Engines unsuitable for a space contract

The agreement between S7 Group and Yuzhmash on the supply of Zenith rockets raised questions.
The Dnepropetrovsk Yuzhmash plant announced the signing of a contract for the supply of Zenit missiles to a subsidiary of the Russian group of S7 companies. The agreement provides for the creation of 12 carriers, which, as they say at the enterprise, will be used both for launches from the Pacific Ocean (Sea Launch project) and from the Baikonur cosmodrome (Land Launch). The problem is that Russian missile engines are being installed on Zenit, but Roskosmos says they have no obligation to supply them to Ukraine. And as an investor will come out of the situation, it is not known.

On the conclusion of a contract between S7 Sea Launch Limited and "Yuzhmash" TASS reported. Referring to the representatives of the plant, the agency reported that the agreement was signed on April 28, according to its terms, Yuzhmash should supply 12 Zenit for exploration and use of space for peaceful purposes in the framework of the international programs Sea Launch and Land Launch. "Signing this contract made a big step in overcoming the deep crisis in which Yuzhmash stayed since 2013 and which was the result of a massive decline in production," the plant said. According to the agency, in fact the process has already begun: in production there are two missiles of the modifications of Zenit-3SL and Zenit-3SLB. The parties did not disclose the amount of the transaction.

Recall, the production of "Zenith" on "Yuzhmash" was suspended in 2014 due to the rupture of industrial cooperation between Moscow and Kiev after the entry of Crimea into the Russian Federation. The matter is that the Odyssey platform in the Pacific Ocean was designed exclusively for Ukrainian carriers, for which Russian RD-171 engines were installed. Since 2014 they have not been transferred to Dnepropetrovsk. In 2016, the Sea Launch project, owned by Energia Overseas Limited (a subsidiary of RSC Energia), was sold to a Russian investor represented by the S7 Group. The subject of the deal was the Odyssey floating platform, the Sea Launch Commander, ground equipment at Long Beach, California, and the Sea Launch trademark. The group invested in the project more than $ 160 million, planning to implement in about 15 years about 70 launches. Co-owner of the group Vladislav Filev, after signing the contract, promised that the Ukrainian carrier remains the main one for the project: "The next 15-20 starts, I hope, will be with Zenit."

News about the resumption of production of missiles at "Yuzhmash" in Russia was taken with skepticism. "It's easier for them to fly on a broomstick than on a rocket without Russian engines," said Vladimir Solntsev, RSC Energia's general director (quoted by Interfax). Roskosmos state corporation told Kommersant that they have no obligation to supply rocket engines to Ukraine, and that, according to the Russian side, today there is no opportunity for production of missiles: "When you fall out of the production chain, your place eventually becomes occupied by others , The same thing happens in the rocket and space industry. "

In the S7 Group, "Kommersant" declined to comment. The top manager of one of the enterprises of the space industry says: the conclusion of the contract S7 with "Yuzhmash" is dictated by the desire of Mr. Filev as soon as possible to launch the launch campaign of the Sea Launch project. According to him, the resource of the Odyssey platform will allow carrying out the payload to orbit for another 15-20 years, but the development of the Russian carrier Soyuz-5 and the adaptation of the infrastructure will take about five years. "The investor just did not want to wait, but, as now he will get out of the situation, it's not very clear."

Earlier it was reported that the resumption of launches from the floating cosmodrome is scheduled for 2018 already. However, no one can make accurate forecasts in the industry.