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posted by martyb on Wednesday August 12 2020, @01:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the trampolines-are-reusable dept.

Russia's space leader blusters about Mars in the face of stiff budget cuts

The leader of Russia's civil space program appears to be increasingly disengaged from reality. In recent months Dmitry Rogozin, the chief of Roscosmos, has given a series of interviews in which he has made all manner of big promises about the supposedly bright future of Russia's space program.

For example, in an interview published just today, Rogozin made the fantastical claim that his country's space program has the technical means to reach Mars and land cosmonauts there within eight to 10 years. If Russia is ready to finance such a plan, Rogozin guaranteed that Roscosmos stands ready to deliver.

Russia, Rogozin also recently said, is ready to do reuse better than SpaceX and the United States. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, he said, is only "semi-reusable," and Russia aspires to build a 21st-century rocket capable of 100 flights. He then reiterated that Russia would like to develop a version of its Soyuz rocket that has a methane-fueled engine.

SpaceX has flown its Falcon 9 first-stage rockets five times, and it plans to push toward reusing each booster 10 times. It is not clear what, if any, steps Russia has taken toward reuse. The reality is that Russia depends on reliable but decades-old technology to get into space. And while Rogozin talks a good game about sending his cosmonauts to the Moon or to Mars, and about competing with SpaceX on reusable rockets, this appears to be mostly bluster.

If you are still under any illusions about the state of Russia's space program, now is the time to dispel them.

Previously: Russian Space Agency Abolished and Replaced Following Financial Violations
Price War Between SpaceX and Russia
Russian Rocket Builder May Have Replaced Special Alloys With Cheap Metals
NASA and Roscosmos Release Joint Statement on ISS Leak Amid Rumors
Head of Russian Space Agency Roscosmos Wavers on Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway
Russia Space Chief Spars with Elon Musk Over Launch Pricing


Original Submission

Related Stories

Russian Space Agency Abolished and Replaced Following Financial Violations 9 comments

The Russian space agency Roscosmos has been abolished following the recent failure of a Progress M-27M spacecraft and the $1.8 billion (92 billion rubles) of financial violations committed during 2014. Auditors found "violations included inefficient use of funds, misuse of appropriated funds, and violations in fiscal reporting methods." The agency's budget had already been cut by 35 percent in March. The Moscow Times reports:

Asked why Golikova had singled out Roscosmos if violations are rampant throughout the government, Pavel Luzin, a space industry analyst at Perm State University, said "the government needs to explain the current bad situation with the space industry and space program."

Despite numerous efforts to reform the space industry since a long streak of crashes and high-profile failures began in 2010, Russian rockets continue to explode and officials are at a loss as to how to fix the space industry's problems.

But while corruption in the space industry hinders effective reform, Luzin said the Audit Chamber's report does not necessarily mean that Roscosmos has stolen 92 billion rubles.

"Violations just mean disorder, because the Russian flow of documents is very intricate and it is impossible to keep all of them in order. Sure, some shady deals are possible, and moreover they take place, but it doesn't mean that all of the 92 billion rubles have been stolen. That's impossible," Luzin said.

The space agency will be replaced by a state corporation, also called Roscosmos. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told a talk show that "It will take maybe another two to three years to intensively technically re-equip the rocket and space industry." He warned last week that Russia could lose its 40% share of the global commercial satellite launch market to firms such as SpaceX if reforms do not succeed.


[Editor's Comment: Original Submission]

Price War Between SpaceX and Russia 27 comments

From the (Kansas City) Daily Star Albany :

Recent moves in Congress to restrict the use of Russian rocket engines on national security missions sparked a revolution in the U.S. commercial space program. Private businesses such as SpaceX and Blue Origin, as well as Aerojet Rocketdyne, are lining up to offer homegrown rocket engines to NASA. Meanwhile, Russian President Putin just abolished his country's own Federal Space Agency, replacing 'Roscosmos' with a new corporation that "will design new spacecraft and implement new projects by itself."

