With the arrival of Dmitry Rogozin in the Roscosmos space industry, the Sphere project, one of the most ambitious space projects in Russia, was actively discussed. It is planned to increase the satellite constellation to 600 devices of the global communication system and remote sensing of the Earth, create an extra-heavy rocket and implement a manned program. And all this needs to be done before 2028 for more than $ 5 billion. Can the new head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, have such a large-scale task? Or is it another space “black hole” in which budget billions disappear without a trace?
Until 2018, the Sphere program was not mentioned. Apparently, this is the brainchild of Dmitry Rogozin, who took over as head of Roscosmos in May of this year. Earlier it was only mentioned about the project “Ether”, developed by “Russian space systems”.
The final appearance of the satellite group "Ether", designed to provide all of Russia with communication and the Internet, was determined just by May 2018. At that time, it was assumed that it would consist of 288 satellites with an orbit of 870 km high. and have the ability to work even if the earth’s infrastructure is disconnected. According to the presentation, the system “could simultaneously provide 10,000 units of mobile transport facilities, 10,000 collective Internet access points, 10 million personal communication subscribers with communications ...”.
Ten thousand access points is, of course, not quite “provide the entire country with Internet”. But the number of satellites is still impressive. Now the United States has 859 units, China has 250, Russia has 146, and the rest of the countries have 631 units.
With the advent of Dmitry Rogozin on our cosmic horizon, an even more global and serious program “Sphere” was announced. According to the project, the number of communication satellites in the grouping was increased more than two times - to 640. The dates moved, it is assumed that all vehicles must be in orbit before 2028.
Previously, $ 5 billion required for the project was sounded. The amount is serious, it is a quarter of the total federal space budget. The calculation is clearly on the state, since none of the private owners in the "Sphere" is not going to invest. But with the development, launches and maintenance of the price of such a satellite group becomes quite space.
Recently, Dmitry Rogozin, the newly-created head of Roscosmos, spoke about the Sphere project as part of the Big Game television program. What the audience heard was very strange.
According to Rogozin, with the help of the Sphere project, it will be possible to count all the trees in the forests of Russia. Considering a Christmas tree in the Siberian taiga is probably a necessary thing, but why deploy satellite constellation, unprecedented in price, for this? The remote sensing satellites (Earth remote sensing) satellites with a considerably smaller number can cope with this.
Of course, “Sphere” is a useful thing, but spending from one-third to one-half of the Federal space program, without having a clear goal, it all looks like something strange. Or does Rogozin want to launch satellites purely for launch? For most people, the Sphere project looks like a way to throw a lot of money into space, some of which may well be in the pockets of space officials.
As “Our version” has already reported, Dmitry Rogozin ordered to forget about Proton carrier rockets and hastily set up production of the Angara, which could deprive Russia of commercial launches completely. And lead to huge losses for the state budget. Serial production of "Angara" is possible only during the implementation of the "Sphere", and this is still a mirage in the starry sky.
Recall that during the implementation of the GLONASS space program, 6.5 billion rubles were stolen. The entire GLONASS project was estimated at 326 billion rubles, the classic 2% in the stolen ones. Although this is just what the employees of the 4th Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia revealed.
s NTV clarified, the funds were withdrawn from legal circulation through a network of one-day firms. Contracts for research work were concluded with commercial organizations that do not have their own material and technical base. The work was actually performed by the company's full-time employees, and payment for the allegedly completed contracts was transferred to the accounts of two subsidiary firms.
Because of this scandal, by order of Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who was already in charge of the space industry in the government, Yury Urlichich, general designer of OJSC RKS and the GLONASS project, was removed from his post. But this did not stop the theft.
In total, GLONASS currently has 26 satellites, of which 24 are operational. Now we are talking about 600 devices. You can imagine the extent of theft.
In April 2018, there were reports in the media that two GLONASS satellites were out of order, and the system only works normally in Russia. 22 GLONASS-M satellites remain in orbit. Interfax noted that 18 active satellites are sufficient to cover the territory of Russia, while 24 are necessary for the entire planet.
That is, it is not enough to launch satellites into orbit, they still need to be properly managed so that there are no failures in work. For example, the estimated lifetime of the GLONASS satellite is now seven years. American GPS satellites work much longer. Thus, a satellite launched in 1993 is still in orbit.
According to experts, the problem of Russian satellites, and not only GLONASS, but everyone in general is in electronics. More precisely, in the absence of a modern component base in Russia. Perhaps, therefore, in November 2018, the Russian civil orbital grouping lost two of the three Earth remote sensing satellites Resurs-P. Now there is only one device left in the grouping, which functions outside the warranty period. The following satellites of this type are planned to be manufactured only in 2019–2020. The cost of production of one Resurs-P satellite, according to official data, is more than 5 billion rubles.
In a word, if the Sphere project will remain the fruit of Dmitry Rogozin's fantasy, maybe it is for the better.