Is there life outside Roscosmos? Overview of Russian private cosmonautics

Is there life outside Roscosmos? Overview of Russian private cosmonautics

Last week, the Crew Dragon, with four astronauts on board, successfully docked with the ISS. For the first time in history, a private company began regular manned flights to an orbital station (the flight, which everyone followed in May, was a test flight).

We are already used to the fact that when Elon Musk launches another rocket, millions of people on the planet stock up on popcorn and watch this start like a show. But Russia also has its own private space companies: they create satellites, develop rockets and dream of delivering a person to the Moon and even Mars. About this AiF. u spoke with Oleg Mansurov, founder and CEO of Success Rockets.

Who is ready to invest in space?

Dmitry Pisarenko, AiF. u: Oleg, is it necessary to develop private astronautics in Russia at all? We know very well that our space industry has always depended on the state, also because it was closely connected with the defense industry. What are the current arguments in favor of private space companies?

Oleg Mansurov: Yes, you are right, but the situation is changing. And this is facilitated by both government policy and the growth of entrepreneurial initiative in the space sector.

The main arguments in favor of private space are as follows. First, it is budget savings: they can be directed to social needs. Second, an increase in the speed of creating new products and services: private companies are not limited by a large number of approvals and budgetary rules. Thirdly, it is the success of private companies around the world in competition with large or state-owned corporations.

Now there are all conditions for the development of private astronautics in Russia. There is a rich Soviet legacy: many technologies created during the Soviet years are still unsurpassed. There is accumulated experience of space startups over the past 10 years. They have formed the minimum required number of people who want and can build a private space business. We have our own developed IT market, which is the main customer and driver for the development of space technologies. Finally, there is a readiness on the part of the government and Roscosmos to help private space companies.

- Really? Roscosmos is a corporation, which means that it needs to make money on its own. It is logical that he should perceive private traders, even Russian ones, as competitors.

- Although Roscosmos is a corporation, at the same time it is a regulator. Not a single private trader in Russia will pass by him if he wants to engage in space activities. Fortunately, now the management of Roskosmos is in a friendly mood towards private companies, there are several reasons for this.

First, the resources and budgets of Roscosmos are not unlimited, and the emergence of any private money in the industry is a boon for it. Private companies can be engaged in areas for which government funding is not currently provided, for example, ultralight missiles. Secondly, public-private partnership becomes possible. Under him, private companies are allowed to transfer to a commercial basis the development and infrastructure that Roscosmos has at its disposal.

- Is it easy to do this? In the West, the share of private business in space projects reaches 60-70%, but they are not afraid to invest for a long time. And here, as you know, everyone is chasing a short ruble.

- You have touched the most sore spot. Indeed, most Russian investors are not ready to play for a long time. Or they are not ready to take risks, although they call themselves venture investors. They are only interested in a quick refund. There are currently no large venture capital funds that invest in space.

And yet there are two types of people who take risks. The first group is people with big capital and strategic thinking. For example, Alisher Usmanov or Yuri Milner. They are aware of the fact that in the coming decades, one of the main stimuli for the development of the economy, the Internet, communications and digital transformation will be precisely space and everything connected with it. Therefore, investments in space will make it possible to make good money and occupy the market.

What is Musk to us? A private Mars mission may be implemented in Russia

Exactly 4 years ago in the history of Russian private astronautics, perhaps the most significant day happened: the Dnepr conversion launch vehicle launched the first Russian commercial microsatellite TabletSat-Aurora, produced by SPUTNIX, and a couple of cubesats into orbit format 6U Perseus-M 1 and 2 from a division of another Russian private company - Dauria Aerospace. Together with them flew the first Ukrainian nanosatellite PolyITAN-1. Today I would like to tell you about these and other Russian private firms, as well as how they are doing.

