Vladimir Putin Tours Vostochny Cosmodrome

Russian President Vladimir Putin gets a briefing on the progress of Vostochny Cosmodrome in September 2019. (Credit: Roscosmos)

TSIOLKOVSKY, Russia (Roscomos PR) — The President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin visited Amur Oblast and held a meeting to discuss the matters of the Vostochny Cosmodrome infrastructure development, as well as on perspective rocket complexes.

Right before the meeting, the President visited the Cosmodrome itself to inspect the objects and get acquainted with the status of the Angara space rocket launch complex construction.

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Roscosmos Moves Toward Reusable Boosters, Aims for the Moon

Roscosmos boss Dmitry Rogozin meets with Russia’s boss of bosses, President Vladimir Putin. (Credit: Russian President’s Office)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with Dmitry Rogozin and his team over at Roscosmos. This has been partly due to all the awesome things that are happening elsewhere that keep me busy. And partly due to the fact that Russia’s plans seem to be continuing evolving due to budget cuts to the point to where I’m never quite sure what exactly to take seriously.

The question usually is: yeah, that sounds great, but is there any money for this? I’m lacking in good sources there. And Russian media usually don’t provide enough insights into the program to allow for informed judgments.

With that caveat in mind. TASS has provided another one of its periodic bursts of updates about what Rogozin and company have been up to lately. They are making progress on reusable launch vehicles, a super-heavy booster, a spacecraft that will replace Soyuz, and plans sending cosmonauts and robots to the moon.

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The Return of Satan: Roscosmos Eyes SS-18 Missiles as Satellite Launchers Again

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin said the state space corporation is once again eyeing the use of converted SS-18 Satan (aka, R-36M2 Voyevoda) intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) for small satellite launches, TASS reports.

“The matter is now being discussed, first of all with the Defense Ministry, because they are the number one here,” Rogozin said on Saturday, answering to a question about the possibility of converting Voyevoda ICBMs.

He said it would be “wrong to simply scrap” this “beautiful, legendary ICBM.”

“We could easily refit it for projects related to putting small spacecraft to civilian orbits. The matter is being discussed. This tactics should be applied to all combat missiles when they are being removed from combat duty, including Sarmat,” he said.

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Soyuz Rocket Gets Hit by Lightning After Launch, Keeps on Soyuzing

Courtesy of Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin. The Twitter translation into English reads:

Congratulations to the command of space troops, the combat calculation of the cosmodrome Plesetsk, the collectives of the “Progress” (Samara), the NGO named after S. A. Lavachkina (Khimki) and the ISS named after Academician M. F. Reshetnev (Zheleznogorsk) with the successful launch of the SPACECRAFT GLONASS! Lightning you don’t hindrance

Twitter might want to work on its translation program.

The Soyuz booster successfully orbited a GLONASS-M navigation satellite from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia.

The Saturn V taking the Apollo 12 to the moon in 1969 was also struck by lightning after launch. The rocket was fine; the guidance system was deep inside the rocket. However, the electronics in the spacecraft were knocked out. Flight controller John Aaron said to flip the SCE switch to AUX. When Alan Bean did so, the spacecraft came back online.

Mission Control fretted about whether to send the crew to the moon. Everything seemed fine aboard the spacecraft, but there was one crucial system they couldn’t check: the parachutes. Controllers realized that in the unlikely event the lightning strike had fried the parachute deployment system, the crew would die anyway. Might as well send them to the moon.











Rogozin Has Nice Things to Say About Crew Dragon, Musk

Editor’s Note: Rogozin’s Twitter account is limited to approved followers, not the general public. The Kremlin has appointed a minder over at Roscosmos to tamp down on the general director’s public comments.

My guess is that after the dust up over Roscosmos’ tweet after Crew Dragon docked, someone (Putin?) talked to (yelled at?) Rogozin and made sure he (his political minder?) made sure something nice was tweeted for the landing.











Rogozin Promises Vladimir Putin to Double Launches to 45 This Year

At the meeting with General Director of the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: Russian President’s Office)

MOSCOW (President Putin PR) — Vladimir Putin had a meeting with General Director of the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities Dmitry Rogozin to discuss the performance and development plans for the space industry.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Rogozin, let us discuss the space industry’s performance last year and development plans.

