A Space & astronomy forum. SpaceBanter.com

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

Go Back   Home » SpaceBanter.com forum » Space Science » Policy
Site Map Home Authors List Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Web Partners

Russian space program -- book chapter conclusions



 
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old May 22nd 07, 07:11 PM posted to sci.space.policy,sci.space.history
Jim Oberg
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 434
Default Russian space program -- book chapter conclusions


I'm doing a big book chapter for a DoD 'space power' book,
my chapter is on the russian program.

Here are my conclusions, and I'd like to open them up to
discussion, critique, and suggestions. The material remains
copyright by me, 2007, etc etc etc... and it's a draft.


Conclusion



For the foreseeable future, Russia appears committed to internationalization
of its main non-military space activities, mainly as a crutch in obtaining
services disproportionate to contributed resources ("For 5% of the
investment we get 30% of the resources" is a frequent comment in
justification of the space station partnership) and as a badge of 'major
player' status in the world.



At the same time, Russia shows no signs of developing a capability for major
innovation in spacecraft engineering or of demonstrating more than
lip-service interest in quantum advances in space operations capabilities.
Incremental progress has been the watchword for decades, usually not by
choice but out of necessity because all previous attempts at break-out
projects (human lunar flight, advanced robotic Mars probes, the 'Buran'
shuttle, the Polyus-Skif family of orbital battle stations) ended in
humiliating frustration.



Providing commercial launch services for foreign customers has provided
multi-dimensional benefits to Russia. Beyond the significant cash flow, such
activities fund booster upgrades and, in the case of converted military
missiles, fund validation of lifetime extension efforts for still-deployed
missile weapons.



Military applications of space systems remain uninspired, with critical
constellations (such as the missile early warning net) still significantly
degraded and likely to remain so for many years. Russian officials have
evidently decided that, despite any public posturings over US military
threats, there is essentially no prospect of actual hostilities in the
foreseeable future and hence little pressure to reconstitute military space
assets to a Soviet-era level. Russia retains an operational anti-missile
system around Moscow that, with hit-to-kill guidance, could provide
significant anti-satellite capability; it is also developing small robotic
rendezvous spacecraft similar to US projects that have potential
anti-satellite capabilities at any altitude they can be launched into.



Attempts at domestic commercialization of space-related services, including
communications, navigation, and mapping, remain seriously - perhaps
irremediably - hamstrung by the recent resurgence of a traditional Russian
top-down structure of authority. Bureaucrats are being ordered to implement
wider use of space infrastructure, and after many years of rosy reports of
progress, Moscow may realize that it is almost all, as usual, a sham.



There is still little indication of successful exploitation of space
discoveries and space-developed technologies (what NASA and the Europeans
call "spin-offs") as a means of improving the technological skills of
Russian industry. The space industry, as a component of the national defense
industry, remains strictly compartmentalized from Russia's civil economy,
and the resurgence of broad espionage laws (and several recent
highly-publicized convictions) will keep this ghettoization in force. This
in turn may require other government measures, from patent purchase to
industrial espionage, to acquire technologies that some Russian industries
may already possess but are in practice forbidden to share internally.





Russian space-related scientific and exploratory research, after hitting
rock bottom a decade ago, is showing signs of a modest rebound. Russian
space scientists may be able to resume making respectable contributions to
the world scientific literature in the coming decade, another ticket to
world-class status that spreads prestige to all of Russia's science
reputation..



But even if the main values of the Russian space program remain symbolic,
these symbols have computable value to the nation's self-confidence and to
the reputation of its technology - either for commercial export or as a
reflection of the efficacy of its weapons. The modest but steady resource
commitment to the space program reflects the government's assessment of the
degree of value, now and in the foreseeable future.