But before you assume that Russia has been bitten by the Capitalism bug - don't. In contrast to SpaceX, which is a private venture, Russia's new-and-improved Roscosmos will be wholly owned by the Russian state.

Asserting complete control over the space effort is, to Putin's mind, a way to control costs and prevent corruption, such as when certain persons at Roscosmos famously embezzled or wasted as much as $1.8 billion in 2014. Whether the restructuring will also make space travel "cheaper," as [deputy prime minister] Rogozin hopes, remains to be seen.

SpaceX publishes a price of $61.2M USD for a Falcon 9 launch. Can Roscosmos compete with that? The Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture ULA finds that price hard to beat. So do the French and Chinese. From the article:

[...] California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez described a conversation she had with France's Arianespace a few years ago: "They were telling me that their launch costs about $200 million equivalent. They said they weren't worried about UAL [sic] but could I get rid of SpaceX? Because they were going to drive them out of business!"

And over in China, officials interviewed by Aviation Week recently lamented that "published prices on the SpaceX website [are] very low." So low, in fact, that with China's own Long March rockets costing $70 million per launch, "they could not match them."


Original Submission

Russian Rocket Builder May Have Replaced Special Alloys With Cheap Metals 10 comments

In recent years, the Russian space program has had a series of problems with its flagship rockets, the heavy-lift Proton booster and the smaller Soyuz rocket used to launch crews and cargo to the International Space Station. The Proton rocket has been grounded since last summer, and the Soyuz has not flown since December, when its third stage engine failed and a Progress cargo spacecraft was lost.

Most of these problems have been traced to engines that power the second and third stages of the Proton and Soyuz rockets. The majority of these engines are built at the Voronezh Manufacturing Plant in southwestern Russia, near the Ukrainian border. Russian Space Web reports that Ivan Koptev, director general of the engine manufacturing facility, has resigned.

According to the news reports, the final straw may have come after recent tests of engines to be used by future second and third stages of the Proton rocket that resulted in more failures. "The failure of the engine was reportedly traced to illegal replacement of precious heat-resistant alloys within the engine's components with less expensive but failure-prone materials," Zak writes. The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, has already recalled some of the engines to be used in the upper stage of its Soyuz rockets, and now it is also recalling dozens of Proton upper stage engines. The next Proton launch could be delayed into this summer.

Source:
https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/01/russia-recalling-dozens-of-rocket-engines-sacks-head-motor-builder/


Original Submission

NASA and Roscosmos Release Joint Statement on ISS Leak Amid Rumors 32 comments

Russian theory that NASA sabotaged the space station spreading like wildfire

As you may recall, a low-pressure leak occurred aboard the International Space Station in late August. Eventually the crews traced the leak to the orbital module of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft that had arrived at the station in June. After the problem was traced to what appears to be a manufacturing defect, the head of Russia's space program essentially called for the head of whoever made the error. Now, however, something entirely new is afoot in Russia. A growing number of Russian publications have been putting forth an absurd new theory—that a NASA astronaut deliberately caused the leak on board the station in order to force the evacuation of a sick crew member. The story has spread like wildfire during the last 24 hours, according to Robinson Mitchell, who translates Russian space stories for Ars.

One of the most prominent articles was published Wednesday in Kommersant, which says Russian investigators are vigorously pursuing the claim that Americans may have damaged the Soyuz deliberately. Publicly, Roscosmos leader Dmitry Rogozin was quoted as saying about Russia's investigation into the leak, "Results we have received do not give us an objective picture. The situation is much more complex than we earlier thought." Privately, however, several sources from the space agency are leaking much juicier comments to the Russian media. "Our Soyuz is next to the Rassvet (Dawn) module, right next to the hatch into the American segment of the station," one source told Kommersant. "Access to our ship is possible only with the permission of our commander, but we cannot exclude an unsanctioned access by the Americans."

Head of Russian Space Agency Roscosmos Wavers on Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway 33 comments

Russia throws doubt on joint lunar space station with U.S.: RIA

Moscow may abandon a project to build a space station in lunar orbit in partnership with U.S. space agency NASA because it does not want a "second fiddle role," a Russian official said on Saturday.

