For many decades, the domestic space industry has been a national pride, but in recent years it has been shaken by scandals. Missiles and spacecraft fall, they start up, and then often close criminal cases against officials of all ranks, change the heads of enterprises and the main specialized agency - Roskosmos.
The domestic media only has time to publish revealing materials about the once glorious astronautics, and it seems that nothing new is happening in the industry except scandals. Of the last News, which attracted the attention of specialists and the public, the appointment of Yuri Lonchakov, the acting head of the Cosmonaut Training Center (CPC), stands out. In September last year, he took a training course as part of the crew of the International Space Station (ISS), but unexpectedly left the cosmonaut corps.
“For several months already, some conflict between some members of the cosmonaut corps and the head of the CPC is a conflict hidden from prying eyes”
According to the press service of Roskosmos, the relevant order appointing an adviser to the head of the space department, Lonchakov and. about. The head of the CPC is signed on 31 March 2014 of the year. Document number - 147. Roskosmos immediately clarified that according to labor legislation, before the official dismissal of the head of the CPC Sergey Krikalev, Hero of the USSR and Russia, the world record holder for the total duration of his stay in space, the new head of the center will not be appointed. U Krikalev recently ended a five-year contract and he is on a three-month vacation.
Lonchakov's return to the Training Center is interesting primarily in the background. For several months already, some conflict between some members of the cosmonaut corps and the head of the CPC has been a conflict hidden from prying eyes, and Krykalev went on a long vacation because of the general tense situation in the team. With the help of some media, the name of one of the most famous astronauts in Russia and the world has been tainted.
All means are good
The conflict began with a legal conflict that arose after the forced dismissal from military service of a significant part of the cosmonaut corps - military pilots. The decision to create a single detachment, without division into military and civilian ones, as before, led to many problems, some of which could not be resolved due to the lack of precedent. One of these stumbling blocks became the premiums for classiness, which the former military pilots have stopped receiving since January 2013.
Without waiting for explanations on how to solve the problem from Roskosmos, the Ministry of Labor, the Prosecutor's Office and other instances, the leadership of the CPC offered a civilized way out to the head of the detachment Sergey Volkov - to sue and create a legal precedent allowing to pay all the cosmonauts in full in the future. The CPC is a federal budget institution, that is, it receives an annual subsidy, and all cash flows are under strict state control, therefore, the center’s leadership needed a legal basis (in this case, a court decision) to pay all due allowances.
However, the process of resolving a legal problem unexpectedly escalated into a lawsuit for the recovery of a whole group of cosmonauts from the center of wage arrears. As it turned out later, this lawsuit was only the first step in the operation to change the leadership of the center, which ended with the appointment of Yuri Lonchakov. Schelkovsky city court 4 of October 2013 of the year took the side of the plaintiffs and ordered to give all the allowances to former military pilots for class. And on October 18, the head of the CPC issued an order for the full recalculation of the total allowance for 2013 a year and, having assembled a detachment, said that in the coming days everyone would receive the missing money. It seemed the conflict was over. But on October 21, a letter signed by 17 cosmonauts, and not only former military men, who directly accused Krikalev, his deputies and chief accountant of misappropriating state funds allocated for the detachment’s salary, came to the Federal Service for Financial and Budget Supervision (Rosfinnadzor). Copies of the letter were sent to Roskosmos, the Ministry of Finance, the government apparatus and even the administration of the President of Russia.
Serious inspections by the Ministry of Labor and Rosfinnadzor, conducted at the end of October on 2013 and in January-February on 2014, became a reaction to the astronauts' complaint. However, the facts stated in the letter were not confirmed, no violations were identified. The act of the State Labor Inspectorate for the Moscow Region reads: “At the time of the inspection, it was established that the cosmonauts set an extra charge for classwork by order of the 18 center’s headquarters in October 2013 and recalculated wages”. Rosfinnadzor reported: “Verification of the reasonableness of the establishment and payment of official salaries to the head of the Federal State Budgetary Institution Scientific Research Testing Center for Cosmonaut Training for them. Yu. A. Gagarin ”, his deputies, chief accountant of violations was not established. Awards and other incentive payments from subsidies in 2012 – 2013 to the head of the FSBI “Research and Testing Center for the Training of Cosmonauts. Yu. A. Gagarin ", the deputies of the chief and the chief accountant were not implemented."
