Putin Signs Decree Creating United Rocket and Space Corporation

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin tours RSC Energia in July. (Credit: Russian Federation Government)
Russian President Vladimir Putin tours RSC Energia. (Credit: Russian Federation Government)

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to establish the United Rocket and Space Corporation, an entity designed to consolidate much of the nation’s space industry under one entity while reducing inefficiencies and redundancies.

The move comes after three years of embarrassing and costly launch failures overseen by the Russian space agency Roscomos, which will have its role shifted to contracting, coordination and policy implementation.

The reform splits the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) in two — an agency responsible for the state space policy and a corporation that will be comprised of most of the sector’s manufacturing companies. Roscosmos will be preserved with its research institutes and ground infrastructures. The state-run URSC will take over the production of rocket and space equipment, while the state contract, coordination and operation will still be Roscosmos’ domain….

Once it gets control of the entire industrial base, the URSC will be responsible for the development, creation, testing, technical servicing and utilization of military equipment, rockets and their components. The corporation will also be in charge of creating and launching space vehicles, manned and unmanned spacecraft as well as orbital and interplanetary probes.

The URSC will include most companies and design bureaus, save for some defence companies. The corporation will be comprised of nine federal unitary enterprises to be turned into open joint-stock companies. The URSC’s authorized capital will also include the shares of 13 other companies. The corporation will be 100 percent state-owned.

A candidate to be appointed head of the URSC will be proposed by Roscosmos, [Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry] Rogozin said Monday. Deputy Head of Roscosmos, Igor Komarov, was now in charge of all URSC issues, he added. Roscosmos will decide whether to consider his candidacy.

The URSC will be established in about six months from now, “but its birthday is today”. No additional funds will be necessary. “On the contrary, the companies’ consolidation will prove a cost-saver,” Rogozin said.

Russian officials have previously stated that the consolidation would not include some of the major space companies such as Khrunichev and Energia. Quality control problems at Khrunichev have factored into many of Russia’s launch failures. The Russian government has taken steps to improve quality control at the manufacturer.

The consolidation could mean tens of thousands of job cuts. Officials have said the deeply inefficient space industry is fragmented into too many companies that employ far too many workers.

Implementing a large-scale reorganization while slashing thousands of jobs is going to be extremely disruptive and will likely destroy morale until everything gets settled. It will be a significant challenge to undertake this reform while maintaining the type of quality control required for complex space missions.

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