A kind of secret: what’s wrong with Russian military satellites?

The orbiting constellation of satellites of Russia, according to recent data, includes more than 150 spacecraft, about 90 of which are military satellites

Source: Roscosmos

The commission to find out the reasons for the failure to upgrade the military constellation of satellites of Russia will not be able to provide complete information to Vladimir Putin until the end of January 2020, military experts say. At the same time, in his opinion, recently launches have entered a normal rhythm.


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The orbiting constellation of satellites of Russia, according to recent data, includes more than 150 spacecraft, about 90 of which are military satellites. To update them, it is necessary to maintain a certain pace, said Ivan Konovalov, director of the Center for Strategic Market Studies, in a conversation with Gazeta.Ru.

“The satellites cannot serve for a long time, they have not been given much time. When one of them fails, he needs to be given a replacement. Accordingly, it is necessary to maintain certain rates for their updating,” the expert said.

Recently, launches have entered a normal rhythm, the trend is rather positive than negative, Konovalov added, but it is well known about the problems in Roscosmos and they have been identified in the government.

As Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov noted on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the creation of a commission, which should report on the reasons for delays in updating satellites until January 20, 2020.

“Maybe I will give out a certain kind of secret. In December, at the Sochi meetings, where we seriously discussed the state of the space group in the interests of the Ministry of Defense, there was a very tough, serious conversation,” Borisov said on the Russia 24 television channel.

The members of the commission also have to “identify problematic issues and find ways to solve them, develop catch-up schedules in order to get into the rhythm and so that such breakdowns are not repeated in future”.

“The deadlines were tight and short. Accordingly, the work will be dense, probably during the holidays. Most likely they will be able to report on approaches to the study of all recorded cases of disruption of work,” said Konovalov.

At the same time, for such a short time it is difficult to provide complete information, the expert notes. It may take longer to identify the root causes.

In addition, Borisov added that in 2019 Russia did not complete almost half of the announced space launches. “Launch programs have been implemented a little more than 50%. The reasons are different, including shortcomings in the organization of work,” the Deputy Prime Minister emphasized.

At the beginning of the year, the head of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin announced 45 launches during the year, but in December the corporation announced only 25 completed launches. Rogozin himself said that, speaking of 45 starts, he had in mind launches of all products that are produced by state-owned enterprises, including military missiles.

“We do not include launches, including space rockets, in this number [launches of Roscosmos], but for the solution of certain combat missions. So I can tell you 45, 46, 47, but let my colleagues call it, why will I run into their clearing,” said the head of the Russian Space Agency.

By the way, in December, Putin at a meeting in Sochi on the development of the Armed Forces of Russia called for paying increased attention to strengthening the orbital constellation of satellites. According to the president, the composition of the orbital grouping of military and dual-use spacecraft has noticeably been updated in recent years.

“The satellites of the Unified Space System timely detect the launches of ballistic missiles from military bases and from the oceans. They quickly give out information to the country’s leadership and to the points of state administration, the Armed Forces,” Putin said.

In 2019, the deployment of a full-speed high-speed communications complex in a geostationary orbit was completed, the president noted, in this area Russia intends to provide a serious foundation for the future – promising systems and complexes are being developed in defense organizations.

It is worth noting that a number of launches in the interests of the Ministry of Defense should be carried out with the help of Angara A-5 launch vehicles. However, the first and last launch of a heavy rocket took place in 2014, the resumption of flights was planned for the current year, but in the end, a new launch of the Angara was postponed to 2020.

Angara is a family of launch vehicles of various classes. It includes light carriers “Angara-1.2”, medium – “Angara-A3”, heavy – “Angara-A5” and a modernized “Angara-A5M”, increased payload – “Angara-A5V”.

The military hoped to use heavy rockets, in particular, to launch satellites into orbit. The reasons for the systematic transfer of Ankara launches are unknown, but this may be due to an inconsistency between the Russian Space Agency and the Ministry of Defense. For example, the Energia rocket and space corporation explained the delay in delivering the preliminary design of the DM-03 upper stage, which is designed to launch the heavy Angara from the Vostochny cosmodrome.

The corporation handed over a sketch a year later than the deadline, according to RIA Novosti, the delay was due to the fact that for a long time Roscosmos could not agree with the Ministry of Defense on the use of scientific, technical and technological groundwork for the design of upper stages created by OKR “Perseus-KV”.

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