New "Ten Commandments" of Roscosmos

    After the appointment of Dmitry Rogozin as the head of Roskosmos, it was logical to expect the announcement of the new state corporation policy. And on June 28, a scientific-practical conference “The main tasks and development prospects of the Roscosmos State Corporation was held, at which the new ten principles of the organization’s work were announced. And due to the fact that Dmitry Olegovich compared the cosmos with religion in the introduction, an analogy with the ten commandments suggests itself. Unfortunately, the principles were given quite shortly, therefore, as with religious issues, there is room for interpretation.

    NASA Photos

    Speeches at the conference were promptly laid out by Roscosmos TV, and we can look at the source.

    The entry, where the cosmos is compared with religion, is puzzling. First of all, religious analogies translate the question “why do we need the cosmos” to an irrational plane. The rational answer “the cosmos is beautiful, useful, interesting, it inspires and brings up” is replaced by “national identity” and “miracles”. Further, in the Russian language there is a difference: “Dagma” is a more general word and often has a negative connotation - “obsolete dogmas”. And the “dogma” is the main provisions of exactly religious dogma, which are already tradition (for example, in Orthodoxy, bathing in the hole is tradition, but not dogma). Honestly, it would be better if Dmitry O. instead of religion talked about, for example, passionarity - it fits the expansion spirit much better, and there will be less negative associations and memes on the malicious Internet.

    But let's move on to ten points.

    1. High demands and special control over the execution of the state defense order.

    The fact that this point is put first is most likely indicative of the current trend - Roskosmos seems to be locked in the framework of Russia and its military sphere. This is understandable in the current tense political situation and is not bad in itself: GLONASS is a real success, and this is primarily a system for the military. But already the first point raises the question of what is meant by expansion, which was discussed at the beginning of the speech. Expansion into the Solar System is not possible without the cooperation of countries, and if it would be a priority, the first point would have sounded like “cooperating with other space powers to implement research and development projects of the Solar System”.

    2The state corporation will become a direct participant in all contracts of customers with enterprises, will share responsibility for the implementation of contracts.

    3. Roskosmos will create a management of a technical customer to ensure a uniform technical policy in the industry and form a reasonable production cooperation in the performance of contracts.

    4. Executive directors and deputy general directors of the State Corporation will necessarily be included in the boards of directors of leading enterprises, their certification will depend on the success of the enterprise.

    One of the most serious problems of the Soviet cosmonautics was “feudalism” —the design bureaus created competing projects that could duplicate each other, wasting rationally resources. And in the worst case, the Design Bureau were undercover wars, where the success of "their" project had nothing to do with the common good of astronautics. This problem went to the Russian space program after the collapse of the USSR, worsening in the 90s (Rogozin himself flaunted "industrial feudalism" back in 2015), and normal centralization is a very important task, which is still to be solved. The three points above apply to it, and potentially their implementation should be useful - a unified technical policy can save money by eliminating the solution of one task in several different ways, and the direct participation of executive directors in enterprises should help the State Corporation become a single structure.

    A small historical digression: NASA from the very beginning worked through competitions, in which the contractor was clearly defined. In the memoirs of Vladimir Syromyatnikov, “One Hundred Tales of the Docking,” the imperceptible price of such a solution is mentioned - McDonnell’s experience in creating Mercury and Gemini was never used in the Apollo program because other companies won the competition there. But even this price was lower than in the Soviet system, where, for example, in parallel with the Soyuz spacecraft, they made, tested, but did not use the transport supply ship TKS.

    5. Create a Council of Innovators at the State Corporation to ensure the scientific organization of labor in enterprises and use the best practices.

    The concept of innovators is quite ancient - the All-Union Society of Inventors and Innovators was created in 1932. It is impossible to imagine that this idea is unfamiliar to the Russian cosmonautics, and this point is logical to interpret as an announcement of the intention to make the corporation more open to feedback from below. The guess is directly emphasized by the following words - “employees who actively propose solutions to improve labor productivity, <...> will be encouraged and actively promoted”. The idea is good, correct and true, let's hope that it can be implemented.

