In August of this year, Moscow will host for the first time the participants and guests of an important space forum - the 40, the jubilee scientific assembly of the International Space Research Committee (COSPAR). Several thousand scientists from dozens of countries and 13 international organizations - COSPAR participants will gather at the Moscow State University named after MV Lomonosov to discuss topical issues of space exploration.
At the round table "Space Research: New Tasks, New Projects", which was held in the capital in early April, Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), Director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, member of the COSPAR Bureau Lev Zeleny told reporters that out of three thousand reports on the forum, several hundred will be prepared by Russian scientists. The spectrum of interests of domestic space explorers is very wide: from the study of distant galaxies to the exploration of the near-Earth orbit.
Answering a question about promising ambitious plans to be included in the next space program of Russia for 2016 – 2025, Green called first of all the study and exploration of the Moon. It is supposed to begin the lunar program with an in-depth study of the Earth satellite, which in the future should lead to the creation of an inhabited base there that will work in rotational mode. Thus, as the academician noted, a trunk line is being built, where it is possible to merge unmanned and manned cosmonautics, in which we are traditionally strong.
In turn, Denis Lyskov, State Secretary, Deputy Head of the Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos), said that at present Roskosmos together with the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Council on Space of the Russian Academy of Sciences are preparing a space exploration program, which will be an integral part of the next Federal Space Program (FKP) of Russia on 2016 – 2025 years. To the question whether the new FKP envisages the development of new heavy and super heavy rocket launchers (RN), allowing to realize an ambitious lunar program, Lyskov answered the following: “To really talk about the flight to the Moon, we need a carrier of extra heavy class with a payload of about 80 tons. Now this project is in the development stage, in the near future we will prepare the necessary documents for submitting them to the government. At this stage, the project to create a new superheavy rocket is not on the plan. ”
Photo: Mikhail Khodarenok
Seeing the bewilderment on the faces of the journalists, the State Secretary of Roscosmos hurried to assure: “At the moment there are no problems - we have the fifth Angara (a heavy version of the Angara, Angara-5), which is soon will fly. All issues related to the development of automatic devices will be solved with the help of the "Angara". Lyskov clarified that the launch complex for this launch vehicle is planned to be installed at the Vostochny cosmodrome.
Following the logic of the state secretary of Roskosmos, the bet in the future lunar program of Russia is on a rocket that has never flown. The first launch of the light version of the Angara from the Plesetsk cosmodrome is scheduled for 25 this June, and the heavy Angara-5, according to the latest information, should start at the end of this year. The question of the carrier for manned flights remains open.
Plenty of plans
Back in early March, the head of Roscosmos, Oleg Ostapenko, acknowledged that the Angara does not meet the ambitious tasks facing the national space program. This heavy rocket - within 25 tons - is not enough for flights to Mars, the Moon, asteroids, for the construction of inhabited lunar bases. In connection with this, Ostapenko also spoke of the need to create a new carrier of the super heavy class, including for manned missions. All countries, especially the USA and China, which have serious space programs, are following this path today.
According to the head of Roscosmos, Russia has all the possibilities for creating missiles of this class. At the first stage, you can make a rocket capable of putting 70 – 80 tons of payload into low Earth orbit. After upgrading, it can carry 120 and more tons. As for the future, then, from the point of view of Ostapenko, we are talking about 190 tons.
Roskosmos has developed its proposals taking into account the potential of the leading enterprises of Russia - the Energia rocket and space corporation, the TsSKB-Progress Samara and the Khrunichev State Space Research and Production Center (GKNPT). As Oleg Ostapenko stressed, only the most advanced was taken and in the near future the scientific and technical council of the military industrial complex should begin consideration of documents.
At the same time, the head of Roskosmos noted that the experience of producing the extra-heavy rocket “Energy”, created for the reusable Buran spacecraft, will be taken into account, especially with regard to propulsion systems. This, as Ostapenko noted, will allow saving large amounts of money and at the same time solving problems at a completely new technological level.
