In 2009, the Energia rocket and space corporation received an order to conduct development work on the topic "A promising new generation transport ship"; subsequently, this project was called the Federation. Work has been going on for more than ten years, but the spacecraft is still not ready, although the latter news disposed to moderate optimism.
Long and expensive
In the first years of work on the future “Federation” (the name has been used since 2016), they went at a fairly high pace and allowed us to make the most daring forecasts. At that time it was believed that flight tests, and then the operation of the ship, could begin at the end of the tenth years. Nevertheless, by the middle of the decade, the postponements of the dates and changes in the budget began, and criticism sounded.
Already in 2011-13. RSC Energia and subcontractors completed the bulk of the design work, and also showed the public several models of the future ship. Then began the production and testing of individual components. One of the most interesting stages of work was the production and testing of a carbon fiber case for the command compartment.
Since 2016, news has regularly been received about the production and testing of certain components. Preparations began for the construction of an experimental ship for ground and flight tests. Work was carried out on spacesuits and crew seats, etc.
Significant problems have occurred with the launch vehicle. At the early stages, the Rus-M product was considered as such, but then such a project was closed. Subsequently, several more media options were explored until a number of Angara family projects were selected. A specific missile will be selected based on the parameters of the mission.
However, despite certain successes, the general state of the project did not cause much optimism. There were numerous organizational and technical problems that led to schedule adjustments. This led to a change in budget. By the mid-tenths, it became clear that flight tests and manned launches would begin no earlier than the early twenties.
Becomes a cause for criticism and the high cost of the project. So, according to current plans, from 2016 to 2025, 57,5 billion rubles will be spent on the “Federation”. In the past, concerns were expressed about the impossibility of successfully completing the project while maintaining the existing negative trends.
The schedule of work on the topic "Federation" was repeatedly adjusted, and the deadlines for the implementation of certain stages were shifted exclusively to the right. As a result, the current plans for the project differ markedly from those previously called. In particular, the ship did not make a single flight until the beginning of the twenties - it simply did not have time to build it by this time.
According to last year's reports, in 2020 the construction of the first model of the “Federation”, which will then be used in ground tests, should be completed. Flight tests without crew will be held in 2023; the first automatic flight to the ISS - in 2024. A year later, the Federation will fly with astronauts on board. One of the main goals of the project is to fly to the moon. This phase is planned to begin in 2027 with an unmanned flight. The astronauts landing is expected in 2031.
Some of the well-known plans may still remain in doubt, while others look quite realistic. Recent news has given rise to cautious optimism - RSC Energia has already begun construction of the first ships, and they will be ready in the near future. However, the ROC “Federation” is again faced with technical and other problems that could hit both the timing and the budgets.
A year ago, in May 2019, it became known about the beginning of the construction of a new ship. The process begins with the manufacture of enclosures for the aggregate compartment and the returned apparatus. The customer of the products is RSC Energia, the contractor is Samara Plant Arkonik-SMZ.
According to domestic media, it was a new version of the "Federation". Unlike the previously demonstrated developments, the real ship should have aluminum hulls. The use of carbon fiber, as in the previously demonstrated mock-ups, was abandoned for organizational and technological reasons.
In September 2019, Roscosmos announced that the finished ships of the Federation project would receive a new name - the Eagle, in honor of the first Russian frigate. Soon RSC Energia announced the construction of two ships of a new type. The first is intended for testing and testing critical phases of flight; it will be launched in 2023. A year later, a second reusable spacecraft will be sent to space. It is he who will later send to the ISS and into outer space.
However, in December, negative news reappeared. Domestic media learned that the "Eagle" does not meet part of the technical requirements. The ship in the "lunar" configuration weighs 22 343 kg, 2,3 tons more than the specified limit. Overweight is observed on a number of basic systems and components of the ship. In this regard, measures have been taken to reduce the mass, but even after that it is 21,3 tons, i.e. more than acceptable.
A few days later, the media reported that RSC Energia requested Roscosmos additional funding in the amount of 18 billion rubles. to complete work on the "Eagles". It was planned to spend these funds on the completion of all the main ship systems, including critical ones. Soon this information was commented by the head of Roskosmos Dmitry Rogozin. He specified that additional funds will be spent on infrastructure at the Vostochny spaceport.
Then came another negative piece of news. It turned out that the resource "Eagle" for the flight to the moon below the required. In accordance with the terms of reference, the ship must complete 10 flights. According to the calculations of RSC Energia, in fact, it will be able to make no more than three. In this case, 10 flights into the Earth’s orbit are possible.
On May 5, 2020, the general designer of the manned programs of RSC Energia Evgeni Mikrin passed away. He was in charge of several projects, including promising "Federation". A change in program leadership can lead to some organizational consequences, even the most serious and negative ones. However, it is not yet clear how exactly these events will affect the work on the Eagle / Federation.
Optimism vs. Pessimism
In general, a rather difficult situation has been observed around the ROC “Federation” for quite some time. The project was not easy in all respects, which repeatedly led to a review of the design, cost and timing of completion of certain stages. In addition, all these changes often led to the most pessimistic assessments - although the project developers and other responsible persons continued to be optimistic.
In recent months, reasons for positive ratings have reappeared. After many years of waiting, despite all the difficulties, RSC Energia and its subcontractors began construction of two new type of spacecraft at once. Work on at least one of them will be completed in the near future, which will allow us to begin new long-awaited events.
However, all subsequent events will take several more years, and the flight of the “Eagle” in automatic mode will only be possible in 2024. The manned launch will take place even later. To obtain such results from the space industry, it is necessary to continue to work and solve the tasks in time. If any problems arise at new stages, the next schedule changes are possible.
However, the situation is gradually changing. The project "Federation" was able to bring to the construction of equipment. This suggests that the work is not abandoned, and in the future it will be possible to obtain the desired result. But the actual terms of manned flights to orbit and to the moon, as well as the total cost of the program, remain in question. Will the current cautious optimism grow into something more? ..