- Press Release
- Sep 29, 2022
Part 2: RSC Energia: Transcript of the telecast “Good Afternoon” about Mir and ISS on ORT channel l, 2 Feb 2001
|Announcer:||Your views, dear friends. Good afternoon!.
You are on the air. Speak, please.
|TV viewer:||Good morning.|
|TV viewer:||The question I would like to ask is the
following. Is it advisable to carry out its splashdown from an economic
point of view? Perhaps, it would be better to use the Mir station
modules on the ISS? This is the way we-
|Announcer:||Thank you for the question. It is rather
interesting. I think that we shall touch upon our participation
in the International Space Station at the end of our broadcast.
|TV viewer:||– exchange remarks, but why all stand
for its immediate splashdown? It would be more reasonable to transfer
them to other orbit and dock rather than create new station.
|Announcer:||I would put it in another way. We shall
touch upon the problem of the International Space Station as we
go along and redefine it in such a way: service life of the station
is depleted. What about its scientific potential?
|Klimuk:||I want to remind once
again that on December 26th the station control system failed. Then
the Technical Management (i.e. those responsible for the station
and crew safety) gathered to take decision on the crew makeup during
one day. If the control system fails, we shall have to dock with
the uncontrolled station and it is not easy. We had two crews prepared.
It took us only several hours to prepare another crew. So we had
three crews ready for operations. The crew members docked to the
station, carried out maintenance work and further descended the
station. Our Center currently has two crews, one crew is working
in the United States. So the two crews are available to be on the
safe side. 15-17 days later we shall have to inject the Progress
cargo vehicle into orbit; the crew will dock in a manually operated
mode, perform all the operations; it will further initiate braking
impulse on the station, generate it and descent the station to Earth.
And here we shall face a very complicated problem. We should take
|Announcer:||However, I would like to hear the answer
to my question concerning the station scientific potential, those
14 tons of the equipment-
|Remark:||Ten and a half.|
|Announcer:||Ten and a half? Not used yet, not connected,
i.e. it is a new equipment.
|Solovyov:||The whole equipment
have been in operational use, tested. I am sorry to say that there
is a useful, serviceable scientific apparatus aboard the Mir station.
And even our opponents in this matter, the US specialists estimate
the cost (it is difficult to estimate value of science in tons)
of the payload at 80-90 million dollars.
|Announcer:||Tell us about the Mir station cost. Let’s
discuss it after the film story about what we are going to lose.
|Solovyov:||No objection. Although
|Announcer:||Let’s find it out directly from the industry
leader, Yuri Nikolayevich Koptev who is General Director of Rosaviakosmos,
Doctor of Sciences, Professor. Among other panelists joining us
are Yuri Pavlovich Semenov, General Designer of RSC Energia; Vladimir
Petrovich Nikitsky, the academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences,
Doctor of Sciences, Professor and Alexandr Yevgenievich Rozhdestvensky,
Vice-President of RAEN, Candidate of Science. Good afternoon, honoured
guests! Our correspondent spoke tough enough and made biting remarks.
I would ask You to comment on the short film we have just seen as
soon as our TV viewers make their calls.
Good afternoon! You are on the air. Your question?
|TV viewer:||Hullo! I want to ask a question to Mr.
Semenov and Mr.Koptev. I am working at RSC Energia, an ordinary
employee whose well-being depends directly upon the Mir station
flying on orbit.
|Announcer:||Could you repeat once more and a bit
|TV viewer:||I am employed at RSC Energia. Actually,
I live on my salary earned due to the programs implemented on the
Mir station. What can we expect in the near future? Suppose we provide
the station splashdown; Americans, in all appearances, will squeeze
us out from the ISS, science, in any event. What are we going to
do next? Have we any prospects for development?
|Announcer:||As a matter of fact, we would like to
dwell on our prospects during the rest of our time.