However, none of these intentions have much chance of success unless the
Russians find a way out of the looming demographic crisis that mass
mortality is confronting them with. In a society and an industry where
monopolization of knowledge was power, and sharing it often led to legal
prosecution, behavior must change, and fast. This must be done so that space
workers a decade from now, without the in-the-flesh guidance and advice of
the old-timers, will be able to draw on their 'team knowledge' that survived
the passing of its original owners and was preserved in an accessible,
durable form. The alternative is a return to the 'learning curve' of more
frequent oversights, mistakes, and inadequate problem solving of the dawn of
the Space Age - with its daunting costs in time, treasure, prestige, and
even human lives.




Ads
  #2  
Old May 22nd 07, 10:41 PM posted to sci.space.policy,sci.space.history
Derek Lyons
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,999
Default Russian space program -- book chapter conclusions

"Jim Oberg" wrote:

Here are my conclusions, and I'd like to open them up to
discussion, critique, and suggestions. The material remains
copyright by me, 2007, etc etc etc... and it's a draft.


It's hard to really discuss them without the supporting material Jim.


One thing that does spring to mind from reading them however is this;

In some ways, Russia reminds me of Britain in the 20's and 30's - a
nation fallen on hard times that desperately wants to keep her seat at
the table of Great Nations. The key product of this, on the space
side of the house, has been a flood of glossy presentations on
ambitious projects that Russia intends to do Real Soon Now.

Or are these glossies the result of the (confusingly varied) space
authorities trying to remain relevant and current?

D.
--
Touch-twice life. Eat. Drink. Laugh.

-Resolved: To be more temperate in my postings.
Oct 5th, 2004 JDL
  #3  
Old May 22nd 07, 11:58 PM posted to sci.space.policy,sci.space.history
R.Glueck
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 48
Default Russian space program -- book chapter conclusions

Jim: I read your summary chapter and have only a few comments. I think I'm a
light-weight to be critiquing your work in this area, but here goes.

What strikes me is Russians total reliance on the Soyuz technology of the
1960's. Here is a heavy "capsule" style space craft which has a superb
success history, yet all technical revisions have been based on standard
U.S. space development. Light weight components are hardly Russian
developments. If history serves me well, was the major upgrade in Soyuz a
trade-off by the USA as a mean of killing MIR and dragging the Russians into
the ISS program?

You make an important point about more modern space ventures, such as
"Buran" being a total loss, even as the Russian (at least as of my last trip
over, in 94) maintained the face saving official story that it was merely
postponed. Even the bulk of their relics are gone, history, dust, toastski.
Now that the shuttle has almost finished it's risky use to the United
States, there appears to be an even wider technology gap between the Russian
engineers and their counterparts in the west. They needn't put capital into
development, what we develop will likely be shared for free. Still there is
an adage that says, "use it or lose it", and I think Russian aerospace
engineers must feel like fifth wheels.

"Orion" is going to bring back older design technogy to the USA, which could
be argues as a giant leap backwards. There are those who will say the
Soviets/Russians side-stepped the folly of a fixed wing orbiter. I would
disagree. If Soyuz was to become obsolete today, I wonder if they'd have the
capacity to engineer a new orbital vehicle from scratch? Furthermore, isn't
Soyuz obsolete already? It will never have the capacity of "Orion", and
"Orion" technology may not be made available to every friendly nation that
wants to use it.

It's difficult to imagine the great state that produced Sputnik, Gagarin,
and Korolev, reduced to a taxi company, picking up wealthy business people
for a ride to the glory they once, for a short time, monopolized.

Khruschev is spinning in his gave, no doubt.

Richard (Dick) Glueck

Winterport, Maine



BTW, any new writing on Soviet and Russian submarine operations or losses
due out from you?

up to
discussion, critique, and suggestions. The material remains
copyright by me, 2007, etc etc etc... and it's a draft.


Conclusion



For the foreseeable future, Russia appears committed to
internationalization of its main non-military space activities, mainly as
a crutch in obtaining services disproportionate to contributed resources
("For 5% of the investment we get 30% of the resources" is a frequent
comment in justification of the space station partnership) and as a badge
of 'major player' status in the world.



