Large failures pursue the space industry even after the structural changes that began in it. On the night of 15 on 16 of May 2014, an accident occurred during the launch of the communications satellite Express-AM4P, the damage from which amounted to more than a billion rubles. According to preliminary data, the failure of the third stage of the Proton-M launch vehicle, in particular the failure of the steering engine, was the cause of the unsuccessful launch. “Express-AM4P” is far from the first spacecraft lost when the Proton-M launch vehicle was launched into orbit from the 2010 of the year. The image of Russia as a major space power suffered another powerful blow. What are the reasons for such serious failures?
Recall the reorganization of Roskosmos in 2013 began with a number of system errors that were made by the previous management and required in-depth analysis. As it turned out, the main space corporation of the Russian Federation simply could not continue to work effectively in its previous form.
Problems accumulated over the years
In the period from 2011 to 30 in September of 2013, the integral quality indicator of rocket and space technology (CT), the accident rate of launches of space rockets (ILV), increased significantly compared to the previous period of 2006 – 2010. The number of regular launches per emergency lowered to almost the level reached at the very beginning of the space age, that is, to the period from 1961 to 1970 year.
An analysis of the results of the activities of the rocket and space industry (PSC) for the last 58 years, divided into 12 periods of five years each (with the exception of the first four year period 1957 – 1960), showed that the most effectively worked on the PSC in 1975 – 1980 and 1991 – 1995 years . The frequency of the accident-free launching of the RKN at this time was equal to 0,98. Then the number of emergency starts gradually began to grow and kept at a consistently high level. This is primarily due to the aging of equipment, technologies, materials, the outflow of personnel from the industry, as well as the "revolutionary" reforms that were carried out in the system of managing Russian space activities. In particular:
-in 1997, the Military Space Forces ceased to exist as an independent branch of service;
-in 2011, the staff of Roskosmos was radically reorganized (the independent structural unit responsible for launch vehicles and ground-based space infrastructure was eliminated; a unit was created that provides capital construction, although before this the Roskosmos client correctly transferred the RKP customer under agreements with him).
The drop in the reliability of the launch of the RKN began after 1980, and continued until 1990. During this period, reforms were carried out in the management system of the defense industry, including in the rocket and space industry. A number of functions of the USSR Ministry of General Engineering were transferred to the Ministry of Defense, which was not fully thought out.
All this directly influenced the results of the operation of control systems, the reliability of ILV launches. However, in the 80s, reforms did not lead to such a scaling impact as happened in the 1997 and 2011 years. The increased accident rate was directly related to the decline in the quality of products and services in the modern rocket and space industry, ill-conceived experiments in the control system of the PSC. The main causes of this crisis:
- violation of the fundamental (systemic) principle of organization and functioning of the control system of the rocket and space industry - personal responsibility of the leader;
- poor quality organization of the system of readiness to launch space launch missiles;
- poor quality organization of work to investigate the causes of failures (defects) and investigation of accidents;
-no competition in the PSC;
- the elimination of the “best practices” system in the PSC, previously functioning as industry standards.
There were also a number of other reasons related to training, the degradation of the standardization system, and the lack of an incentive system.
Let us emphasize: these are systemic problems that have been accumulating over the years and which can hardly be solved today in one fell swoop. For example, violation of the principle of personal responsibility until recently was expressed in the fact that managers of Roskosmos were often the leaders of enterprises, completely loyal people, and not highly qualified specialists who were capable of solving complex and responsible tasks. This was discussed at a meeting held in the Moscow Region Korolev (October 2013) with the participation of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Rogozin. An analytical note of the expert council of the Chairman of the Military Industrial Commission under the Government of the Russian Federation prepared by Alexey Gonchar, Doctor of Technical Sciences, was presented there.
In order to compensate for obvious personnel errors in Roscosmos, a system of unfair distribution among enterprises of the branch of the state task of transferring part of the profits to the federal budget was often used. This technique allowed to hide the inability of individual heads of enterprises of the RCP to ensure effective work and solve financial and economic problems.
The lack of personal responsibility of the management of Roskosmos is one of the reasons for the lack of demand for scientific potential not only in the PSC, but also in other industries. If high-level officials are not responsible for the state of affairs in the industry, then they do not need to organize, to conduct an objective analysis of the work, or to develop the necessary measures to improve it.
No less acute was the question of the responsibility of business leaders. For example, according to statistics, there were higher values of reliability indicators of ILV launches with payloads based on the Proton launch vehicle compared to the state ones. Why such piety for commercial launches? This turned out to be primarily due to the fact that representatives of foreign customers participated in the decision-making system for launching commercial spacecraft (SC), who, despite the insurance of risks, are responsible for the result of the launch personally, often with a position. Therefore, they are trying to understand in detail the state of readiness of the RNS, they require the submission of substantiating materials to confirm all the declared facts in the readiness reports. In other words, foreign customers actually forced the leaders of the enterprises of the PSC to work better, and not the way they used to work out the state order. Apparently, various bonus ones played a significant role.
