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.

(more…)

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….
(more…)

Russia Responds to Musk & His Reusable Boosters

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

The age of reusable liquid boosters arrived with the launch last week of a previously flown Falcon 9 first stage, which landed on a barge ship after its fuel was exhausted. In Russia, the long anticipated milestone resulted in a flood of statements — official and otherwise — about what the long-term leader in space boosters is doing in response.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Putin Holds Meeting on Roscosmos Strategy Development

Meeting on the development strategy for Roscosmos State Corporation. (Credit: Russian government)
Meeting on the development strategy for Roscosmos State Corporation. (Credit: Russian government)

SOCHI, Russia (President of Russia PR) — Vladimir Putin held a meeting to discuss the strategy for the development of Roscosmos State Corporation through 2025 and for the period ending in 2030.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,

As we agreed, today we will discuss the strategy for the development of Roscosmos State Corporation until 2030.

(more…)

Russia, China to Deepen Cooperation on Space

Vladimir Putin reviews a map showing the plan for the Vostochny spaceport. (Credit: Presidential Press and Information Office)
Vladimir Putin reviews a map showing the plan for the Vostochny spaceport. (Credit: Presidential Press and Information Office)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — On June 25, 2016 in Beijing (China) in the framework of the official visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to China Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the PRC on the technology protection measures in connection with cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes and in the establishment and operation of launch vehicles and ground infrastructure.

From the Russian side the agreement was signed the Director-General of the State Corporation “Roskosmos” Igor Komarov, from China – the head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) Xu Dazhu.

The agreement is intended to provide the legal basis for cooperation between Russia and China in the field of rocket engines and launch vehicles.

Russia and China cooperate in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes since 1992. Currently, the two countries plan to provide conditions for the development of new forms of cooperation in the field of outer space activities among organizations of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.

Cooperation under this Agreement shall be without prejudice to the fulfillment of obligations under other international treaties to which the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.

Save

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.
(more…)

Putin Signs Decree Defining Roscosmos Organization

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW — On May 12, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree, “On measures for the establishment of the State Corporation for Space Activities Roskosmos”, according to which part of the state corporation will include 46 joint-stock companies and 16 of the Federal State Unitary Enterprise.

 Arrangements for the transfer of shares of companies and the Federal State Unitary Enterprise after incorporation into the ownership of the state corporation “Roscosmos” to be completed by the end of the transitional period, which according to the Federal Law of July 13, 2015 N 215-FZ “On the State Corporation for Space Activities Roskosmos” is five years.
The structure of the state corporation Roscosmos enter the United Rocket and Space Corporation (ACCD), Research Center. Keldysh, JSC RCC Progress ,Information Satellite Systems to them. Academician MF Reshetnev, JSC Corporation Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, FSUE Center for Exploitation of Space Ground-based Infrastructure (TsENKI), FSUE TsNIImash, JSC SRC Makeyev, JSC Corporation Strategic Points of Control, NPO Energomash, OAO RSC Energia and other joint-stock companies and the Federal State Unitary Enterprise.
Complete text of the Russian Federation “On measures for the creation of the State Corporation for Space Activities” Roskosmos “Decree of the President may be on the following link: http://publication.pravo.gov.ru/Document/View/0001201605120026

Senate Armed Services Committee Limits ULA Engines

John McCain
John McCain

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) approved the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) yesterday that limits United Launch Alliance (ULA) to purchasing nine Russian-made RD-180 engines for use in the first stage of the company’s Atlas V booster to launch national security payloads.

The move sets up a showdown with the House Armed Services Committee, which earlier put the number of engines ULA could purchase at 18. ULA and the U.S. Air Force support the higher number, saying the engines are needed to meet military launch needs.

(more…)

Russia Inaugurates New Spaceport With Soyuz Launch

With President Vladimir Putin looking on, a Soyuz-2.1a rocket lifted off from Russia’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome and successfully orbited three satellites.

It was the inaugural launch for the multi-billion dollar spaceport, which has been four years and numerous arrests in the making. The launch complex, which is designed to reduce Russian dependence on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, has been plagued by reports of corruption and unpaid workers. One manager was arrested driving a diamond encrusted Mercedes.

The Soyuz rocket’s main payload was the Mikhailo Lomonosov satellite, which carries instruments to study high-energy cosmic rays, gamma rays and the Earth’s atmosphere. It also carried two smaller secondary payloads named Aist 2 and SamSat 218. Media reports indicate all three spacecraft were deployed successfully.

The launch was delayed a day due to a technical problem with the rocket.

McCain Wants Russian Engine Restrictions USAF Says Would Be Costly

John McCain
John McCain

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) continued to push for a ban on the use of Russian-made rocket engines on United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V booster at a hearing on Thursday, saying that their use allowed President Vladimir Putin to hold U.S. national security launch capability ” in the palm of his hand.”

“This is a national security threat, in addition to a moral outrage, at a time when Russian forces continue to destabilize Ukraine – including nearly 500 attacks in the past week, as General Breedlove, the Commander of European Command, testified on Tuesday,” McCain said in a prepared statement.

(more…)

McCain, McCarthy Try to Limit ULA’s Access to Russian Rocket Engines

John McCain
John McCain

WASHINGTON, D.C. (John McCain PR) – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will be introducing legislation in the Senate and House, respectively, that would repeal a provision of the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that effectively allows the unlimited purchase and use of Russian rocket engines manufactured by a Russian company with close ties to the regime of Vladimir Putin for U.S. national security space launches.

The omnibus provision, which was airdropped into the bill by Senate appropriators in secret with no debate, undermines a measure in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (NDAA) that reasonably restricts the purchase of RD-180 rocket engines for military space launches by 2019, effectively rewarding Vladimir Putin and his cronies with a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars.

(more…)

Roscosmos is Dead — Long Live Roscosmos!

Vladimir_PutinVladimir Putin signed Executive Order On Abolishing the Federal Space Agency

MOSCOW (Russian President’s Office PR) — In accordance with Federal Law of July 13, 2015 On State Corporation for Space Activities Roscosmos, the President resolved to abolish the Federal Space Agency.

The Russian Federation Government has been instructed to ensure continuity in carrying out the powers and functions being transferred to Roscosmos that had previously been performed by the abolished Federal Space Agency, and to resolve financial, support and other issues pertaining to implementation of the Executive Order.

Editor’s Note: Russia has transformed its space agency into a state-owned corporation that will now control virtually the entire space industry. Whether this change will help solve the industry’s many problems — which include graft, inefficiency, bloat, poor quality control, aging workforce, a shortage of replacement workers, low pay and a lack of innovation  — remains to be seen.  Given Putin’s tendency to centralize everything, it’s probably the only move he could make.

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.
(more…)

Prosecutors Find a Whole Lot of Thieving Going on at Vostochny

Vladimir Putin reviews a map showing the plan for the Vostochny spaceport. (Credit: Presidential Press and Information Office)
Vladimir Putin reviews a map showing the plan for the Vostochny spaceport. (Credit: Presidential Press and Information Office)

It’s been no secret that Russia’s $3 billion Vostochny spaceport has experienced its fair share of corruption, what with alleged embezzler having been captured in Balarus driving around a diamond-encrusted Mercedes and working going unpaid for months at a time.

Earlier this week, Russia’s Prosecutor General revealed the true extent of the theft uncovered thus far: a whopping 7.5 billion rubles ($126 million) has been stolen. That’s 4.2 percent of the $3 billion being spent on the new spaceport in Russia’s Far East.

Officials are hoping to complete work on the new facility by the end of November, with the first launched scheduled the following month.