Space wars: how the success of Elon musk hit “Roscosmos”

Space wars: how the success of Elon musk hit “Roscosmos”

A technological breakthrough

In the night of Friday, March 31, private us company SpaceX made their first successful re-launch of the first stage of the rocket Falcon 9. The rocket launched from the spaceport at Cape Canaveral (Florida). Falcon 9 delivered into orbit a communication satellite, SES-10, and in nine minutes her first step, which was already in space in April last year, landed on the marine platform Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic.

Press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov called this result “a major achievement” and said that Moscow is closely following “the technological breakthroughs around the world.” Congratulated the founder of SpaceX Elon musk with the re-launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and the head of state Corporation “Rosatom” Igor Komarov said that the achievements of the Mask does not give to relax. “They certainly make us work,” he said.

SpaceX is not going to stop there and plans to produce 27 commercial and civil launches this year.

The main players

Four years ago the market for commercial space launches were actually divided between two players: Russia and the European Union. The share of the United States, India, China and Japan it was insignificant. The situation changed dramatically with the appearance on the market of the us private company Rasah, which not only quickly won a place in the “commercial space”, but managed to keep its leading position.

Launch services is the withdrawal of the spacecraft into Earth orbit. 90% of this market is the launch of telecommunications satellites, and the other 10% is the conclusion of an experimental spacecraft, satellites, remote sensing, etc. in 2014 the value of output of communications satellites in geostationary orbit with a single launch vehicle “proton-M” amounted to about $90-100 million (depending on the terms of the contract). The price of the launch of the European Ariane 5 was approximately $180-200 million (rocket displays two satellites in one launch).

In 2012, SpaceX conducted the first commercial launch of the carrier rocket Falcon 9. For three years the company has made 20 successful launches, the full cost of one is $62 million. In this regard, in 2015 to remain on the market, Russia had to reduce the price of launch of “Proton” almost a third, to $70 million.

Dumping on the market

The first stage is one of the most expensive parts in a rocket (30-40% of its value). Successful re-launch of the Musk believes a “revolution in space flight”. According to his calculations, the restart of the used rockets will reduce the cost of subsequent starts at 30%, or almost $20 million If these estimates are correct, then another round of dumping on the market of space launches will lead to a drop in the cost per launch to $40-45 million

Head of SpaceX does not the real cost to re-start, retorted chief analyst at GLONASS, Andrei Ionin. “Musk didn’t say how much it spent on the verification of this step and its completion before restarting”, — said the analyst. In his opinion, cost reduction is not so large.

Cost reduction is really unlikely to exceed 20%, but also significantly, says member of the Russian Academy of cosmonautics. Tsiolkovsky Alexander Zheleznyakov. For Russia, whose missiles obsolete, any reduction in the cost of the launch is “an outstanding thing,” said the head of the space policy Institute Ivan Moiseev.

The Problem Of “Roscosmos”

“Roscosmos” to reduce the price it will be difficult, I agree interlocutors in the industry. “Business and obsolete equipment, and staffing problems. You may have chosen a bit of a wrong strategy of development of space industry in our country,” said Zheleznyakov.

Given the fact that “Roscosmos” plans to start flight tests of space rocket with a reusable first stage only in 2031, to reduce the cost of launches of the Corporation will be difficult. Russia is not only not gaining, but losing ground, said the source . In the end everything goes to the fact that Musk entices Moscow clients and actually pushes it with the launch services market, they said.

The launch of the carrier rocket “proton-M” with the spacecraft, a joint European-Russian interplanetary mission “ExoMars-2016” from the launch pad of the Baikonur cosmodrome. 14 Mar 2016

Photo: Sergey Savostyanov / TASS

Russia for quite a long time was the leader in this segment for the first time behind the US and China in 2016, said Zheleznyakov. He reminded that last year Russia has made 18 successful launches (two commercial), the us — 22 (half — commercial), China — 21 (one commercial). Europe launched their rockets 11 times (all on commercial order, for the two launches had used Russian carrier rockets “the Union”).

“Surrender” is due to constant funding cuts and a drop in reputation because of failed launches, said the academician.

So, in June 2016, the launch of “Proton” was postponed because of problems with ground electrical system. In December, the launch of “Proton” was cancelled because of the discovered debris in the rocket engine, reported TASS.

In January 2017, all the engines manufactured by the Voronezh mechanical plant for the second and third stage of “Proton-M” has been withdrawn. It turned out that they were used with the solder precious metals are not covered by the technology. It was reported that the engines could also be garbage.

Loss of customers is not so much with a reduction of the reliability of Russian missiles as a consequence of sanctions imposed against the Russian space industry in 2014, said Andrei Ionin. According to him, the confrontation between Moscow and Washington no one wants to make “risky” contracts with Russia.

“The Sputnik costs $150-300 million It needs to make a profit. For example, for 15 years to bring billions of dollars. And nobody will risk the possibility of some complications, the project because of the relationship between Russia and the United States,” said Jonas.

While the budget of Roskosmos is now about $3 billion, and NASA is $18 billion, he added. “It’s more space budgets of all other countries combined. The total budget of China, the EU, Russia and India has not reached half that figure,” said Jonas. Half of the orders Mask provides exactly NASA, said the analyst.

SpaceX achievements overshadow the already sad for the Russian situation, said Ivan Moiseev. “Over the last few years the balance has changed so that Europe could maintain its market share of commercial launches, but Russia and USA switched places,” he concludes.