|Koptev:||Well, first of all,
I would like to thank you for having an opportunity to participate
in a discussion like that. Before going into the questions asked,
I want to comment on some estimates which were given here. In the
first place, I would like to emphasize that we need to carefully
weigh the situation, when in case of control loss we shall face
uncontrolled descent. I think that we should be aware of full responsibility
for all this. The academician Anfimov already mentioned that there
are a number of International Treaties and Russia bound itself to
incur liability to third persons. This liability envisages full
compensation for moral, material and physical damages and we must
realize what sort of problems we may face. I just want to remind
you that in the history of our cosmonautics we had a bad experience
when the Russian satellite with nuclear power unit fell on the territory
of Canada. It caused a great scandal all over the world. We had
to pay an indemnity in the amount of 6,5 million US dollars. In
so doing, we got off cheap, to put it mildly.
|Announcer:||When did it happen?|
|Koptev:||In my opinion, it was
in 1978 or in 1977. I don’t remember for sure, but the accident
happened indeed. In the second place, I would like to say a few
words about a probability of falling space objects to Earth. We
have sunk a lot of satellites. Russia has launched into orbit about
1800 space vehicles, most of which are no longer on orbit: some
of them departed from orbit, other vehicles burn up, the remaining
vehicles were deorbited. I just want to say that probability of
falling space vehicle to Earth during uncontrolled descent is 28%.
In so doing, the probability of space object falling, let’s say,
on the US territory is only 1.7%. From the viewpoint of assessing
the events with catastrophic aftereffects, these are very high values.
Therefore, we cannot count only on a favorable outcome. It is the
wrong approach. Why? Because it involves great liability incurred
by our state.
|Announcer:||Coming back to our short film, I would
like to clarify what an estimated cost of the Mir Complex is.
|Koptev:||Sorry, I just wanted
to give some clarification once more concerning the statement to
the effect that Skylab had dropped nothing. I deny the truth of
this statement. Two fragments weighing totally 1750 kg and 300 different
space objects were found on the territory of Australia. Now comes
the question of the station depreciated cost. We have invested about
4.3 bn US dollars altogether in the Mir station, including all development
and operational use phases.
|Announcer:||Our TV viewers and I are very concerned
about the problem of space profitability. We have spent a certain
sum of money on it. And how much have we earned?
|Koptev:||You see, one cannot
take up the position which is based upon an immediate result from
space-related activities. For instance, today I launched a satellite
and tomorrow I shall have a free piece of sausage in my fridge.
Space-related activities are developing where strong government
support is available. It is the established fact. I know that at
the present time a total amount of government support world-wide
exceeds 50 bn US dollars. If we look at the so-called spillover
effect, then it is obvious that this activity is profitable. Suffice
is to say that the use of space technologies in modern communications,
including telecommunications, in Earth remote sensing and a number
of other industries is a paying business today. Generally, it was
calculated by Americans that one dollar invested in designing and
development of space technology would make it possible to earn 5-8
dollars (depending upon type of activity).
|Announcer:||The Mir station could exist on a self-sustained
|Koptev:||The Mir station could
not exist so, because it is an integrated research laboratory, which
is not designed to solve specific practical problems. It is because
of the presence of people on this laboratory that advanced technologies
can be tested in full scope and specific problems are solved via
permanently functioning operational systems.
|Announcer:||As I see it, the situation looks this
way. Alexandr Alexandrovich Serebrov is engaged in research using
the Mir station as a laboratory and the citizen of a certain country,
Tito, familiarizing himself with the information like that will
pay 200 million US dollars to go on a space journey there as a tourist.
Could the Mir station be self-sustained? Would it be reasonable
to carry soft drinks to the station and get 600,000 dollars, 400
million dollars for this tourist business; for instance, take a
Frenchman there for 45 million dollars?
|Koptev:||My understanding is
that one can never foresee everything and life is full of surprises.
The coming flight of Tito? We are just trying to survive. We have
to adhere to budgeted funds. Here we need to find proper correlation
between maintenance of the station existence, participation in our
project and the balance of those funds to be invested in these activities.
I can quote you the following figures: implementation of the Mir
station-based international project involved about 1 bn US dollars.
The flights of foreign astronauts, cosmonauts enabled implementation
of such projects. They account for about 45-47% of all the funds
we spent to sustain the Mir station from 1994 through 2000.
|Announcer:||We are continuing our program. Good afternoon,
everybody, who joined us. Another call I direct it to Yuri Pavlovich
Semenov. What is RSC Energia going to do? What will happen to the
people, programs, scientific developments? It is no secret that
people may be out of job, some activities, studies are likely to
|Semenov:||On the one hand, I am
in a most embarrassing situation of all those present in the studio.