Indeed, the system "Energy" - "Buran", which more than a quarter of a century ago launched into space over 100 tons with an indicator of constructive perfection in 4,3 mass percent (the ratio of the mass of the payload to the launch mass of the PH. - Ed.) remains unattainable for competitors. This legacy should emphasize the most powerful and efficient in the world of liquid-propellant rocket engines manufactured by NPO Energomash, working on environmentally friendly rocket fuel components.
Oleg Ostapenko clarified that the design of a super-heavy PH with a load-carrying capacity of 2016 – 2025 tons will still be envisaged in the FKP for 70 – 80 years: “The FKP has not yet been approved. There is its formation. In the near future we will publicize it. Work on the super heavy rocket in the PCF included. " In his opinion, the PH with a carrying capacity of 70 – 80 tons, which will be created at the first stage, will close all promising tasks for the next 20 – 25 years.
From the perspective of the 20 – 25 years, everything seems to be understandable. If the PCF is adopted and implemented, Russia will probably receive superheavy media through 10 in years, with the help of which many tasks of space exploration can be accomplished, including long-distance ones. The question remains: on what to perform space programs in the coming years, especially manned?
As the military-industrial complex weekly wrote several times, in Russia in recent years, Roskosmos set the task of creating new carriers only on paper.
When the need to develop a promising rocket, including for manned programs, became obvious, in 2009, a competition was held for a draft design of a medium-class PH of increased payload, known as Rus-M. It was assumed that the launch complex (SC) for this carrier will be built at the Vostochny space center.
The winner of the competition was the project presented by three leading rocket and space companies: Samara-based TsSKB-Progress, RSC Energia and the V. P. Makeyev State Rocket Center. In Samara, active work has begun on creating a draft design. Young talented specialists were invited to it, offering interesting creative ideas and new technological solutions. But in October, 2011, the former leadership of Roscosmos announced that work on the Rus-M project was allegedly suspended due to lack of funds.
At the same time, it was announced that instead of the new SC under the Rus-M on the East, the SC will be built under the modernized Soyuz-2, with which it is supposed to launch manned expeditions as well. However, from the launch complex, which is being built on the new cosmodrome, only automatic vehicles can be sent to the Soyuz-2 PH. It is not suitable for launching manned spacecraft of the Soyuz TMA-M series delivering to the orbit of the ISS crews. Not to mention the Perspective Manned Transport System (PCT), where a carrier is provided capable of putting an 20-ton ship into orbit.
In the 2012 year, however, there was information that work on the Rus-M LV was resumed, but there are still no concrete results. At the same time, in 2012, Roskosmos held a competition for the creation of a conceptual design of the Amur heavy class rocket complex, which was also intended for the Vostochny space center. The competition caused many questions to the specialists, since it was written in the technical requirements for the development work that the new RN should put at least 20 tons into low orbit. But after all, in GKNPTs them. Khrunichev for almost 20 years developed heavy PH "Angara-5" with a similar load capacity. Why do another rocket, which according to its characteristics is very similar to the "killed" RN "Rus-M", and on the links in the technical task - "Angara"? However, the tender was held and won it, of course, GKNPTs them. Khrunichev, since other firms did not even apply for the competition, initially focused on the "Angara". Two years have passed - nothing is heard about Amur. The new leadership of Roscosmos has shifted to other ambitious projects.
At the moment, Russia does not even have specific plans for developing a promising RN. At the Vostochny cosmodrome, with which the future development of astronautics is linked in our country, the construction of the launch vehicle for the Soyuz-2 and Angara missiles is in full swing. According to many experts, this is an unforgivable mistake: you can not base the development of the industry for the coming decades, focusing on the media created by the technologies of the last century.
A reliable “horse” of the national cosmonautics - the Soyuz launch vehicle, no matter how modernized it is, was developed in the 50s of the last century. The carrier is made with the use of old technological solutions, moreover, many people are involved in its preparation for the launch, which is unsafe and economically inefficient.