[...] [The] head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said Russia might exit the joint program and instead propose its own lunar orbit space station project.

[...] A spokesman for Roscosmos said later that Russia had no immediate plans to leave the project. "Russia has not refused to take part in the project of the lunar orbit station with the USA," Vladimir Ustimenko was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.

FLOP-G?

Also at ABC (Associated Press).

Previously:

Related:


Original Submission

Russia Space Chief Spars with Elon Musk Over Launch Pricing 52 comments

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

The head of Russia's space agency on Saturday accused Elon Musk's SpaceX of predatory pricing for space launches, which is pushing Russia to cut its own prices. "Instead of honest competition on the market for space launches, they are lobbying for sanctions against us and use price dumping with impunity," Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin wrote on Twitter.

Rogozin, who is often outspoken on Twitter and previously engaged in online banter with Elon Musk, on Friday raised the issue during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

He said the Roscosmos space agency "is working to lower prices by more than 30 percent on launch services to increase our share on the international markets." "This is our answer to dumping by American companies financed by the US budget," he said. The market price of a SpaceX launch is $60 million, but NASA pays up to four times that amount, he said.

Musk responded to the criticism Saturday by saying on Twitter: "SpaceX rockets are 80% reusable, theirs are 0%. This is the actual problem."


Original Submission

Roscosmos Chief Blasts U.S. Sanctions 16 comments

Russia's space chief is hopping mad over most recent US restrictions

On Monday the US Commerce Department released a list of Chinese and Russian companies that it says have military ties. The list designates 58 Chinese and 43 Russian companies as "military end users" and requires exporters to obtain a license before selling them products. Such licenses are unlikely to be issued.

[...] The list includes several space companies in China and Russia, including the Progress Rocket Space Center in Samara, Russia. This company develops and manufactures the Soyuz rockets that have carried Russian and US astronauts to the International Space Station for the last decade after the US space shuttle retired.

The inclusion of the Soyuz manufacturer drew a swift rebuke from Dmitry Rogozin, the leader of Russia's space corporation, Roscosmos, on Tuesday. In his heated statement, Rogozin said the restrictions were "illegal," and he characterized them as "stupid."

"This Samara enterprise manufactures the legendary Soyuz-2 launch vehicles, with the help of which the Soyuz MS spacecraft has been taking American astronauts to the ISS for 10 years already," he said. "Now, it turns out that our American colleagues have their 'trampoline working' again, and the first thing they did is spit into the Samara well. Isn't it too early, colleagues, in case your 'trampoline' breaks again suddenly and you will have to satisfy your passion for space from our well again?"

Earlier, Rogozin had demonstrated yet again that SpaceX is on his mind:

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by legont on Wednesday August 12 2020, @02:13AM (15 children)

    by legont (4179) on Wednesday August 12 2020, @02:13AM (#1035348)

    Soviet version does exist and is probably better than Musk's. Soviets designed parts of rockets that would glide back home. No propellant or excessive stress. One version was actually shown at Paris air show https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baikal_(rocket_booster) [wikipedia.org]

    --
    "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
    • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Wednesday August 12 2020, @02:45AM (4 children)

      by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Wednesday August 12 2020, @02:45AM (#1035372)

      While I agree that the Russian (the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991) version would probably be better it is still a long way from actual flight.

      from your linked wiki

      A full-size engineering mock-up of the Baikal was exhibited at the Paris Air Show in July 2001

      and

      As of June 2016, the development was essentially complete, but funding for the manufacture of the flying prototype of the recoverable booster was absent due to the low expected launch rate.

      So, while Musk'c version actually exists and works the Russian version is at best just little more than a well defined dream sadly

      --
      "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
      • (Score: 2, Disagree) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday August 12 2020, @02:56AM (1 child)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday August 12 2020, @02:56AM (#1035378)

        just little more than a well defined dream

        Let's hope the same is true for Putin's latest round of nuclear weapons.

