Russian commercial space: not alive, but not dead too


«S7 Space» (2016-): company bought «Sea Launch» platform from «Energia» for $150-160 millions, with plans to launch rockets from it by the end of this year (with the resumption of production of the Zenit rockets). Unfortunately, after the plane crash the head of the company Natalia Fileva the contract with Yuzhmash is frozen and company probably gonna wait building Russian version of Zenit rocket from Roscosmos (it’s takes around 5-7 year or more, probably).

«CosmoCourse» (2014-): suborbital rocket for space tourism with 15 minutes flight (5-6 minutes from it on weightless) with cost $200-250 thousand per ticket. Whole project cost approximately $200-250 millions (the entire amount is received from one investor). Most of the now known details are on the video. I’ll just say what has changed in 3 years:

First flight test: 2020 → 2023
First commercial flight: 2021 → 2025
Parachutes landing → propulsive landing
Spaceport: Baikonur cosmodrome (Kazakhstan) → private cosmodrome in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast (Russia).

The factory for the production of rockets will be built there too. They just started hardware testing on the ground at the end of last year.

«NSTR» (2016-): firm have plans to build sounding rockets for start, and then build orbital rocket ERRAI with payload 1-10 kg. In 2016 year they test ethanol/nitrous oxide fueled engine with 100 kg of thrust. In 2018 they build remote control telescope system «AstroNYX» designed for renting it out to schools and private customers. In this year they started to build a rocket factory.

«Lin Industrial» (2014-2019): project to build small orbital rocket for payload 147 kg on Sun-synchronous orbit with cost $4,5 million per launch and full investments around $19 million.

By 2018, they managed to build a hydrogen peroxide/kerosene fueled engine for 100 kg of thrust. But they did not receive permission to test at the test sites and conducted it in the evening in the industrial zone on the outskirts of Moscow. The test ended with an explosion of the engine and a wound in the hand of a random person in a nearby building. This was one of the reasons for the closure of the firm, but it was mainly due to the lack of serious investments.

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We also had two commercial satellite manufacturing firms:

«Sputnix» (2011-): she launch microsatellite «Chibis-M» in 2012, «TableSat-Aurora» in 2014, and two cubesats 1U «SiriusSat» in 2019.

«Dauria Aerospace» (2011-): she launch two cubesats 6U «Perseus-M» and microsatellite «DX1» in 2014, and two cubesats 3U «MKA-N» in 2017. The latter went out of order presumably due to a malfunction of the Roscosmos rocket (who were also customers of satellites). Roscosmos refused to recognize this like a rocket failure and sued the firm. This was the reason for the company terminate work in last year. But so far they have not declared bankruptcy.


Sounds like a lot of mistakes being made…
Is this a dysfunctional regulatory environment?
Or is there a lack of qualified expertise?


Although the transition to a market economy in Russia took place in 1991, until the early 2010s we had no commercial firms in most areas of space industry and the legal framework for this was not prepared in advance.

I would say that one of the major problems is the lack of interest in space exploration among the richest class of Russian people. Because of this, only two firms received millions of dollars in investment. The rest have to growth almost from scratch.

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Thanks for the explanation. Hopefully Russia’s Musk/Besos will show themselves soon.

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