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Expert: Decision to drop Angara project made due to mistakes in space strategy

If Russia had had a long-term national strategy, such unexpected decisions could not have been made, according to an expert

MOSCOW, June 2. /TASS/. The decision to give up the project of creating an Angara-A5P carrier and develop instead a new rocket for manned launches to lay the basis for a super-heavy rocket for lunar missions is due to strategic planning errors, a space expert said on Friday.

Cosmonaut-tester, President of the Moscow Space Club and member of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics Sergei Zhukov, believes that this measure will hardly allow Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos to save much.

"I don’t think that this measure will save any funds. It is necessary to continue work on that rocket instead of starting to develop a new one. This [decision] looks strange. I believe that if expenditures on the development of a super-heavy rocket and the construction of two launch pads for the Angara rocket are calculated, the Angara project will turn out to be more advantageous. A super-heavy rocket is needed for Russia in the long term but this theme should be addressed gradually, in the format of R&D works, some developments and the accumulation of technological experience but not now," the expert said.

According to him, it would be more expedient to finalize the Angara rocket, even if building two launch pads at the Vostochny spaceport and assembling a lunar transient module in the near-Earth orbit, instead of dropping the work implemented and starting the development of a new rocket.

In the expert’s opinion, the change of plans is related not only to the country’s difficult economic situation but also to certain strategic miscalculations in the long-term space program planning.

If Russia had had a long-term national strategy, such unexpected decisions could not have been made, the expert noted.

"We spoke some time ago for adopting a national cosmonautics development program. As there is no such a strategy, I completely don’t understand the expediency of a super-heavy rocket. In my view, the decision has been made in favor of sectoral rather than national interests," the expert said.

Vostochny spaceport construction

The expert said at the same time that the construction of the Vostochny spaceport in the Russian Far East was a strategically correct decision meeting national interests.

"From the viewpoint of national interests, it is expedient to develop the Far Eastern region and promote international cooperation and create a principally new generation of technology for exploring the outer space," the expert said.

However, the Vostochny spaceport construction deviated from the original plan when a decision was made to build a launch facility for the Soyuz carrier rocket there instead of developing new technologies at the space center, he noted.

This decision is implementing old technical solutions and creating unnecessary competition with the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, he added.

"It would have been necessary to develop the cosmodrome, perhaps, more slowly but for promising carrier rockets," the expert said.