Vladimir Putin approved on Wednesday, July 18, the creation of a federal targeted program (FTP) to develop the latest satellite system "Sphere", designed to provide comprehensive communication, navigation and remote sensing services. The director general of Roskosmos Dmitry Rogozin told the president about the results of the meeting, adding that the deployment of a system of 640 small satellites is planned to begin in 2022 with the help of heavy Angara-A5 missiles. The order for 25 such carriers is intended to help the State Space Research and Production Center (Khrunichev State Research and Production Center) get out of the billion-dollar debts. The cost of the project was not disclosed. Although only one component of the "Sphere" - the "Efir" system - was estimated at 300 billion rubles, which was to be sought from extrabudgetary sources.
Discussing the affairs of the space industry at a special meeting with the president, the new administration of Roskosmos came to the Kremlin almost in its entirety. Opening the meeting, the president demanded from the state corporation "to achieve breakthrough successes in the conditions of growing international competition": "The orbital group is to continue building up. At the same time, it is necessary to dramatically improve the quality and reliability of space vehicles, the means for their removal, and to ensure the creation of a modern domestic component base in order to increase the life span of our satellites in orbit as a result. " More specifically, he focused on the project "Sphere", in which, according to Mr. Putin, in 2022, 2024 and 2028 is planned to launch about 600 small spacecraft. "This new space grouping should be effectively used in the field of navigation, communications, remote sensing of the Earth. The interest to this project is shown both by domestic business and foreign partners, and its implementation should be given full play, "the president added. The meeting continued in closed session.
For the first time the project "Sphere" became known during the last direct line of Vladimir Putin, held on June 7. Subsequently, the general director of the Russian Space Systems (RCC) Andrei Tyulin clarified that the new program "grew" from the project of the satellite communication system "Ether", the work on which led his company. It was ambitiously presented at the May conference in Moscow, organized by the previous leadership of Roskosmos: according to the baseline scenario, it was proposed to deploy a system of 288 satellites with an altitude of 870 km, which would ensure "full coverage of the earth's surface." "Ether" was positioned as a "space data bus" to provide satellite telephony services, the Internet, data from sensors and Internet systems of things, unmanned vehicles, etc., and its competitors were called OneWeb and SpaceX. The project was proposed in a consortium with the participation of Roskosmos (RKS and Energia corporation), as well as Vnesheconombank, which could partially finance the project, the implementation of which is estimated at about 300 billion rubles. until the year 2025.
The project was received positively in the Kremlin, but the presidential aide on economic issues Andrei Belousov stated that with the deadline for implementation by 2025, "Efir" can count on a "penny share in the market" (see "Kommersant" on May 23). Kremlin criticism has borne fruit: according to the source of Kommersant in Roskosmos, after the analysis, it was decided to unite several existing projects under a single head, which was named Sfera. After the meeting, the general director of the state corporation Dmitry Rogozin said that Mr. Putin approved the formation of a separate FTP for the development of this project. This means that the "Sphere" will unfold not only due to the search for telecommunications companies and private investors (which need to be persuaded), but also at the expense of budget injections, the top manager of one of the enterprises of the space industry believes. The total cost of the project is not yet called.
At the same time, we note that Mr. Rogozin on Wednesday stressed that the withdrawal of Sfera's small devices will be carried out with the help of Angara-A5 missiles produced at the Khrunichev Space Research Center: the head of Roskosmos estimates the order for the output of the satellites into orbit not less than 25 carriers. Such a portfolio will provide a guaranteed multi-year download to the Omsk Production Association Polet, where universal rocket modules for the Angara are to be assembled, allowing the production of the Protons at the site in Fili. Thus, according to Kommersant's data, Mr. Rogozin expects to implement his plan to close the Moscow production of the SCNP by 2021, concentrating on the Omsk site. This, in his estimation, should help to correct the difficult financial problem of the SCNPC, whose debts, as Kommersant reported repeatedly, are estimated at 96 billion rubles.