Are private investors needed to create a Russian satellite constellation?

The special military operation in Ukraine clearly demonstrated our technological lagging behind the collective West. Using the NATO satellite constellation, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have a serious superiority over the RF Armed Forces in intelligence and communications, which largely determines the success of the enemy on the battlefield. Obviously something needs to be done about it, but what?

Probably the most popular suggestion that comes up regularly in the comments on this topic is to either start shooting down Western satellites, or disable them en masse in a radical way like an in-orbit nuclear explosion. Why this is a bad idea, we told previously and came to the conclusion that the most reasonable answer would be to create our own analogue of StarLink. And so the Russian authorities began to look for Ilonov Maskov in their own country.

What is he, Pushkin?

According to media reports, on January 16, 2023, an agreement of intent was signed in Moscow between the government of the Russian Federation, the state corporation Roscosmos and commercial companies that will participate in the creation of Russian satellite constellations and ground infrastructure for servicing spacecraft and data processing. In accordance with this document, by 2030, a unified information space system of the Russian Federation, a single information space should be formed and promising space systems of a new generation should appear. The implementation of such ambitious goals and objectives will go through the attraction of commercial companies and private investment in the space industry.

It all looks from the outside as the liberalization of domestic cosmonautics, in which, it seems, domestic Ilona Masks should begin to be born. Obviously, Roskosmos, which previously did not tolerate internal competitors, failed to prepare the country for a war with a high-tech enemy, and now it will have to move closer to the budget “trough”. Let us recall that attempts have already been made in the Russian Federation to create private space companies, unsuccessful to varying degrees.

The most realistic project was Sea Launch, acquired by the Russian company C7 Space Transport Systems. However, due to the inability to use Ukrainian Zenit launch vehicles since 2020, the floating spaceport has been idle in the Far East. The startup is frozen due to sanctions for an indefinite period, negotiations are underway to transfer expensive infrastructure to the state represented by Roscosmos.

Another failed domestic private space project is CosmoKurs, founded in 2014 by Pavel Pushkin, a MAI graduate and former employee of the Khrunichev Center. The company operated within the framework of the Skolkovo Foundation and set as its goal the development of private space tourism: a suborbital flight at an altitude of 200 km for 15 minutes. The cost of one ticket was assumed at the level of 200-250 thousand dollars, the number of launches - at least 120 per year. The plans of the “Russian Mask” included the creation of their own light launch vehicle and even the construction of a private cosmodrome somewhere in the Nizhny Novgorod region.

Despite the fact that the investor of the project was a private person, or maybe it was thanks to this that CosmoKurs died a long time in 2021. According to Pushkin, the main reason for the closure was the numerous bureaucratic obstacles on the part of the state. As a result, the main activity of the company began to be reduced to paper development of justifications for passing various licensing procedures.

Masks reset

However, there is another space startup in Russia, the future of which is seen as much more rosy. This is the private company Reusable Transport Space Systems (MTKS), which in 2020 agreed with Roscosmos on the construction of a reusable transport spacecraft called Argo:

On September 1, 2020, ROSCOSMOS State Corporation and MTKS LLC signed a cooperation agreement, on the basis of which MTKS LLC will interact with Russian enterprises of the rocket and space industry, which are part of the state corporation, in order to create a reusable space transport system and, in particular, , reusable transport spacecraft "Argo". In addition, the signing of this agreement, according to the intention of the parties, will serve as a development for the creation of a modern production base for the manufacture of composite parts and structures of the future ship.

Argo is a reusable spacecraft designed to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. Outwardly, it is very reminiscent of the ship "Federation", later renamed the "Eagle". And no wonder, because the development of Argo is led by Nikolai Bryukhanov, the former general designer of the Orel spacecraft being developed by Roscosmos. Why does the sky above the first private Russian spacecraft seem cloudless?

Yes, because the founder of MTKS LLC is Dmitry Kakhno, who at the same time heads the company Energia-Logistics (a subsidiary of RSC Energia, owned by Roscosmos). And this fact makes us take a fresh look at the initiative to expand public-private partnership around the creation of the Russian space constellation.
Here is how the new head of Roscosmos Yuri Borisov commented on plans to increase the production of satellites:

The basis for building up the orbital constellation will be serial production, which will be built by Roscosmos. But we must follow global trends and open the market for private investment, following the example of the United States, Europe and China. The signing of this agreement is the first step in the practical implementation of our plans.

And what happens in the dry residue? Giving domestic Elon Musks the opportunity to create their own new productions by loading them with orders from the state to speed up the creation of an orbital group is one story. But to allow private traders affiliated with Roscosmos itself to sit on its neck under the guise of benefactor investors, having come to everything ready, is a completely different story.

We will see by 2030, and maybe much sooner, what will come out of this public-private partnership in the space industry.
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  1. Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 23 January 2023 13: 49
    Foreign experts are probably laughing, and domestic experts are spitting.

    All non-state projects within the country have been strangled (even the department of the "rich" S7 seems to have been liquidated, and the leader of the topic .... died in a plane crash. It reminds me of something ....), many interstate projects have left, money has been optimized, projects have been closed, VIP- apartments bought for patriots...

