What Roscosmos showed, and said, during the Paris Air Show

During the International Paris Air Show, held in Le Bourget on June 15-21, 2015, Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) showed several interesting products and announced some important space-related news.

In our preview article dedicated to the Paris Air Show 2015 we mentioned some space companies and their products to be shown at the forum. However that list was not full, and SpaceDigest will fulfill it with descriptions of other organizations and exhibits in a series of reviews.

Overall view at the Paris Air Show 2015 European space exposition
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Roscosmos and Unites Rocket and Space Corporation exhibited on the area of almost 400 sq. meters, where NPO Lavochkin, Khrunichev Space Center, ISS Reshetnev, TsENKI, RSC Energia, and other Russian space companies showed their latest products.

NPO Lavochkin presented model of Luna-25 (Luna-Glob) spacecraft that is, according to the Russian Federal Space program for 2016-2025, will be launched to the Moon by 2019 in order to conduct the first-ever research of its South Pole region. It was announced that earlier there had been doubts with regards to the spacecraft's foreign radio communication equipment, but at the moment the issue of its replacement by Russian domestically-made devices has been solved and approved.

Model of Luna-25 lunar landing probe, showed by NPO Lavochkin
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The company also showed model of space telescope Spektr-RG, a follow-up of Spektr-R spacecraft that was launched atop Zenit rocket in July 2011. The new observatory is scheduled for launch into a Lagrangian point in 2017. It will be based on NPO Lavochkin-developed Navigator platform, and fit with eROSITA x-ray telescope, made by Max Planck Institute for Physics, and Russian telescope ART-XC of Space Research Institute, affiliated to the Russian Academy of Sciences.

According to NPO Lavochkin representative at the Paris Air Show, the first phase of experimental development of Spektr-RG, electric equipment tests, has already been completed. He also noted that all lacking systems and instruments of the observatory would be delivered for their integration by March 2016. Along with Spektr-RG model, Spektr-R and Spektr-UF space observatories were presented at NPO Lavochkin section of Russia's space industry booth.

RSC Energia exhibited a mock-up of Russia's new-generation crewed spaceship, PTK NP, that is slated to be launched from Vostochny spaceport since 2021 atop Angara rockets (their models were presented at Khrunichev Space Center exposition). It was reported that PTK NP is designed with a view of its exploitation as a reusable cargo transportation vehicle as well.

The PTK NP spacecraft is expected to replace Soyuz spaceships in 2020s to launch a crew of 4 cosmonauts (Soyuz accommodates a crew of 3) or cargo into a low Earth orbit. It is also designed for further manned flights to the Moon.

A mock-up of Russia's new-generation crewed spaceship, PTK NP
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As it was mentioned, Khrunichev Space Center presented mock-ups of Angara family of launchers (from left to right on the photo below): small-class Angara-1.2, Angara A5, Angara A3, and Angara A5 in crewed version with the PTK NP spaceship atop. There were also shown KVTK and Breeze-M upper stages, to be used on Angara boosters.

Family of Angara rockets, KBTK and Breeze-M upper stages, made by Khrunichev Space Center
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Progress Space Center showed its family of famous Soyuz rockets, including crewed Soyuz-FG, civil Soyuz-2, commercial Soyuz-ST, small-class Soyuz-2.1v. It was also unveiled models of new family's rockets: 9-ton class Soyuz-5.1 and heavy (26 tons capacity) three-booster Soyuz-5.3. Both rockets, currently at the preliminary design stage, are to use liquid oxygen + methane propellants.

Manufacturer of Soyuz boosters, though, does not only focus on rockets. It revealed models of bio-scientific Bion-M capsule, launched in April 2013 carrying small plants and animals aboard, and showed two Earth imaging spacecraft, Resurs-P and Obzor-R.

One more Russia-made space-related exhibit was shown at the Paris Air Show, however, not within the Roscosmos booth. Avio of Italy, prime contractor for Vega European small-class launcher, presented LM-10 MIRA engine that will power in future the fourth stage of Vega. MIRA engine, which uses liquid oxygen and methane propellants, was developed by KB Khimavtomatiki, a Roscosmos affiliate.

Currently, Avio contracted Ukrainian Yuzhnoye/Yuzhmash to deliver Vega's fourth stage engine. According to company's brochure, the same fourth stage will be used on a new Vega-C, greatly expected now by the European space industry and slated for the first launch in 2018. As per the brochure, Vega-E, further modification of Vega family of rockets, that will have almost twice as much payload capacity as it presently has of around 1600 kg, will employ completely new upper stage presumably with the Russia-made engine.

LM-10 MIRA LOx-methane propelled engine at Avio booth at the Paris Air Show
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It is also important to mention some announcements, made by Russian space industry officials and local media during the last week:

  • Draft Russian Federal Space Program for 2016-2025, under which the total expenses amount to almost 1,600 billion rubles ($29.6 billion), will be submitted to the Government, with several delays, by this fall;
  • Roscosmos plans to consolidate all operators of Russian Earth imaging satellites under an organization within Russian Space Systems. It will be a solid Earth imaging market player, with the ability to operate as a commercial provider;
  • European-Russian ExoMars mission to explore the Red Planet will be launched atop Proton-M rocket within a launch window starting on January 16, 2016;
  • Vostochny spaceport, currently being built at the Russia's Far East, will not have launch complexes dedicated for military mission launches;
  • Saudi Arabia and Russia have reached an agreement for collaboration between their space agencies under peaceful space exploration programs. The agreement occurred months after the Kremlin reportedly reached a similar arrangement with Iran;
  • Former RSC Energia Chief Vitaly Lopota was taken into a home detention under an accusation of 'acting against the organization's interests';
  • ISS Reshetnev CEO Nikolay Testoyedov told that Russian satellite builders have an ability to make competitive products for the world's market, and noted that leading national satellite fleet operators had not placed any order for satellite manufacturing to Russian developers since 2010.

ISS Reshetnev section at Roscosmos booth at the Paris Air Show 2015
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Following the Paris Air Show Igor Komarov, Chairman of Roscosmos, attended Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, where shed some light on some more interesting details. According to him:

  • Roscosmos is introducing new system of executives' bonuses, which will directly depend on failures and successes of space missions;
  • Vladimir Rachuk, General Director of KB Khimavtomatika (KBKhA), manufacturer of Proton-M engines, resigned after the recent rocket's failure to deploy Mexsat-1 telecommunications satellite for Mexico;
  • Proton-M rocket, failed on May 16, was commissioned in November 2013. In the near future there will be launched Proton-M rockets made within the same time period, in 2013 and earlier;
  • Igor Komarov did not exclude possibility of re-dislocation of frozen Sea Launch program, Odyssey platform and Commander ship, to Brazil's coast;
  • He also did not excluded cooperation with partners under the International Space Station (ISS) program after 2024, the year when it is currently supposed to be de-commissioned;
  • Development and manufacturing of Fenix heavy launch system, that had earlier reported to be made within the next years, has not been included into the draft Federal Space Program for 2016-2025;
  • Roscosmos to decide who will replace Sarah Brightman in the upcoming mission to the ISS, scheduled for this fall, within the nearest two weeks*.

Igor Komarov, Roscosmos Chairman, talking at the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum
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News were retrieved from RIA Novosti, TASS Agency, Interfax, and Izvestia sources.

P.S. *On Monday, June 22, Roscosmos officially informed that cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov of Kazakhstan would fly to the ISS aboard Soyuz TMA-18M spaceship instead of space tourist, famous singer Sarah Brightman, who earlier decided not to visit the space station.

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