Instead of stubborn everyday work on the growth of the real economy, the Ministry of Finance chose a very dangerous and vicious path of least resistance, namely, a radical reduction in budget expenditures. Social programs, science and culture, medicine, infrastructure projects have already fallen under the knife ... The State Weapons Program and the Federal Space Program are under the threat of a reduction. If the first one is only wanted to be halved, then the second one has already been sequestered and they threaten to cut back.
The need to temper sectoral spending is a forced affair and does not depend on the desire of Roscosmos leaders. But before we talk about this, it should be clearly defined, on what you can save, and on what you absolutely can not. Popular wisdom says: do not save, buying cheap, - save, not buying too much. The approach is clear, it remains only to correctly determine what is really superfluous. Let's start with the spaceports. Without them, there can be no astronautics as such. The level of achievements in mastering extraterrestrial space directly depends on their stable functioning. And they are one of the most expensive items of the space budget. Their maintenance and development require enormous resources. Therefore, it is important to avoid miscalculations in the creation and modernization of infrastructure.
Let's start with the Vostochny cosmodrome. Information about the price of its construction is contradictory. According to official data, the creation of a cosmodrome was tentatively estimated at 450 billions of rubles, but the practice of constructing such iconic structures indicates a steady trend towards a significant excess of the original estimate. Especially when you consider the distance of the object from many suppliers of equipment and materials. Meanwhile, the cost of a new cosmodrome is real if not reduced, then at least stretched over time, and without disrupting the delivery of the main objects and, as a result, the planned launch dates.
For example, with the opening of a full-fledged airport at the East, it is quite possible to wait, which will make the financing and construction process more rhythmic. This will allow 8 – 10 to win. Later, when mass launches begin, including commercial and with international participation, it will be the turn of the airport. In the meantime, for the fast delivery of cargo to the launch complex (UK), it is proposed to use the wonderful military airfield “Ukrainka”, located in 70 kilometers along the “Amur” highway.
At first, it is quite possible to confine one SK under the heavy "Angara". And when the launches become more frequent, it will be seen whether the second one is needed or not.
At Baikonur, the situation will become clearer by this autumn after Kazakhstan has selected and approved the final version of the development of the Baiterek project. Then we will understand what to leave in use, and from what objects you can safely refuse. There is the option of transferring part of the ground infrastructure to Kazakhstan with a simultaneous decrease in the rent for the use of the site.
At the Plesetsk cosmodrome, the military would like to receive a second SC for the Angara. However, taking into account the realities of state financing, it is more reasonable to partially “reformat” the plans of the Space Forces. Namely: in the Soviet period, as many as four SCs operated for the Soyuz launch vehicle. It is now planned to leave two. The question is, why shouldn't one of the remaining ones be remade for the light version of the Angara? So far he has to start from SC, which is designed for heavy media. There are risks of destruction of expensive ground infrastructure (in case of a launch accident). The recent explosion of the American “Antares”, which smashed the IC completely, showed the reality of this threat. Taking into account the existing reserve, it will not require a lot of money to alter the “Union” launch for a light rocket. Such a modernization would cost ten times less than creating an additional SC for a heavy "Angara".
Appointments on stream
A very dangerous trend of the last time is the approval of people without special technical education at the positions of managers of enterprises in the industry. As a rule, these are economists, managers, lawyers ... The desire of the Roscosmos leadership to see trusted people in these posts is clear. More precisely, it is clear from the point of view of personal connections, but absolutely unacceptable for business. It is very doubtful that appointees who can only steer cash flows are able to competently solve complex technical problems.
Moreover, many newly-born directors view their patrimony exclusively as a feeder, not really caring about the business entrusted to them, in which they do not really understand. As a rule, they begin their work on the post by assigning to themselves their favorite exorbitant and unreasonable salaries. The predecessors, honored people, doctors of science and even academicians, did not even dream of such rewards. As an example, you can bring up some noise about the new leadership of Voronezh KBKhA, who has appointed his salary, which clearly does not correspond to the average for the enterprise.
Unfortunately, this is becoming typical in the domestic industry. In recent years, a whole class of managers has emerged who are unable, but willing to manage an enterprise of any profile, just to have access to money. At the same time, it seems that the young pleiad of "drummers of capitalist labor" is absolutely not going to be responsible for the results of its activities.
The leadership of Roscosmos is simply obliged to take this issue under tight control and restore order as quickly as possible. After all, we are talking about many millions of rubles of overspending.
It also seems reasonable system of personal responsibility of managers of all levels of management, similar to that introduced in power structures. If the designated employee has failed to cope with his duties (for example, he has disrupted the state order), not only he himself will be dismissed, but also the senior manager who approved the person who failed the case.