At the same time, Russia shows no signs of developing a capability for
major innovation in spacecraft engineering or of demonstrating more than
lip-service interest in quantum advances in space operations capabilities.
Incremental progress has been the watchword for decades, usually not by
choice but out of necessity because all previous attempts at break-out
projects (human lunar flight, advanced robotic Mars probes, the 'Buran'
shuttle, the Polyus-Skif family of orbital battle stations) ended in
humiliating frustration.



Providing commercial launch services for foreign customers has provided
multi-dimensional benefits to Russia. Beyond the significant cash flow,
such activities fund booster upgrades and, in the case of converted
military missiles, fund validation of lifetime extension efforts for
still-deployed missile weapons.



Military applications of space systems remain uninspired, with critical
constellations (such as the missile early warning net) still significantly
degraded and likely to remain so for many years. Russian officials have
evidently decided that, despite any public posturings over US military
threats, there is essentially no prospect of actual hostilities in the
foreseeable future and hence little pressure to reconstitute military
space assets to a Soviet-era level. Russia retains an operational
anti-missile system around Moscow that, with hit-to-kill guidance, could
provide significant anti-satellite capability; it is also developing small
robotic rendezvous spacecraft similar to US projects that have potential
anti-satellite capabilities at any altitude they can be launched into.



Attempts at domestic commercialization of space-related services,
including communications, navigation, and mapping, remain seriously -
perhaps irremediably - hamstrung by the recent resurgence of a traditional
Russian top-down structure of authority. Bureaucrats are being ordered to
implement wider use of space infrastructure, and after many years of rosy
reports of progress, Moscow may realize that it is almost all, as usual, a
sham.



There is still little indication of successful exploitation of space
discoveries and space-developed technologies (what NASA and the Europeans
call "spin-offs") as a means of improving the technological skills of
Russian industry. The space industry, as a component of the national
defense industry, remains strictly compartmentalized from Russia's civil
economy, and the resurgence of broad espionage laws (and several recent
highly-publicized convictions) will keep this ghettoization in force. This
in turn may require other government measures, from patent purchase to
industrial espionage, to acquire technologies that some Russian industries
may already possess but are in practice forbidden to share internally.





Russian space-related scientific and exploratory research, after hitting
rock bottom a decade ago, is showing signs of a modest rebound. Russian
space scientists may be able to resume making respectable contributions to
the world scientific literature in the coming decade, another ticket to
world-class status that spreads prestige to all of Russia's science
reputation..



But even if the main values of the Russian space program remain symbolic,
these symbols have computable value to the nation's self-confidence and to
the reputation of its technology - either for commercial export or as a
reflection of the efficacy of its weapons. The modest but steady resource
commitment to the space program reflects the government's assessment of
the degree of value, now and in the foreseeable future.



However, none of these intentions have much chance of success unless the
Russians find a way out of the looming demographic crisis that mass
mortality is confronting them with. In a society and an industry where
monopolization of knowledge was power, and sharing it often led to legal
prosecution, behavior must change, and fast. This must be done so that
space workers a decade from now, without the in-the-flesh guidance and
advice of the old-timers, will be able to draw on their 'team knowledge'
that survived the passing of its original owners and was preserved in an
accessible, durable form. The alternative is a return to the 'learning
curve' of more frequent oversights, mistakes, and inadequate problem
solving of the dawn of the Space Age - with its daunting costs in time,
treasure, prestige, and even human lives.








----== Posted via Newsfeeds.Com - Unlimited-Unrestricted-Secure Usenet News==----
http://www.newsfeeds.com The #1 Newsgroup Service in the World! 120,000+ Newsgroups
----= East and West-Coast Server Farms - Total Privacy via Encryption =----
  #4  
Old May 23rd 07, 05:54 AM posted to sci.space.policy,sci.space.history
[email protected]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 7
Default Russian space program -- book chapter conclusions

A few years ago it seemed that each new Russian glossy presentation
included the element "Europe / America / whomever will fund it, and
we'll build it! They have the money, and we have the experience and
know-how!"

