About the meeting of Rosaviacosmos Director General Yu.N. Koptev and S.P.Korolev RSC Energia President and Designer General, Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Yu.P.Semenov with the deputies of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and journalists after the docking of Progress M-44 logistics vehicle with ISS

Yu.N. KOPTEV: Some people suggest:
“Let’s use this logistics vehicle to boost the orbit, then
we’ll have two months to make a decision”.

This brings up the question: what decision? Are we going to gain
anything new in these two months, when we have been working this
problem since 1997? Given the condition of the station, the next
launch will have to be made in April.

The results of the trajectory analysis are known to many. And the
results are such that even a large logistics vehicle can only raise
the orbit by 50 kilometers. In order to get to a parking orbit,
that is, an orbit, which would guarantee several years of survival,
we would need more than one such vehicle.

Let’s assume, theoretically, the following procedure: we’ll build
a new core module. And to maintain the station in orbit, while the
core module is being built, we’ll raise the orbit. This would require
at least 5 to 6 logistics vehicles.

The current cost of launching one logistic vehicle is about 300
million rubles. In all fairness, I would like to remind you that
when the Council of Chief Designers was reviewing all these problems
on October 3, among the issues reviewed were all the necessary plans:
how to lay out the further program. And, quite reasonably, they
raised the issue of the need to perform certain procedures, namely:
a decision must be made at the Government level, a Directive must
be released, funds must be allocated, and so forth.

  Does the option
of replacing MIR core module make sense?
Yu.N. KOPTEV: A new core module can be built. The
average estimate is that it’ll take 4 to 5 years. If you recall
how long it took to build previous modules, it takes considerably
longer than that. The cost of a core module is on the order of 200
to 300 million dollars. And since we address this issue, this brings
up a question: why should we do this? If we are so rich and we have
the means, let’s build a new space station. Or, at least, let’s
meet our commitments towards International Space Station, which,
by the way, we don’t meet too well.

Where do you think the Government is leaning towards, what with
the currently available budget?

  About governmental
support for the work needed to complete MIR operation
Yu.N. KOPTEV: The fact that in the end of 1999
the State Duma was planning to allocate 1.5 billion rubles to MIR,
and we, allegedly, turned down this offer, is being constantly overplayed.

The Duma did “allocate” for year 2000 1.5 billion rubles
under a line item, which presupposed getting income from turnover
of military and dual-application intellectual property. That line
item allocated 9 billion rubles for replenishment of the budget;
then for general military technologies; and the rest (1.5 billion
rubles) for MIR program. Now, in all that year they collected a
mere 90 million rubles under that line item, and therefor, we could
never get 1.5 billion rubles under that line item. That’s how that
“great” line item was working.

  On the development of the MIR
situation over the last few years


For the most part, I
agree with what Yuri Koptev has just said.

But I disagree with his statements that everything is breaking down
on-board MIR, that everything there is past its useful service life,
and with the way he twice made reference to Khrunichev.

We have here in this room a representative of MirCorporation. This
organization was established in 1999 and invested 25 million dollars
into MIR. We did not just use this money to send one more crew to
the space station. We had a program, which said that, provided a
certain amount of additional funds is invested, the space station
operation could be extended for a few years.

That’s why to make references to the fact that Khrunichev did not
provide a certificate for MIR structural elements is, to put it
mildly, incorrect, since Khrunichev has been issuing the certificates
in question for ISS. And that organization did not issue certificates
for MIR only because we did not have the money to pay them for the
certification. I can earnestly confirm that all the things that
we were planning to do and did with MirCorp, which planned to operate
the space station in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003, were correct.

But our plans were not to be because we had only 25 million dollars,
and as a result we had to leave the space station flying in unmanned

I can guarantee you that, if there had been a crew on-board now,
none of you would have ever noticed all those malfunctions that
are occurring there now, because over the 15-year period we had
similar situations, sometimes even more difficult.

Let me remind you, for example, that when our propulsion system
completely failed, we repaired it and extended the life of the space
station. We had a lot of off-nominal situations. And we always successfully

That’s why when they say that today we are in a difficult situation,
I fully agree. But the meaning of these words is somewhat different,
because we arrived at the current situation due to a lack of funds.
And that’s why I, as a technical manager, signed the documents that
Yurii Nikolaevich [Koptev] was talking about, because today we no
longer have any other way out of the situation.

I’ll tell you one thing: if we just leave the space station alone
and hope for the best, the President, the Duma and the Government
will have the right to ask the technical management: “And where
were you?” Today the Council of Chief Designers, the technical
management of the Russian space programs can say with a safe conscience:
“We have been talking and warning about the possibility of
such situation since 1997”.