To mars light
A promising direction is the search for cost-effective access to outer space. Now, according to approximate calculations, the removal of one communication satellite into a geostationary orbit costs the customer 60 – 80 million dollars.
Solar electromotive installation (SEDU) using a heat engine, developed in the Research Center. Keldysh, allows you to double the effectiveness of the launch vehicle and reduce the cost of launching spacecraft by the same amount. It is actually used as a booster. Implementation of the development will allow delivering two heavy satellites instead of one to a geostationary orbit in one launch. So far, on the world market of launch services, only the European company Arianspace has managed to do this. With the help of SEDU, our Proton-M and then Angara will be more than competitive compared to European, Chinese and Indian counterparts, not to mention the prohibitively expensive American (excluding the Ilona Mask) and the Japanese.
SEDU perfectly fits in with light carriers. At the same time, there are unique opportunities for delivering spacecraft weighing half a ton to a geostationary orbit with the help of a conversion rocket “Rokot”, which was previously simply excluded due to insufficient carrier energy efficiency.
How can you not remember the forgotten concept of "Pragmatic space", developed in the 90-e for the country's economy, hungry for the economy, NPO Mashinostroeniya. It was supposed to make inexpensive satellites of a small class and to use for their delivery into orbit conversion pH. And today, many of the directions designated in Pragmatic Space remain quite relevant. Yes, over the past years, hundreds of strategic missiles removed from combat duty have been tritely recycled. But by the beginning of the 2020's, almost all the remaining Soviet-made missiles would be released. Will be on what to fly!
Breakthrough development of IC them. Keldysh allows you to send light scientific spacecraft and into deep space: to the Moon, Mars, Venus ... It is enough to make the device and run it on an already ready and practically free conversion PH. Thus, Russian scientists will receive a satellite in Mars orbit with costs at least ten times less than with the traditional approach. The unique design provides an appropriate cost savings. And only Russia has such an opportunity now.
It is safe to say that in each of the enterprises submitting to Roskosmos there are developments of a breakthrough nature. They are there whole deposits, and they can be used both for its intended purpose and in the civil sphere. It would not hurt to conduct an audit to identify the most promising.
We will discuss only one. Khimki NPO them. Ten years ago, Lavochkin presented a unique inflatable rescue device for emergency evacuation of people from high-rise buildings. The development is based on space technology, but is designed to solve purely earthly tasks, allowing you to save people from a skyscraper engulfed in fire. Immediately I recall the events of 11 in September of 2001, when the terrorists destroyed the New York twin towers. Then about 3000 people died. Most - jumping out of the windows from a great height. If there were the “Rescuer”, the number of victims would be ten times less.
The device itself when folded looks like a satchel and, when used, does not require special skills. In case of danger, you must put it on your back as a life jacket, go to the balcony or sit on the window with your back out and pull the lever. Gas from a can will fill the device, which will become tough and will acquire a conical shape, becoming like a big shuttlecock for badminton. The rescued person himself will be inside this "shuttlecock", which during descent will protect him from fire and strikes on the building structure. After a few seconds, the rescued will land safely. Really cool ?!
But what is the fate of the invention? The device "Rescuer" was repeatedly demonstrated at exhibition venues in Russia and abroad. The invention created a sensation primarily by its originality. Some famous people tried to lobby for its production, but things, as they say, are still there. The famous pilot Magomed Tolboev, the Hero of Russia, suggested independently testing the device when descending from the stratosphere, but the financiers turned out to be stronger than this respected and courageous person. There was no money even for testing.
Meanwhile, a model on the scale of 1: 1 with a man’s dummy was tested, dropping it from different heights. What is interesting, the bigger it is, the safer the flight and landing. We are seeing a boom in the construction of skyscrapers. Especially actively they are being built in China and the Middle East, and in Russia too. However, no one guarantees the absolute safety of their inhabitants. So the demand for the "Rescuer" is, as they say, on the surface.
And the last - how much money is required for the mass production of the Rescuer. In a personal conversation, one of the developers called a ridiculous amount: less than two million dollars. You must admit that these are just crumbs that will pay off at lightning speed, given the concern for the safety of “celestials”, at least abroad.
There are a lot of similar innovations. We do not even imagine how many of them there are.
In conclusion, I propose to urge all interested government agencies, public and commercial organizations, citizens who have valuable thoughts on the development of astronautics, to actively engage in the search for new projects and solutions, at least at the stage of discussing areas of work. To this end, an open competition of ideas in the field of exploration of extraterrestrial space and not only should be announced. There is one criterion: the projects should be relatively inexpensive, real in complexity and execution time.