Russian 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.
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.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that 58 million rubles (about $1 million) in back wages owed to Vostochny workers will be paid by April 30. Unhappy workers have gone on hunger strikes and appealed to President Vladimir Putin with a message written on the roofs of their dorms.
Efforts to consolidate the Russian space industry under Roscomos continued. Putin submitted a draft law to the State Duma that would establish a space corporation on the basis of Roscosmos and the United Rocket and Space Corporation.
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.
The Russian space agency Roscosmos is being merged with the United Rocket and Space Corporation, the government-owned company that is consolidating all of the nation’s space assets under its control. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin Tweeted:
The Government expects Roscosmos to put forward a draft law on creating a state corporation in the coming days http://t.co/U0RHdqg6Yg Putin supported Medvedev’s proposal to create a state corporation on the basis of Roscosmos and United Rocket and Space Corporation
He is, of course, referring to President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
The Russian government has Tweeted a picture of Medvedev meeting with URSC Director General Igor Komarov, who is apparently now the head of Roscosmos. That means Oleg Ostapenko is out as Roscosmos chief.
The appears appears to be modeled on the Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation, which consolidated Russia’s nuclear industry. It’s an interesting move given that the United States and Europe are looking to the private sector to be innovative and carry more of the burden in space.
Russia’s new heavy-lift Angara-A5 rocket may replace the Ukrainian Zenit rocket in the Sea Launch project, a source in the space and rocket sector told TASS on Wednesday.
The announcement was made at the recent board of directors meeting of the RKK Energia space corporation. “The documents have already been submitted to the United Rocket and Space Corporation,” the source said.
SpaceX Founder Elon Musk has long talked about disrupting the launch industry with low prices and technological innovations. In 2014, the impacts of those efforts were felt far and wide as competitors responded to the threat the California company posed to their livelihoods.
ULA Pivots. With SpaceX reeling off one successful launch after another, ULA pivoted on several fronts. One was to announce efforts to significantly reduce costs on its highly reliable but pricey Atlas V and Delta IV boosters. But, even that proved to be insufficient as SpaceX threatened ULA on several fronts.
MOSCOW, Aug. 7, 2014 (Khrunichev PR) — Andrey Kalinovsky, the former First Vice President of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) has been appointed acting director general of the Khrunichev State Space Research and Production Center (KhSC).
Andrey Kalinovsky succeeds Alexander Seliverstov, who served as the Director General of KhSC from October 2012 through August 2014.
Alexander Seliverstov will join the United Rocket and Space Corporation (URSC) later this month as vice president for space launch vehicle production.
Embattled RSC Energia President Vitaly Lopota, who is the subject of a criminal investigation for alleged abuse of office, was suspended from his post on Friday by the company’s board of directors, ending a seven-year reign over the space company.
The move appears to be part of an effort by Russia’s government to obtain majority control over Energia, of which it owns a 38-percent share. The directors elected Igor Komarov as its new chairman of the board. Komarov is chief of the Russian United Rocket and Space Corporation (URSC), the government-owned company tasked with consolidating Russia’s sprawling space sector.
Bloomberg has an interesting report on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s economic strategy, which is characterized by the type of centralized government control that we’re now seeing imposed upon the space industry.
For all his vows to modernize and diversify the economy, though, Russia remains a nuclear-armed petrostate and Putin’s remedy for growth now is more, not less, government control.
While Hercules has the Augean Stables to clean up, Igor Komarov’s task is only slightly less daunting: bringing order, coherence and profitability to a sprawling and bloated Russian space industry that saw its best days 30 years ago.
After four years as president of Russia’s largest car maker, AvtoVAZ, Komarov was brought in last year to head up the new United Rocket and Space Corporation (ACCD), a wholly-owned government entity that will consolidate virtually the entire space industry under state control.
When the consolidation is completed in about two years, ACCD will encompass 48 organizations and 14 companies. Among the major federal state unitary enterprises to be consolidated under the new corporation are Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, NPO Lavochkin and KB Arsenal Design Bureau.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin is on the warpath again, threatening to levy heavier penalties against space companies that failed to meet satellite production deadlines.
“We certainly need a completely different level of discipline and responsibility in this area,” he said after a government meeting on reform of the space industry, chaired by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Rogozin said the government would introduce stronger penalties for companies that did not manufacture and deliver spacecraft on schedule. He did not specify what the penalties would be.
Russia once again led the world in orbital launches in 2013, keeping the International Space Station supplied with a study stream of crew members and cargo while earning hard currency with commercial satellite launches.
Although the vast majority of Russia’s launches were successful, the spectacular failure in July of a Proton rocket — which nosedived into the ground shortly after liftoff — accelerated efforts to reform the nation’s failure-prone space program. By the end of the year, the Russian space agency Roscosmos had a new leader and a major effort was underway to consolidate a large part of the bloated and inefficient space sector under a single government-owned company.
During 2013, Russia introduced a new variant of its venerable Soyuz rocket while also making progress on constructing a new spaceport in the Far East and developing a larger human spacecraft to replace the Soyuz transport and a heavy-lift booster to facilitate deep space exploration.
For Roscosmos boss Vladimir Popovkin, the first half of 2013 was a welcome respite in an otherwise difficult tenure. A series of launch vehicles — 15 of them in all — lifted off flawlessly from the Baikonur and Plesetsk cosmodromes. All their payloads reached their intended orbits, exactly as planned. As summer dawned, it looked as though the Russian space program had finally put a string of embarrassing launch failures behind it.