        --
        🌻🌻 [google.com]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @05:31AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @05:31AM (#1035411)

          Putin's latest round of nuclear weapons

          Why bring up Donald J. Trump now?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @03:15AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @03:15AM (#1035383)

        Baikal is planned for ~200kN of thrust vs Falcon 9's 7,607 kN. These boosters really aren't in the same class size wise. Also Falcon 9's MECO happens at ~ mach 10, where Baikal is targeting mach 5.6. That a huge difference aerodynamic heating and downrange distance wise. Reusing the first stage is much easier if your first stage has half the delta v.

      • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Wednesday August 12 2020, @07:50AM

        by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Wednesday August 12 2020, @07:50AM (#1035438) Homepage
        > the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991

        So what? The Сове́т (Soviet) Федера́ции (Federation) is the official name of the Russian Federation's senate. If they're happy with that term (meaning "council"), then we should be too. And before you say "just restricting it to the word describing how the country operates politically, and not actually including the name of the country is dumb", I'll just mention "the United States" (of Mexico, obviously, what else could I have been referring to?).
        --
        Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by takyon on Wednesday August 12 2020, @05:51AM (6 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday August 12 2020, @05:51AM (#1035420) Journal

      An untested Russian technology is not "probably better".

      If that's the standard you want to use, by the time Russia launches a partially reusable rocket in 2035, Musko will be launching thousands of superior fully reusable Starships.

      Russia does not have a serious space program right now. As the article notes, India is looking better. Their PSLV [wikipedia.org] is a serious competitor for SpaceX's Falcon 9, and their future plans look pretty good too.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Wednesday August 12 2020, @09:16AM (3 children)

        by RamiK (1813) on Wednesday August 12 2020, @09:16AM (#1035456)

        An untested Russian technology is not "probably better".

        There's nothing that requires extensive testing about gliding the booster back for reuse on a pair of extendable wings. It was the original design going back at least to the 40s along with simply parachuting it down. The military just wouldn't have it since it limits lift-offs and landing to certain weather conditions, specific trajectories and landing sites and exposes the craft to interception in orbits that aren't covered by radar.

        --
        compiling...
        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday August 13 2020, @02:33AM (1 child)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 13 2020, @02:33AM (#1035948) Journal

          There's nothing that requires extensive testing about gliding the booster back for reuse on a pair of extendable wings.

          Except that it's aerospace. You always need extensive testing for this stuff. But sure, you can get such testing while you fly it.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 13 2020, @02:46AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 13 2020, @02:46AM (#1035953)

            I volunteer GP to go first.

        • (Score: 2) by legont on Thursday August 13 2020, @01:18PM

          by legont (4179) on Thursday August 13 2020, @01:18PM (#1036114)

          Yes, exactly. When Russians were working on manned space program, the one time use rocket design won only because military wanted it. Most civilians wanted glide back. They thought about vertical landing, but dismissed for fuel costs and dangers. 60 years ago that was.

          --
          "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by driverless on Wednesday August 12 2020, @09:53AM (1 child)

        by driverless (4770) on Wednesday August 12 2020, @09:53AM (#1035463)

        It's also subject to the usual Russian curse of drastic underfunding unless it's military. Rogozin hasn't "disengaged from reality", he's playing the standard funding game of promising miracle solutions in order to get a fraction of what he's asking for at which point he can say he wasn't able to deliver the miracle because he didn't get enough funds. Вот такие дела.

        • (Score: 2) by legont on Thursday August 13 2020, @01:22PM

          by legont (4179) on Thursday August 13 2020, @01:22PM (#1036116)

          True. However, on a related note, I've heard that Chinese companies currently hire all available Russia's IT folks paying quite serious money even by the US standards. Perhaps funding issue will resolve itself soon.

          --
          "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
    • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by khallow on Wednesday August 12 2020, @01:22PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday August 12 2020, @01:22PM (#1035513) Journal

      Soviet version does exist and is probably better than Musk's.

      Because?

      Soviets designed parts of rockets that would glide back home. No propellant or excessive stress.

