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Russian Federal Space Agency

Russian Federal Space Agency
Федеральное космическое агентство России
Logo of Roscosmos
Acronym FKA, RKA
Owner Russia
Established 25 February 1992
(formerly the Soviet space program, 1931-1991)
Headquarters Shchepkin Street 42, Moscow
Primary spaceport Baikonur Cosmodrome
Plesetsk Cosmodrome
Administrator Igor Komarov
Budget 169.8 billion RUB ($5.6 billion) (2013)[1]

The Russian Federal Space Agency (Russian: Федеральное космическое агентство России Federal'noye kosmicheskoye agentstvo Rossii), commonly called Roscosmos (Роскосмос Russpace) and abbreviated as FKA (ФКА) and RKA (РКА), is the government agency responsible for the Russian space science program and general aerospace research. It was previously the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (Russian: Российское авиационно-космическое агентство Rossiyskoe aviatsionno-kosmicheskoe agentstvo, commonly known as "Rosaviakosmos").

The headquarters of Roscosmos are located in Moscow, while the Main Mission Control space flight operations center is located in the nearby city of Korolev. The Cosmonauts Training Centre (GCTC) is in Star City. The Launch facilities used are Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan (with most launches taking place there, both manned and unmanned) and Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia which is used primarily for unmanned, military flights.

The current General Director since 21 January 2015 is Igor Komarov. In 2015 the Russian government announced it was merging Roscosmos with the United Rocket and Space Corporation, the re-nationalised Russian space industry to create the Roscosmos State Corporation.[2]


  • History 1
    • Crisis years 1.1
    • Improved situation in 2005–2006 1.2
    • 2006–2012 1.3
      • Space Station funding issues 1.3.1
    • 2011: New director 1.4
    • 2013-2015 reorganization of the Russian space sector 1.5
  • Current programs 2
    • ISS involvement 2.1
    • Science programs 2.2
    • Rockets 2.3
    • New piloted spacecraft 2.4
    • Space systems 2.5
    • Gecko Mating Experiment 2.6
  • Launch control 3
  • Space industry of Russia 4
  • Historic Russian (Soviet) space gallery 5
    • People 5.1
    • Spacecraft 5.2
    • Launch vehicles 5.3
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The Hall of Space Technology in the Tsiolkovsky State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics, Kaluga, Russia. The exhibition includes the models and replicas of the following Russian/Soviet inventions:
the first satellite, Sputnik 1 (a ball under the ceiling);
the first spacesuits (lower-left corner);
the first human spaceflight module, Vostok 1 (center);
the first Molniya-type satellite (upper right corner);
the first space rover, Lunokhod 1 (lower right);
the first space station, Salyut 1 (left);
the first modular space station, Mir (upper left).

The Soviet Union was therefore a new development. Russian Space Agency was formed on February 25, 1992, by a decree of President Yeltsin. Yuri Koptev, who had previously worked with designing Mars landers at NPO Lavochkin, became the agency's first director.Later renamed to Roscosmos.[3]

In the early years, the agency suffered from lack of authority as the powerful design bureaus fought to protect their own spheres of operation and to survive. For example, the decision to keep Mir in operation beyond 1999 was not taken by the agency; instead, it was made by the private shareholder board of the Energia design bureau. Another example is that the decision to develop the new Angara rocket was rather a function of Khrunichev's ability to attract resources than a conscious long-term decision by the agency.[3]

Crisis years

The 1990s saw serious financial problems because of decreased cash flow, which encouraged Roscosmos to improvise and seek other ways to keep space programs running. This resulted in Roscosmos' leading role in commercial satellite launches and space tourism. While scientific missions, such as interplanetary probes or astronomy missions during these years played a very small role,although roscosmos has connections with Russian aerospace forces, its budget is not part of the defense budget of the country, Roscosmos managed to operate the space station Mir well past its planned lifespan, contribute to the International Space Station, and continue to fly additional Soyuz and Progress missions.

In March 2004, director Yuri Koptev was replaced by Anatoly Perminov, who had previously served as the first commander of the Space Forces.[3]

Improved situation in 2005–2006

The Russian economy boomed throughout 2005 from high prices for exports, such as oil and gas, the outlook for future funding in 2006 appeared more favorable. This resulted in the Russian Duma approving a budget of 305 billion rubles (about 11 billion USD) for the Space Agency from 2006 January to 2015, with overall space expenditures in Russia total about 425 billion rubles for the same time period.[4] The budget for 2006 was as high as 25 billion rubles (about 900 million USD), which is a 33% increase from the 2005 budget. Under the current 10-year budget approved, the budget of the Space Agency shall increase 5–10% per year, providing the space agency with a constant influx of money. In addition to the budget, Roscosmos plans to have over 130 billion rubles flowing into its budget by other means, such as industry investments and commercial space launches. It is around the time US-based The Planetary Society entered a partnership with Roscosmos.


