Russia First to Print Living Tissue in Space

Oleg Kononenko using the 3D bio-printer aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — INVITRO, a leading medical company, and 3D Bioprinting Solutions biotechnology laboratory announced a successful completion of the first stage of the Magnetic 3D Bioprinter space experiment. On December 3, 2018, the Organaut bioprinter was delivered to the ISS on board the Soyuz MS-11 manned spacecraft. For the first time on orbit, cosmonaut-researcher Oleg Kononenko printed human cartilage tissue and a rodent thyroid gland using a Russian bioprinter.

The Organaut was already aboard the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft on October 11, 2018, but its crew returned to Earth 20 minutes later after an emergency situation. The bioprinter landed in the habitation module and was significantly damaged by overload. The backup was prepared and the crew’s repeated training was organized in the shortest possible time.


Dauria Aerospace Gets $70 Million Infusion

Dauria_AerospaceSome good news for the Russian satellite company Dauria Aerospace:

Cybernaut will be pumping US$70 million into the creation of a group of 10 satellites for daily imaging of the 100 biggest cities in the world with an accuracy of 0.7 metres per pixel.

The Chinese investment fund will be collaborating with Russian private space company Dauria Aerospace.

The pair signed a term sheet yesterday at the second Chinese-Russian Expo in Harbin, China, on the formation of a joint venture for the project, named UrbanObserver, according to a statement by Skolkovo Foundation….

The agreement will see the creation of a new 1,500-square-metre R&D business incubator, robotics centre and US$200-million venture fund. It also aims to ease new Russian companies — mainly those in Skolkovo that specialise in IT, robotics, and space and telecommunication technologies — into the Chinese market.

Dauria Aerospace Receives Investment for Imaging Satellite

Dauria_AerospaceThe Russian state corporation Vnesheconombank has invested 60 million rubles ($1.1 million) into Dauria Satellite Technologies, which is a spinoff of the private Russian satellite company Dauria Aerospace.

The funding will help advance development of the Auriga optical remote sensing spacecraft, which will take high resolution images of the Earth.

The investment contract was signed at Startup Village on Tuesday by Dauria Aerospace general director Sergei Ivanov and VEB chairman Andrei Morozov.


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

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.


News From Skolkovo Space Cluster

SkolkovoA brief roundup of recent news from the Skolkovo Space Cluster outside Moscow:

Dauria Aerospace Satellite Contract. Aniara SpaceCom LLC of India has signed a $210 million contract with Dauria Aerospace for two all-electric Ku-band telecommunications satellites.  The plan is to launch the satellites on an Indian Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rocket in late 2017.

The purchase is being funded through a direct loan from the Export Insurance Agency of Russia (ExIAR). Aniara also has agreed to market Dauria’s small geosynchronous satellite platform.

Cooperation with India comes as Dauria winds down its operations in Europe and the United States. Company officials say that Western sanctions over Ukraine have made it difficult to raise money in those areas.

ScanEx R&D Center. Russia’s top Earth-observing company, ScanEx, has signed an agreement to establish a 250 million ruble ($4 million) research and development center at Skolkovo.

The R&D center will give ScanEx the opportunity to collaborate with Skolkovo companies and individuals that are involved with remote sensing.

Krikalev Joins Faculty. Retired cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, who holds the record of 803 days in space, has joined the faculty of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology. He will focus on the development of new educational course and research programs at the university, which is a joint collaboration with MIT.

Krikalev, 56, flew into space six times, serving aboard the Soviet space station Mir and the International Space Station. (ISS). In 1994, he became the first Russian cosmonaut to fly aboard the American space shuttle. In 2000, he was a crew member aboard the Expedition 1 mission, the first long-duration stay aboard ISS.

Is Russian Space Industry Consolidation Creating a Black Hole?

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks over plans for Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)
Russian President Vladimir Putin looks over plans for Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

A couple of stories in The Moscow Times provide some insight into the re-nationalization of Russia’s space industry.  One story claims the changes will create a giant black hole that will suck in billions of rubles while producing little of value. The other spotlights the firing of a prominent space analyst who dared oppose the changes.