Of course both Europe and America have considerable experience and
know-how. In both cases, politics dictate that the money and jobs go
where the voters are, and that ain't Russia. Russia seems to have
learned this more recently, especially with Europe not jumping on
board with Clipper.


Roger Strong
Winnipeg, Canada

Space Station Tracking
http://www.rogerstrong.ca/tle_lookup.aspx
Enter a desired date/time since launch to get
the lat/long of the station. It allows for normal
decay, reboosts and orbit shifts.

  #5  
Old May 23rd 07, 07:12 AM posted to sci.space.policy,sci.space.history
BradGuth
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 21,544
Default Russian space program -- book chapter conclusions

Are you so afraid of those MIB shadows?

Why don't you share and share alike about our mutually perpetrated
cold-war(s)?
-
Brad Guth


  #6  
Old May 23rd 07, 03:35 PM posted to sci.space.policy,sci.space.history
Michael Turner
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 240
Default Russian space program -- book chapter conclusions

On May 22, 3:58 pm, "R.Glueck" wrote:
What strikes me is Russians total reliance on the Soyuz technology of the
1960's. Here is a heavy "capsule" style space craft which has a superb
success history, yet all technical revisions have been based on standard
U.S. space development. Light weight components are hardly Russian
developments. If history serves me well, was the major upgrade in Soyuz a
trade-off by the USA as a mean of killing MIR and dragging the Russians into
the ISS program?


There is a more-than-slight redolence of obsolete Cold War rivalry in
this comment. If globalization means anything, it means that nations
build upon their specialties and unique advantages. Maybe the
Russians can't do lightweight components very well. But can we beat
the Russians in costs to put a given mass into orbit? No. We have
the high tech. They have the cheap labor. If you've got something
against cheap labor, inspect all tags next time you go to Walmart.
You won't be able to buy very much Made in America.

You make an important point about more modern space ventures, such as
"Buran" being a total loss, even as the Russian (at least as of my last trip
over, in 94) maintained the face saving official story that it was merely
postponed. Even the bulk of their relics are gone, history, dust, toastski.
Now that the shuttle has almost finished it's risky use to the United
States, there appears to be an even wider technology gap between the Russian
engineers and their counterparts in the west. They needn't put capital into
development, what we develop will likely be shared for free.


Well, what about licensing it to them commercially, rather than simply
offering it for free?

Still there is
an adage that says, "use it or lose it", and I think Russian aerospace
engineers must feel like fifth wheels.


One might say much the same for Japanese engineers. Companies like
Canon and Sony have very thick patent portfolios, but on closer
inspection, much of the real innovation is being done for them in
foreign subsidiaries. One need not originate technology to benefit by
it, learn from it, build upon it. Ah, the mortifying shame of being a
mere "technician" -- but then look at all those Japanese corporations
blushing all the way to the bank. A technological showcase is basis
for little more than nationalistic chest-thumping. The real winners
aren't the ones with the smartest engineers and scientists, they are
the ones who seek and exploit opportunities most energetically. And
that comes only of doing business in do-or-die mode.

"Orion" is going to bring back older design technogy to the USA, which could
be argues as a giant leap backwards. There are those who will say the
Soviets/Russians side-stepped the folly of a fixed wing orbiter. I would
disagree. If Soyuz was to become obsolete today, I wonder if they'd have the
capacity to engineer a new orbital vehicle from scratch?


Who cares? Very little has come from engineering from scratch in
almost any technological domain you can think of. Successful
launchers all have heritage. Much of the Industrial Revolution was
copy-paste from blueprints, reusing design knowledge in ignorance of
what fundamentally made things work in the first place. (Sometimes
science explained it only long after the fact.) Was the Shuttle a
success? Perhaps in some sense, but certainly not in the economic
sense. Great payload bay, and all that, but it's clearly not
necessary to build a space station. Mir was proof enough of that. If
we had to do Shuttle all over again from scratch (*shudder* ... in
some inner circle of Hell), could *we* do it? America has its own
demographic crisis in space expertise -- it's not just for Russians
anymore.

Furthermore, isn't
Soyuz obsolete already? It will never have the capacity of "Orion", and
"Orion" technology may not be made available to every friendly nation that
wants to use it.


Capacity in what sense? How much you can put up in one throw? Or how
much you can put up for a fixed number of dollars? So long as Russian
engineers, factory workers and technicians are making 1/10th as much
as their western counterparts, Russia will be the low-cost leader.

It's difficult to imagine the great state that produced Sputnik, Gagarin,
and Korolev, reduced to a taxi company, picking up wealthy business people
for a ride to the glory they once, for a short time, monopolized.


Gee, that's a profoundly anti-capitalist sentiment if I ever heard
one. Ever had to make payroll? Ever pick up an underutilized asset
and turn a profit on it? Or for that matter, ever pick one up with
high hopes, only to make a loss on it, getting a hard lesson that
sobered you and humbled you and made you a better business operator in
the end?

Khruschev is spinning in his gave, no doubt.


No doubt. He's thinking, "Gee, what little of Soviet Socialism that
didn't get thrown into the dustbin of history is now being criticized
by people from capitalist nations for being crassly profit-oriented.
Hey, maybe I was wrong. But at least I was never a hypocrite."

-michael turner
http://www.transcendentalbloviation.blogspot.com

  #7  
Old May 24th 07, 12:45 AM posted to sci.space.policy,sci.space.history
R.Glueck
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 48
Default Russian space program -- book chapter conclusions


"Michael Turner" wrote in message
oups.com...

There is a more-than-slight redolence of obsolete Cold War rivalry in
this comment.

Michael, I was last in Russia, in 1994. At that time, I was at the
Gagarin training facilites, talking to numerous engineers. It that context,
my remarks reflect what they expressed to me concerning their technology and
where it was going. The Russian aerospace engineers are very proud people,
and my observation was their desire to forge ahead of the United States as
soon as they could. Remember, at that time MIR was still the USA's only
hope of getting long term experience in orbit using the shuttle technology.
Having the USSR collapse, and then swallowing the extremely bitter pill of a
humbled space program was very, very, tough for those people. I do recall a
1980's Nat. Geographic based solely on the superiority of the Soviet space
program. Falling before a worthy advisary is one thing, having the advisary
gloat is another.



Well, what about licensing it to them commercially, rather than simply
offering it for free?


The capital for new technological development isn't there. It just isn't.
"No bucks, no Buck Rogers."


Who cares?


I think a great number of Russian engineers care. I think developing,
proving, and implementing is what engineers do best and long to do more of.

So long as Russian
engineers, factory workers and technicians are making 1/10th as much
as their western counterparts, Russia will be the low-cost leader.


Only if they can produce a quality product that will hold up to the
standards being set for long term presence in space. Spacecraft must become
lightweight, durable, and reliable. I think that will be the rule in the
coming (predicted) space age.


Gee, that's a profoundly anti-capitalist sentiment if I ever heard
one.

Yes it was. I'm not endorsing Communism or Socialism; I'm reflecting
upon what I saw and experienced while I was doing research at
Zvezdny-Gorodk.

Khruschev is spinning in his gave, no doubt.


What can I say beyond this? Khruschev loved, relished, everything about his
space triumphs, and thus pumped huge amounts of funding into space
development. He did it for the wrong reasons, I'd say, but his funding made
things happen, both in the Soviet Union and in the United States.

If you've not been into Russia to talk to the people who were there after
the fall of the Soviet Union, your perspective might be different. That
said, I haven't been there in over a decade. My reference might well be out
of date, and I'll be the first t admit it.




