It must be done wisely "
Well, since our president personally chaired a meeting on the development of the space industry, we can safely conclude that everything there is more than sad. However, this is not a secret only for very patriotic gentlemen in the style of "Yes, we will show them all!"
Obviously, Putin is not so optimistic; here is enough of his phrase that it is necessary to intelligently set Russia's priorities in this area.
Vladimir Vladimirovich knows how to say so that you think for a long time what it means. And what does it mean - with the mind? Doesn't this mean that until now everything has been done in the space industry ...?
It looks like it.
Let me quote Putin.
“Our priorities are known - it is the improvement of our own space infrastructure, the build-up and qualitative improvement of the orbital constellation of spacecraft, the rhythmic continuation of manned programs, the creation of a promising line of rocket complexes. In general, an increase in the share of innovative space technology, products and services. "
Especially the service, right? After all, let's look at the situation soberly and honestly: nobody kicked Russia out of the space services market. Themselves in fact refused.
More precisely, they did not refuse, but ... just someone at Roscosmos, not a very professional, not very “smart” (this is according to Putin), decided that “it will do just that”. And the whole world will obediently stand in line for launching with the help of Russian (in fact, still Soviet) carrier rockets, and even without bargaining.
What was there about the trampoline, remember?
The world did not stand still, does not and will not stand. Putin understands this. But, alas, he has no opportunity to plug all the holes in the Russian state management of professionals. And therefore, a special meeting on the problems of the domestic space industry, which (industry) is 90% and consists of problems, I think, turned out to be very sad.
We are not just losing our positions in space exploration, we have lost them. As well as lost their earnings, and, moreover, very considerable. And, in theory, Roscosmos should have long ago thought about how to respond to the Americans and others, except for Rogozin's Twitter. Because Twitter is, of course, good, but the space industry is built not only by statements on social networks. More precisely, everyone except social networks.
And what, apart from Rogozin's threatening statements, do we have in the real present? What breakthrough steps could our space developers answer to Elon Musk?
To begin with, it is worth looking at the situation as a whole.
And to start from the moment the event happened that significantly changed the market for commercial launches. This, as you understand, is the creation and successful testing of the return stages of launch vehicles. Not Russian.
The "answer" in quotation marks from the Russian side was the funeral of the cheapest Zenit launch vehicle. With "Zenith" in general, a separate detective история, to which we will return shortly.
But in short, the Russian-American-Ukrainian enterprise Sea Launch, in which Boeing, RSC Energia, Yuzhmash and Yuzhnoye design bureau have invested, will build a sea spaceport in order to launch rockets from there.
The idea was just great, if not for a number of fundamental mistakes in financial calculations. The joint venture made several dozen successful launches in 2009 and ... nothing actually worked. The launches were stopped, and businessmen were mired in showdowns on the topic of "who is to blame and what to do with him."
As a result, Sea Launch was bought out and transferred to S7 Space in order to operate the floating cosmodrome for the benefit of Russia.
That is, as usual - nothing new, an old cosmodrome, an old rocket, new labels - and it's in the bag.
But we could not agree with the Ukrainians about Zenits. And "Sea Launch" was designed specifically for them. No rockets, no launches. From Roscosmos there was a fountain of ideas for using the Soyuz and Angara launch vehicles, but where is that Angara, but where is the Soyuz ...
Let me remind you that the first launch of the Soyuz took place on November 28, 1966.
Yes, of course, there were modernizations, but Soyuz has two very big drawbacks: it is an expensive launch vehicle, and most importantly, it takes a very long time to assemble. Alas. And these two disadvantages simply negate all the advantages, the main of which is simply excellent reliability.
Price per kilo
And then it makes sense to see "what is how much."
LV "Zenith": 3 - 500 dollars per 4 kg of cargo in orbit.
LV "Soyuz-2": 3 - 500 dollars per 10 kg of cargo, depending on the complexity.
Launch vehicle "Rokot" (RS-18): 15 dollars per 000 kg.
LV "Proton": $ 2 per 700 kg.
It is not for nothing that Proton stands alone. Alas, there is no place for this rocket either on the launch pad. And the point is not even that this rocket has been assembled all over Russia for a very long time, but that Proton has completely discredited itself in terms of reliability.
So, "Proton", "Union" and "Zenith" are real in the past, "Rokot" and "Angara" - somewhere in the unreal future. Alternatively, perhaps.
And what remains?
And Musk remains.
Elon Musk, whom we all made fun of, humored with such pleasure, this Musk proved that it is possible to put equipment into space both cheaper and much faster. Without waiting a year and a half in the queue for launch, and even with the real possibility of scattering cargo in the Middle Space.
SpaceX sets a price of $ 2 per kilogram for launch into low reference orbit and beats both Roscosmos and the European Space Agency. And in some projects, such as seeding the orbit with satellites of the Starlink project, when the launch of satellites can be called massive (700 satellites to date), the cost of putting 893 kg into low orbit turned out to be below 1 dollars.
Who is less?
Yes, many of us are counting on the fact that a new “miracle” is about to appear.weapon”That will sweep Musk out of the arena of commercial launches. Yes, we have some projects that may be able to change the situation as a whole. And this is not an "evergreen" Angara. This is a gas-fired "Cupid".
In general, "Amur" was born in Samara, in the bowels of the RCC "Progress", the contests seem to have won the Khrunichev State Research and Production Center named after Khrunichev and the private KB "Kosmokurs", but you know that in our country this does not mean anything at all.
