Elon Musk is unhappy that new American ships are more expensive than seats for astronauts on the Russian Soyuz.
“It’s unfair,” responded the owner of the company SpaceX on the decision of NASA to pay Boeing $ 90 million. for the delivery of one astronaut to the International space station (ISS), while delivery to the Russian Soyuz is now costing $ 80 million. In addition, Musk said that his ships will deliver astronauts to the ISS in just over 55 million, according to Bloomberg.
The work of the ISS is impossible without regular flights to her manned and cargo ships. So, on December 3, the next planned flight to the ISS truck “Progress MS‑13”. However, cargo is not the main problem. Carry them now and SpaceX’s Elon musk and other private companies. Another thing – manned space flights. They can still only perform the old Russian “the Unions”. After the closure of the infamous space Shuttle program (U.S. space shuttles not only failed to achieve the promised reduction in the cost of cargo delivery into orbit and ditched a huge number of people), the USA were forced to go cap in hand to Russia. And also to tolerate boorish statements of Russian officials about alternative ways of delivering astronauts with a trampoline.
For 13 years the U.S. has paid Russia nearly $ 3.9 billion. for delivery to the ISS of 70 their astronauts Russian “Soyuz”. This was reported in his report the chief inspector of NASA, Paul Martin. It turns out that on average, NASA paid a 55.4 million for every place in 70 completed and planned missions in the period from 2006 to 2020.
From 2000 to 2005, Russia were used to carry the Americans for free, paying for the loans, allocated to the United States for the construction of the ISS Russian segment. The first two “ticket”, the United States bought from Russia in 2006, 21.3 million dollars. In 2007 and 2008, “Alliances” was delivered on one, and then annually transported six Americans, and the ticket price is constantly growing: from 25.4 in 2010 to 81.9 million in 2018. the Price jumped significantly after 2011, when the United States stopped its own program Space Shuttle and the Russian Soyuz is the only means of delivery.
To replace the American shuttles and the Russian Soyuz manned flights took SpaceX, Elon musk, and the Boeing company. Called several time of the first flight, which was not sustained (originally it was 2014 and 2017). Now Boeing is planning his first test flight to the space station on 17 December and made SpaceX unmanned test flight in March 2019 and is working on certification of its spacecraft Crew Dragon for human flight in 2020.
Probably due to the fact that the market still has not appeared competitor, Russia can set the price as $ 80 million. one ticket for U.S. astronauts. Despite the fact that there were precedents when the Federal space Agency carried tourists to “Union” for much less money (it is known that tourists flying to the ISS cost about 20 million dollars). Thus the real cost of the flight on the “Union” to count nearly impossible. In the preparation of the flight one way or another involved hundreds of thousands of employees of the enterprises of Roskosmos. For comparison, SpaceX employs about 7 thousand people, while only one Russian rocket and space enterprise currently has more than 20 thousand employees. And such enterprises in the Russian space Agency are many.
For example, in the Samara space‑rocket complex (RCC) “Progress”, which provides missiles all Russian manned launches, the number of employees in 2017 was about 21 thousand people. And in the State space center Khrunichev, there were more than 43 thousand people.
American fuss around the cost of a ticket to orbit emerged after NASA announced that Boeing has allocated additional 287,2 million. for his work on the commercial crew program, designed to reduce America’s reliance on Russia to deliver astronauts to the station. SpaceX has not responded to questions about whether it is to protest against the payment of a Boeing or seek additional funds. “For our company nothing is more important than human flight into space, and we look forward to a safe flight NASA astronauts to the ISS and, starting early next year”, – said the representative of SpaceX, James Gleason.
The Director of the Center for analysis of strategies and technologies Ruslan Pukhov believes that through NASA, the American authorities are trying to support Boeing, caught in a zone of turbulence.
“On the background of the scandal with the collapse of two new Boeing 737 Max, we can say that Boeing have not one, it is a pale shadow of the company that was used, light of long extinguished stars. A huge fleet is laid up, the image of the company suffer a huge loss. An internal study showed that 90% of its employees don’t want their children worked at Boeing. The company wants to team up with the Brazilian Embraer for its excellent design offices in the past. From my point of view, the payoff of the Boeing these 90 million – is a form of support from the American authorities”, – said Pukhov.
If commercial flights will not begin by October 2020, seats on Soyuz for transportation of American astronauts may not be. In the report, NASA indicated that it continued to discuss possible solutions to this problem with the Russian space Agency that has already reduced the program of manned launches from two to one in six months.
In late October, the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said that the place for delivery of American astronauts to the ISS in 2020-2021 years to provide for the expense of the Russian crew of “Union”. “We will try to help American colleagues to shrink our crews. We will have to sacrifice something,” said Rogozin. At the time, it was he who invited his colleagues to send their astronauts into space on a trampoline.
Earlier it was reported that in 2020, the planned missions to the ISS two Russian piloted ships “Soyuz MS‑16 and MS Union‑17”. Executive Director of the Russian space Agency for manned space programs Sergey Krikalev noted that the crew of “Soyuz MS‑17” for the first time in 20 years must consist entirely of Russians. However, he admitted the likelihood that NASA will turn to Roskosmos with request for inclusion in the crew of their astronauts because of the unwillingness of American manned spacecraft.
The United States is ready to continue cooperation with Russia, if you own manned program of the United States happens to delay, said in October the head of NASA, James Breidenstein. “We don’t want to pay $ 85 million. every time launched American astronaut on the rocket “Soyuz”, – he said. However, he said NASA should “make sure that will not be the day when we will not have American astronauts on the ISS”.
US quite actively preparing for the optimistic scenario for them, refusal of services from the Russian Federation. For example, in may it became known that the Pentagon have Russia in the list of countries which are prohibited to use when launching American commercial satellites. This ban will take effect in 2023.
Russia must fight for its leadership in space launches. If until recently the share of the Russian Federation accounted for over one third of successful space launches in 2016, they became only 22%, and in 2018, our country has moved into third place in the world on this indicator (after China and USA) with 18%.
Market expert, who asked not to reveal his name, said that Russia will not be able to offer the required number of space technology, if American companies can not cope with the task of delivering crews to the ISS until the beginning of 2023.
“Most likely they will be able to solve this problem. Otherwise you have to rely on the Chinese, as the Russian Federation, in my opinion, will not be able to meet the needs of not only foreigners but also their own,” he says. The main reason, in his opinion, the degradation of the industry. “It’s not that our companies continue to employ thousands and tens of thousands of people, as it was in the Soviet Bureau. The problem is that their productivity is now at least two times lower than it was in the 70‑ies of the last century”, – says the expert.
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