It is easier for Soyuz to fly through the eye of a needle than to calmly talk on the Internet about the state of affairs in Russian astronautics. The reason is simple - too many succumb to the temptation of black-and-white thinking, and extreme positions clash in discussions. Some believe that NASA is disappearing without Russian engines and places on manned spacecraft, while others are sure that Roskosmos has long been eating up the last rocket under the bridge without salt. Reality is somewhere in between these extremes, but discussions usually turn into swearing instead of searching for the truth. Understanding these risks, let's try to talk briefly about the state of the Russian cosmonautics.
For thirteen years in a row, Russia has been the leader in the number of space launches. But in 2016 we were overtaken by the United States and - for the first time - by China. In 2017, one private company SpaceX has a chance to overtake Russia in the number of launches. Our leadership in this dimension was a source of pride, and its loss was cause for frustration. How justified is it?
The large number of Russian launches in recent years has several reasons at once. Firstly, applied satellite constellations were deployed - GLONASS for navigation, Express, Yamal for communications, Resurs for remote sensing of the Earth, military satellites. Secondly, foreign spacecraft were actively launched under commercial contracts.
The specially created company ILS offered favorable prices for Protons, and since 1996 there have already been 98 launches into the most commercially demanded geostationary orbit. Thirdly, according to the manned program, 4 Soyuz with cosmonauts and 4–5 cargo Progress launches every year, this is already at least 8 launches a year.
GLONASS is now deployed and requires fewer launches to maintain constellation. With commercial contracts, the situation worsened: the private company SpaceX entered the launch services market, competing with ILS prices. In 2016, the Proton accident did not lead to a loss of payload, the satellite was successfully launched into the target orbit, but the investigation of the incident was superimposed on the detection of improper solder in the engines, and as a result, the Proton did not fly for almost a year. Even in the manned program, one cargo "Progress" was removed, which is why the Russian crew of the ISS had to be reduced from 3 people to 2.
Paradoxically, the reduction in launches is a consequence of one good reason. In the 1980s, the USSR made hundreds of launches in the region a year, but its Strela communication satellites could operate in orbit for only six months, and the Zenith reconnaissance satellites - only two weeks.
The process of replacement of launch vehicles is also underway. The old "Cosmos" and "Cyclone" do not fly any more, conversion "Dnepr" is also gradually ending their careers. And if the new light Soyuz-2. in ", which first flew at the end of 2013, in June 2017 launched for the third time, then the" Angara "business is less successful. After two test launches in 2014, it still hasn't started flying with real satellites. The point is not only to eliminate the inevitable remarks after the first - albeit successful - launches. The Khrunichev Center, which produces Angara, is shifting missile production to Omsk and is cutting space in Moscow by 80%. Against the background of these perturbations, the delay in serial production, alas, is natural.
It is widely believed that our missiles are constantly falling. But statistics do not confirm this. If you look at the relative accident rate (the number of accidents divided by the number of rockets), you can see that the indicators of the Russian cosmonautics are at a level comparable to that of other countries.
In addition to the European Space Agency, which has an almost zero accident rate (and the only incident in 2014 was associated with the abnormal operation of the Russian Fregat unit - satellites were launched into an off-design orbit, but are successfully operated), Russia, the United States and China show approximately the same accident rate.
Over the past 28 years, Roskosmos has been losing ground in world cosmonautics. Many projects created back in the USSR were closed: the Mir orbital station, the Energia-Buran project, the reusable stages of the Energia-2 project. According to the author of the article, this is due to the poor, not technical, management of the state corporation. Since 2011, the leapfrog of top managers in the industry has received a monstrous trend! For 9 years, Roskosmos has been headed by 4 people, with different vectors of development and projects for the implementation of the restoration of the industry. In the absence of technical personnel from the top management of Roskosmos, leading specialists from the country's backbone enterprises leave the industry for private companies: KB Khrunichev, NPO Energia, KB Khimavtomatika and others. Low-quality execution of commercial orders leads to the emergence and growth of debts. A striking example in both cases is NPO Energia (material in preparation). But the leadership of Roskosmos carries out such expensive, unreasonable and illogical actions that one can only be surprised! The spirit of the article is clear, I hope you read it to the end! For readers who do not have time, I suggest watching the video. A small plot in a short time will convey 70% of what is written in this article:
Well, I'll continue with the historical background! before judging the current specialists, let's see who was in charge of Roscosmos back in the Soviet years!
Dmitry Fedorovich Ustinov is a technician by education, he went through all the stages from a locksmith to the Minister of Defense. He made a huge contribution to the formation of rocketry in the USSR, assembled an ideal team headed by Korolev. Implemented projects:
Rodion Yakovlevich Malinovsky - a brilliant commander paid special attention to the education of his subordinates, was an excellent organizer. It was these qualities that helped him to bring the projects begun by Ustinov to the end and to support the Korolev team. Made a huge contribution to the implementation of the following projects:
Sergey Aleksandrovich Afanasyev graduated with honors from the Moscow Higher Technical School in 1941. Bauman. A technician in thinking and education, highly regarded in academia. He was an excellent organizer and an outstanding engineer. During the years of his leadership of Roscosmos, he systematized and centralized the industry's enterprises and implemented defense projects:
Oleg Dmitrievich Baklanov - Doctor of Technical Sciences. He worked his way up from an installer to a plant director, and was appointed in 1972. He was in charge of the industry from 1983 to 1988. Under Oleg Dmitrievich, two major projects were implemented: