Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…
Energia Completes Design of Soyuz Replacement, Eyes 2017 Test Flight

PPTS-01RSC Energia announced that it has completed the design of Russia’s next-generation human spacecraft, which is intended to debut the same year that the Soyuz will reach its 50th anniversary:

The proposed spacecraft is commonly known as PPTS (or Prospective Piloted Transport System) and RSC Energia won the tender to build it in 2009. Initially, 2015 was named as the date of the first test flight, but that was then shifted to 2018. Now, [Energia Chief Vitaly] Lopota has brought the test date forward again.


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  • December 27, 2012
Russian Officials Not Keen on Turning Over Baikonur to Kazakhstan

It looks as if Kazakhstan could have a very long wait before it can take control of the Baikonur Cosmodrome and its adjoining city. A Kazakh proposal to gradually end the long-term lease that Russia holds on Baikonur is getting a chilly reception in Moscow.

“It will cause many issues, including social ones,” forecasts deputy head of the Russian State Duma’s commission on the CIS and compatriots Tatyana Moskalkova. She said that economic integration could assist in solving the problem. “If the EurAsian Economic Union were in place, those issues would not be that vital,” she explained.

Head of the State Duma’s commission Leonid Slutsky says the status question may be under discussion to the very end of the rent term between Russia and Kazakhstan, which is to 2050. “The format of the future joint exploitation is not in place, the terms are not clear,” he said. “Clearly, it (revision of the status)  is most likely to happen after expiration of the agreement, which is after 2050,” he said.


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  • December 17, 2012
Malfunctioning Russian Upper Stage Explodes, Spreads Orbital Debris

Computer generated image showing the debris cloud around Earth.

The decaying Russian space program continues to cause serious problems for the world:

A Russian Breeze M rocket stage, left with loaded fuel tanks after an August launch failure, exploded in orbit Oct. 16, raising concerns of the U.S. military, NASA and global satellite operators on the lookout for collision threats from hundreds of new space debris fragments.


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  • October 24, 2012
Russia: Rogozin Calls for Hypersonic Bomber by 2020

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

In a move that has puzzled military observers, Russia’s defense czar has called for his nation to produce a hypersonic bomber within eight years:

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin repeated his appeal on Monday for Russia to develop a hypersonic aircraft for its PAK-DA long-range bomber requirement.

“I think we need to go down the route of hypersonic technology and we are moving in that direction and are not falling behind the Americans,” he said on Rossiya 24 TV. “We will use this technology when developing a new bomber.”


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  • September 2, 2012
Proton Upper Stage Misfire Puts Satellites in Wrong Orbits

After seven months of successes, the Russian launch industry has suffered another setback when a malfunctioning Breeze M upper stage sent a pair of Russian and Indonesian communications satellites into the wrong orbit. ITAR-TASS reports that “the upper stage engine unit worked for only seven seconds instead of planned 18 minutes and five seconds, and the satellites were not put into the planned orbits.”

The nation experienced a string of launch failures from late 2010 to Dec. 23, 2011. The ITAR-TASS story quotes former Roscosmos head Anatoly Perminov, who was fired over the failures, as saying the problem is worse now because of the space agency abolished the department in charge of overseeing launch vehicles and upper stages. This makes it more difficult to identify those responsible for failures.

A press release from ILS explains the latest mishap.

RESTON, Virg. (ILS PR) — On 7 August at 1:32 a.m. local time, a Proton Breeze M vehicle carrying the Express MD2 and Telkom 3 satellites launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Proton M launch vehicle performed nominally, however, the Orbital Unit (OU), comprised of the Breeze M upper stage and the two spacecraft, did not properly reach its transfer orbit and was placed into an off-nominal intermediate orbit. The Aerospace Defense and Roscosmos, are currently monitoring the OU and efforts are now underway to establish contact with the Express MD2 and Telkom 3 satellites.


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  • August 7, 2012
Russia’s Soyuz Replacement Delayed to 2018

Vladimir Putin inside of a full-size mockup of Russia’s six-passenger “Rus” spacecraft. (Credit: RSC Energia)

Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin says that Russia’s new six-person Soyuz replacement will not fly until 2018, a delay from the previous 2015-16 time frame:

“We are thinking of higher [compared to the International Space Station] orbits, and flights to the moon, and developing the technology to fly to Mars,” he said. “So we are developing a future system, first of all of course the pressurized, launchable module,” he said.


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  • July 19, 2012
Khrunichev Progresses on New ISS Multipurpose Lab Module

While the American part of the International Space Station is largely complete, Russia is continuing work on expanding its capabilities. Below is a brief press release from Khrunichev website about a new module set for launch next year followed by a detailed description.

MOSCOW (Khrunichev PR) — In the Khrunichev Space Center, work is continuing for the flight of the multifunction products laboratory module (MLM) for the International Space Station.

To date, the docking port has been installed on the transition chamber….Equipment layouts for the board layout and the cable network have been installed inside the module. Tests on the temperature control system and the pneumatic hydraulic systems have been undertaken.


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  • July 1, 2012
Russian, Kazakh Presidents Agree to Develop Long-Term Plan for Baikonur

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Russian Ruler for Life Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan’s only president ever, Nursultan Nazarbayev, have directed the heads of their respective space agencies to develop a “comprehensive bilateral agreement governing the joint use of Baikonur, the development of its scientific and technological capacity, joint missile systems, training and participation of Kazakhstani specialists in launch services,” the KAZINFORM news agency reports.

The decision was announced last week during Putin’s official state visit to Almaty, a trip that corresponded with a gathering of the space agencies of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The commonwealth is a loose association of Russia, Kazakhstan and eight other former Soviet republics.


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  • June 11, 2012
Video: Phobos-Grunt Team Threatened with Jail, Treason Charges

This is one seriously crazy ass message from sort sort of deeply dystopian society. If this is actually a serious message, then the Russian space program is doomed. You can’t go around threatening your engineers and scientists like this and expect them to do good work.

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  • June 4, 2012
Rogozin: Russia to Create Own Version of DARPA

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Via Russian Ministry of Education and Science

The Military-Industrial Commission (MIC) will soon consider a bill to create a fund that will seek innovative technologies to the domestic military-industrial complex (MIC), Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said.

“In the near future, the MIC for the government to consider the documents prepared by us to create an appropriate fund,” he said at a meeting with rectors of the leading technical universities in Russia.

The Vice Premier said that this fund will be analogous to the agency DARPA, acting at the U.S. Department of Defense.


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  • February 14, 2012