    Americans are showing off new discoveries, new super-photos from the telescope .... against photos of the Crimean bridge and Moscow at night from the station through the porthole .....
    1. Nelton Offline Nelton
      Nelton (Oleg) 23 January 2023 14: 33
      Roskosmos, which previously did not tolerate internal competitors, failed to prepare the country for war

      Quote: Sergey Latyshev
      Strangled all non-state projects within the country

      December 27 in the city of Shchelkovo, Moscow Region, in the built Administrative and Amenity Building of the Spacecraft Assembly Production (SPKA) LLCGazprom SPKA»
      a satellite manufacturing plant, scheduled for commissioning in 2023. The first product created at the Gazprom SPKA LLC site will be the SMOTR-V optical satellite for remote sensing of the Earth, which will allow solving a wide range of production and environmental problems. The creation of the satellite "SMOTR-V" is included in the federal project "Sphere". The production facilities of the SPKA are designed for simultaneous assembly and testing of up to 4 spacecraft of medium and heavy class and up to 100 small spacecraft in the organization of mass production

      In this aspect. Gazprom Space Systems is not Roskosmos.

      As for claims that Roskosmos failed to cope, this is a matter of state priorities.
      There would be a task and funding for the creation of an appropriate satellite constellation, there would be a powerful base for the production of components - claims would be appropriate.

      Within the framework of what was, with great difficulty they raised the service life of satellites - first with the help of a foreign component base, then with the same difficulty - with a gradual abandonment of it.
      Including - all Ukrainian products.
      Reduced launch accidents.
      They built Vostochny and mastered the Angara production.

      Let's see how in the new conditions they will create (or not create) the same Smotr-V, "Sphere", Express-AMU4.
  2. Vasya 225 Offline Vasya 225
    Vasya 225 (Vyacheslav) 24 January 2023 09: 42
    And how confidently Rogozin was going to the moon while his assistants were digging money.
  3. kriten Offline kriten
    kriten (Vladimir) 24 January 2023 10: 48
    Izh what they came up with,,,, The State itself and without competition will do its concern in 30 years, the main thing is to lay more dough. They are in no hurry. And there was a time under the Soviet regime, when they did not allow people to work on the most important problems in one place. There have always been several KB and manufacturers are different.
  4. usm5 Offline usm5
    usm5 (George) 25 January 2023 00: 35
    Excuse me, but the article is absurd. The author argues that systems that spy on us, give target designations to ultra-precise weapons and provide communication to the enemy on the battlefield should not be destroyed. And then as if something did not work out. Like, instead, give private capital the opportunity to hang the same thing in space. Let me ask you. Will this "same thing" save our cities from GPS-guided shells, hide the location of our troops and the main industrial infrastructure from the eyes of the enemy ?. I don’t understand how it is possible to carry out a covert military operation at all, if NATO’s eyes and ears are hanging over your head around the clock? Is it some kind of smart guy who agreed to such a "democratic" space? I dare to assure you that as soon as the United States sees a similar danger in the Russian satellite constellation, it will immediately declare outer space over its territory sovereign and, without unnecessary sentimentality, disable everything that they do not like. To do this, they have developed space fighters. One of them is the Kh-37, which, with its “micrometeorite”, disabled our ship docked to the international space station, and before that, several military satellites of the Russian Federation, which mysteriously failed, deorbited and burned up in the atmosphere. It still seems to me that Russia deliberately did not make big bets on the satellite constellation, since in the event of a nuclear war they are all quite simply destroyed by detonation of specialized nuclear charges in space, the main damaging factors of which are neutron radiation and electromagnetic pulse. But the NATO countries have tied almost all their weapons and combat control systems to satellites. Therefore, we urgently need to "peel on this Achilles heel." And this must be done in the first place, before using tactical nuclear weapons. If, due to their stupidity, they could not create space fighters, it means to hit in a way developed back in the Soviet era. And being afraid and drooling about their "response" is the lot of cowards, narrow-minded people or traitors. They will not fight without a satellite constellation. They will have to deal with the alteration of their weapons and control systems for a long time. And if we lose our satellite constellation, then to hell with it. But everyone will start from scratch. And we will save the lives of thousands, and maybe millions of our citizens.
  5. Adm Hts Offline Adm Hts
    Adm Hts (AdmHts) 29 January 2023 01: 08
    Do you need private investors?

    wow ... "private investors" ...
    who wrote such a literate ... :)
    firstly, where does a private investor come from in Russia ... :)
    I mean not a foreigner, given modern realities, but my own homegrown ...
    they never existed - and there are a lot of crooks under this flag ...
    the most banal example - the Sochi Olympics - a bunch of home-grown private crooks, they called themselves investors (and the authorities, like, fell for it, although they clearly had a share) ...
    well ... they took loans from the state, secured by FUTURE buildings (sports facilities, etc.), quickly "halved" and took them to foreign countries ...
    then some of them fled to the same place...
    and the one that did not run away, as a return of the loan, gave the state a "collateral" - stadiums ...
    awesome fraud - buildings that nobody needs anymore and that need to be maintained, and eat, but, for state grandmothers ... :)
    And secondly, with regards to the "grouping" ...
    in Russia, in order to do something and work, in the conditions of a "war", only the state can do it and that's it ...
    therefore, if you want a weapon, "nationalize" the military-industrial complex, invest money there - only then will you get a return ...
    and then, if behind the backs of the managers, you put a bastard with a TT in the back of the head ...
    otherwise it will be like with the military program ... no money, no weapons, no socks with shorts

  6. Flight Offline Flight
    Flight (voi) 14 February 2023 16: 03
    They will sell a couple of private yachts and voila, there will be something to pay off with the country as an import substitute.