Video: Phobos-Grunt Team Threatened with Jail, Treason Charges

This is one seriously crazy ass message from sort sort of deeply dystopian society. If this is actually a serious message, then the Russian space program is doomed. You can’t go around threatening your engineers and scientists like this and expect them to do good work.

Rogozin: Russia to Create Own Version of DARPA

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

Via Russian Ministry of Education and Science

The Military-Industrial Commission (MIC) will soon consider a bill to create a fund that will seek innovative technologies to the domestic military-industrial complex (MIC), Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.

“In the near future, the MIC for the government to consider the documents prepared by us to create an appropriate fund,” he said at a meeting with rectors of the leading technical universities in Russia.

The Vice Premier said that this fund will be analogous to the agency DARPA, acting at the U.S. Department of Defense.


New Russian Space Czar Hits Ground Running

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

Hardline Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, the Kremlin’s new defense and space czar, has hit the ground running this week as he attempts to turn around Russia’s failure-prone space sector.

Rogozin has ordered Roscosmos to produce a report analyzing its recent string of launch failures and to develop a master plan through 2030. The space czar also announced the creation a personnel reserve to deal with a shortage of space workers, and he warned trespassing bloggers to stay off the nation’s strategic space installations — or else.

[UPDATE: View the photos of the bloggers’ nocturnal visits to Energomash here.]


South Koreans, Russians Remain at Odds Over Naro-1 Launch Failure

South Korean and Russian engineers remain at odds over what caused the Naro-1 rocket to fail just 137 seconds after liftoff on June 10, 2010, according to an Oct. 20 report from the Yonhap news agency. The booster, which includes a Russian first stage and South Korean second stage, lifted off safely from the Naro Space Center but failed in flight.

South Korea and Russia failed to agree on the cause of last year’s aborted launch of a jointly built space rocket, only offering recommendations that will help prevent all possible causes cited by both sides, the South Korean government said Thursday.

An earlier Naro-1 launch failed in August 2009. Both stages worked well, but the fairing protecting the South Korean satellite failed to separate. The satellite and fairing fell into the ocean. A third test launch is tentatively planned for next year.

Read the full story.

Editor’s Note: Story updated on Oct. 28 to reflect more recent news. Link to full story also fixed.

Russia to Launch New Soyuz Rocket Variant Next Year

Russian Soyuz-1 booster. Credit: Pavel Kolotilov

Russia plans to launch the inaugural flight of the new Soyuz-1 booster from Plesetsk next April, ITAR-TASS reports. The vehicle will launch a pair of university satellites into low Earth orbit.

The Soyuz-1 is a stripped down version of the Soyuz-2.1b rocket with its booster rockets removed and its first stage refitted with NK-33 engines originally built for the Soviet lunar program. The second stage remains the same as the Soyuz-2.1b.

The new medium-class rocket will be capable of lifting payloads of 2,800 kilograms (6,160 lbs) to low Earth orbit from Plesetsk and 2,850 kilograms (6,270 lbs) to LEO from Baikonur. Russia will also launch the rocket from the new Vostochny Cosmodrome once it becomes operational later in this decade.

The Soyuz-1 is similar in capacity to Orbital Sciences Corporation’s new Taurus II booster, which is set to make its inaugural flight later this year. The Taurus II uses the AJ-26 engine, which is an overhauled version of the NK-33 engine that Soyuz-1 will use in its first stage.

Ukraine Sees Space as Ticket to Developed Nation Status, Eyes Closer Ties With Russia

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (Credit: SSAU)

“I see our space achievements as a driving force of the country’s development. Participation in space programs indicates technological capabilities, economic prospects and the level of national security of a state,” Viktor Yanukovych stressed.

“This is our ticket to a prestigious club of developed countries,” he said.

Ukraine and Russia have good potential for the development of joint projects in rocket-space industry, President Yanukovych has said today in Yenakiyeve, adding that the issue of joint development of our countries’ rocket-space systems had been discussed during his meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.


Russians Honor Space Heroes on 50th Anniversary of Gagarin’s Flight

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev with Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. (Credit: Russian government)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev awarded state decorations to cosmonauts, employees and veterans at a ceremony in Moscow to mark the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin.

