by Anastasia Barysheva
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Aug 17, 2012
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has given Russia's Roscosmos space agency and the government a month to submit proposals on how to improve the agency's work following a string of latest launch failures. At a government meeting on Tuesday, he aired plans to pump more than 650 billion rubles (over $20 billion) into the space industry.
Though Russia retains its high space exploration potential, progress is being hampered by current problems, some of them of systemic nature, the premier remarked. Commenting on last week's failed launch of two communications satellites, Medvedev said that Russia could no longer afford such blows either to its budget or its reputation.
He added that other decisions would be made in addition to organizational ones and that a complex approach was needed to right the wrongs in the space sector.
"There are also systemic problems not subjective in character. First, there is an outdated production base. Ninety percent of its capacities have been operated for more than 20 years and need to be replaced. Second, it's a weak electronic components base, which is a common trouble for our industry, and the space branch is no exception."
Academician Igor Marinin welcomed the government's decision to boost allocations for the space industry.
"When Popovkin was appointed as Roscosmos head, he was in principle unable to pull the branch out of a nosedive all alone. It's a fairly long process. Even proper financing cannot solve within a couple of years the problems that have accumulated over three decades of under-financing.
The attention of the government and personally Medvedev will, I think, be of great help. The problems will be addressed at a government level."
Igor Lisov, an observer with the News of Cosmonautics magazine, echoes that reorganizing the space industry within a couple of years is next to impossible. He believes a strategic approach is necessary.
"Financing has indeed been increased. There is a great difference between five years ago and now. Unfortunately, money does not solve everything, or perhaps it may in the future. Normal financing and good management will bring cosmonautics to a new level in 5-10 years."
He cautioned against a mass reshuffle of Roscosmos.
"We don't have enough skilled workers or engineers even for the current amount of work that will continue to increase. Without doubt, there should be personal responsibility. But at one time, Sergei Korolyov, who knew all his staff by their names, demanded that anyone who had committed a mistake must come and report it, and in that case he would not be punished. But if a mistake that had been concealed killed a spacecraft, Korolyov's wrath knew no bounds."
Two communications satellites were lost after one of the engines of the Briz-M upper stage that was to inject them into their orbits switched off earlier than planned. The incident became the last in a series of launch failures that have haunted Russia over past 18 months.
Source: Voice of Russia
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