Having received these documents, Krikalev, his deputies and the chief accountant could sue the offenders to court for defamation, however, they chose not to escalate the situation in the detachment, but to seek compromises. But they did not find understanding of their colleagues. One of the active fighters with the leadership of the CPC, Sergey Zaletin, in an interview with the media said that the initiative group delivered an ultimatum to the head of Roscosmos, Oleg Ostapenko: if Krikalev is not removed, the manned program will fail. This hard condition was later fulfilled.
In late February, when rumors of the resignation of the head of the CPC appeared, Ostapenko told reporters: “No one is going to remove Krikalev from his post. In this situation, everything will depend on it. If he wants to continue working, it will work. We didn’t consider the replacement of the head of the CPC at all. ” A few days later, 3 in March, believing the head of Roskosmos, Krikalev applied for a contract extension, but in response he heard a proposal for an alleged increase - to head a new, not yet existing structure like the American Johnson Center, which would more closely link the government and industry, uniting the CPC, Mission Control Center (MCC) and a group of design engineers. The new structure should be able to set the task of industry, accept the results and use them in the interests of the state.
At the end of March, Ostapenko stated: “Sergey Krikalev will go on increasing. He will be engaged in the development strategy of a manned program. What he does in the CPC at this stage will be an integral part of his future work. Together with the Russian Academy of Sciences, we are now preparing a whole program in this area. Sergey Konstantinovich was offered to engage in this strategy. ” The head of Roskosmos immediately clarified that Krikalev would take up the project, simultaneously occupying the post of first deputy head scientific institute of the space industry - FSUE “TsNIImash”.
At first glance, this proposal is not only a compromise, but also beneficial to all actors. An experienced cosmonaut will do what he has long wanted and said in various interviews: "The center should deal with the tasks of strategic planning, the development of manned programs, and communication with the government." “We have a body that selects scientific programs, but no one is engaged in the implementation and optimization of human activity aboard a space station. The work on board the station is partly the responsibility of the CPC, part of the PMU, partly of the RSC Energia, partly scientists, but there is no integrating element. It should be. And the goal of such a center should be in the performance of the state task, ”the cosmonaut is convinced.
With all the attractiveness of the idea, the practice may be different. Alone, without the support of ministers and industry leaders, without the support of human and material resources, such a project is incredibly difficult to implement. And nobody promised Krikalev resources. Moreover, the current acting general director of TsNIImash Alexander Milkovsky, specialist in aviation engines, which had previously been run by the 4th Central Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation for a short time, even if they successfully passed the competition and were officially approved for the post of director general of the leading scientific institute of the space industry, are unlikely to be able to provide substantial support in the implementation of ambitious plans for the development of Russian manned astronautics.
Many industry experts are skeptical of the new appointment of Krikalev, believing that the well-known astronaut was simply sent into an honorary exile, thrusting a beautiful toy in the form of an unrealizable idea. And one of the veterans of the space industry commented: “If such people as Krikalev are not needed by our space program, then they need to go to the USA to Elon Mask and create the cosmonautics of the future there, because space is the property of all humanity!”
As noted above, according to the law, no one has the right to officially dismiss Krikalev and appoint another head of the CPC before his return from vacation. But he did not have time to leave on the farm of one of his full-time deputies, as the head of Roscosmos, Oleg Ostapenko, appointed his adviser Yuri Lonchakov as deputy head and at the same time acting head of the CPC.
This appointment caused undisguised joy in the camp of opponents of Krikalev, although Lonchakov did not sign the “letter of 17-ti” and did not speak openly at all. The fact is that a significant part of the astronauts put their signatures under the letter to the Federal Financial Monitoring Service, actually taking a wait-and-see position. And some openly sided with the head of the CPC, refused to sign and were obstructed by their colleagues.
Non-payment of allowances is the formal cause of the conflict, but everything is much more serious. As one of the specialists in the space industry, who is well acquainted with the situation in the detachment, said that those who categorically disagree with the rigid discipline he had introduced, which assumed a responsible attitude to exercises and trainings, spoke out against Krikalev. The requirements extended to all astronauts, especially those who had already been approved in the international crews of the ISS and were preparing for the flight. In addition, the head of the CPC openly condemned colleagues who used their stay in the detachment as a stepping stone for further political or business career.
For example, Maxim Suraev was approved for the ISS crew as the commander of the Soyuz TMA-09М, which was scheduled to launch in the 2013 year. But still at the end of 2011, he announced his intention to run for election to the State Duma. He had to be urgently replaced in the crew by Fedor Yurchikhin. Suraev did not go to the deputies, he returned to the detachment, but he hasn’t yet completed the second flight.
