).

Due to the invasion, Western partners canceled seven launches of foreign payloads in less than a month. The cancellations put Russia even further behind the United States and China in launch totals this year.

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Rogozin Out as Roscosmos Chief

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Dmitry Rogozin has been removed from his post as director general of the Roscosmos, the state corporation that runs Russia’s space program, according to press reports. Rogozin is being replaced by former Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov.

Rogozin was appointed head of Roscosmos in May 2018. He was previously deputy prime minister overseeing the military-industrial complex, which included the space and defense sectors. Borisov replaced him in that role at the time.

Rogozin has been increasingly bombastic since the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. He made threats that Russia would launch nuclear weapons at nations supporting Ukraine. Rogozin also said Russia would pull out of the International Space Station program, which is a partnership of the United States, Europe, Japan and Canada.

Rogozin got into Twitter fights with a number of former NASA astronauts, who had nothing good to say about his tenure leading Russia’s space program.

Although he is out at Roscosmos, Rogozin’s career in the Russian government doesn’t appear to be over, according to Anatoly Zak of RussianSpaceWeb.com.

“Following its tumultuous tenure as the head of Roskosmos, Rogozin was expected to move to the presidential administration and, possibly, lead it or ‘curate’ the Russian occupation of the Eastern Ukraine, the independent Meduza publication reported,” Zak wrote.

BRICS Nations Form Joint Committee on Space Cooperation

BEIJING (China Ministry of Foreign Affairs PR) — On May 25, the 1st meeting of the BRICS Joint Committee on Space Cooperation was successfully held virtually, marking the official establishment of the BRICS Joint Committee on Space Cooperation and opening the new chapter for joint observation and data sharing cooperation of BRICS Remote Sensing Satellite Constellation (RSSC).

Mr. ZHANG Kejian, Administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), served as the chairman of the Joint Committee this year. Mr. Carlos Augusto Teixeira de Moura, President of the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), Mr. Dmitry Rogozin, Director General of the State Space Corporation “Roscosmos”(ROSCOSMOS), Mr. Somanath S. , Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, and Mr. Hendrik Burger, Representative of the South African National Space Agency, attended the meeting.

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Rogozin Lays Out Options for Roscosmos Post ISS; Russia Agrees to Seat Swap with NASA

Video Caption: Russia will look to wind down its cooperation on the International Space Station (ISS) while stepping up cooperation with China on the creation of a lunar station in the coming years, the head of Russia’s space agency said in an interview with the China Global Television Network (CGTN) on Friday.

Editor’s Note: In brief, Russia will honor commitments to ISS through the current end date of 2024. Rogozin thinks negotiations to extend station operations — NASA wants a 2030 end date — would be difficult with current tensions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He said Russia plans to launch its own space station in 2027-28, on which it might work with China.

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Roscosmos Boss Dmitry Rogozin Calls for Wiping Out Ukraine

Twitter’s content moderation efforts seemed to have spiraled downward. Major Russian government officials somehow keep their accounts while advocating the genocide of a nation of 44 million people.

Rogozin has been rabid, foaming at the mouth for months. Ukraine did not, and does not now, pose an existential threat to Russia. The biggest threat is that it becomes a stable, parliamentary democracy and joins the European Union. It would be another example of a different path Russia could take other than the authoritarian one that Vladimir Putin, Rogozin and others have imposed on the country.

Twitter really needs to answer for this. It needs to decide whether letting people call for the genocide of an entire nation is something they want to allow.

Elon Musk, who signed an agreement to purchase Twitter for $44 billion, is an avowed free speech absolutist. He called Twitter’s decision to ban Donald Trump after the attack on the Capitol last year immoral. Is this something that he would allow? What is his view of the morality of this? How absolute is absolutism?

Here’s the one thing we can be very sure about. If Rogozin was calling for the deaths of the current Twitter CEO and his family, or Elon and his children, this tweet would not stay up for a minute. It would be taken down immediately, and Rogozin would be banned.

The time is coming, barring a significant change in the Russian government, when NASA has to decide whether it come continue to work with the Russians on the International Space Station. That day may come sooner than the 2024 date Rogozin has said Russia would likely pull out of the program.

Rogozin: Russia to Cooperate on ISS Until 2024

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

When he’s not threatening to nuke Bulgaria, Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin does attend to his day job of overseeing Russia’s space program. MSN reports:

In comments to Rossiya-24 on Saturday, Rogozin said, as reported by Russian state-owned news agency TASS, that Russia’s involvement with the ISS was fading into the background but the country would still cooperate until 2024, at least.

“The ISS will work exactly as long as the Russian side needs to work on it,” Rogozin said. “There are technical problems. The station has been operating beyond its lifespan for a long time. We have a government decision that we are working until 2024.”

The current operating agreement for the space agencies involved with the ISS ends in 2024, although most of the partner nations have expressed that they are hoping to continue with the project until 2030.

Earlier this year, it was reported by some media outlets that Russia was planning to quit the ISS, blaming Western sanctions, following comments Rogozin made on state television.

