Congratulations to all those involved in space, and especially the leadership of the state corporation Roscosmos with their modern achievements. But wait... And what exactly to congratulate?
It is the United States that is completing a super-heavy launch vehicle and a manned spacecraft for the lunar program. This SpaceX, one by one, lands the first stages on the ground and catches the nose cones for reuse by ships, and at the same time launched hundreds of satellites to provide people with the Internet. It is in New Zealand that a private company is successfully selling launches of its booster rocket with electric pumps and engines, printed on a 3D printer. It is the Japanese who are taking soil samples taken on the asteroid. It is the Chinese who have become the leaders in the number of space launches, are building the fifth cosmodrome and are rolling their lunar rovers on the lunar surface. It is India that studies Mars with its interplanetary station...
And what about Roscosmos? The state corporation, it seems, specializes in the creation of paper projects, which, often without even finding implementation in the metal, are put on the back burner. Therefore, Novye Izvestia today recalls domestic projects, which we would very much like to be proud of, which could be included in congratulations... but which are not.
Family of launch vehicles "Angara"
Yes, in recent years, work has been carried out to transfer the production of Angara from Moscow to Omsk, and 2 launches are planned for 2021 - one copy of the light Angara-1.2 and the heavy Angara-A5 each. And the Ministry of Defense ordered the construction of 4 more copies of Angara-A5 in 2022-2024, which will be launched with payload mock-ups as part of the tests. The project formally exists, but it was conceived in a completely different way. The success of "Angara" was based on the serial production of a large number of universal modules, from which it is possible to assemble a rocket of any class, from light (1 module) to super-heavy (7 modules). Once the conveyor belt and the mass character ensured the success of Henry Ford, but this trick did not work with the "Angara". The middle class "Angara-A3" was abandoned in favor of Soyuz-5, and the "Angara-A7" was abandoned in favor of the even more lifting Yenisei. There is no universality, no mass character, no affordable price. At the end of last year, the general director of the Salyut design bureau estimated the cost of launching the Angara-A5 at almost $ 100 million. For comparison: the launch of "Falcon 9" now costs 62 million dollars, while the rocket itself, excluding services, costs about 40.3 million dollars.
But we could have been the first to start returning the first steps to the ground and reusing them. The Baikal-Angara project was presented at an exhibition in Le Bourget in 2001, when Elon Musk had not even thought about his own rockets. The bottom line is that the first stage of the "Angara" had a tail and landing gear, like an airplane, and it could then land on the airfield. In 2019, the project was reborn into Wing-SV, but the prospects are still dim.
In early 2006, the head of RSC Energia, Sevastyanov, promised that by 2015 a Russian base would appear on the moon. Real, inhabited, and we will be the first in the modern world to land a man on the moon. But, if we now carefully look through a telescope aimed at a natural satellite of the Earth, we will not see anything Russian there. In 2018, Dmitry Rogozin already talked about the creation of not an inhabited, but a visited base on which robotic avatars will work. New dates for the creation of the lunar base were announced in April last year - in 2025 Roscosmos plans to send a heavy station Luna-25 there. But it will not be living quarters at all, and not life support systems, but just a single research station, the task of which is to work out the landing technology, drill the surface of the moon by 2 meters and study the composition of the soil. In the meantime, our reality is only plans to launch a relatively simple automatic station "Luna-25" by world standards.
Manned ship "Clipper"
RSC Energia has been designing the Clipper universal reusable manned spacecraft since 2000. It was he who was supposed to deliver the astronauts to the moon. And at the same time he was supposed to replace the "Unions". Commercial operation was planned, the European Space Agency became interested in the project. But in 2007 it was decided to close the project due to the high cost of its completion. In the United States, the unmanned Boeing X-37, built according to a similar scheme, successfully performs tasks and conducts experiments for the military.
Transport and energy module
The interplanetary nuclear tug could be a unique proposition in the space services market. It could ensure the delivery of the payload with minimal energy and time costs to the Moon and Mars. It began to be developed at Energia in 2009. And the first copy was supposed to appear in 2018. But by this time, only a technical design, prototypes of individual components and an estimate of the necessary investment of 13.2 billion rubles had appeared. Now they only expect to carry out flight tests of the engines in 2025-2030.
The automatic interplanetary station "Phobos-Grunt" was supposed to reach the surface of the Mars satellite "Phobos", take soil samples and return them to Earth. However, due to a malfunction of the flight module, she could not leave the near-earth orbit in 2011. Force majeure, but the project was initially doomed to failure: according to the head of the commission to investigate the causes of the accident, Yuri Koptev , 62% of Phobos-Grunt microcircuits are just an element base of an industrial, not a space class. That is, it is not designed to work in conditions of cosmic radiation. Plus, some of the microcircuits were imported and "possibly counterfeit."
Manned ship "Federation"
After the Clipper project was closed, RSC Energia began developing a new manned spacecraft of a more traditional format, landing on parachutes. In 2009 it was called "PTK NP", then they gave the name "Federation", and now it is known as "Eagle". Initially it was planned to launch it on a non-existent carrier rocket "Rus-M", but the project was closed in 2011. After that, the choice fell on the promising Angara-A5P. But after a couple of years, everything had to be altered to accommodate the Federation's launching into orbit on another rocket - Soyuz-5. They did not work for long, because in 2017 it was again decided to return the Federation to the Angara-A5P. In the meantime, the cosmonauts are forced to fly in close "Soyuz" - last week on April 9 they had to take on board an American astronaut, and leave our cosmonaut on the ground. The same problem of a shortage of seats arises when a director and an actress are sent to the ISS next summer.
Launch vehicle "Yenisei"
A super-heavy booster, required for a lunar mission, could appear, but will not appear. Suddenly, after the conclusion of the contract for the development of the project, Roscosmos realized that the stages are not returning to the insufficiently modern - kerosene engines, not methane ones. In this regard, the project was sent for revision. Novye Izvestia has already written about this in detail.
In the meantime, Dmitry Rogozin promises to cover the entire country with satellite Internet by 2024 (repetition for the "outstanding space enthusiast" Elon Musk , as Dmitry Olegovich himself called him, has already become a tradition) and is preparing to announce to Vladimir Putin the strategic objectives of Roscosmos on Cosmonautics Day. But it would be much more interesting to hear about the strategic successes achieved.