I shall explain to you why. Since 1970 I have been the Chief Designer
of all the orbital stations and space vehicles. The decision on
the first station development was taken at the time of my appointment
as a Chief Designer. Having been General Designer for 11 years,
I am currently in charge of our unique collective of RSC Energia
after S.P.Korolev. So the station is what our collective and I hold
dearest of all. The collective has done its best to deploy the station
and turn it into an international research space center, unique
creation of mankind on the turn of two centuries. On the other hand,
I am well – informed not only about what is going on at the station
from a technical point of view, but also about the problems of its
flight financial support. And today it is a very important part
of my job. It is by no means easy to take technical decisions on
continuation of the station flight and, first of all, the decisions,
which are associated with onboard systems condition and risk of
their further use when financing is limited. If off-nominal situations
arise our Mission Control Center must not only take operational
decisions, but also provide their comprehensive check on integrated
stands and simulators located at our enterprise. Therefore, I can
unambiguously state that no body other than RSC Energia specialist
could understand the station current state better. They are developers,
project engineers, those who are directly involved in mission control.
The situation becomes complicated, because we must not only understand,
but also foresee how events might further develop at the station
and predict how to cope with off-nominal situations. Therefore,
neither our organization, government, nor Rosaviakosmos, any other
agency will be able to take decision on termination or continuation
of the station flight without a comprehensive technical assessment,
technical analysis to be reviewed and approved by General Designers
Review. Research institutes, RSA and other departments, whose expert
opinions and view on this are important to us, take part in this
General Designers Review. Now, the fact is that it is high time
we deorbited the station in a most civilized way. I emphasize that
it should be done civilly. This decision will be taken (I am replying
in parallel to our employee: what requirements did you set) in connection
with the fact that the objectives set for a final flight phase have
been met. They involved the following: it was vital to ensure the
station operation throughout at least 15 years in order to verify
the service life scheduled for the International Space Station.
It was one of our critical requirements, many did not like it, but
we could not depart from it for the sake of our future –
(further the announcer interrupted the discussion and moved on to
|Announcer:||Excuse my interruption. Question from
Internet site. It is necessary to remove pieces of the covering
(skin), these are unique samples. The station has flown 15 years
now. We cannot wait another 15 years to get metal of such quality
like here, in the laboratory. Nikolai Appolonovich. We know that
you outfitted the station with apparatus. Is it possible that there
is nothing valuable there that could be returned to Earth?
|Anfimov:||I can answer this question.
The point is that the study of materials behavior in space is one
of the sections of the research program. I cannot remember right
now their quantity, but tens of kilograms of different samples,
both metallic and non-metallic, were sent back to Earth. In addition,
during last year alone we descended by Shuttle quite a unique sample
– a full-size solar array.
|Announcer:||We are talking about last year. And now,
when the decision is already taken, it is a bit more than a month
left before the station splashdown in the Pacific Ocean waters.
Can’t we remove something from it? Is there any need to do it? What
is your opinion as a scientist?
|Anfimov:||Apart from what to remove
from it, we need to know how to do it.
|Announcer:||How much will it cost to dispatch space
vehicles there to bring back things from the station?
|Rozhdestvensky:||Let me reply in brief.
Cost of the station assets is, to a certain degree, the answer to
the question of what will be with the station. The depreciated cost
of the structure itself for today is about 1,5 bn US dollars. The
greater amounts of the money spent went to the intangible assets
(goodwill). What is this? The intangible assets (goodwill) of the
station cover technical experience and know-how, the name of the
station (as, for example, the Mercedes popular brand), its certificate
indicating 15 years of service life. How can we estimate this? The
American side assessed the station technical experience and know-how
in the confidential Memorandum with the participation of Gore and
Chernomyrdin. In so doing, the American side refused to claim compensation
for its expenses incurred in the amount of about 6 bn US dollars,
paid another 0.5 bn US dollars so that the Russian side could build
the ISS. What did all that money go for? I mean 6.5 bn US dollars.
