: Russia's space industry hit by Western sanctions

17:38 Apr. 12, 2016

Russia's space industry hit by Western sanctions

Yuriy Gagarin, the first cosmonaut in the world (UNIAN photo)

"RosKosmos" largely depends on imports from U.S., France and Canada 

"RosKosmos" in the oblivion of Andromeda
By: Taras Kolesnik, journalist

Russia's space industry these days is one of the most vulnerable areas which suffer from sanctions in Europe and America. Opportunities to implement a series of planned and already financed projects for "space" have been removed indefinitely.

In March, the Russian news agency "Interfax" reported that launching rocket "Soyuz-2.1b" with a remote sensing device "Resource-P" is going to be stopped. The site "RosKosmos" agency representatives added this: during the launch "Soyuz" automatically shut down the engine. This is - another case with a number of other examples that show the real state of the Russian space industry and its dependence on imports. But do not forget that the industry but also the political world watch such events and information about the "unfortunate" country .

Earlier, in February, the same "Interfax" basing their article on a source in Russia's Defence Ministry reported the existence of problems with the element base of military satellites

"The problems of import substitution, and in particular through the electronic component base, led to a significant increase in weight vehicles such as" Sphere-B ". It so happens that currently existing Russian rockets "Proton-M" and "Angara-A5" are not able to reach the highly elliptical orbit satellites of this type in the new Russian assembly",  the statement reads. 


Exhibition 'Cosmos: Time Machine' taking place in Kyiv (UNIAN Photo)

There is nowhere to hide, and the author of these lines has to bring some subtleties of the Russian space industry that are unknown to the masses. Let's try to showcase the current problems of this field, in a much more "popular" style.

The fact of the matter is that the function of satellites including military - is, various studies such as transmitting commands to the application of strategic nuclear forces. The scheme of the signal also includes submarines. Today Russia has four satellites in orbit "Meridian", providing a connection to the Sea Route. But, so to speak, "disadvantage" of the current system is incomplete coverage of the region.

So, it was decided to replace them with a single device, which was funded and developed. "Sphere" was supposed to solve the problem. Such devices "stuffed" extremely difficult electronics - Component (or cell) base, and provides a connection to perform various functions. Until now, Russia used imported component base, which it bought from Western countries for a lot of money. This year, the Russians had to apply their own base. This, as previously reported, has led to a significant increase in the weight of the device "in-scope". That rocket "Proton-M" and "Angara-A5" could not bring it.

Read also Ukrainian Space. Going in Circles

What is a possible solution? Spend more money and develop a new "meridians." Well, the experts analyzed the financial side of things and the time factor. And the cost of liquidation "shortcomings" components is quite considerable. Now they have to change the start of the withdrawal from the orbit - from 2018 to 2021, and, and, perhaps, at a later date. According to the head of "RosKosmos" the development of an appropriate carrier ( "Angara - A5") should be completed in 2021. However, the chairman of the scientific and technical council "Roskosmos" Yuri Koptev and representatives of state space research and production center named M.V .Hrunicheva named a different date- 2023 and 2024 respectively. 


(UNIAN Photo)

The problem is the fact that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Russian space industry's dependence on foreign imports is much stronger than generally assumed.

Russian analysts mention that out of the twenty-running devices actually were only two Russian - withdrawn in 1994 and 1996. The rest are a joint cooperation, launched under contracts with the French, German, Italian, American and Canadian and Japanese companies. So practically space companies of the countries that have applied sanctions against Russia because of its actions in Ukraine. The Russians have no choice as to appear before the fact that their space industry has a very strong "offshore" character. It is not hard to guess what this will lead to in terms of sanctions.

Read also Good-bye Russia. India's aerospace industry chooses Ukraine

Today Russia is incapable of fixing and adding its own radio-resistant technology. So what is the impact of the sanctions of those that support Ukraine on "RosKosmos"?

The list of banned equipment to supply trapped radiation-resistant circuits, electronics designed for operation at temperatures above 125 ° C or below -55 ° C (class limits military). Also prohibited any supplies- ready satellites. Thus, if restrictions on the supply of means of communication are "with narrow" effect, the ban on the delivery of radiation-resistant electronics has a global significance.

The largest supplier of "space electronics" - Honeywell (USA), the other major players - Aeroflex (USA), Atmel (USA), Xilinx (US) Actel (USA) and so on. DA uniform "registration" is not accidental - the United States traditionally lead the development of radiation-resistant components. 


(UNIAN Photo)

It is necessary to report another factor. Many foreign systems present another, say, an American component. And this presence is inevitable. If now the list of supplies in Russia included a ban on "special" European electronics production, as a result - Russian space problem would become large and unsolvable. 

Currently, the Russian space industry is still holding on to old stocks i.e. "forbidden" imported components.

The most vulnerable in this case are high orbit satellites that are permanently or temporarily outside the Van Allen belts. For example, the Russian communications satellites in geostationary (35,786 km) orbit, including some complexes such as "Express" and "Yamal" satellite system "GLONASS" (19100 km), the "Arctic", "Sphere".

So taken everything into account, all the promises and forecasts of the Russian officials who are involved in the space industry can be easily summed up by a quote from the General Director of "Russian Space Systems" Andrew Tyulin who said that Russian manufacturers are able in many positions to replace imported equipment. "They do not reach the parameters of space and military, but we found common solutions how to fix it," - he claimed in an interview in August of 2015.

However, in reality the situation is somewhat different. The project for the production of radiation-resistant electronics ( "Angstrom Plus") was approved by the Ministry of Industry of the Russian Federation in 2010, and first production was supposed to appear in 2011, but at the end of 2014 production has not begun, and is responsible the project "Roselektronika" could not know anything about the timing of its launch. 


(UNIAN Photo)

When the question of the import-based space industry in other countries comes up. The answer is simple. Look at the United States. They have their own rocket launch vehicle - known as a shuttle system. But in terms of spending it is much more costly, so the Americans decided to save and buy from backward Russia an old blueprint for a "frame" nearly half a century ago. It's cheaper, the now-late USSR already had done it for them, while incurring huge cutbacks and costs which no one cares about these days. However, slightly the engines that were slightly changed for the Americans are now being sold as a blank state by Russia - in economic terms, of course. So Russian sell them engines for one type of rocket The Atlas, fo other rockets Americans have developed their own engines called Delta IV.

Read also Telegraph: Russia's Progress cargo spacecraft burns up over Pacific

As you can tell, the extent of the problems of RosKosmos goes on for the next decade or so. Since the Russian space cannot offer a more or less equivalent replacement of its western imports. So this area will have to put up with a sharp deterioration of the main characteristics of the spacecraft.

Why be surprised if during the lift-off of the rocket "Soyuz-21b" the engine "automatically shut down"? The situation is completely predictible.

Author's project "Russia in its own mirror."







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