If you choose from already existing carriers, then first of all you would have to pay attention to Zenit, which was originally conceived as a replacement for the royal Seven. In this space rocket complex all modern and progressive design solutions are laid. Currently, it is the only carrier capable of competing with the American Falcon-9 produced by the private American company SpaceX. Zenit has an excellent engine, besides it has an excellent ground complex - an automated start with a minimum of people in preparation for launch. By the way, it was on this rocket that PPTS tests were planned in an unmanned version with Zenit IC at Baikonur.
Only one thing: formally, Zenit is a Ukrainian rocket, although 80 percent of its components are Russian products. In order to start its manufacturing in Russia, an intergovernmental agreement is necessary, and given the political situation in Ukraine, such an agreement is unlikely to be concluded. There is another option. On the basis of the Russian engine and the existing technological background, in the shortest possible time to design a carrier similar to Zenit. This will be a new rocket, even if it turns out to be very similar to the original.
But according to Oleg Ostapenko, it is pointless to reproduce Zenits in Russia and generally rely on them, you can only use certain developments in new missiles. Ostapenko does not specify when this will be done and in the development of any RN.
Thus, in the coming years, the choice of Russia remains small: the old, although repeatedly modernized "Soyuz", environmentally "dirty" and technologically obsolete "Protons" and the family of the Angara.
Old age perspective
In many speeches of representatives of Roskosmos and the government of our country, it was often said that in the space program of Russia for the coming decades, the stake was made on the Angara carrier rocket system. That is, the rocket, which today, having never taken off, has already become morally obsolete, since its development has been going on since the beginning of the 90s of the last century. During this time, technology and technology have stepped far forward. And most importantly: the heavy "Angara-5" is considered as a replacement for the "Proton", but so far its technical and economic parameters, according to experts, are much inferior to those of the Soviet rocket, winning only in environmental performance.
In this situation, the manned cosmonautics of the future generally remains without carrier, since the Angara, as experts believe, is very difficult and most importantly, it is expensive to adapt to manned ship launches. It was originally conceived as a means of launching automatic spacecraft primarily into geostationary orbits. “Angara”, experts say, is not suitable for a manned program with a number of parameters. Mainly because of its constructive capabilities, it is not able to ensure the safety of the crew.
The former leadership of Roskosmos, having refused in October 2011 of the year to work on the creation of a new Russia-M launch vehicle and lobbying Angara in the Russian government, pursued its own interests. The official motivation for the refusal of Rusi-M production was as follows: more than 37 percent of the Roscosmos budget before 2015 was allocated for the development of a new carrier, but these funds are still very small, therefore, with such funding, the first launch from the Vostochny space center is planned speech can not be. Following the logic of the officials, it is necessary to quickly build launch complexes at the new cosmodrome under a reliable, albeit outdated, Soyuz rocket and the Angara that has not yet flown. Perhaps with the help of God let us put something in the 2015 year, as promised to the government, and then we'll see. The officials didn’t think about the billions of rubles of taxpayers who are currently digging into the East, creating the insurance company for obsolete rockets, because the bureaucracy will have to be responsible for others.
The overwhelming majority of industry experts are convinced that the decision of the former Roskosmos leadership to abandon Rus-M not only put an end to all promising work on launch vehicles, discarding the development of domestic astronautics a few years ago, but also led to tangible financial and temporary losses. While other countries of the world, primarily the United States, are rapidly moving forward in the development of several new LVs and ships, Russia, having vast experience and scientific and technical potential, is marking time and losing precious time.
Apparently, General Oleg Ostapenko, appointed in October instead of Vladimir Popovkin, perfectly understands what inheritance he inherited from his predecessor. This is evidenced by his speech at a closed meeting in Roscosmos, which nevertheless managed to learn something. In particular, Ostapenko expressed the belief that this rocket for the East is a dead end and will not give an opportunity to develop. Moreover, according to Ostapenko, in the future we will be forced to invest huge amounts of money again in order to build something else. The head of Roscosmos proposed to prepare a new convincing program for the report to the president, no matter how difficult and unpleasant it may be, in order not to waste money and not to wait.