    6. Refusal of space long-term construction and dead-end directions of development.

    It is a pity that there were no specific examples here, because, unfortunately, virtually any Roscosmos program can be called protracted. And, since it is not clear that they will close, this item looks quite alarming. This also includes the not very clear goal of abandoning “space pseudo-charity to the detriment of our business interests.” The USSR once drove cosmonauts from other countries under the Intercosmos program, but it was big politics and it’s hard to call the program unsuccessful — the launch of the first cosmonaut of another country strengthened ties with it and improved relations. Yes, and the United States at that time doing the same.

    7. Roskosmos is a diversified corporation that will work to diversify production.

    Space enterprises are engaged in "earthly" production. For example, a branch of the GKNPTs them. Khrunicheva (carrier rocket Proton, Angara, some modules of the ISS), Ust-Katavsky Carriage Works, produces trams. Additional income from the production of non-space goods is a useful thing, but it is necessary that enterprises do not forget about space.

    8. The Roskosmos State Corporation will set up a forward-looking research management to meet the needs of technical progress in the military, economic, and scientific space together with the Advanced Research Foundation.

    9. Active cooperation with Rosatom in the creation of alternative energy sources, special strategic materials, radiation-resistant electronic component base and supercomputer technologies.

    At present, only a nuclear reactor can provide a higher level of energy density by orders of magnitude to make space more accessible, and cooperation with Rosatom is an extremely important task if we do not want Russia to overtake Russia. Moreover, there are grounds for concern - the American Kilopower reactor is being created as a substitute for a simple and weak RTG, but its undoubted success will make the topic of atomic technologies in space much more attractive to the whole world in the coming years. The specific tasks of Rosatom generate, besides directly atomic and other high technologies, which can be used in the space industry.

    10. Work with private investors and create a council on public-private partnerships.

    And finally, Roskosmos declares its openness to investors. I really want to hope that this openness will work in both directions, the State Corporation will not only receive money from investors, but also support private space companies, because, for example, Lin Industrial has a negative experience with state space companies.

    Also at the conference mentioned other quite important things.

    It is necessary to reduce the "zoo" of launch vehicles and switch to the Angara LV. At Vostochny, it is necessary to proceed to the second stage - the Angara launch complex. The third line should be a super-heavy rocket, apparently based on what is now called the Soyuz-5. The motivation for such a decision and the development of Vostochny as a whole is independent access to space from its territory. It is very curious that, despite last year’s news about the cancellation of the manned Angara-5P, the option is still being voiced that the Federation will fly on the Angara, and not on the Soyuz-5. And it is intriguing to say that Roscosmos knows about the media campaign to discredit Angara. So today, this booster rocket remains a priority and the main project of Roskosmos. Her tests will require six starts, it is a pity that their speeches did not mention their specific dates.

    The Sphere project will integrate navigation, communications and remote sensing devices . This project was first mentioned in the direct line of Vladimir Putin, then it was said that it would include 600 satellites. Gradually more information appears - it is expected that Sphere will consist of low-orbit satellites combining optical observation with the provision of communication services. Now we were told that these would be and navigation services, and error in determining the position will not exceed 7-10 cm to the users.

    In his speech, the Acting Nikolai Sevastyanov, First Deputy General Director of Roscosmos State Corporation, named the problems of the industry:

    • Systematic postponements.
    • Increase the cost of projects.
    • Insufficient reliability of equipment that damages the image.

    And he considers three factors as the causes of these problems:

    • Separated project management.
    • Incorrect pricing. Prices are either too low or too high.
    • Non-modern quality control methodology.


    Now there are rumors about a reduction of the Roscosmos budget by 150 billion rubles in 2019-2021, if this proves true, any industry improvement program will be difficult to implement. When the latest news will appear, we will be able to compare what is happening with the voiced principles, and it remains to be hoped that not only the sixth item on the reduction of space programs will be implemented.

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