Cosmonaut on EVA (February 2012)

The federal space budget for the year 2009 was left unchanged despite the global economic crisis, standing at about 82 billion rubles ($2.4 billion).[6] In 2011, the government spent 115 billion rubles ($3.8 bln) in the national space programs.[7]

The proposed project core budget for 2013 to be around 128.3 billion rubles. The budget for the whole space program is: 169.8 billion rubles. ($5.6 bln). By 2015, the amount of the budget can be increased to 199.2 billion rubles.[1]

Priorities of the Russian space program include the new Angara rocket family and development of new communications, navigation and remote Earth sensing spacecraft.[6] The GLONASS global navigation satellite system has for many years been one of the top priorities and has been given its own budget line in the federal space budget. In 2007, GLONASS received 9.9 billion rubles ($360 million), and under the terms of a directive signed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in 2008, an additional $2.6 billion will be allocated for its development.[8]

Space Station funding issues

Due to International Space Station involvements, up to 50% of Russia's space budget is spent on the manned space program as of 2009. Some observers have pointed out that this has a detrimental effect on other aspects of space exploration, and that the other space powers spend much lesser proportions of their overall budgets on maintaining human presence in orbit.[9]

Despite the considerably improved budget, attention of legislative and executive authorities, positive media coverage and broad support among the population, the Russian space program continues to face several problems.[10] Wages in the space industry are low; the average age of employees is high (46 years in 2007),[10] and much of the equipment is obsolete.[11] On the positive side, many companies in the sector have been able to profit from contracts and partnerships with foreign companies; several new systems such as new rocket upper stages have been developed in recent years; investments have been made to production lines, and companies have started to pay more attention to educating a new generation of engineers and technicians.[3][11]

2011: New director

On 29 April 2011, Perminov was replaced with Vladimir Popovkin as the director of Roscosmos. The 65-year-old Perminov was over the legal age for state officials, and had received some criticism after a failed GLONASS launch in December 2010. Popovkin is a former commander of the Russian Space Forces and First Deputy Defense Minister of Russia.[12][13]

2013-2015 reorganization of the Russian space sector

As a result of a series of reliability problems, and proximate to the failure of a July 2013 United Rocket and Space Corporation was formed as a joint-stock corporation by the government in August 2013 to consolidate the Russian space sector. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said "the failure-prone space sector is so troubled that it needs state supervision to overcome its problems."[14] Three days following the Proton M launch failure, the Russian government had announced that "extremely harsh measures" would be taken "and spell the end of the [Russian] space industry as we know it."[15]

Preliminary information indicated that the government intends to reorganize in such a way as to "preserve and enhance the Roscosmos space agency."[14]

More detailed plans released in October 2013 called for a re-nationalization of the "troubled space industry," with sweeping reforms including a new "unified command structure and reducing redundant capabilities, acts that could lead to tens of thousands of layoffs."[16] The Russian space sector employs about 250,000 people, while the United States has about 70,000 people working in the field . "Russian space productivity is eight times lower than America’s, with companies duplicating one anothers’ work and operating at about 40 percent efficiency."[16]

Under the 2013 plan, Roscosmos "will act as a federal executive body and contracting authority for programs to be implemented by the industry."[14]

Current programs

ISS involvement

The Zarya module was the first module of the ISS, launched in 1998.

The Russian Space Agency is one of the partners in the International Space Station (ISS) program; it contributed the core space modules Zarya and Zvezda, which were both launched by Proton rockets and later were joined by NASA's Unity Module. The Rassvet module was launched aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis[17] and will be primarily used for cargo storage and as a docking port for visiting spacecraft. The Nauka module is the last component of the ISS, due to be launched in Nov 2015.[18] Roscosmos is furthermore responsible for expedition crew launches by Soyuz-TMA spacecraft and resupplies the space station with Progress space transporters. After the initial ISS contract with NASA expired, RKA and NASA, with the approval of the US government, entered into a space contract running until 2011, according to which Roscosmos will sell NASA spots on Soyuz spacecraft for approximately $21 million per person each way (thus $42 million to and back from the ISS per person) as well as provide Progress transport flights ($50 million per Progress as outlined in the Exploration Systems Architecture Study study [19]). RKA has announced that according to this arrangement, manned Soyuz flights will be doubled to 4 per year and Progress flights also doubled to 8 per year beginning in 2008.

RKA also provides space tourism for fare-paying passengers to ISS through the Space Adventures company. As of 2009, six space tourists have contracted with Roscosmos and have flown into space, each for an estimated fee of at least $20 million (USD).

Science programs

RKA operates a number of programs for earth science, communication, and scientific research. Future projects include the Soyuz successor, the Prospective Piloted Transport System, scientific robotic missions to one of the Mars moons as well as an increase in Lunar orbit research satellites.


