Landscape after Rogozin: is there any hope for cosmonautics to return to its former greatness

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Landscape after Rogozin: is there any hope for cosmonautics to return to its former greatness
Landscape after Rogozin: is there any hope for cosmonautics to return to its former greatness
19 July, 19:32Photo: http://www.baikonuradm.ru/
For four years, Dmitry Rogozin was the head of Roscosmos. He was so often prophesied resignation, but it still did not happen, that he already seemed unsinkable.

What happened, why is now Rogozin's place will be taken by Yuri Borisov, who previously oversaw the military-industrial complex as deputy prime minister, and what will change in the industry?

Victoria Pavlova

Few people wonder why Rogozin's resignation took place. Everyone is wondering - why now? There was no open criticism from the top leadership of the country. Expert opinions differ on this matter.

Why did Rogozin leave and what did he leave behind

On the one hand, where is the super-heavy class booster? Postponed indefinitely. Where are the reusable rockets that can make launching spacecraft cheaper? Postponed indefinitely. Where is the visited lunar base? She has not been remembered for a long time. Where is the new Oryol manned spacecraft? Still under development and testing.

The popularizer of cosmonautics Filipp Terekhov continues the list of failures of Roskosmos during the Rogozin period:

- Neither Luna-25 nor the second stage of the ExoMars program were launched. And if the first will almost certainly fly, albeit later, then the prospects for the second are now very vague.

The agency is left with "long-term construction projects" - projects that are not just going on for years, but are constantly shifting to the right. Ship "Eagle", Science and Energy Module for the ISS, "Venera-D" and others. Given the chronic lack of funds, perhaps this is not a failure, but an attempt to do too much with too few resources, but, unfortunately, at the moment it is impossible to say when the Eagle will fly, when the first ROSS module will be launched, a nuclear tug "Zeus" and so on. It is now obvious that "at least 5" lunar exploration vehicles (FKP 2016-2025) will definitely not fly until 2025.

But the expert also draws attention to a number of local successes in the industry:

- The launch of the "Science" module should definitely be attributed to the achievements. It looks like a strong-willed decision, a conscious step to risk. And it turned out - the module reached the ISS, albeit not without incident. After a very long break, the operation of the Angara launch vehicle began. This also includes the improvement of the situation in the GKNPTs them. Khrunichev, who was on the verge of bankruptcy due to huge debts.

More than three years or more than eighty launches without accidents. More space PR. There are high-quality launch broadcasts with excellent video from the on-board cameras on the rocket. This also includes the Challenge project - there was a lot of controversy about it, but it spurred public attention to cosmonautics. Archival documents began to be published on the website of the State Corporation, which is very valuable for the history of cosmonautics.

Launch of the Spektr-RG telescope. It is the flagship observatory at the forefront of world science. Cosmodrome "Vostochny" - put things in order, now we hear about construction and launches instead of scandals and criminal cases. It was possible to obtain and almost completely fulfill the contract for the launch of One Web satellites. Students and schoolchildren got the opportunity to launch their satellites with a passing load for free.

Ilya Grashchenkov, President of the Regional Policy Development Center Foundation, also believes that Rogozin has coped with some technical tasks. To the best of their abilities and skills, far from cosmonautics:

- The very appointment of Rogozin to the military-industrial complex was, under Medvedev, in many respects an advance payment for the merits of his father, who was a famous person in the world of missiles. Therefore, the son of a politician and journalist was appointed there with a strange background. He was sent down to Roskosmos from the post of Deputy Prime Minister. It was clear that breakthroughs should not be expected from Roskosmos, so a PR specialist was needed at the head, who would fill this cosmic void and produce different messages. But now these messages, I think, are not needed. And Roskosmos needs a more structured person who will deal with more applied things.

But the global political tasks facing Roskosmos, according to the expert, have completely failed:

- Politically, the task was to turn Roskosmos into a competitor to NASA. But Roskosmos, unfortunately, failed to become such. At best, he became an Elon Musk cosplay, although Elon Musk launched all the rockets with his personal money. The development of space as such, with high-level goals such as expeditions to planets, and low-level goals, such as increasing the satellite constellation, have not been fulfilled.

Anton Lukashevich, an independent expert in the aerospace industry, believes that the reason for Rogozin's resignation should be sought not in the results of Roscosmos, but in completely different areas. Rogozin's political skills and his absolute and unconditional support for the government's actions can now come in handy in the areas of the special operation:

- His resignation, from my point of view, is not at all connected with the events in Roskosmos, with the state of affairs in our cosmonautics, with the state of the industry. Because we have such a consistently bad situation there: underutilization of the allocated funds, failure to carry out the announced space launches, failure to carry out the federal space program and violations in the construction of the Vostochny cosmodrome. There is a constant failure to meet deadlines, financial scandals, 10 billion rubles of misuse, constant criminal trials, and leapfrog with a change of leadership. And now, after February 24, there is a complete collapse in foreign cooperation. If we say what Rogozin did for the future of our cosmonautics, I will say that he made it a farce. When Rogozin came, the accident rate became less, Rogozin attributed this to himself, which is wrong, because the production cycle for creating missiles is 2.5 years. That is, Rogozin came to the result of the events that Ostapenko had carried out quite competently before him. I believe that we need to see where Rogozin will emerge, where he will be sent. Rogozin, being a politician, simply sat out at Roskosmos, and it dragged on for a long time. Why now? I think it was needed elsewhere. There are a variety of assumptions, leaks - either the head of the presidential administration, or the deputy head of the administration, who should oversee the eastern regions of Ukraine.