General Director of the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities Dmitry Rogozin: Mr President,

We were working to improve our performance in three fields. The first had to do with the choice of our development priorities. The second concerned the reduction of non-manufacturing expenses by at least 15 percent and increasing the corporation’s revenue by adopting new competences and entering new markets, about which I would like to speak later. We also needed to dramatically improve production discipline at the corporation and all the subordinate agencies. I have introduced a system of the officials’ personal responsibility for budget execution and have taken measures to reduce the corporation’s budget.

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Medvedev: Roscosmos Needs Less Talk, More Action

RT reports that Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev sharply criticized Roscomos and its leader, Dmitry Rogozin, duiring a meeting earlier this week.

“We should stop the project-mongering, quit blabbing about where we’ll fly to in 2030, we should work, talk less and do more,” Medvedev said on Wednesday during a meeting with the top executives of the Russian state-owned space corporation Roscosmos.

The agency was also tasked with fixing its “financial discipline” within a month, and urged to use the Ministry of Defense’s experience in this area as an example. The construction of the Vostochniy Cosmodrome remains the main issue, as it’s been marred by corruption scandals and is well behind schedule. The ultimate goal is to make the Russian space industry financially viable and lucrative, as its “competitors” are already there, Medvedev stated.

The remarks appeared to personally targeted the director of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, who attended the gathering as well. The veteran politician became the chief of Roscosmos last May. Before that, he served as deputy prime minister, overseeing the defense and space industries.

Rogozin is well known for groundbreaking statements on ambitious projects that refer to the distant future. Last November, for example, he unveiled an ambitious plan to establish a permanent base on the moon, which will be staffed by a type of sophisticated “avatar robot.” Such a base is expected to go online in the early 2030s, according to Rogozin.











NASA Postpones Rogozin Visit to U.S. Amid Criticism

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

NASA has postponed a planned visit by Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin amid sharp criticism in Washington over the sanctioned Russian official.

“NASA has informed the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, that the proposed visit of Roscosmos Director General, Dr. Dmitry Rogozin, currently planned for February 2019 will need to be postponed. A new date for the visit has not been identified,” the space agency said in a statement.

The Roscosmos head was to have conferred with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and other agency officials. He was also set to visit Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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Planned Rogozin Visit to U.S. Draws Ire in Washington

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Politico reports that plans to have Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin to visit the United States to consult with NASA officials and tour American space facilities is not going over very well with some in Washington. The trip would require the government to lift sanctions on the Russian leader, who is currently banned from visiting the United States.

Yet lawmakers from both parties and former national security officials are crying foul, saying the invitation undermines U.S. sanctions and would give a government-approved platform to an anti-American bigot.

“It absolutely sends the wrong message to lift sanctions, even temporarily, for the purpose of inviting him to speak to students at one of our nation’s premier universities,” said Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and a leader of the committee’s investigation into 2016 Russian election interference.

“This is appalling,” said Evelyn Farkas, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia in the Obama administration. “It’s utterly inappropriate given who he is and the fact that he is on our sanctions list.”

In an email, [NASA spokeswoman Megan] Powers also defended Bridenstine’s invitation.

“The U.S. / Russian relationship in space dates back to the 1970s,” she wrote. “NASA has historically invited the head of the Russian space agency to visit the United States. Following this precedent, and Administrator Bridenstine’s October visit to Russia to participate in crew launch activities to the International Space Station, NASA invited the Director-General of Roscosmos to visit NASA facilities in the United States and discuss our ongoing space-related cooperation.”











“Mutually Respectful Cooperation” Needed for Human Moon Missions, Rogozin Says

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Roscomos State Space Corporation Director General Dmitry Rogozin said an international effort based on parity and “mutually respectful cooperation is needed to send humans back to the moon, TASS reports.

If the United States is unable to work on that basis, Russia will cooperate with other international partners, he added.

Rogozin added that Russia should be able to develop a system for human lunar flights by 2024.

“Today the Russian Federation has the sole space transport system so far. We have carrier rockets and manned spacecraft. Ballistics specialists of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation have made calculations of our possibilities. In about 6-7 years, we will be able, using already the Angara-A5 rocket, in case that it blasts off from the Vostochny spaceport beginning from 2023-2024, we will be able, even using the current manned spacecraft, to ensure the permanently operating transport system capable of reaching the Moon and working in the lunar orbit,” the Roscosmos chief said.