Roscosmos is using a launch family of several rockets, the most famous of them is the R-7, commonly known as the Soyuz rocket, capable of launching about 7.5 tons into low Earth orbit (LEO). The Proton rocket (or UR-500K) has a lift capacity of over 20 tons to LEO. Smaller rockets include Cosmos-3M, the German-Russian cooperation Rockot and other Stations.

Currently rocket development encompasses both a new rocket system, Angara, as well as enhancements of the Soyuz rocket, Soyuz-2 and Soyuz-2-3. Two modifications of the Soyuz, the Soyuz-2.1a and Soyuz-2.1b has already been successfully tested, enhancing the launch capacity to 8.5 tons to LEO.

New piloted spacecraft

One of RKA's projects that has made a large impact on the media in 2005 is Kliper, a small lifting body reusable spacecraft. While Roscosmos has reached out to ESA and JAXA as well as others to share development costs of the project, it also has stated that it will go forward with the project even without support of other space agencies. This statement was backed by the above-described approval of its budget for 2006–2015, which includes the necessary funding of Kliper. However, the Kliper program was cancelled, to be replaced by the new Prospective Piloted Transport System proposal.

Space systems

Create HEO space system "Arctic" to address the hydrological and meteorological problems in the Arctic region and the northern areas of the Earth, with the help of two spacecraft "Arktika-M" and in the future within the system can create a communications satellite "Arktika-MS" and radar satellites "Arktika-R."[20]

The launch of two satellites "Obzor-R"(Review-R) Remote Sensing of the Earth, with the AESA radar and four spacecraft "Obzor-O"(Review-O) to capture the Earth's surface in normal and infrared light in a broad swath of 80 km with a resolution of 10 meters. The first two satellites of the projects planned for launch in 2015.[21]

Gonets. Civilian low Earth orbit communication satellite system.

Gecko Mating Experiment

The Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos launched on 19 July 2014 the Foton-M4 satellite containing among other animals and plants, a group of five geckos.[22][23] The five geckos, four females and one male, were used as a part of the Gecko-F4 research program aimed at measuring the effects of weightlessness on the lizards’ ability to procreate and develop in the harsh environment. However, soon after the spacecraft exited the atmosphere, mission control lost contact with the vessel which led to an attempt to reestablish communication that was only achieved later in the mission. When the satellite returned to earth after its planned two month mission was cut short to 44 days, the geckos were reported by the space agency researchers to have all perished during the course of their travels.

The exact cause that led to the deaths of the geckos was declared unknown by the scientific team in charge of the project. Reports from the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems in Russia have indicated that the lizards had been dead for at least a week prior to their return to earth. A number of those connected to the mission have theorized that a failure in the vessel’s heating system may have caused the cold blooded reptiles to freeze to death.

Included in the mission were a number of fruit flies, plants, and mushrooms which all survived the mission.[24]

Launch control

The military counterpart of the RKA is the Military Space Forces (VKO). The VKO controls Russia's Plesetsk Cosmodrome launch facility. The RKA and VKO share control of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, where the RKA reimburses the VKO for the wages of many of the flight controllers during civilian launches. The RKA and VKO also share control of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. It has been announced that Russia is to build another spaceport in Vostochny. The Vostochny Cosmodrome is scheduled to be finished by 2018.

Space industry of Russia

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, many of the former Soviet Design Bureaus transformed into private aerospace companies while some remained as state research centers.

Soviet OKB (if applicable) New organization Ownership Notable products
Korolev RKK Energia private (38% is owned by the Russian state)
NPO Lavochkin
NPO Mashinostroyeniya
Glushko NPO Energomash
Chélomei Khrunichev state
TsSKB-Progress state
NPO Molniya
NPO Polyot
MKB Raduga
JSC Khartron private
Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology

Historic Russian (Soviet) space gallery



Launch vehicles

See also


  1. ^ a b Бюджет на 2013 год предполагает рекордное финансирование космонавтики. Retrieved on 2013-08-02.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e
  4. ^
  5. ^ ВЗГЛЯД / Российские ученые создали новую технологию для космических телескопов. Retrieved on 2013-08-02.
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^ Popovkin replaces Perminov at Russian space agency RIA Novosti 2011-04-29
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b c
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ ВЗГЛЯД / Роскосмос начал создание космической системы «Арктика». (2012-10-16). Retrieved on 2013-08-02.
  21. ^ Россия запустит спутник с активной фазированной решеткой » Военное обозрение. Retrieved on 2013-08-02.
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^

External links

  • (Russian) RKA home page in Russian
  • RKA home page in English
  • Russian Space Program
  • The future of the Russian space program. Infographics from RIA Novosti.
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