The ceremony was attended by Yury Gagarin’s widow Valentina Gagarina and his two daughters, as well as several members of the first group of cosmonauts, including the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova. U.S. space station commander Scott Kelly and former astronaut Tom Stafford, who commanded the U.S. side of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975, received the Medal for Merits in Space Exploration from the Russian president.

A transcript of Medvedev’s remarks and additional photos follow.


Roscosmos, ISA Sign Space Cooperation Agreement

ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER PR — This morning in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, a framework agreement was signed on cooperation between the Russian Federal Space Agency and the Israel Space Agency.

The agreement, which was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, enhances cooperation between the Israeli and Russian space agencies in the fields of space research, observation, navigation, medicine and biology in space, research in advanced materials and launchings.


Russia’s Global Disaster Monitoring System Would Cost $22 Billion

The San Francisco Mission District burning in the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

I’ve found a bit more information about Russia’s IGMASS system, which is an international network designed to help with disaster predicting, monitoring and response.The first bit of news is the eye-popping $22 billion cost of building the full global network. That’s expensive, but relatively cheap compared to the cost of disaster relief and recovery.

The Voice of Russia describes the plan:

The project suggests that satellites, special airplanes, ground sensors and navigators will be transmitting all data concerning ongoing or expected natural disasters such as earthquakes, forest fires, tsunami, or even asteroid fall to regional and international crisis centers. The proposed global aerospace monitoring system suggests the use of Russian GLONASS and American GPS navigation, as well as ground quake and tsunami alarm systems that include more than 20,000 devices.


Medvedev Signs Russia-Ukraine Space Cooperation Agreement

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (Credit:

President of Russia PAO — Dmitry Medvedev signed the Federal Law On Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on the Protection of Technology in Connection with Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses and Research of Outer Space and in Building and Operating Rockets and Rocket and Space Technology.

The purpose of the agreement is to ensure the conditions required for developing cooperation with Ukraine in the space and rocket industries in accordance with the need to ensure legal and physical protection of controlled goods and related technology destined for export on the importer country’s territory, including prevention of unauthorized transfer of the said goods and technology or their use for other purposes by foreign end users.

The agreement was concluded in Moscow on June 11, 2009.

Russian Space Research Gasping for Breath

As Moscow gears up for the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s historic spaceflight on April 12 amid a number of ambitious new space initiatives, some in the space research community are feeling left out:

The modernisation pushed by President Dmitry Medvedev has prompted a flurry of investment into the Skolkovo Innovation Centre, and cutting-edge industries such as nanotechnology are benefiting from high level backing.

But efforts to recreate the commercial successes of Silicon Valley in Russia risk leaving many space programmes earthbound due to lack of funding.


Medvedev Wants Vigorous Deep Space Exploration Program, But Where Are the Rubles?

Russia should have its own deep space program – Medvedev

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev believes that Russia should develop its own program for the exploration of deep space in general and the Moon in particular. “I think this is a very important topic, even in terms of our scientific ambitions. If we fail to address it at all, we shall degrade and will be pushed to the sidelines,” the president said at a meeting with young scientists on Tuesday.

Medvedev admitted that he could not promise such a program would be ready in one year’s time, “which would let us catch up with the Americans.”


Russia Plans Angara Launches in 2012, Works on Answer to X-37

Angara rocket engine test

A couple of brief updates from Russia:

The long-delayed Angara rocket will be ready for testing next year. “We plan that it will be fully prepared for launch in 2012. Everything is going according to plan,” said Space Troops chief Oleg Ostapenko.

Angara is a modular family of rockets designed to be the mainstay for Russia’s strategic launches, replacing several existing rockets. It will be capable of launching between 2 and 40.5 tons of cargo into low Earth orbit. Development of the rocket has been delayed several years due to financial shortfalls.

Ostapenko also told reporters that Russia is developing a spacecraft similar to the U.S. X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle that flew last year.

“Something has been done along these lines, but as to whether we will use it, only time will tell,” Ostapenko said.

Read the full stories here and here.

Russian President Medvedev Sees Deeper Cooperation With India in Space

The Russian President’s website has the transcript of an interview that Dmitry Medvedev recently gave to The Times of India. He talks about deepening Russo-Indian cooperation in a broad range of areas, including space.  Cooperating in space will take the form of lunar exploration, space science, human spaceflight, and the GLONASS satellite navigation system.

An excerpt from the interview follows after the break.