Only three percent
It is also important to understand that the principle of separation of technical and economic responsibility both in the PSC and in other branches of the military-industrial complex by delimiting the responsibility of the sole management body of an enterprise between the general director and the general designer does not give the expected effect. If a person making economic decisions does not understand its technical consequences, he is unable to solely be responsible for the result of the activities of the collective he directs.
At the exit in such a situation there will always be a search for the guilty and an attempt to shift the responsibility to another. Moreover, the general designer of the organization, which leads several projects (which is typical for all organizations of the PSC), is not the technical manager of a specific project. Such a role is played by high-class specialists, who usually hold the positions of lead designer, project manager or chief designer. In this regard, the allocation of a separate position of the general designer of the organization or the execution of this function by the manager personally implies full responsibility for the team as a whole and the results of its activities. It is not for nothing that at many leading enterprises of the defense industrial complex, the positions of general director and general designer have been combined.
In recent years, a “profanation” readiness system for launching domestic ILV has emerged in Russia in many ways, resulting in problems in providing the leading industry institute (FGUP TsNIIMash) with all the technical information that it needs for quality preparation of a conclusion on ILV readiness for launch. . One of the reasons for this was that the former heads of Roskosmos, who headed the commissions to review the results of the preparation of the launch platform for launch, were practically in no way responsible for making decisions on launching launch sites with undetected defects, which ultimately lead to an accident outcome. In fact, instead of the chiefs, other responsible persons were always appointed.
As a result, commissions to review the results of preparations for launch, conducted under the leadership of the agency’s top officials, turned into formal procedures, the purpose of which was not to ascertain the actual state of readiness of the ILV, but to simply hear representatives of relevant organizations even without a basic report on the technical features of the upcoming launch. This has become a common practice for specialists of Roscosmos enterprises involved in the implementation of international projects. For example, under the Sea Launch program.
The positive experience of accident prevention, which was accumulated during the Soviet era, remains quite topical. Thus, from 1993 to 1997, the year in the Military Space Forces of the Russian Defense Ministry when planning launches even took into account the state of solar activity in the days of preparation and conduct. That was due to the correlation of the accidental outcomes of ILV launches with solar activity, identified during a retrospective analysis. However, now these factors are taken into account only by French colleagues at the Kourou cosmodrome.
Another example. NGO them. In the last century S. Lavochkin practiced installation of special devices like KS-18-5М on scientific satellites intended for recording cosmic radiation and radiation belts of the planet. This made it possible to fix the flows of charged particles around the spacecraft and to conduct control sessions on the most favorable days, especially the performance of dynamic operations. Unfortunately, this positive experience is currently also not used and is not even being investigated.
There are problems in the obsolescence of space technology, created more than 30 years ago. Its quality in many ways no longer meets modern requirements. This is also due to the fact that, for example, with the forced replacement of materials and components with new ones, it is impossible to ensure the volume of inspections during flight design tests. This is fraught with failures of products that did not refuse earlier. In 1980, a serious catastrophe occurred at the Plesetsk cosmodrome, in which 48 killed the calculation numbers of the ILV preparation based on the Soyuz launch vehicle at the launch complex. The reason was the replacement of the brand of solder, which was produced by soldering in the manufacture of filters for hydrogen peroxide filling system. Today, such replacements on the operated old technology should be expected, unfortunately, more and more. Naturally, the risk of failure may increase. So is it any wonder that Russia now occupies only three percent of the space services market, which is completely at odds with our capabilities and ambitions. In particular, in terms of price, the volume of this market is 180 billion dollars, where Russia's share, respectively, is only 5,4 billion.
That is why the quality management of the rocket and space industry has required not just the repair of the “old mechanism”, which increasingly failed, but the creation of a new one, of course, taking into account well-established individual elements of previous experience. In this regard, the Military-Industrial Commission under the Government of the Russian Federation developed a number of recommendations. Among them:
-the creation of space technology on the basis of one document establishing the performance characteristics, which should contain specific requirements without reference to outdated regulatory documents. A regulatory document that was introduced more than five years ago and has not been updated is not eligible to be listed in the TTZ (TK) for the creation of space technology;
-transition to the new terminology in the field of created space technology. Used currently developed around 30 years ago, and during this time, much has changed: the technology, and the organization of its operation, and the use of its intended purpose;
-creation and maintenance of space technology for one end-to-end project - from the idea that won the competition of draft designs to disposal;
- a more accurate assessment of the economic feasibility of reducing the life cycle duration of modern transport space systems with launch vehicles that have been created or are being built now (RSC Angara for the Plesetsk cosmodrome, Soyuz RSC for the Vostochny cosmodrome). The previously created RCMs had a life cycle from 30 years and up. Today, the optimal duration of the life cycle while minimizing costs can be, according to preliminary estimates, no more than 20 years (from idea to disposal);
-the introduction into practice of the mandatory use (at the stages of setting requirements and creating new space systems) the indicator “technical excellence”, which should steadily grow. The monitoring and responsibility for the objective assessment of this indicator should be personally assigned to the specialists of FSUE “TsNIImash”, who provide scientific support for the development of new equipment.
