Putin: Russia Needs “Breakthrough Success” in Space

Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting with executives of State Space Corporation ROSCOSMOS. (Credit: Russian Government)

Meeting with Executives of State Space Corporation Roscosmos

Vladimir Putin discussed plans for developing the missile and space industry and measures aimed at making the corporation more efficient with the executives of the State Space Corporation Roscosmos.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

I have invited you – this practically new Roscosmos team – to discuss plans for the development of the missile and space industry and specific decisions aimed at making your corporation more efficient.

The amount of work and the scale of objectives are great. I hope that you will approach these goals with the highest responsibility and will work consistently and professionally, trying to reach the best results.

As you know, Russia has always had broad and sometimes unique competences in space exploration. Today, Roscosmos needs breakthrough success in this area and, given the growing global competition, to maintain its position of leadership.

We are well aware that this is not just about prestige. The resolution of several truly vital issues depends on the development of modern space infrastructure and equipment, and the deployment of precision navigation and global satellite communications, such as the creation of the digital economy, the development of logistics and of e-learning, and ensuring security and law and order. Your progress needs to become a major resource for the country’s general breakthrough development.

Let me emphasise that for all the known problems, the missile and space industry has powerful technological and personnel potential, great engineers and scientific schools.

As recently as July 10, our specialists managed to launch and dock the Progress-MS-09 cargo craft with the International Space Station in record time. You cut the docking time in half.

These suggested technical solutions will seriously enhance the effectiveness of our space programme.

Since the space industry is strategically important, please focus on the key tasks at hand. You are aware of them, but I will, nonetheless, go over some of them.

Firstly, we must continue to build up the orbital group. In doing so, it is necessary to drastically improve the quality and reliability of space and launch vehicles, and to create a modern domestic electronics industry in order to extend the service life of our satellites in orbit. We are all aware of the things we should focus on here.

Secondly, it is important to implement a number of major significant projects in a timely manner, including the creation of a super-heavy class rocket complex.

Importantly, all previous deadlines for developing it should be met, and flight tests should begin in 2028 as planned.

There is a similar requirement for the Soyuz-5 medium-class carrier rocket, which, in fact, will become the first stage of the super-heavy rocket. As you may be aware, the Soyuz flight tests should begin in 2022.

Thirdly, I look forward to seeing greater efforts to develop the Angara family of carrier rockets, including the Angara-A5 heavy-lift rocket: as we know, it is of great importance for our country’s defence capability.

For us to be able to launch it, we must expand the infrastructure of the Vostochny Space Launch Centre, proceed with the second phase of its construction, and organise work to build a launch pad for the Angara, the launch of which is scheduled for 2021.

Also, given that the rocket and space industry is currently overly reliant on budgetary funds, it should focus on ways to diversify its output, like the defence industry.

I believe the Corporation can and should ensure a steady flow of revenue from paid services rendered to other sectors of the economy in the sphere of information, navigation and communications. By doing so, we will direct federal budget funds toward the future goals of the space industry.

I am aware that you have high quality and commercially viable projects, such as the new programme Sphere, which, in the next few years, will be used to launch over 600 satellites (I believe, 640 in all) in three stages: by 2022, 2024 and 2028. Under this programme, the new space group should be effectively used in the sphere of navigation, communications and remote sensing of the Earth.

Importantly, domestic businesses and our foreign partners are interested in this project, so we should fully focus on implementing it.

One more thing. In order to fulfill the Corporation’s ambitious plans, it is important to focus on HR policy. I hope that you will not only retain, but also increase the industry’s design and engineering capacity and pay special attention to training young employees. This is instrumental for the success of the space industry and its future. Please take good care of what you have, and, of course, focus on building up the workforce.

Let us get to work.

  • Robert G. Oler

    like Trump a lot of talk but no real action 🙂

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Wow, the Russians have their lunch money taken from them by a private startup in the US, and in having that done to them are shown in plain sight what can be done, and how to do it. If I were the Russians I’d just copy Falcon 9. Don’t get me wrong, I love it to see the Russians are stuck in the expendables paradigm, may they never leave.

  • 76 er

    Yeah, the man sitting at the head of the table in plain sight is Russia’s real problem.

  • Michael Halpern

    No as bad as Trump is, he is merely somewhere between inept and trying to copy what Putin does,

  • mike shupp

    Hmmm. I’ll give Putin reasonable credit here. I don’t think his intended audience is the bureaucrats and managers sitting at that table — they presumably are insiders with knowledge of the Russian rocketry program and are familiar with its goals, Instead it’s a speech for Russians on the outside of the rocket business — ordinary citizens, in other words — explaining what the state-run portion of the space industry in their country plans to do in the next few years and when. And it’s detailed. It’s a blueprint rather than an aspirational slogan — the contrast with Donald Trump’s space policy pronouncements and photo shows could hardly be greater.
    Of course, this session probably does suggest to ordinary Russian folks that Vladimir Putin is an inspiring technical manager with a mastery of esoteric engineering skills. I doubt that’s an accident.
    What else strikes me is the utter gormlessness of the enterprise. Of course these are remarks aimed at Roscosmos rather than say a convention of astrophysicists, but it’s disappointing to see so much attention to means rather than ends. What’s the point of all this? Space technology is useful to the state, sure. But so is the auto business and nuclear power and IT. It’d be nice to see a reference to future planetary missions for spacecraft and humans doing things on the moon.