They paid, in particular, for that technical experience and know-how
acquired at the Mir station. How much does the name of the station
cost? Representatives of different countries (from Europe, America,
Asia) took part in the flights on the Mir station. The Coca-Cola
brand costs more than 1 bn US dollars, the Mir station brand costs
by no means less. If we put together the intangible assets (goodwill)
of the station, they will amount to about 8 bn US dollards. All
in all, the station assets are about 10 bn US dollars.
|Announcer:||But how can we take the goodwill out?|
|Rozhdestvensky:||It is quite easy. What
does it mean? We have passed on to the XXIst century. The core business
of the XXIst century involves the project based upon information
technology. An American corporation, which today has won the tender
for arranging global communication network based upon Internet and
without ground support, will spend about 10 bn US dollars for this
project. For instance, if you make use of the Mir station services,
then such an american corporation will save about 2 bn US dollars
due to reduced transportation costs. It is the example of the station
participation in the information technology-based projects. What
is the use of the assets? It is true, it is not easy to sell them.
But they provide an economic, political freedom to an individual,
country. They make it possible to earn the money of the order of
2 bn US dollars, so they benefit a country. In this sense certain
funds are spent even today; during the last two years the budget
spending on this amounted to about 50 million US dollars annually.
You see, this money is miserable.
|Announcer:||There is considerable difference of opinion
concerning the funds required to keep the station afloat. In my
opinion, these amounts of money are very small as compared with
what we have to give annually for the ISS. Let’s listen to another
call. It seems to me that we somehow neglected our TV viewers. Good
afternoon! You are on the air. Your question to our guests or opinion.
|TV viewer:||Good aftenoon!|
|TV viewer:||I am calling from Greece. My question
is the following. From abroad the Russian national spirit is felt
more clearly. I would like to ask, is it possible to secure our
national strategic interests as a state with no national space station
available, but participating in an international project?
Thank you. It is a very good question. With this question in
What is going on with the ISS. Have your Institute secured the
|Anfimov:||As a part of our Institute,
Mission Control Center is directly involved in control of the entire
station along with MCC in Houston.
|Announcer:||Has RSC Energia enough orders for the
|Semenov:||RSC Energia is the primary
organization involved in the Russia Segment development and its
integration with the International Space Station containing 36 modules,
of which 11 modules belong to the Russian Segment. Of these 11 modules
8 modules will be manufactured at our plant. Therefore, we have
good prospects for execution of such orders. The trouble is that
they are not regularly financed. This issue has yet to be resolved.
But if we look at the work program on the ISS, contracts for the
orders are expected.
|Announcer:||There are the orders. That means that
the country, Russia is provided with the orders, isn’t it?
|Koptev:||I would like to clear
up the situation, because there is much speculation that after the
Mir station splashdown a sort of stagnation will set in industry-wide.
|Koptev:||The main opinion sounds
like that: "We cease to operate", but it is totally incorrect.
I shall give the following figures. During this year we all said
that 4-5 launches would be required to keep the Mir station afloat.
It would cost 1.5 bn rubles taking into account control costs. In
this year we are going to perform the ISS-specific volume of the
activities in the amount of 3 bn rubles, although initially we foresaw
the amount of 5 bn rubles. We scheduled to perform at least 8-9
launches during this year. Proceeding from this, we calculate the
corresponding number of space vehicles, rockets, the required number
of launch services. It is a specific job of our Mission Control
Center. So it is pure speculation that the Mir station splashdown
will put an end to further development of space activities in our
country. Quite the contrary, we need to increase the volume of our
activities 1.5-2 times to remain involved in this project.
|Announcer:||Can you guess what the ratio is? 271
of the 388 respondents spoke in favor of keeping the Mir station
afloat. Opinion survey was conducted during one hour of our broadcast.
|Koptev:||Excuse me, but this
method of interview by voting, which always concerns –
|Announcer:||Will you be missing it?|
|Koptev:||We all will be missing
it, no doubt. I think that this problem needs to be looked at from
different angles. Apart from an emotional approach, we should take
into account hardware, political aspects, our international liability.