Rogozin said: “The decision has been taken already, we’re not obliged to talk about it publicly. I can say this only—in accordance with our obligations, we’ll inform our partners about the end of our work on the ISS with a year’s notice.”

Rogozin left some wiggle room here for extending station operations. Roscosmos is working on building it’s own space station, which is supposed to begin construction in Earth orbit beginning in 2025. However, Russia’s space projects have shown a tendency to slip, sometimes by years.

Russian officials have talked about cooperating with China on its new Tiangong space station. No details have been released aside from visits by Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Russia is also working on an agreement with China to build a crewed base on the moon.

Roscosmos CEO Rogozin Threatens Bulgaria with Nuclear Attack

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Sounding more unhinged by the day, Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin threatened Bulgaria with a nuclear strike as the Russian invasion of Ukraine escalated. Novinite reports:

“This is what Sarmat is good for. It will not ask for consent for the flight from the cowardly Bulgarians, the vicious Romanians and the Montenegrins who betrayed our common history. Like the other various nations like the Swedes.”

This was written on Twitter by the former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia and CEO of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin on the occasion of Bulgaria’s refusal to provide an air corridor for a government plane to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The RS-28 Sarmat, better known as “Satan II”, is a super-heavy intercontinental ballistic missile for carrying nuclear warheads. Its range is 18,000 kilometers.

This is the first direct threat made by the Russian authorities to Bulgaria since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

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Rogozin: Russia Could Deepen Cooperation with China on Satellite Surveillance, Communications

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

TASS reports that Roscosmos could deepen ties with the Chinese space program in the areas of satellite surveillance and communications constellations as the nation’s invasion of Ukraine drives a deeper wedge in its relations with the West.

“Cooperation between Glonass and Beidou [China’s satellite navigational system] can quite spread to communications and surveillance clusters,” Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said during a forum on Tuesday.

Roscosmos has ordered airlines to replace the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) with Glonass in Russian airlines. Roscosmos is working with China to make the Glonass and Beidou satellite navigation systems interoperable.

Rogozin previously said that Russia will end cooperation with the United States, Europe, Japan and Canada on the International Space Station over the sanctions imposed on the country after its invasion of Ukraine in February. The Roscosmos leader said that details of Russia’s withdrawal will be announced soon. He has also said Russia is looking to cooperate on China’s Tiangong space station, which was launched last year.

Station operations have been approved until 2024. In December, NASA announced plans to work with station partners to extend operations until 2030. U.S. space officials have said it would be difficult to maintain the station without Russian involvement.

Russia’s Ukraine invasion has accelerated the nation’s drift away from cooperation with its ISS partners. Roscosmos decided not to participate in the U.S.-led Artemis program, which aims to land two astronauts at the south pole of the moon later this decade. While the other ISS partners have signed on to the program, Russia has opted to cooperate with China on the establishment of a lunar research base.

Roscosmos Plans Cooperation on Chinese Space Station, Prepares to Dump GPS in Russian Airliners and Ship New ICBMs

Roscosmos boss Dmitry Rogozin meets with Russia’s boss of bosses, President Vladimir Putin. (Credit: Russian President’s Office)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Vowing that cooperation in space with the West will resume on Russia’s terms, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said the space corporation is eyeing cooperation on China’s space station and begun efforts to replace the American Global Positioning System (GPS) in airplanes with Russian GLONASS satellite navigation system that is also capable of receiving navigation signals from China’s Beidou satellite constellation.

Rogozin also said Roscosmos plans to begin shipments of silo-based hypersonic Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in the fall amid continued tensions with the West over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The rocket was successfully test fired on Wednesday.

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Putin Celebrates Gagarin Flight Anniversary, Vows Russia will Remain a Leader in Space Amid Sanctions

Vladimir Putin receives a briefing from Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin before the COVID-19 pandemic. (Credit: Office of the Russian President)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Tuesday, Russia celebrated the 61st anniversary of the Soviet Union’s launch of the first human into space, Yuri Gagarin, with a presidential visit to a scandal-plagued spaceport, a pledge to stay the course in the face of international sanctions over the Ukraine invasion, and an initiative to fly a citizen of one of the nation’s closest allies into space.

“Everything that we’ve seen during our visit to Vostochny, all successes in space exploration achieved in recent years prove that our country retains its leadership in space industry, is one of the leaders in this area,” President Vladimir Putin said during a visit to the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East.

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Rogozin Courts Chinese Cooperation on ExoMars, Space Station

Vladimir Putin receives a briefing from Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: Office of the Russian President)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Chinese government-owned CGTN website has an interview with Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin. With relations severely damaged with the West due to sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Roscosmos is increasingly focused on deepening cooperation with China’s surging space program. The partnership already includes jointly developing a crewed base on the moon in the 2030s.

On the suspended ExoMars mission with Europe, Rogozin said:

“In the construction of ExoMars, the main element is the landing module. The Mars research rover is not the essential element. I think we can make this mission happen with another partner like China or someone else.”