The rocket runs on methane-oxygen steam, that is, it does not pollute the atmosphere. Cheap. Cheaper than "Falcon" is almost three times. So they say "sources close to ...". Displays, however, less cargo, 9-12 tons against almost 16 for the "Falcon". The average is a launch vehicle, its weight is less than that of the American one (360 tons versus 550), the rest can be calculated, but that's not even the point. And the fact that a real alternative and replacement for missiles from the 60s can be obtained.
"Sources" again claim that the premiere of "Cupid" will take place in 2026. If nothing like that happens.
We honestly admit that anything can happen here, so 6 years is not yet God knows how long.
But it is worth taking for granted that the guys and gentlemen from SpaceX did not sit still (unlike ours), and if we start from the first successful flight of Falcon (that is, 2006), then their head start is more than impressive. More than.
But the historical exercise "Catch up and overtake" is our entertainment. However, what was simple during the Soviet Union, forgive me, in today's Russia can only be seen in a dream. In a very pleasant dream.
Exactly where the lunar base, interplanetary spaceships and orbital stations are ... But what is there, here it would be to master a reusable rocket - it would be nice.
I vow and vote with both hands for Russia to remain (if it can) a space cab. Then, when money from the outside comes to the cashier of the space industry, there is at least a small, but a chance that not everything will be stolen. And as a result, we will receive not a half-spaceport of the Vostochny type, but a whole spaceport. Or an interplanetary program.
But for this, starts must get cheaper.
Reusable launch vehicles, new, more advanced ships, also reusable - that's the "tomorrow" of astronautics.
And we, forgive me, are all trying to make the long-dead nag of Soviet cosmonautics jump. Yes, everything, she died, just do not live so much. Soyuz and Proton are from the 60s of the last century, Zenit is younger, but from the 70s. The last century, in general.
And what about us in terms of reusability? And everything is the same. Yes, the reusable accelerator MRU "Baikal" was developed in due time, its mock-up (only mock-up) was even taken to the salon in Le Bourget in 2001, shouted to the whole world that here ... And that's all. And they forgot.
He just wasn't needed. Not needed at all. "Shuttles" then flew normally, and our "Soyuz" and even more so. And "Protons" did not confuse up and down. So more technologically advanced and (possibly) less expensive missiles were simply not needed. It is logical.
When the time came, they remembered about the developments on "Baikal", which were based on the work on "Buran". Not so long ago, in September of this year, the leadership of the Advanced Research Fund, which is directly controlled by the Government of the Russian Federation, made a statement that the first prototype of the Krylo-SV reversible upper stage will make its first test flight at the end of 2021.
Don't wait long. But there is nothing special to wait, because if this is the next step from the same "Baikal" (and 99% that this is exactly what it is, otherwise where does the speed come from?), Then alas, again the same 20th century and the Soviet legacy.
But let's not get bogged down in criticism, it is quite possible that the Wing modular system is what will allow in the future to create a reusable system for delivering people and cargo both to orbit and to other objects of the solar system.
And if there is a new system, accordingly, the new ship should become its object of application of forces. Still, we admit that the Soyuz lost to Musk's brainchild in terms of capacity.
A new ship ... Possible prospects for the transformation of the Zarya project into the Federation, and then into the Eagle ... Well, "this music will be eternal." The names change, the essence remains the same. Development has been going on for more than 11 years, but they have not advanced further than layouts.
The Argo truck is at about the same model level. So here you just need to wait for at least some results and draw conclusions from this. So far, apart from loud statements, nothing. So really, "when it flies, then we'll talk."
Unfortunately, a large bunch of beautiful words and promises more and more often results in a complete “nothing”. Alas, this is our reality. Mr. Rogozin can tell whatever he pleases, from an independent flight to the Moon and the construction of a lunar station to an independent flight to Venus.
Today there are a lot of projects and projects, but in fact Russia is losing even the role of a space cab.
But besides scientific work, there is also a military component. We need communication satellites, observers, repeaters and so on. We need a grid to control the same missiles, UAVs and submarines. But if you can cope with military orders at the very least, then with the rest ...
Russia's loss of its place in space transportation is sad. The money that previously allowed, in theory, to at least somehow engage in development, will now work for Musk. And they will work well, because during the era of irreplaceable "Unions" we have not been able to create anything new. It is difficult to say where the amounts that were poured in by those who flew on our ships went, but they went somewhere. And the result is not visible.
Perhaps, instead of the Roskosmos center in Moscow, something else needs to be built?
The most negative thing is that we have absolutely no time to react. I understand why Putin calls for the open use of brains. That is why: there is really no time.
If last year Russia was still in second place in the world after China with 22 successful launches (21,6% of the market), then this year it is already the third with 12 launches (14,1%).
How much time do we have? Different experts give different numbers. Pessimists say no more than 5 years. This is completely sad, because in 5 years a cheap medium is unlikely to appear, I don't even want to talk about the rest.
Optimists stop at 10 years. And here I would like to doubt that Musk and the company will give us so much.
The space transportation market is a very fat piece. And a successful businessman who grabbed his teeth with his teeth won't let him go just like that. And Elon Musk is a very successful businessman.
Yes, we have a small chance to keep our place at the table and even regain what we lost. But for this, as Putin said, it is really necessary to take up and approach wisely the implementation of programs for the development of new promising space technology.
But with this, there can be very big problems.