3 posts in this topic

Proton rocket maker Khrunichev is in deep doo-doo


So, just how bad off are things at accident prone Khrunichev? Try 30 billion rubles ($825 million) worth of bad off.

Thats how much Russian officials estimate it will cost to overhaul the venerable rocket producer, which has been responsible for a series of Proton launch failures over the past four years.

And thats just a preliminary estimate. Who knows what else will crop up as officials delve deeper into the innards of the troubled company.

The Moscow Times reports:

Efforts to reform Khrunichev will cost the state over $825 million by preliminary estimates, ITAR-Tass reported, citing Igor Komarov, CEO of the United Rocket and Space Corporation (URSC).

The URSC was created in March in response to earlier Proton failures, but consolidation was accelerated after the collision in May. The corporation is meant to serve as the center of a massive industry consolidation and modernization effort by taking control of the states shares in the Russian space industrys largest contractors, such as Khrunichev.

A final estimate [of the cost of reforming Krunichev] will be presented to the government by the end of September, Komarov said at a press briefing held by the URSC on Thursday, ITAR-Tass reported.

The URSC is set to take full ownership of Krunichev and another major space industry firm, Lavochkin. According to Komarov, Khrunichev cannot survive without measures to reform the company.


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Hopefully they can fix it all soon. We need as many countries within the space exploration. It's one of the areas where countries competing is a great thing.

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Fixing it to get Proton in track again is a short term gain as its due to be phased out in favor of Angara. This because of its poor reliability and toxic propellants (N2O4/UDMH.)

Unfortunately, because of its long gestation (started in 1992) Angara itself is pretty much outdated as soon as it goes into service, and one of its 3rd stage options.(Briz-M) still uses N2O4/UDMH. A liquid hydrogen stage for Angara 5 is still in development.

Angara uses 2 different propellant combinations; kerosene/LOX, N2O4/UDMH, and later the liquid hydrogen/LOX option, which is going to complicate pad operations.

The evolving practice is to use one propellants on all stages (F9, Delta IV), and there is also an emerging move away from liquid hydrogen in favor of liquid methane. Cheaper metallurgy, easier to store in space etc.

Because of this the Russian agencies are already talking about a new launcher, possibly methane fueled.

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