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Friday, March 16, 2018

Mars for Russia more important than the Moon

Yesterday the President held a meeting dedicated to the problems of space industry development. It remains “business card” of Russia as a scientific and technical power. However, the main competitors are now passed around us on the body, and clear the project on the development of Astronautics in the country. Prospects are “starless”. Is there a way out?

Over the past four years the Russian space industry is literally torn apart by the change. First, its “main headquarters” was divided into Roscosmos Roscosmos and the United rocket and space Corporation. Then they re-merged in the form of the state Corporation “Roscosmos”. During the same period of time in an armchair of the head of the domestic space successively occupied by three people: two rocketeer – Vladimir Popovkin and Oleg Ostapenko, former head of AVTOVAZ, Igor Komarov (the current head of the state Corporation “Roscosmos”).

“No space power of the world until he decided to repeat Apollo, but if and take, there is no guarantee that she’ll want to do this together with Russia”

The “compass” of Russian cosmonautics spun from the creation of “scientific and technical basis for new manned spacecraft to be implemented in the framework of international cooperation for manned missions to the planets and Solar system bodies” (as it was formulated in the state program of the Russian Federation “Space activity of Russia for 2013-2020) to create a high-latitude orbit to periodically visit manned station, launch into lunar orbit manned complex, on Board of which astronauts would control automatic devices operating on the lunar surface, construction of inhabited bases on the moon and stuff.

In General, not so much “lots of plans”, much confusion and vacillation.

Finally it’s time for the President to speak out, to make space activities clarity and orderliness, but at the same time to focus on achieving new heights. In this approach, there is nothing specifically Russian. The experience of the world space shows that all the major steps in the exploration of space initiated by the Supreme Executive power.

Weighty word (or rather words) were spoken at the meeting devoted to problems of development of space industry in the country, which was held the day before. Let’s consider in detail each of them.

The first word is: “First and foremost we need to strengthen the Russian group of spacecraft, focusing it on solving practical problems”. This is correctly and timely task, especially as the solution would require a much more complex and ambitious plan – lifting of the whole electronic industry of Russia on the world level. After all domestic satellites at times 80 percent or more completed with foreign elements.

The word second, you need to strengthen Russia’s positions on the market of rocket launch services. Let’s start with General.

Statistics successful launches in different strenously services account for no more than 1-2% of the international market of space services. Moreover, Russia traditionally is ranked first in the world by number of launches. Much further “strengthened”? Even if Russia will occupy the entire niche (which is basically impossible, because other countries, including the USA, China, Japan, India and the EU, providing quality and comparable in price with Russian launch services), its share of the global space market still will not exceed 2%.

All can Russia offer in this market, not counting the launch vehicle (LV) “Soyuz” and “proton”, designed at the dawn of the space age, though upgraded many times since then, is PH “Angara”, which has only “learns” to fly. The machine was good, but the cost of running is higher not only than America’s “Falcon”, but even than the “Proton”.

However, experts say that when the “Angara” put on a conveyor belt and will do “like sausages”, its value will fall. This is probably so. But what about the fact that in the US and Europe are carriers of partially reusable, the cost of operation which will be significantly lower than that of disposable “Angara”?

Now, with regard to manned assets. This is spaceships. All that while Russia is the Soyuz spacecraft, which in two years will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. However, he, like the same media that was upgraded not once, but in principle it’s still the same old “Union”, designed for the delivery of three people into orbit.

Meanwhile in the U.S. created four new type of spacecraft, designed at least six people each, and with the provision of comfort at the cabins of modern Airliners. It is the vehicle NASA’s “Orion” and three private spacecraft Dragon, CST-100 “Spaceliner” and winged “dream Chaser”. And the “Dragon” for several years operated in the cargo, the automatic version, and the “Orion” made one unmanned test flight.

As for Russia, it is possible to consolidate its position in competition with these machines it will probably be by means of a “Prospective manned transportation system” (PCA). However, there is this system that looks very similar to the American “Orion”, so far only in the figure. But because it is obvious that it is in any case will be in the role of pursuer, for at the time of its commissioning to furrow the space will be at least a couple of new American ships.

