The light of distant planets: how the world competition for space works

The light of distant planets: how the world competition for space works

On April 12, Russia and the world celebrate Cosmonautics Day, when Yuri Gagarin made the first manned flight into space. For Russia, the space industry remains strategically important. This is one of the few industries where Russia maintains a global advantage, and our rocket engines are in high demand in the United States. Nevertheless, Roskosmos is constantly shaken by scandals, primarily of a corruption nature. What is our potential to maintain the position of the world leader in the space industry, what needs to be reformed in the domestic cosmonautics, will Dmitry Rogozin remain at the head of Roscosmos, and what does Ilona Mask's SpaceX company threaten us with? These and other questions were answered by Vitaly Egorov, founder of the Open Space community, popularizer of cosmonautics, blogger Zelenyikot, former employee of a private space company.

"The West has actively helped to preserve our astronautics, not to ditch it"

- Can we say that there is stagnation in astronautics all over the world? In the 90s, there was a slowdown in astronautics due to the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Will this industry continue to grow rapidly?

- There were indeed times when the Soviet Union made one hundred launches a year, two missiles a week. Today the whole world launches such a number, and then one country. Then, from the beginning of the 90s, the industry began to decline. But since the mid-2000s, interest in astronautics began to grow. New states appeared that began to invest in the development of this industry, for example, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Australia, New Zealand. Now they are preparing to become space. That is, astronautics is gradually gaining momentum, a new era of its rapid development begins. We will not soon reach the rates of the 50-60s, but, comparing with the decline of the 90s and 2000s, today a certain revenge of cosmonautics is obvious. New ships for manned flights are being created, the idea of ​​a man's flight to the moon has been actualized. All this suggests that cosmonautics has begun to develop more actively than 10 years ago.

- How would you assess the state of the Russian cosmonautics today? Where did this industry come after the disappearance of the Soviet Union?

- The main achievement of our astronautics is that many of the competencies of the Soviet period have been preserved. At least this applies to key positions, such as the production of rocketry, communications spacecraft and earth remote sensing satellites. In many ways, with rare exceptions, we inherited all of this from the Soviet period: either this is the result of evolutionary development, or a direct reproduction of what was then.

Next, we still maintain our international expansion. Post-Soviet cosmonautics turned out to be in demand in the international space business. And many foreign commercial agencies have taken advantage of the capabilities of the Russian cosmonautics.

But there are also negative aspects. For example, the direction of hydrogen engines was lost. Rocket "Energia" today is not reproducible by the Russian cosmonautics. The space shuttle Buran is also impossible to recreate today. It will be easier to create a new ship from scratch. Seeing what is happening with the non-fulfillment of the 2006–2015 federal space program, it can be stated that Russia has lost the ability to create modules for long-term orbital stations. According to the plan, they were to be installed on the ISS by 2012. But they still lie on the ground in a half-disassembled state. Today this is a serious failure, which Roscosmos is not ready to admit.

In addition, in the Soviet Union, the space industry worked in a system of cooperation, everything was interconnected. Today this system has been lost, if only because many of its elements ended up in other states. There was something in the Baltics, a lot of things were in Ukraine. And today these units are unable to participate in Russian cosmonautics, you have to either look for a replacement, or simply abandon these technologies. For example, the Soyuz-FG rocket, which is used to launch the cosmonauts, contains Ukrainian components. It is discontinued today.

- Does the competition between Russian and Western astronautics continue today, as during the Cold War? And what are the advantages of Russian cosmonautics over Western ones?

Why is Elon Musk more effective than Roskosmos and where is astronautics heading? Interview

On Monday it became known that Roskosmos will create a reusable launch vehicle to ensure Russia's competitiveness in the space industry. So far, this is only in the plans. What space developments are used by Russia's competitors - in our material.

Before we start talking about the countries that play a leading role in the current exploration of outer space and their technologies, let's talk a little about the plans of Roscosmos. This department has already been marked by a rather strange planning. So, domestic "space scientists" were already going to create a base on the Moon by 2030 and almost organize a manned flight to Mars. The economic crisis that broke out in Russia had an impact on the ideas of Roscosmos. Nobody says more about plans for the exploration of the Moon, only a manned flight to the Earth's satellite in 2035 remained in the tasks, and Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian government Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the space industry, returned to more realistic proposals: the creation of a new launch vehicle.


What does our space industry currently have in this regard? Now in Russia there are three types of launch vehicles, each of which is quite actively used. Recently, Proton-class launch vehicles have been taking the lead. This family is upgraded almost continuously. One of the most popular modifications is Proton-M. The first launch of this rocket was made on April 7, 2001 - the carrier rocket was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome and launched the Ekran M-4 communications satellite into orbit.

First launch: April 7, 2001. The communication satellite "Ekran M-4" was launched into orbit.

Last launch: January 30, 2016. A European communications satellite was launched into orbit.

Features: GLONASS satellites are launched with the help of Protons.

In the last two years, most of the satellite launches have been carried out with the help of Protons. And in second place is Soyuz. Or, to be precise, Soyuz-2 and its numerous modifications. Such a rocket made its first flight into space in 2004.

First launch: 2004. A European meteorological satellite was launched into orbit.

Features: the rocket with the largest number of modifications from the existing series

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