In July, 2012 was removed from preparations for the flight by Dmitry Kondratyev, who was supposed to go in the autumn of 2014, on the ISS, together with the only woman in the Russian squad, Elena Serova and American Barry Wilmore. Alexander Samokutyaev became the changeman. According to media reports, Kondratyev was waiting for his first flight 13 years, flew into space once, received the star of the Hero of Russia and went into the business structure for good money. The astronauts' salary at that time really left much to be desired. By the way, Kondratyev also signed the “letter of 17-ty,” although by that time he had left the squad.
The current third has become detached. about. Head of the CPC Yuri Lonchakov. In mid-September last year, he unexpectedly for many left the detachment, although he was already preparing to fly to the ISS in 2015 as the commander of the crew of the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft. Again I had to urgently look for a replacement, and the choice fell on the most experienced Gennady Padalka.
It was officially announced that by order of the head of the CPC, the pilot-cosmonaut of the Russian Federation, Colonel Yuri Lonchakov, was relieved of the post of instructor-cosmonaut-tester of the 2 class and dismissed from the squadron at his own request due to his transfer to a new job. But there were persistent rumors in the industry that he left because of a conflict with Krikalev and that it was Lonchakov who was the inspiration for the actions against the head of the CPC.
Less than a month after the dismissal of Yuri Lonchakov, Oleg Ostapenko became the head of Roskosmos, who immediately invited him to his position as an adviser on manned cosmonautics. As a result, the struggle against the head of the CPC received a new impetus. The result of the change of power, according to experts, could have very tangible consequences for Russian manned space flight.
It would seem that they changed one head of the CPC for another, a working time. Moreover, Krikalev had previously received complaints that he was a poor organizer, did not know how to work with people, and so on. At the same time, the fact that he had done a lot of work on the formation of a civilian CPC on the basis of a center that had previously belonged to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation was overlooked.
However, the unsubstantiated accusations of the head of the center of theft, intrigue, the ultimatum brought against the head of Roskosmos, and other actions became a definite signal for all the workers of the CPC who had been watching the space Maidan for several months. This event has a particularly negative impact on young people, who have not yet flown astronauts and cosmonaut candidates. After all, it turns out that Krikalev maintained strict discipline, motivated members of the detachment to increase their professional level for the sake of successful flights into space, and he was removed thanks to the active work of a group of people, many of whom didn’t show anything special in the profession.
In addition, the fighters with Krikalev serve young people with one more negative example - how to get a high salary in a detachment and all the required benefits without risking their health. The monetary allowance since January 2013 has become relatively decent. According to some information, the salary of candidates for cosmonauts, not counting free food, clothing, medical care, sanitation and resort treatment, etc., now amounts to more than 100 thousand rubles per month. And flying cosmonauts get more than 300 thousands. With the income of modern State Duma deputies and officials can not be compared, but better than it was. 10 years ago, astronauts, waiting for flights for years, received on Earth an amount equivalent to 600 dollars per month, and they could only earn money on an orbital trip. For half a year, 120 – 130 thousand dollars were running. But they sought to fly, prepared for it, waited their chance for years not for money, although nobody canceled financial incentives, but for the chosen profession they had dreamed of all their lives, for the almost forgotten concepts today - vocation and service.
Now, the salary on Earth allows us not to worry too much about their daily bread and the material incentive of a flight into space has practically disappeared. It is not excluded, experts say, that in the coming years there will be cases of failure on flights under various pretexts, because there are already precedents. Indeed, flying into space, risking one's health in conditions of increased radiation, suffering from the leaching of calcium from the body, losing sight and hearing becomes economically unprofitable. You can get up for training in the crew, then jump off under specious pretexts: temporary deterioration of health, family circumstances. Or, following Sergei Zaletin's example, go into politics for a few years and then return to the squad.
Here only the state over these years can lose not only a lot of money invested in the preparation and maintenance of astronauts, but also the manned cosmonautics created by real romantic enthusiasts Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Sergey Korolev, Valentin Glushko and other genius engineers who have not paved the way to space only Russia, but also to all mankind.
PS While the issue was being made up, the press service of Roskosmos reported on 9 on April: “The assistant to the head of Roskosmos, cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov, was appointed head of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (CPC). The head of the Federal Space Agency, Oleg Ostapenko, signed the corresponding order on April 7. ” Thus, at present, the CPC has two chiefs, since, according to the law, no one can dismiss a resident of Krikalev on leave.