Private Russian Startups Pursue New Launcher, Space Tourism Vehicle

Two-stage Aldan rocket. (Credit: Lin Industrial)
Two-stage Aldan rocket. (Credit: Lin Industrial)

Even as Vladimir Putin and his merry band of bureaucrats and oligarchs are busy re-nationalizing the Russian space industry under the control of one fully-owned government company, there is some sign of independent entrepreneurial life within the nation’s space effort.

Start-up companies have sprouted up to launch satellites and to pursue small satellite launch vehicles and space tourism systems. All of these companies appear to be nurtured by a government created and run incubator called Skolkovo that is designed to be Russia’s answer to Silicon Valley.


Energomash Reports Progress on New Rocket Fuel

MOSCOW (Energomash/Roscosmos PR) — Experts at Energomash and RSC Applied Chemistry who are working on a specially designed experimental setup have obtained the first experimental batch of the latest high-performance rocket fuel, acetyl.

The results confirmed the previously conducted theoretical studies, and showed the effectiveness of the technology for production of the new fuel.


Russia to Create Own “DARPASKI”

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

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

As I first reported back in February,  Russia is moving forward with the development of its own DARPA. Ruler-for-Life Vladimir Putin has sent a bill to the Duma to establish the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects in the Defense Industry, which Wired has dubbed DARPASKI.

The establishment of the foundation will be overseen by hardline Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, whom Putin appointed last December as defense czar with the goal of cleaning up the corruption-prone defense and error-prone space sectors.


Skolkovo Fund, Roscosmos to Cooperate on Space Tech

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Roscosmos and the Skolkovo Fund will work together on developing advanced space and telecommunications technologies as part of the space agency’s long-range development plan that extends out to 2030 and beyond, Russian media report.


Russia Plans Megawatt Nuclear Space Engine by 2017

RIA Novosti reports on Russia’s plans for advanced space nuclear propulsion, an effort that now apparently involves the Skolkovo Foundation:

A Russian Megawatt-class nuclear propulsion system for long-range manned spacecraft must be ready by 2017, Skolkovo Foundation’s Nuclear Cluster head Denis Kovalevich said on Wednesday.

“At present we are testing several types of fuel and later we will start drafting the design,” Kovalevich said. “The first parts [of the nuclear engine] should be built in 2013, and the engine is expected to be ready by 2017.”

The engine is being developed for interplanetary manned spacecraft to ensure that Russia maintains a competitive edge in the space race, including the exploration of the Moon and Mars.

Read the full story.

Roscosmos, Skolkovo Look to Solve Russia’s Space Worker Shortage

MOSCOW (Skolkovo PR) — On March 22-23, the Skolkovo Fund, the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), and JSC “Scientific and Production Corporation (NPC) “REKOD” will hold the first all-Russian scientific-practical conference titled, “Problems Involving the Capacity of Higher Educational Institutions for Training and Advanced Training in the Use of Space Activities, and Ensuring the Competitiveness of Domestic Space Products and Services.”

Opening the conference will be: the head of Russian Federal Space Agency, Vladimir Popovkin; chief executive of a cluster of space technology and telecommunications, Sergey Zhukov; as well as representatives from the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation and the Russian Academy of Sciences.  The event will be attended by representatives from leading universities, enterprises, rocket and space industries and regions of Russia.


Hot Russia Spy Luring Space Investors, Companies to Russia’s Silicon Valley Clone

Russian spy turned aerospace recruiter Anna Chapman.

The Observer has an update on Skolkovo, the Russian government’s attempt to replicate America’s Silicon Valley outside of Moscow:

“We have plans to further explore the moon and the planets,” said a pamphlet promoting Skolkovo’s space centre, one of five planned “clusters”, alongside IT, biomedical science, energy efficiency and nuclear technology.

Investors are being promised corporate and personal tax breaks – and the opportunity of meeting Anna Chapman, the former spy and underwear model, who has been given the task of attracting young talent to Skolkovo.