This scandalous speech instilled hope in the patriots of the Russian cosmonautics. It seemed that the industry finally got a manager who, in addition to his impeccable reputation, also has the courage to report to the president and the government about the erroneous decisions of his predecessors in order to prevent even more serious mistakes and financial losses.
However, hope was not given to come true. After a while, Oleg Ostapenko actually abandoned his words, publicly stating that journalists misunderstood him. Apparently, the influence of the officials who had lobbied for years in the upper echelons of the Angara RN power, for which billions of budget rubles were spent over the past two decades, is still too strong.
Competitors are not asleep
According to experts, the Energia-Buran space system, created in our country over 25 years ago, is planning to make a new, super-heavy domestic RN, at least half a century ahead of its time and remains inaccessible to competitors. It’s hard to say how long this advantage will last: Russia’s competitors are already advancing on their heels.
The most brilliant results are demonstrated by the private American company SpaceX, in which in just a few years and with relatively little funding, the Falcon launch rocket family and the Dragon ship have been created. The latter in the very near future can compete with Russian spacecraft. The cargo version of the “Dragon” has already successfully docked to the ISS three times and returned to Earth, and at the present time its piloted version is being prepared.
True, behind the rapid birth of the new PH and the ship is the entire long-term, more precisely, many decades of NASA experience: experimental and technical work, materials. But we must pay tribute to the specialists of SpaceX, led by the billionaire enthusiast Elon Mask: both Falcon and Dragon were made quickly, efficiently, using the right technical solutions.
And most importantly, in the USA it is not the only private space complex that can compete with Russia. In January, 2013 was successfully docked to the ISS by the Signus, launched with the help of the Antares PH from Orbital Sciences Corporation. On the way some more RN and ships for deep space exploration.
When, after the completion of the Space Shuttle program, the USA was left without its own means of delivering astronauts to near-Earth orbit and to the ISS, they had to reconsider their space program, the financing of which, by the way, was significantly curtailed. To reduce costs and promote the development of the space industry, NASA decided to create a new manned spacecraft for low orbits by private companies. The agency has directed its own forces to develop a system for flights into deep space based on the Orion project and the super heavy SLS carrier. Currently, there are at least four more private firms in the United States that are successfully developing space rockets and ships.
The threat to Russia's leadership in space is coming both from the West and from the East. We attack on the heels of not only the United States, but also the PRC. Of course, the Chinese borrowed a lot from space programs of other countries. So, their manned ship in appearance is the same “Soyuz”, but its dimensions are larger, it was created on a new element base, all electronics are of their own production.
Chinese RZh of the Changzheng family (“Great March”) are made on the technological basis of the Russian Proton. The Chinese are widely used hydrogen, which in our country has long been "tied". Their carriers are almost at the Russian level, only the engines are a little under-powered. China is working on the creation of super-heavy media. And what is very important - China already has three national cosmodromes, and another one is under construction, while Russia has only one in Plesetsk, intended mainly for military launches. Baikonur, from where the overwhelming majority of launches are carried out, including all manned ships, is rented by the Russian Federation from Kazakhstan.
China, having a good base, is gaining experience. Large funds are invested in astronautics, it has the potential - both financial and technological. The country is not very fast, but very confidently goes to the exploration of outer space, developing its programs, including the colonization of the Moon. In the 2030 year, according to Chinese media reports, it is planned to land a man on the moon, and then proceed to create a lunar base, with which in 2050 man will be able to go to such remote planets as Mars.
While Russia is making plans, developing endless strategies and programs, competitors are moving forward. It’s not a fact that in such a state of affairs a country that in the 20th century paved the way for space for all of humanity in the XXI century will be able to stay at least in the first three world leaders in the field of conquering the universe.