----== Posted via Newsfeeds.Com - Unlimited-Unrestricted-Secure Usenet News==----
http://www.newsfeeds.com The #1 Newsgroup Service in the World! 120,000+ Newsgroups
----= East and West-Coast Server Farms - Total Privacy via Encryption =----
  #8  
Old May 24th 07, 12:57 AM posted to sci.space.policy,sci.space.history
Quadibloc
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 7,018
Default Russian space program -- book chapter conclusions

Jim Oberg wrote:
Here are my conclusions, and I'd like to open them up to
discussion, critique, and suggestions.


For the foreseeable future, Russia appears committed to internationalization
of its main non-military space activities, mainly as a crutch in obtaining
services disproportionate to contributed resources ("For 5% of the
investment we get 30% of the resources" is a frequent comment in
justification of the space station partnership) and as a badge of 'major
player' status in the world.


That may well be true, however, given its failure to meet some module
deadlines in connection with the ISS, it's not clear if they will find
any international partners willing to play any more, so its commitment
in this regard is likely to be a moot point.

Providing commercial launch services for foreign customers has provided
multi-dimensional benefits to Russia. Beyond the significant cash flow, such
activities fund booster upgrades and, in the case of converted military
missiles, fund validation of lifetime extension efforts for still-deployed
missile weapons.


This is certainly true enough. As recent discussion in this newsgroup
has illustrated, China is becoming a significant cut-rate competitor
to Russia in this sphere as well.

Russian officials have
evidently decided that, despite any public posturings over US military
threats, there is essentially no prospect of actual hostilities in the
foreseeable future and hence little pressure to reconstitute military space
assets to a Soviet-era level.


This is certainly good news. While someone here wrote of "obsolete
Cold War" thinking, it does look as though Russia has fallen into a
form of government not particularly democratic or friendly to the
world's democracies (well, at least to the United States in
particular), even if it is still an improvement over Communism. This
is regrettable, but the economic collapse of Russia after abandoning
Communism can only be expected to produce an imperfect result.

Attempts at domestic commercialization of space-related services, including
communications, navigation, and mapping, remain seriously - perhaps
irremediably - hamstrung by the recent resurgence of a traditional Russian
top-down structure of authority.


Russian bureaucrats are unlikely to be the *main* obstacle to this.
Russia is in a very difficult economic condition, so there is not much
of a market for any exotic goods or services there. The limited
capital there is goes into small-scale projects with quick return
under such conditions. Unusual and innovative enterprises are few and
far between.

John Savard

  #9  
Old June 2nd 07, 08:21 PM posted to sci.space.policy,sci.space.history
Scott Hedrick[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,159
Default Russian space program -- book chapter conclusions


"R.Glueck" wrote in message
...
I do recall a 1980's Nat. Geographic based solely on the superiority of the
Soviet space program.


*They* managed to send missions to Halley's Comet.


  #10  
Old June 3rd 07, 06:12 AM posted to sci.space.policy,sci.space.history
Pat Flannery
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 18,466
Default Russian space program -- book chapter conclusions



Scott Hedrick wrote:
"R.Glueck" wrote in message
...

I do recall a 1980's Nat. Geographic based solely on the superiority of the
Soviet space program.


*They* managed to send missions to Halley's Comet.


Outside of Voyager, those were the two most impressive missions done to
that time.
Our problem is that we went way overboard with our solar sail/ion drive
designs.
Since then, we've gone past them like they were standing still.
And those damn things on Mars are still functional and ready to crawl,
which ain't bad for a mission that would have been considered successful
if it went 90 days.

Pat

 




Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Russian Space Program 2006-2015 Approved Jacques van Oene Space Station 0 October 26th 05 02:32 PM
Seems Russian Space Program is Dangerous Too Benign Vanilla Misc 0 January 13th 05 02:15 AM
Snippets in space history from recent Russian book William C. Keel History 7 August 14th 04 05:39 PM
HQ russian space program photos for book JC History 4 March 1st 04 02:37 AM
Dogs in Russian space program JC History 38 February 13th 04 04:59 PM


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 09:20 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2004-2020 SpaceBanter.com.
The comments are property of their posters.