The history of Satellite Innovative Space Systems LLC began in 2009 as a satellite technology department of ScanEx R&D Center LLC. In 2011, the department was transformed into a separate company and began to develop an orientation and stabilization system for the Chibis-M microsatellite, which was launched into orbit on January 25, 2012. In the summer of the same year, Sputniks received a grant for 29.5 million rubles, provided that the company itself will invest 10 million rubles of its own funds in addition to this. The agreement with Skolkovo provided only for the development of technologies without the subsequent launch of the satellite into space, but thanks to a happy coincidence (the American company, which was supposed to launch its SkySat-1 satellite, refused to fly), the company had the opportunity to launch its first satellite completely, but for this the company had to meet with the construction of a satellite in 8 months (from October 2013 to June 2014).

About 50 million rubles were spent on the production of Tablesat-Aurora, part of which was covered by the grant and funds of Kosmotras LLC on whose rocket the launch was carried out, due to which they received a third of the satellite. As a result, a 26-kilogram satellite with a resolution of 15 m per pixel and a 45 km swath width, a communication speed of up to 70 Mbit/s and a 1 GB image storage device was released. Already next month, two other satellites of the company are to be launched - school microsatellites of the 1U SiriusSat-1 and -2 format. About half of the company's revenue (which in 2016 amounted to 65 million rubles) comes from educational projects (in particular, the company offers its own platform for OrbiCraft-Pro nanosatellites for training: mock-ups for schools and full-fledged versions of cubesats for universities), another 15% - for export various components for satellites in Kazakhstan, France and for the Pakistan Space Agency.

With the support of Sputniks, Anisoprint is also developing a 3D printer for work in zero gravity, unlike the Made in space company, which has been working on a similar project since 2014, domestic development should be used as a material for printing, not thermoplastics, but composite materials, which should significantly increase the strength of finished products. From time to time there are news that Sputniks has become part of the Galaktika group of companies (in particular, RBC and the founder of Galaktika, Aliya Prokofieva, reported about their inclusion in this group in December 2016 in an interview), but representatives of the company itself deny this. As part of this group, Sputniks intends to launch a constellation of 170 100-kilogram satellites for satellite communications at speeds up to 1 Gbit/s.

The history of the company that brought Sputniks to light - ScanEx is also remarkable: its history began back in 1989 as a company for the production of stations for receiving data from satellites (during this time about 300 of them were produced). In 2004, the company decided to expand its scope of activity to software products and web solutions on this topic. In 2011, the company became a supplier of images for the Yandex. arts "and received a contract for 1.3 billion rubles from Rosreestr. In July 2013, Rosreestr filed a lawsuit in the amount of 102 million rubles against the company for the delay in the terms of this contract, in connection with which the founders of the company, Vladimir and Olga Gershenzon, subsequently sold 90% of the shares of their company for 900 million rubles. The firm continues to provide geographic information services for private and public companies.

The company was founded in 2011, three of its founders were Mikhail Kokorich (the former owner of the Technosila household appliances chain), Sergey Ivanov and Dmitry Khan. Their total initial investment amounted to about $ 10 million. In the same year, branches were opened in Germany (Dauria CloudEO) and the USA (Canopus Systems US and Dauria Geo opened a little later), and the following year it received a license from Roscosmos. While the Russian and American divisions were engaged in the development and production of satellites, the German one created a software environment for processing data from satellites. Soon after, the company won a tender for 310 million rubles for the production of two 6U satellites, which were originally supposed to be delivered by the end of 2014. In October 2013, the firm also received a $ 20 million investment from the I2BF fund, and thanks to the sale of two Perseus-M satellites launched in 2014, Dauria received another $ 6 million (due to the fact that they were developed jointly with the American division of the firm, the title of the first Russian company to launch his own satellite into space completely went to Sputniks). Less than a month later (more precisely on July 8), the DX1 microsatellite also entered orbit (its development and production was estimated at $ 3 million). In the same year, a private order was received from the Indian company Aniara Communication for the production of two geostationary satellites and an order from the Russian operator Sovzond for the production of a high-resolution satellite ($ 100 million each) and a grant from the Skolkovo Foundation for 150 million rubles for the development of a satellite Auriga platforms for them. Another $ 5 million has already been invested by Dauria herself on the development of these satellites.