  • Vladislaw

    Putin is supposed to be wealthier than Bezos. He should crack his piggy bank and fund a start up…..

  • Pete Zaitcev

    They have a bigger fish to fry than just F9, in particular domestic electronics. See the story of Angosat.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Russia has much unfulfilled promise. They should be the richest people in the world with all their land, and their kernel of academic and industrial knowledge. It’s just that Russian leadership will not allow nor do they push their people to individual and enterprise excellence. Russian society and technological effort is so tragic to watch from outside. Sad to say, Americans are drifting in their direction.

  • voronwae

    “Also, given that the rocket and space industry is currently overly reliant on budgetary funds, it should focus on ways to diversify its output, like the defence industry.” So fix everything, please, and don’t expect any money from the government. In my opinion, Putin has fostered such a culture of rampant corruption that the culture itself is breaking what little is left in Russia that works. But the budget cuts don’t help either.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    He probably already has. With their model of government the guy on top not only receives money from below, he has to foster lines of patronage below him to keep his base stable. So yes, he’s rich, but I’ll bet a lot of it is tied up propping up his lowers.

  • windbourne

    Yes, we are. Very concerning.

  • ThomasLMatula

    They should just give it up and build a spaceport for the BFR outside of Moscow and another one outside of Vladivostok. Then focus on developing payloads for it.

  • Michael Halpern

    Fortunately our government structure is such that corrective action is possible

  • redneck

    I agree on the unfulfilled promise. I think though that there is a cultural problem that goes deeper than just the current leadership. So much of the history of that land has fostered a lack of trust in government that individual initiative has been stifled. Why try when it can all be taken away at official whim. Putin, Stalin, Nicholas II. Go back as far as you like for a list of problem leaders.

    IMO, it would take a generation of stable, honest, and competent government for the Russian people to reach their true potential. The Russian immigrants I have known were sharp and motivated. They were also the lucky and self selected that could get out.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Exactly! Strong property rights and strong protection of individual freedom were key to the emergence of the efficient consumer and capital markets in the U.K. and the U.S.A. which led to the industrial revolution. It’s why other nations lagged in technology development even though they had good engineers and scientists. It will take more than a single generation for that type of culture change in Russia, especially as a majority of the public like a centralized government with strong, tough leaders the run the nation with an iron grip.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, it’s a model of government that hasn’t changed in principle in thousands of years, which is why you see such limited technological progress in Russia and nations with similar cultural histories.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    And man oh man, if Russia had property rights and if that property was distributed across the population at the individual level …. We’d all be writing in Cyrillic and our digital character sets would derive from RuSCII and not ASCII.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Well to give them some credit at a very difficult system to escape, most societies live under that system, and even our vaunted free enterprise system tries to go there. Free enterprise has some built in negative feedback mechanisms to prevent this from becoming the equilibrium endstate, but it can and does happen. With a resulting need for intervention from the government, and things like unions, and welfare. Which results in a real political fight that goes on forever. While it’s easy for us Americans to goad Russians as to why each Russian does not own their own 400 acres of taiga and a MTZ-80 consider what Britons fall back on when we chide them for keeping the crown and retinue of royals. They think we’re asking for a return to the chaos of Cromwell in exchange for a republic. Likewise today’s Russians think we’re asking for a return to the chaos of the Yeltsin era when we ask them to have a representative government bound by rule of law.

  • Robert G. Oler

    the Chinese are making a form of communism work …the Russians cannot make facisim work 🙂

  • Michael Halpern

    We actually don’t know how well its working for China, all we really know is they have a very big propaganda and censorship campaign, and “re-education” facilities.

  • Robert G. Oler

    my impression from my time there, it is working fairly well…and is durable

  • gunsandrockets

    Hey Putin, I got an idea for a real breakthrough in spaceflight, in contrast to the Potemkin projects of recent Russian publicity.

    Do your own Project Orion! Hmm.. Project Orionski? No, not the dumb American space capsule that NASA recently parked on the lawn of the White House, I mean the nuclear-bomb pulse-rocket project from 1957! Now that would be impressive, eh?

    Sure, it would mean violating the nuclear treaty signed by the commies back in 1963. But for someone like you, a ruthless dictator who casually poisons political enemies with radioactive Polonium and nerve gas, why let a piece of paper stop a real new Russian first in spaceflight?

    To Saturn by 2030!

  • Michael Halpern

    And if the great firewall is circumvented? Paranoia from their leadership is indicative of insecurity, fear even.