The Sad State of Roscosmos

It may seem odd to my fellow Americans, but this truly saddens me.

I just finished reading a long press article from a Russian-Government approved news agency…one which is allowed by the government of Russia to report on their space program without being labeled a foreign agent. It describes a bleak future for Russia in space.

File:Roscosmos logo ru.svg

It is a very long article, written in Russian of course. Google Translate isn’t perfect, but I’m pretty sure that where it talks about most of the money intended for developing and operating Russia’s upgraded space program ends up going “into a pipe” it’s talking about it being flushed. I remember reading years ago that money from U.S. companies like United Launch Alliance buying RD-180 engines from Russia was being spent on upgrading and modernizing the Russian space program…however, now it turns out that all of that was actually fettered away to repay loans. According to the article in mk.ru few folks at the top of their various space development and operations, projects make the highest pay, but they seem to do nothing but mismanage things and/or perform some functionally redundant stuff that lower-paid folks do. Folks who actually fly to space make about two full digits less. Folks who build stuff on the ground make between 10% and 50% of even that. Here in the U.S. we pay upper management types quite a lot too, but those who make the most do so because they perform their function and make success.

According to this article, practically everything in Russia’s space program that we hear is a coming thing actually isn’t a thing at all yet and many of those things are never actually going to be anything at all. Many folks over here like to make fun of NASA’s deep-space rocket program, the Space Launch System, since it is so horribly behind schedule with a constantly slipping timeline. However, at least all of the infrastructure for SLS has been completed for years and the first test flight rocket is being stacked as I speak and almost no one doubts that it will fly around the moon sometime in 2022. All this while the Russian so-called equivalent of SLS might never fly at all. First of all, while SLS will send astronauts to the moon someday, there is no crewed Russian moon program even planned anymore except on fancy artists renderings that they show to their people. Lunar capability has been sliced out of the plan for the new crewed Russian spacecraft (which still just consists of “mockups”) and its launch infrastructure (years late and roughly 30% complete). All for a development program that started clear back in 2009 and after they’ve spent staggering amounts of money on it, this long-awaited replacement for Soyuz is now just intended for flights to low Earth orbit…presumably to an aging International Space Station that might not even exist by the time Russia’s new rocket is flying. No wonder they’re cozying up to the Chinese.

Russia has fallen very far from the first space race.

  • The first orbiting satellite (Sputnik 1).
  • The first man in space (Yuri Gagarin).
  • The first space station (Salyut 1).
  • Russia and the U.S. are the only ones who’ve placed hardware more or less intact on the surface of Mars.

Star Trek added the character Pavel Andreievich Chekov to its fictional TV series about space exploration because of Russia’s accomplishments in space up to that point.

Compare that to now. Now their space program is going backward, maybe has for some time. Their operational spacecraft rely very heavily on foreign imports of stuff, and they’ve lost the ability to manufacture those imported goods themselves if those supplies ever stopped flowing in. Their new planned systems, outdated when compared to SpaceX or even SLS, languish under the weight of fraud and waste. The U.S. no longer needs Soyuz to reach space and soon will not need the ISS either. Russia no longer sees the Moon or Mars as destinations which they can reach and soon will need help from China just to leave Earth. It’s own aging Low Earth Orbit space program relies on other countries to keep it running…a luxury which ambitions in Ukraine might soon cut off.

Photo by A Koolshooter on Pexels.com

Russia’s negative progress points toward them having to buy crewed access to space from other countries…most likely China, or the U.S. or Europe-based private companies…in order to participate in the next space race and the upcoming new space economy.

So, since they’ll soon be our customers they probably shouldn’t plan to do anything in Ukraine that would prevent U.S. or European companies from legally doing business with them.

Just sayin’.

I write this in the hopes that the right people will see it and take it to heart, saving both lives and livelihoods. I wish I could write it in Russian, but perhaps those folks can use Google Translate as well as I. I know from WordPress analytics that there are people in Russia who occasionally read this blog.

A vast treasure trove of resources waits in space, wealth unimaginable. Humanity is within a decade…maybe even half a decade…of reaching those resources. However, only countries who are able to reach them will be enriched by them. What a sad state of affairs it will be if smaller countries like Italy and Jamaica, that lack the space history of the U.S. and Russia, are able to feed on those resources, enriching themselves by quadrillions of Rubles per year using U.S. and European rockets, while Russia sits on the sidelines hampered by economic sanctions and unable to utilize those transportation services while also unable to participate in space themselves with their obsolete rockets. Anyone who thinks that China will help Russia bridge that gap much misunderstands China’s goals and ignores China’s own waning financial strength.

Photo by SpaceX on Pexels.com

The age of military dominance among Earthlings is drawing to a close. A new age is dawning…a utopia of peace and wealth hitherto undreamt of. Who will abandon humanity’s violent past and step into the Interplanetary future together as one planet of humans? Who will remain in the past and wallow in poverty and misery for another century?

Decide.

~ by Bill Housley on December 20, 2021.

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