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Proton Rocket Crash Spurs Space Industry Consolidation

Published: May 21, 2014 (Issue # 1810)



  • Proton rocket boosters laid out on the floor of the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center.
    Photo: Yevgeny Stetsko / Vedomosti

Last week's Proton-M rocket failure will accelerate the formation of Russia's United Rocket and Space Corporation, a massive space industry consolidation project intended to rescue the country's troubled space industry, the company's CEO said Tuesday.

Igor Komarov, the corporation's chief, speaking before an audience at the Berlin Air Show said Friday's failure of the Proton-M rocket — the fifth crash since 2010 of a tried-and-true Soviet design that first launched in 1965 — reflected "a serious systemic crisis" at the Khrunichev Space Center, where the rocket is manufactured, Interfax reported Tuesday.

Komarov pledged that measures to address the problems at the Khrunichev center would be addressed following the release of an investigation report commissioned by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin on Friday, in the wake of the high-profile launch failure — which saw the loss of an advanced Russian-built communication satellite when the third stage of the rocket failed to complete its burn and fell back to earth.

The investigation board is expected to release its findings May 22.

The United Rocket and Space Corporation was created in March, in a direct response to the last Proton accident in June 2013. The corporation is meant to serve as the center of a massive industry consolidation and modernization effort by taking control of the state's shares of the Russian space industry's largest contractors — such as Khrunichev and Energia, which builds Russia's manned spacecraft.

It is not clear by how much the accident will accelerate plans to consolidate the industry under the new corporation, but Komarov at the Russian Embassy in Berlin said on Monday that the process would take 5 to 7 years, adding that "our task is to create a strong Russian space industry," Interfax reported.

"Today, we are at a critical juncture," Komarov said. "Russia launched the first satellite and Yury Gagarin. The whole world knows this. Russia has a huge base of technical and human capacity to produce and launch rockets and satellites, space stations … and, of course, manned spaceflight. But the time is ripe for serious changes to restore its leading position in the Russian space industry."

The establishment of the United Rocket and Space Corporation is one of the priority items of the new Federal Space Agency budget through 2020, which will pump $52 billion into modernization and infrastructure development across the entire industry.

The failure of the Proton-M rocket comes at a time when space industry officials have been asserting the independence of the Russian space industry in the face of Western sanctions and export license restrictions.

Hours after the Proton disaster on Friday, the U.S. successfully launched a GPS satellite aboard a Delta IV rocket — which uses entirely domestic components and does not rely on a Russian engine.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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