Exactly 58 years ago, the USSR launched the first artificial Earth satellite into space. This date is celebrated in the Russian Federation as the Day of the Space Forces and is considered the beginning of the space age of mankind. Now in the Russian cosmonautics there are periods of despondency and pessimistic forecasts caused, in particular, by the crash of the Proton-M launch vehicle and a number of other loud failures, periodically replaced by periods of hope associated, for example, with the announcement of the promising project Soyuz-5 or commissioning (in the foreseeable future) of the Vostochny cosmodrome. But the position of pessimists seems to be still stronger. Especially after the American probe New Horizons for the first time transmitted a signal to Earth after approaching Pluto (after which adviser Barack Obama called the USA the world leader in space).
“Now at the helm of the rocket and space industry are people who were not brought up inside the industry, but came into it from the outside. These are “crisis managers”, which, unfortunately, it does not matter which industry is in charge of ”
On whom does the national astronautics stand today, how have we disposed of the gigantic Soviet heritage and what are the prospects for the space industry of modern Russia? The answers to these and other questions concerning Russian space were given in an interview to the VIEW newspaper by an academician of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics named after K.E. Tsiolkovsky Alexander Zheleznyakov.
VIEW: Alexander Borisovich, many experts have repeatedly stated that the development of space research in Russia without cooperation with Ukraine is impossible. Do you agree with this opinion?
Alexander Zheleznyakov: I do not agree. Russia's economic, technological and scientific potential is sufficient to conduct space research alone. Another thing is that within the framework of international cooperation this can sometimes be done faster, and even cheaper. Especially considering the close ties that we have or have had with other countries of the former Soviet Union.
But a lot depends on the international situation. Now we are forced to break contacts with Ukraine, but we continue to strengthen them with Belarus and Kazakhstan. Not everything is smooth in space cooperation with the United States and Europe, but in their place China and India immediately arose. Of course, psychologically we do not feel very comfortable, breaking ties with Ukraine. We are one people and historically should be together. But the thing is “big politics”. There is one recipe in this difficult situation - to continue working.
VIEW: What powers are currently leading in the space industry?
A.Zh .: Three unconditional leaders: Russia, the USA and China. In some ways, we play the first roles, for example, manned cosmonautics, in some ways the Americans are leading, for example, deep space, in something we must pay tribute to the Chinese with their pace of increasing space efforts. But the current astronautics is different from the one that was 60 years ago. Today, international cooperation is in the first place, which allows us to do much more than go it alone. Space exploration and exploration is a matter for all of humanity. Therefore, it is better to lead all together, and not separately.
VIEW: By the way, were the Americans still on the moon or not?
A.Zh .: There were. And this topic should be closed for a long time, and not to discuss all sorts of crazy versions. But we have not been to the moon so far. And it's a shame.
Space research is one of the locomotives of the country's technological progress. The experience of space research shows that the creation of modern space technologies makes it possible to pull many other branches of knowledge and economics under their level. Remember how the space-rocket industry was created in our country. In 1950, we had to develop not only science and heavy machinery, but also the chemical industry, energy, and light industry. That is, to develop the entire economy in order to become the first in space. Another example is the American Apollo program, which pulled many sectors of the American economy along with it and brought many technical innovations to our lives. If today the task of organizing an expedition to Mars is set, it will also be able to pull along other branches of knowledge and other branches of the economy. It is important that this was not an ephemeral goal, but a specific goal with clear deadlines for its implementation.
In order to compete in the modern world, to be a strong power, it is necessary to develop precisely those industries that contribute to this. At the same time, it is necessary to understand that sooner or later the earthly resources will be partially exhausted and will have to fly behind them into space. This may not be the near future, but someday it will happen. And it is necessary to prepare for this now, so as not to be "at the bottom of the tub." Man has always sought to expand the range of his habitat, to learn new, unknown.
VIEW: If distracted, why does the Russian astronautics need a flight to the moon? For the construction of lunar bases for the extraction of fuel for hydrogen energy? Well, in general, when will Russia return to large-scale breakthrough space projects like the flight of Gagarin or the landscaping of Mars?