The third word: “Now it is necessary to maintain formed the groundwork”. And this is the right task. But in the present state of the Russian space industry it can be reduced to another task – “not to fall”. After all, the only real “established provision” of Russian cosmonautics – is technique, technology and experience in the field of long-term space flights on Dosah (long-duration orbital stations), including six “Salutes”; “Mir” and ISS is what the USSR/Russia has been dealing with since the beginning of 1970-ies. Thus, the President actually decided not to unlearn what you have learned in the past half century.

The next word of the President is “to further the development of the space industry”. However, he did not say in which direction and at what pace. Not to criticize, because the answer to the question of where and when to fly, had to prepare assistants-advisers on outer space activities, taking into account the purpose (obviously, to raise science, technology, credibility and prestige of the state), which he set before domestic Astronautics. But almost from the moment when Putin first assumed his duties as head of state, they cannot develop a project that would achieve this goal.

However, some specifics still there. Despite the fact that in August of this year, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin called inappropriate allocation of large sums on preparation for manned expeditions to the moon and Mars, in October, the President of RSC Energia Vladimir Solntsev said at the 66th International Astronautical Congress in Jerusalem that “the priority of manned programs of Russia in the next 10-20 years is the study of the moon”. According to Solntseva, quoted by TASS, “Russia is developing a promising transport ship the new generation, in the near future will begin development of other elements of the lunar program”, and “a manned expedition to the moon are planned by 2030”.

It is unclear why this is necessary. To replicate the American Apollo program half a century ago? Because on the moon before mankind neither currently nor in the foreseeable future is not and will not stand the tasks for solution of which would have had to create a technique that is different from “forces made by Nietzsche”.

However, scientists (in particular, the Director of the space research Institute, Vice-President of RAS, academician the lion Green) emphasize that the Moon, given the information we received about her over the past half century, this is not the Moon, which we knew in 1960-1970-ies. And the same Green notes that the final decision on a manned mission to the moon, and especially on the construction base, should be accepted only after we will see our neighbor with the help of automatic machines.

The first Russian unit to arrive on the moon until the end of 2017 and the lunar Rover – not until 2019. Thus, until the beginning of 2020-ies Russia is unlikely to get the answer to the question, is the flight of a cosmonaut on the moon is justified from a scientific point of view.

Assume that the answer will be positive. What then? If the “on-forces made by Nietzsche” to undertake a training expedition to the moon, it can be done in less than 10 years. However, far less complex, ambitious and costly project of creation of “Angara” took 20 years. But if not “forces made by Nietzsche,” that the landing of astronauts on the moon should start to prepare now to at least try to make it to 2030. But then talk about the scientific rationale for sending Russian ambassadors to the moon is pure blasphemy.

Russia probably with someone “join hands” to work together to reach the moon and even further into space. However, as the experience of cooperation in space exploration between the USSR/Russia and the West, cooperation is implemented only if two conditions are met. The first is the political climate favorable type of discharge from the first half of the 1970s, or the end of the cold war in the early 1990-ies. Second – when Russia can make to a joint project something concrete in the form of technology or experience. The combination of these conditions gave rise first “Apollo-Soyuz”, and then “Shuttle-Mir” and ISS.

What political climate in relations between Russia and the West, to clarify too. As for the second condition, the possibility of Russia, limited to only near-earth activities that are not of interest to the Western powers (the U.S. has refused to share with us another earth station), but even for China, whose own efforts starting construction of a station in earth orbit. As for a potential partnership in the expeditions to the moon, no space power of the world until he decided to repeat Apollo, but if and take, there is no guarantee that she’ll want to do this together with Russia.

The President mentioned that planning for space activities, “we should proceed from real possibilities of the state”. It’s hard to argue with this statement. The question is, what should be understood under “real” Russia? They are large enough to spend tens of billions of dollars on preparation and carrying out of sports competitions of world level. If a truly innovative space project (as, for example, oblate-orbital expedition to Mars) will cost an amount not greater than these competitions, you may want to try to make the Russian envoys were the first at least a near Mars orbit.

Those new technologies, the authority and prestige of Russia (as well as the promotion of science), which will be obtained during implementation of the project, more than worth the money spent on its implementation. And, by the way, when Russia will have a real opportunity to go forward in space, many space powers in order to gain access to these opportunities pushed political differences with Moscow and unite with her efforts for further research and development of extraterrestrial space.

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