On this, luck turned away from the company: due to the foreign policy and economic situation, it had to close its foreign missions in 2015 (although instead, under the agreement signed in October of the same year for $ 70 million with the investment fund Cybernaut China Dauria is going to open its office in Hong Kong). Soon Roskosmos demanded a forfeit in the amount of 8.2 million rubles (according to other sources, 16.5 million rubles) for the delay in the delivery of ordered satellites, and after an unsuccessful launch on July 14, 2017, these satellites (MKA-N N1 and N2) were demanded by Roskosmos from the company another 290 million rubles (Dauria reports that from the general contract for 310 million rubles, by that time only 274 million rubles had been delivered and the fact that the collection of such an amount threatens the company with bankruptcy). In addition, it is reported that in March of this year, a subdivision of NPO named after Lavochkin filed a lawsuit against the company for an additional 24.2 million rubles for non-payment for launch services. Even more sad is that among 10 (and perhaps even 21) out of 73 satellites launched during a record launch for Roscosmos, the first Russian crowdfunding satellite Mayak, which has reached the stage of implementation, also failed due to an anomaly. in the operation of one of the upper stage engines.

Against this background, the news that Vitaly Egorov (better known as the Green Cat) is leaving the company looks just as bad, which may indicate a reduction in their staff. However, despite the disgusting behavior of representatives of Roskosmos, who, even after disclosing the fact of a malfunction in the upper stage and the failure of satellites (TsNIIMash came to the conclusion that this was caused by external influence), continue to shield themselves in every possible way (demanding an explanation from Astro Digital of the reasons for obtaining insurance and claiming that Dauria's satellites were 1.5 km from the upper stage at the time of the anomaly) the collection of the state commission on the accident, for which Dauria Aerospace spoke, will still be held. This leaves hope that the company will be found not guilty of the accident and stay afloat, and Roskosmos will be able to get launch insurance and calm down on it. Despite all the troubles, the company continues its work: the last news from it was the adoption on December 28, 2017 of the project of the geostationary platform "ATOM" weighing about a ton, flight tests of which are planned for 2020-2022. After these tests, the company should start building 2 commercial versions of the satellite for an Indian customer (in total, the company is currently preparing 6 satellites for orders totaling $ 300 million).

The firm was founded in January 2014, received on June 25 the status of a resident of the Skolkovo Foundation and a grant of 5 million rubles. Representatives of the Wargaming company became the first investor of the firm. et Vyacheslav Makarov and Sergey Burkatovsky (the latter also invested 5 or 10 million rubles for a 10% stake in the project). The company was going to build a Taimyr launch vehicle by 2020, designed to carry loads of 10-180 kg. The total cost of the project was estimated at $ 8.5 million. Due to the fact that the company did not manage to agree with the Moscow Aviation Institute or other organizations on the use of their stands for testing engines, the test of the first rocket engine in Russia created by a private company was carried out on December 14, 2016 in the industrial zone of Moscow on a site not equipped for these purposes.

Engine test video

The test ended at the 4th second with the destruction of the engine (the alleged reason is the ingress of catalyst particles into the combustion chamber and the subsequent destruction of the nozzles), one of the flying fragments injured the wrist of a person who was not involved in the tests, who was in the back room of the neighboring area ... The issue of compensation for damage to health was resolved out of court.In this regard, the cost of the project was revised up to 13 million euros, and the implementation time was attributed to 2023. Also, due to technical difficulties, it was necessary to abandon carbon-fiber tanks in favor of aluminum ones, which forced the addition of a third stage to the rocket and reduce the payload to 80 kg. The cost of launching the rocket is estimated at $ 4.5 million (a similar project for the Electron rocket from Rocket Lab offers a launch of 150-225 kg for $ 5.7 million, excluding wholesale discounts). In addition, the company has projects for other light-class missiles Aldan, Adler, rockets on liquefied gas Aniva, the Blizzard aerospace system and even a project for a single-stage Zeya return carrier. In the course of the transaction completed on November 8, 2017, the company became part of the Galaktika group of companies. According to the terms of the agreement, 150 million rubles will be invested in Lin Industrial, but judging by the fact that since that moment only one LRE camera has been printed on a 3D printer, and the employees have to work from home to save money on the office - in financial terms, Lin has business Industrial continues to go badly. It also became known that the former director of the company is going to immigrate to the United States and create his own rocket startup there.

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