A.Zh .: One should not expect that in the next century Mars will "bloom apple trees". This is still very, very far away. And the moon is not at all the place where we will extract energy resources. But we must fly to the moon. First, the natural satellite of the Earth is a unique testing ground for space technology, with which we will conquer deep space. The rockets and ships created on Earth, before they fly to asteroids, to Jupiter, to Saturn, should be tested closer to the Earth. Secondly, the moon is a great research base. From the surface of the night luminary, we can even further look into the depths of the universe and learn something new, unexpected. Thirdly, our eternal satellite companion is a promising “launch” cosmodrome. Created on its surface, the ships will be easier to go into deep space. Yes, and it will be safer to do it, especially if we are talking about ships with nuclear engines.
It seems to me that when our compatriots land on the moon, then we can talk about the return of our astronautics to the leading position. After that, there will be new breakthroughs in space and new pioneering achievements. Just not to delay with this.
LOOK: Today we are talking about our preservation in space at the level of one of the leading countries, or are things different?
A.Zh .: The situation is complicated. Now at the helm of the rocket and space industry are people who were not brought up inside the industry, but came into it from the outside. These are “effective managers”, “crisis managers”, which, unfortunately, it does not matter which industry is in charge of. Regarding the professionalism of such leaders, I will say this: as managers, they are high-level professionals. But I am not sure that such people are needed for our cosmonautics. In many cases, it would be desirable for enterprises to be run by people who know how and why missiles fly.
Fortunately, there are still quite a few people left in space enterprises who know their business and for whom cosmonautics is not only a way to earn their daily bread, but also an important component of life. Cosmonautics is holding them today. Yes, romantics are now much less than pragmatists, but they are. And I would like to hope that it is they who will revive the former glory of the national astronautics.
Success statistics of space launches in different countries
VIEW: How much money is currently allocated to Roskosmos?
A.Zh .: For the solution of the tasks set by the government before Roscosmos, money is allocated enough. Another thing is that these tasks are not small, but some, I would say, “mundane”: communication, navigation, remote sensing of the Earth, reconnaissance, meteorology. Of course, all this is necessary for the normal functioning of society. But there is no “zest” in them that would attract unrelenting attention of people to space. How was it at the beginning of the space age?
Well, how much money is needed “for the full development” of cosmonautics, no one can say. Astronautics is the “redundant” activity of humanity, and its development is determined by the capabilities of the economy. How many will give - so much and "eats". The main thing is that the money goes to its destination, and not into the pockets of those who distribute this money.
VIEW: Is the presence of a private business in the space field - good or evil?
A.Zh .: Cosmonautics cannot exist in the modern world apart from other sectors of the economy. Therefore, I believe that in some cases the presence in the space sphere of private traders is both justifiable and useful. An alternative, of course, could be full state control over the space industry. But this is hardly justified in modern realities. And the effect of this may not be at all what one would like.
LOOK: Can further space exploration become one of the fundamental components of our national idea, because for this, people must be well educated and organized, right?
A.Zh .: The fact that space exploration can and should be one of the main components of our national idea has been discussed for a long time. Indeed, there must be something that will unite the nation, determine the goal to which not a separate group of society, but the whole people will strive. For example, a manned flight to Mars could well be one of the first goals in the conquest of space and one of the elements of the national idea. Or something similar in scale. But, I'm afraid, this is from the realm of fantasy. While we are sitting on the oil needle, while we continue to form a consumer society, we are unlikely to fly far.
VIEW: You agree with the statement that the Soviet and Russian cosmos was and remains the successes of socialism, the successes of people who did not consider profit to be the meaning of life, but were guided by higher ideas, such as the ideas of development and progress of our society, both technological and moral?
A.Zh .: I agree that this was the success of our people. And no matter what at that time was the socio-political system. We were united in our aspirations. We had a goal. We were really guided by the ideas of development and progress. And not only in the interests of his country, but of all mankind. We were romantics. And we went into space.
VIEW: People who have paved the way to space, alive and dead, are the heroes of our country. But do we remember them today as they should?
A.Zh .: Unfortunately, not always and not at all. Most often this happens "about." And the rest of the time as if these people were not there.
But I would like to warn those who stood at the origins of the national cosmonautics against canonization. First of all, they were people, with their strengths and their weaknesses. And this must also be remembered. And remember that in this case hundreds of thousands and millions of people participated, the contribution of each of which, though not as weighty as that of the leading figures, but the overall success depended on them.