What to expect from Borisov

The first thing everyone immediately started talking about after Rogozin was replaced by Borisov was the militarization of space. At the beginning of 2022, Roscosmos made 9 space launches, and only 3 of them were ordered by Roscosmos itself. Once a manned Soyuz was sent to the ISS and twice a Progress truck. 5 orders came directly from the Ministry of Defense and one from the Russian Aerospace Forces. There were no commercial launches, as well as sending scientific satellites. For 2022, 6 more launches are planned by order of the Ministry of Defense and the Aerospace Forces, 8 launches by order of Roscosmos and IKI RAS, and only 4 commercial launches (2 by South Korea, 1 by Japan and 1 by Angola).

Given the growing confrontation between Russia and the West, the person of Yuri Borisov looks quite logical. They forgot about civilian space, we throw all our forces into defense. Filipp Terekhov tells what changes await the domestic cosmonautics:

- In June there was news about a possible change in the Federal Space Program - more applied cosmonautics, satellites for remote sensing of the Earth, communication and navigation, and promising developments, manned and scientific cosmonautics are being cut. The decision looks logical in today's conditions, but, in any case, it will be necessary to look at the new FKP if it is changed.

However, the transfer to a military footing can breathe new life into cosmonautics. It was with the defense that its key successes were once associated. The famous R-7 missile was designed as an intercontinental missile with a nuclear warhead. Technologies for space communications and earth sounding were also developed by order of the Ministry of Defense during the Cold War. Even the promising Soyuz-5 launch vehicle is indebted to the Soviet defense industry. It is a modified Zenit rocket, which in turn is part of the Energiya super-heavy launch vehicle. The same one that brought out "Buran". But in addition to the shuttle, it was planned to launch the Skif-DM combat laser platform into orbit. It was her layout that became the payload on the test launch. Yes, and the first module of the ISS "Zarya" is the development of the Soviet "Salyuts", which were born from the Soviet military program "Almaz".

The work of Roskosmos will be spurred on by the United States. On the one hand, the American authorities publicly advocate peaceful space, and "NASA strongly condemns Russia's use of the International Space Station for political purposes, to support the special military operation of the Russian Federation in Ukraine." On the other hand, the United States created a special reconnaissance unit Space Delta 19, which will monitor the actions of Russia and China in orbit, and before the APU attack on Novaya Kakhovka, the Ukrainian city was filmed by the American satellite Worldwiew-2. So maybe now Roskosmos will do something for the army that will make a breakthrough in civil cosmonautics?

But so far it is not possible to predict achievements at the expense of the army, Filipp Terekhov believes:

- In general, a military program can have a completely arbitrary effect on what we consider space achievements. Advances in civil and scientific space will owe military success if the technology is compatible. For example, many years later, when it can already be transferred to civil cosmonautics, the nuclear engine that is on the Burevestnik may turn out to be an excellent space engine. Also, if military design bureaus are involved in the creation of civilian and scientific satellites, as was the case in the USSR, the benefits of military space will be in qualified design engineers.

But Ilya Grashchenkov urges not to overestimate the influence of the army on technology in cosmonautics - too much has changed since the time of Sergey Korolyov:

- Cosmonautics and Star Wars technology are very complex high-precision technologies. I don't know if Russia has its own developments now. If there is, great, but it would be very strange, because we don’t even have basic things like processors. The very understanding of military science as a source of life for everything else is somewhat erroneous, since the military around the world is an investment bank that finances developments. But it cannot be said that it is thanks to the military that science is moving somewhere. The science of the modern sixth economic order is very different from the science of the fourth economic order, which was in the days of the USSR. Then it was possible to gather scientists within the walls of the institute so that they could develop something. Now developments are diversified around the world. To create modern technology, one must be included in global processes, and now we are being excluded. There is an illusion that you can sit down, scratch your head and think of something. It is a myth. Even China has so far learned to open and copy other people's technologies, but with its own it is still lagging behind. We still need to take a step at least towards China. To begin with, basic developments at the IT level are needed , so civilians are indispensable.

And even a new stage of "star wars" between Russia and the United States will not lead to global shifts. At least because they are nothing new. There are a lot of big words, but everything goes on as usual, Filipp Terekhov explains:

- The idea of a reconnaissance satellite appeared in the United States no later than the mid-1950s, and they began to launch the first photo reconnaissance satellites in 1959. Inspector satellites (Russians have been talked about a lot in recent years) were used by the United States back in the 1990s. Today, the US already has an advanced constellation of spy satellites, plus they can buy photos taken by private companies that already have many satellites and excellent quality photos. In itself, intelligence does not mean "star wars"; all countries capable of creating and launching a satellite are engaged in it quite legally. If you mean the newly created Space Delta 18 unit, then at least as officially announced, it will collect information about anti-satellite weapons that Russia, China, India and other threats to American vehicles have. A program similar to the Reagan SDI, as far as I know, has not yet been announced.

Anton Lukashevich also does not expect miracles from Yuri Borisov - he gets the industry in too deplorable condition after Rogozin:

- For Borisov, this is a downgrade, he will take over the farm in a very dead state after Rogozin. Whether he will be able to correct this trend in cosmonautics is a big question. The United States is now significantly ahead of Russia, and Elon Musk's SpaceX company is doing more than the entire space industry of our country. Despite the fact that we have 170 thousand employed in this industry, and Musk has 13 thousand there. Its efficiency is an order of magnitude greater. The technological level is generally incomparable - we fly on rockets that Korolev made. All the problems on the ISS - Rogozin so instructed that everything there is on the verge of a break. All serious space projects will now run into a lack of funding. The economy is actually moving to a military footing, and in this situation, expensive, science-intensive, high-tech projects have little chance of being implemented.

All experts agree that there will be fewer loud statements and hype under Borisov. But it is unlikely that anything will change dramatically. And how is this possible if the position of the head of Roscosmos in Russia has become something like a link, where they are sent to be demoted, at best, to “sit out” for several years?

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