      You still have the mass of the glide control parts - that mass stays with the stage every time even if the stage isn't being reused. And that creates a need to manufacture different stages (which weakens a little bit the economies of scale of making these things). It's also a more complex design and control problem (a place where Russia's space program is presently weak) and requires a landing strip. If they can get it to work, it'll probably be somewhat better than SpaceX's approach. But be aware of those trade offs.

      One mock up was actually shown at Paris air show

      FTFY.

    • (Score: 2) by legont on Thursday August 13 2020, @12:23PM (1 child)

      by legont (4179) on Thursday August 13 2020, @12:23PM (#1036099)

      I did not realize that a word "better" would produce such a storm, including flamebaits left and right. Let me go into more details.
      Gliding back home is better for many reasons the main ones being obviously fuel and stability of approach. Gliding is also tested for a hundred years and known technology that can be easily implemented.
      The issue with gliding is infrastructure costs. One needs a network of landing strips and friendly regulators. Even Musk can't reliably achive this in reasonable time so he went with worse solution. The one that is less enviroment friendly, mind you, and more dangerous.
      This story rhymes aviation. PanAm was created on similar to Musk's idea - use free seas. Large boats land in international waters screw you governments. PanAm succeeded, but eventually infrastructure was built and it died.
      The same will happen to Musk's rockets. We will glide back home while Musk's dyno's will stay in museums. Nothing is wrong with that, mind you.
      That's why I said that Soviet technology designed back in 40's is "probably better". In 50s Russians were flying rockets under bellies of aircraft that would go on ballistic trajectory and glide back home. This technology exists. Yes, there are difficulties, but yes, Rogosin is probably right - given the budget he will fly them in no time.

      --
      "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
      • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by khallow on Friday August 14 2020, @04:37PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 14 2020, @04:37PM (#1036596) Journal

        Even Musk can't reliably achive this in reasonable time so he went with worse solution.

        Then it wasn't a worse solution.

        The same will happen to Musk's rockets. We will glide back home while Musk's dyno's will stay in museums. Nothing is wrong with that, mind you.

        Who is "we"? It's certainly not Russia today. And nobody is expecting the Falcon series or vertical landing to be the final word in launch systems.

  • (Score: 3, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @02:37AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @02:37AM (#1035366)

    Launching the Mars Perseverance rover with their RD180 engine!
    https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/07/nasa-set-to-launch-its-most-complex-ambitious-rover-yet-to-mars/ [arstechnica.com]
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas_V [wikipedia.org]

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @07:16AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @07:16AM (#1035431)

    The Russians are a mere shadow of their former selves. Maybe the US should just annex them and move on already.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @10:36AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @10:36AM (#1035468)
      The US should regime change itself first.

      0) Has oil? Check
      1) Human rights violations? Check
      2) Corrupt dangerous leader? Check
      3) Civil unrest? Check
      4) Rigged elections? Check
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @07:16PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @07:16PM (#1035729)

        Think you could help fix our elections instead of undermine them maybe? Help uncover all the fraud and 'legal' manipulations?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 13 2020, @02:46AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 13 2020, @02:46AM (#1035954)

          Shouldn't be hard with "millions" of illegals voting.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @08:10AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @08:10AM (#1035443)

    Let's get it out of the way that Russia had been carrying the American space program for ~15 years until Musk showed up a short time ago.

    The vocabulary: "blusters", "appears to be increasingly disengaged from reality", "big promises", "supposedly bright", "fantastical claim" - I want to read facts, not some journalism grad's jingoistic wankfest.

    Perhaps he is trying to get hired at the NYT?

    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @09:08AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12 2020, @09:08AM (#1035455)

      Little Russia all mad about shitty science journalism? You frost stompers never could reign in your egos, and that is something coming from the US.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday August 12 2020, @01:34PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday August 12 2020, @01:34PM (#1035522) Journal

      The author has been paying attention to Russia's space program, you haven't. It was in a bad state, and losing funding will make it even worse.

      Russia had been carrying the American space program for ~15 years

      More like ~10 years, and American human spaceflight program, not American space program. Outsourcing it to Russia which has been coasting on its decades old Soviet technology was the easy move.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
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