I could put together volumes of our petitions saying that we are
losing “the pride of our nation” because of the lack of
governmental support and regular funding from the budget. We addressed,
among other people, [the Duma Speaker] Seleznev. There was a meeting
at Seleznev’s office. There were appeals from Seleznev to Yeltsin,
Yeltsin gave orders, and so on and so forth. I’m not going to recount
all this (It’s quite a large tome! And we can actually produce it!).
But all our appeals went unheeded.

Now we all have been forced to come to a common decision. And today
we are working on taking the station off orbit in a civilized manner,
without harming anyone. But such a probability still exists. There
are problems with control system on-board the station, the kind
of problems we had in December. All indications are that this problems
are linked, first of all, to the need of quick decision-making and
recovery from the current situation in order to implement the adopted


Appraisal of the movement to save
Yu.P. SEMENOV: The fact that all the
public, the entire political community rose to the defense of MIR
as the pride of the nation inspires my respect. This is true. But
I don’t quite understand why some funds are still raising money
to save MIR when the final phase of the space station operation
including its de-orbiting is already being implemented.
  About the role of manned space flight
Yu.P. SEMENOV: I said this in the Duma
and I repeat it now: manned space flight always leads the way. Whatever
some people might say, this remains the most knowledge-intensive
field of human endeavor, which works like an engine pulling all
the other fields after itself.

I can put it this way: The company that works on manned space flight
is now capable of building launch vehicles. It is now capable of
building systems of state-of-the-art satellites with service life
of 10 to 15 years for communications, Earth remote sensing, navigation,
and so on. It is capable of building an advanced Sea Launch system
for launching space satellites from the surface of the ocean, and
a lot of other things.

No other branch of space industry will be able to do this at the
level that meets the requirements of the modern world market for
space services.

Let’s take as an example the Glonass system. This is the navigation
system advocated by Yuri Nikolaevich [Koptev]. It must consist of
24 satellites, but currently only 12 are in orbit. What do you think,
can you deploy such a 24-satellite system, if the satellites have
a 3-year service life? Have you ever seen such satellites elsewhere?
Nobody will ever be able to deploy and successfully operate a system
of such satellites in orbit.

Manned space flight is the field of activity, which pulls the other
fields up to its own level, creating new technologies and directly
affecting the development of all other fields of human endeavor.

  About continuing problems with providing
funds for manned space flight
Yu.P. SEMENOV: We have “slept
away” the opportunity to save MIR. Now it’s too late. We are
now on the brink of dropping out of the ISS project. Not because
we’ll be expelled, but because we need 3 billion rubles, and we
are only promised 1.4 billion.

Moreover, this is only to compensate for the 937 million rubles
of costs that we incurred last year to build long-lead items. For
example, logistics vehicle Progress M-44, which has just docked
with the International Space Station was built exclusively at the
expense of RSC Energia. Current Rosaviacosmos payments are, for
the most part, scanty and don’t even cover current costs. That’s
what we’ve got to be thinking about. We’ve got to address the issue
of manned space flight development in Russia in principle. If we
are such patriots, we’ve got to make a decision on what we are going
to do next. That’s what we’ve got to be thinking about.

Progress M-44 was built and is operated at the RSC Energia’s expense.
For the next logistics vehicle, which will be launched in April,
only 80% of the costs have been covered by Rosaviacosmos. For the
vehicle after that only 2.6 million rubles have been paid while
the total cost of each vehicle is 180 million rubles. That’s how
we live under ISS program. Nobody is going to expel us from the
ISS project. The Americans can’t expel us in principle. Because
if the next month we don’t launch the vehicle for which Rosaviacosmos
has paid 178 million rubles (but hasn’t yet paid up the total sum
of 230 million), the crew will have to be evacuated from the space
station. And this will be the end for the long-duration missions
to ISS. And this will be the end for the whole Space Station project!
Why? Because the Space Station requires propellant deliveries, and
propellant can only be delivered on-board Progresses. ISS can’t
be operated without manned spacecraft Soyuz TM either, because they
assure the space station crew safety at all times when the Space
Shuttle is away. At present, there are no other vehicles, which
could replace Progress and Soyuz spacecraft. Production cycle for
the vehicles is two years. And production program to support their
launch to ISS in 2001 has not yet been paid. As a result, all the
memories of lost opportunities will only remain on the pages of
newspapers. If there is no cash flow, that’ll be it for ISS.