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Rogozin on ISS: ‘We’re Outta Here — Details to Follow’

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said Russia will suspend cooperation on the International Space Station (ISS) with its U.S., Canadian, European and Japanese partners due to sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. How and when was left unspecified.

The announcement throws the future of the decades-old ISS program into uncertainty. Roscosmos and NASA are the two lead agencies in the partnership. Russia launches crews and resupply ships to the station. Its vehicles also boost the station to higher altitudes to counteract the decay in its orbit.

NASA officials have said it would be difficult, not to mention expensive, to keep the station operating without Russian involvement.

Rogozin had given NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) until March 31 to lift sweeping sanctions imposed over the invasion. The United States and Canada have imposed sanctions; ESA is abiding by sanctions imposed by its member states.

Rogozin said cooperation won’t resume until sanctions are ended. He tweeted copies of letters Roscosmos received from its partners. NASA and CSA said they would continue cooperating with Russia on the space station. ESA’s letter said the space agency passed the request on to member nations.

Rogozin said Roscosmos would soon provide details of the nation’s withdrawal from the program.

NASA and its partners have been working toward extending ISS operations from 2026 to 2030. Whether that will be possible in unclear.

Russia’s Decision Day on ISS Nears as Western Sanctions Remain

Vladimir Putin receives a briefing from Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: Office of the Russian President)

Russian participation in the International Space Station (ISS) is up in the air (sorry, bad pun) as partners in the orbiting facility show no sign of lifting sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine by a March 31 deadline. Earlier this month, TASS reported on a threat by Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin.

“We will wait until the end of March. The lack of response or a negative response would be a basis for our decision,” he said, without specifying what kind of decision it would be….

During an earlier meeting with Russian lawmakers, Rogozin said the work of the International Space Station was no longer effective amid the current geopolitical sitaution. He also said that ‘colossal funding’ will be required to continue ISS operations until 2030, otherwise “the station will fall into pieces.”

The United States, Canada and Japan have imposed sanctions on Russia over the invasion. The European Space Agency is abiding by sanctions imposed by its member states. There are no signs the sanctions will be lifted as brutal fighting continues in Ukraine.

Roscosmos is the state-owned company that owns nearly all of Russia’s space industry. A number of Roscosmos companies have been sanctioned over the Russian invasion of Ukaine. Rogozin has been personally under U.S. sanctions since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014.

NASA officials have said it would be difficult, not to mention expensive, to keep the station operating if Russia pulls out of ISS. Roscosmos provides crew, supplies, fuel and orbital re-boost of the station. There is an entire Russian section of the facility.

Putin, Justinian and the Revival of Empire

Mosaic of Emperor Justinian I in the Basilica di San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy. (Credit: By Petar Milošević – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40035957)

After decades of relative peace, a full-scale war has broken out in Europe with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Angered by the former Soviet republic’s efforts to integrate with Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin has rolled the dice and unleashed hell on his nation’s neighbor.

History doesn’t repeat itself, but there are patterns that echo down through time. Sixteen centuries ago, another European leader launched a similar invasion designed to restore past glories. He succeeded — to a point.

All this has Happened Before

In late June 533, an expeditionary force under the command of Gen. Flavius Balisarius set sail from the Eastern Roman Empire capital of Constantinople. After a voyage of several months along the coasts of Greece and Italy, the force landed at Caputvada on the North Africa coast in early September.

The expeditionary force’s target was the Vandal Kingdom, centered in the former Roman capital of North Africa, Carthage. Emperor Justinian I had dispatched the expedition with two objectives in mind, one short term and limited, the other expansive and long term.

The Vandals had been part of a wave of barbarian tribes that, pushed out of their homelands by marauding Huns, had overrun the Western Roman Empire in the early fifth century. (The empire had split into east and west in 395, with separate capitals at Ravenna and Constantinople.) Vandals and other barbarians had crossed the Rhine, pillaged their way across Gaul (modern day France and Belgium), and seized control of Iberia (present-day Spain and Portugal). For a period, life was good as the invaders soaked up the Mediterranean sun and lives off the tax revenues that used to go to the Western Roman Empire.

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Rogozin Demands Lifting of Sanctions or Else…Something

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

TASS reports that Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin has given International Space Station’s partners NASA, European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency until the end of this month to lift what he called illegal sanctions against Russian aerospace companies over the invasion of Ukraine.

“We will wait until the end of March. The lack of response or a negative response would be a basis for our decision,” he said, without specifying what kind of decision it would be….

During an earlier meeting with Russian lawmakers, Rogozin said the work of the International Space Station was no longer effective amid the current geopolitical sitaution. He also said that ‘colossal funding’ will be required to continue ISS operations until 2030, otherwise “the station will fall into pieces.”.

Roscosmos is a state-owned company that owns nearly all of Russia’s space industry. A number of Roscosmos companies have been sanctioned over the Russian invasion of Ukaine. Rogozin has been personally under U.S. sanctions since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014.