With the official registration of the new rocket and space corporation, which was announced in March of 2014, work began on consolidating the entire rocket and space industry and developing a unified science and technology policy in it.
The first task that is being solved now is to determine the strategy for the development of rocket and space activity. This is due to the fact that all space rocket powers are currently in search. It is hardly possible to say that the United States, European powers, the People's Republic of China, other countries have clearly defined where to go. Equally, Russia needs to determine priorities for itself in this area.
The second task is the active commercialization of space activities, including the creation of means of launching spacecraft into orbit. We must learn to make a profit from the huge investments that were made earlier and are being made now.
The third is the completion of the industry reform and the formation of the Rocket and Space Corporation.
The fourth is the development of the Federal space program for a new program-planning period.
At the same time, we should not forget about the solution of the current tasks of fulfilling the plan for launching spacecraft, ensuring the quality of rocket and space technology. Special attention should be focused on the formation of a coherent and pragmatic program. At the board of the Federal Space Agency, which took place in Roscosmos, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Rogozin stressed that the program should provide answers to the following key questions.
1. How can Russia get in the near-Earth space a complex of modern means for astronautics?
2. What should be the launch vehicle system that will meet the needs of both today and our future up to 2020 – 2030?
3. What should be the international cooperation in the space sphere, what can we share with our partners, and what can we borrow? When developing this program, it is necessary to take into account that we can no longer put up with the lag behind the world level in the development of rocket and space technology.
Responsibility for this lies with everyone who is related to the Federal Space Agency, from a simple worker to a manager of the highest rank. After all, even the slightest failure in the functioning of one small detail can lead to a catastrophe of a launch vehicle, entailing huge losses, as happened in July 2013, with an angular velocity sensor turned on 180 degrees on the Proton-M PH. Previous accidents that were experienced in 2011 – 2012 were still fresh in memory. They have become a real drama for the public consciousness of the country. After all, we all believed that we were living in a great space power, that’s why the pain in every Russian heart was so acute.
Special talk about the scientific and technical background. Unfortunately, we have nothing to brag about here either. The stock that was created at the turn of the 80 – 90-s has been almost exhausted. In the difficult period 2000-x was not up to the touches. And now this question requires an urgent solution. It is necessary to stimulate space, industry science, but fundamental science cannot be neglected.
“We must be able to work with our Russian Academy of Sciences and learn how to assign tasks to an academic institute,” says Rogozin. “More actively interact with the Advanced Research Foundation.” According to him, such decisions will be taken that will lead to an increase in the status of general designers. They should become customers of the development of new knowledge, materials, solutions.
First of all, we must pay attention to the payload of the spacecraft. The practice of creating them only after the start of work on specific space complexes is clearly not consistent with contemporary problems. It is required to provide proactive development of onboard special equipment. Together with the Ministry of Defense of Russia to substantiate such payloads that will need to be launched into orbits in the foreseeable future. Without this, it is impossible to determine the family of launch vehicles.
“I hope that this work will put an end to an inexplicable leapfrog with the choice of a launch vehicle,” said Rogozin. - All offer something of their own, including pulling out of the archives of the old developments. But we need absolute specifics on what kind of RN we will use, to bring out which specific spacecrafts with a specific payload. ” It turns out that a balanced development is needed not only of the launch vehicles, but also the means of the ground-based automated control complex, the ground-based technological objects for preparing and launching the spacecraft.
Do not ignore the problems of resource provision of space activities. Today, with the financing of space programs, the situation is not simple, as with the implementation of the budget. The global crisis is not retreating, some industries of the leading powers are still in a state of stagnation. And in this regard, questions of respect for the budget funds allocated for space programs are extremely important. Considering that space technology basically has a dual purpose, it is necessary to strengthen coordination in its creation with the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation, integration in the distribution of resources, the interaction of space system customers. Returning to the idea of double thrust will allow more efficient use of budget allocations.
Another topic is the search for extrabudgetary sources of financing, which is directly related to international space cooperation. This question has been raised more than once, but there are no results yet. Here, the Federal Space Agency in its new look after the formation of PRKK should set the tone for the development of the space services market. The same GLONASS system can solve a huge number of economic problems of the country, linking it with a single navigation. Especially after giving up the American GPS. The presence of such a system in the state is a sign of a superpower. But the advancement of such programs as GLONASS is only a small part of what can be groped in this market. For example, they brought out the orbital grouping and, one might say, forgot about it, even the owners could not be found. It is not known who specifically is responsible for the 24 satellite in orbit, is responsible for the efficient use of invested funds.
It equally concerns the search for markets for other space services: communication, cartography, remote sensing of the Earth, and much more. And a big reserve here is a public-private partnership. In the near future, it is necessary to ensure a more complete provision of space services to domestic consumers. For this, it is necessary to deploy orbital groups of the required composition from the spacecraft already developed. We need universal solutions, a unified technological policy, a dialogue between general designers and directors of enterprises within the industry. Without solving these strategic tasks, it is impossible to overcome the crisis of personal responsibility in the industry, not to ensure Russia's leading position in astronautics.