Russian cosmonaut Sergei Ryazansky says that human missions to Mars should be undertaken as an international effort as well, TASS reports.

“Mars should become a global task. We should strive for it. The youth will join the effort, investments will come and, most importantly, the flight can be implemented, in principle. Another thing is that other technologies should be developed to make the flight quicker and safer and all of them will recoup investments in the Martian project because they will be in demand on Earth,” said Ryazansky, who called the moon an “intermediate step” toward the Red Planet.











Mr. Rogozin Goes to Washington

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin will be paying a visit to the United States at a date TBD, The Moscow Times reports.

The White House has temporarily lifted an entry ban imposed on the head of Russia’s federal space agency to allow him to visit the United States, the head of NASA has said in an interview with Russian media.

The U.S. banned entry to and froze the assets of ex-Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, along with other officials it blames for Moscow’s seizure of the Crimean peninsula in March 2014. Rogozin, 54, oversaw Russia’s powerful arms industry before he was appointed to head the Roscosmos state space agency earlier this year.

Rogozin will now be able to travel to the U.S. under a workaround that removes the sanctions for the duration of his visit, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told the state-run TASS news agency Friday.











Astronaut, Cosmonaut Safe After Abort During Launch to International Space Station

Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, left, and Flight Engineer Nick Hague of NASA, right. embrace their families after landing at the Krayniy Airport, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (NASA PR) — American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are resting comfortably in the city of Baikonur, Kazakhstan, after an anomaly occurred shortly after their launch.

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Rogozin Accuses Musk of Price Dumping

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Although praising Elon Musk as “a talented engineer and an outstanding promoter,” Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin last week accused the American billionaire of selling launch vehicles at below-market prices in order to squeeze out Russian providers.

“If you compare the price Musk sells his rockets to Pentagon at and the price he quotes for them on the market, you will see that this is nothing but pure dumping. In order to drive Russia from the market he sells launches at 40 to 60 million dollars while being paid 150 million for a launch by Pentagon,” he told Russia’s TV Channel One.

SpaceX officials have said that U.S. government launches require additional tasks that drive up the cost.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Glavkosmos Launch Services announced last week that it charges $48.5 million for a Soyuz 2.1 booster with a Fregat upper stage. A launch without the Fregat is priced at $35 million.

Both prices are below the amount SpaceX charges for satellite launches. The Falcon 9 is capable of orbiting larger payloads than the Soyuz 2.











Russia Expresses Lunar Gateway Doubts, Ponders Joint Lunar Surface Base with China

The space station formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway (Credit: NASA)

Russian officials are expressing doubts about the American-led Lunar Gateway — which would orbit the moon — while deepening cooperation with China on deep-space exploration projects that could include a crewed base on the surface of Earth’s closest neighbor.

SpaceNews reports that Dmitri Loskutov, head of Roscosmos’ international cooperation department, laid out a series of concerns during a panel discussion last week at the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany.

“For the moment, it looks like it is an American program with international participation,” he said. “How will this cooperation be managed? Will there be some sort of international administrative body? Will its principles remain those that are now valid for the International Space Station, in terms of consensus in decision-making?”

“For the moment, all the decisions are made by NASA. It seems U.S. standards will be imposed,” he said. “For Roscosmos and the Russian Federation, limited participation is not that interesting.”

Loskutov’s boss, Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin, was in China the week before for joint discussions on a range of cooperative projects.

“As a result of the meeting, a Protocol was signed, according to which the Parties will take further steps to bring their positions closer within the framework of implementing joint projects on launch vehicles and rocket engines, on exploration of the Moon and deep space, remote sensing of the Earth, satellite navigation, creation of an electronic component base for space purposes, low-orbit mobile communication system and space debris monitoring,” according to a Roscosmos press release.

Tass quoted Rogozin as saying the project could include a base on the lunar surface.

“China is a serious partner. I don’t rule out that as soon as we agree the outlines of our lunar program with the Americans, it is our manned lunar program, the formation of a research station on Moon’s surface is likely to be carried out with our Chinese partners. They can be equal partners already in the coming years,” he told Russia’s TV Channel One.