We need to consider everything. Will you fly by an airplane with
an exhausted service life, with no maintenance performed, failure
statistics? Will you fly by such a plane?
|Announcer:||Under no circumstances.|
|Koptev:||Why should we extend
this practice to the Mir station?
|Announcer:||I totally agree with you. Is there any
opinion about it? A long-distance call from Germany, let’s answer
it. Good afternoon. You are on the air, ask question to our guests.
|TV viewer:||Good afternoon! It is not only the question
I would like to ask, I wish to express my opinion.
|TV viewer:||First of all, I would like to extend
my thanks to the Professor who participated in the previous broadcast.
If was Feoktistov, wasn’t he?
|Announcer:||Yes, you are right.|
|TV viewer:||I completely agree with him. I think
it is not reasonable to waste money on space in order to achieve
ambitions and state: "We are pioneers!". It is inexcusable
when children are starving.
|Announcer:||You will not take pride in our space
achievements, because you are living in Germany now.
|TV viewer:||You are probably wondering why I left
|Announcer:||Thank you. Where do you live?|
|TV viewer:||In Dortmund.|
The Mir station will not fall on Dortmund, will it?
The Mir can fall on Dortmund.
|TV viewer:||I have a lot of friends there. My heart
bleeds for Russia, really. I never fail to watch this broadcast.
|Announcer:||Thank you. Thank you.|
|Koptev:||I want to comment on
what has been said about brand, know-how and so on. You see, this
approach was already implemented under the ISS Project. The contribution
of Russia to the total cost of the Project estimated at 100 bn US
dollars is less than 6%, but at the expense of its new technologies
, new concepts and approaches Russia has the right to dispose of
one-third of the station resources. This means that our share is
one third with a less than 6% of the investment made.
|Announcer:||Nevertheless, I would like to clarify
if our specialists looked into the possibility of the Mir station
docking with the ISS? Or it makes no sense?
|Semenov:||In 1996, when it became
clear that we were delaying with the Zvezda Module manufacture due
to some technical problems and insufficient volumes of the funds
allocated, being aware of the Mir station capabilities, we came
up with the following proposal: start the ISS assembly with the
docking of the US part to the Mir station. Both our specialists,
and US specialists gave close attention to the proposal. But in
this case, it was up to the American side to display its good will.
The American side considered it necessary to wait until Service
Module was manufactured. Here is what we proposed.
|Announcer:||Here is how they treated us. Perhaps,
they want to weaken us pushing us out of space exploration activities?
I would like the Mir station proponents to defend their position
vigorously and ask you why, actually, you consider their decision
reasonable. And how? We have talked enough today that it is essential
to do and why it is necessary. Why do you think we need to do it?
|Nikitsky:||I have one more remark
to make. I think that we ought to have gathered earlier to discuss
the Mir problem.
|Announcer:||Nobody declared public referendum on
this subject. It is not up to ordinary people to make decisions.
Wise officials on top can do it.
|Nikitsky:||The year and a half
ago these wise officials on top decided in favor of proceeding with
the Mir station activities. Finally, they failed to meet the commitments.
And my understanding is …
|Announcer:||Please, be brief. What commitments you
mean, what has been done and what they failed to do?
|Nikitsky:||Well, in 1999, for example,
it was foreseen to allocate the budgetary funds in the amount of
1.5 bn rubles. I am giving you the example of how other clever official
(I don’t mean that official who allowed for the funds in the budget),
who actually commands large sums of money, performs his duties.
I ask Yuri Nikolaevich whether we can prepare the respective contracts,
because the funds were foreseen in the budget. He answers: ‘No’.
I ask him: ‘What is wrong?’ He replies: ‘There will be no money,
altough it was foreseen in the additional budgetary line’. Indeed,
the additional line implies appropriation of extrabudgetary funds.
Suddenly I learn about 300 bn US dollars our country is earning
at the expense of oil prices difference, but 1,5 bn roubles were
not appropriated for the needs of Rosaviakosmos. However, when we
again faced the problem of the Mir splashdown, they could find somewhere
the money. Therefore, it seems to me, the problem is not of a technical
character. Our General Designer is quite right in that the technical
difficulties exist, but the situation is now quite different: the
year and a half ago Yu.P. Semenov was all for continuation of the
Mir station on-orbit presence and he was not going to sink it on
March 6, 2001. Yuri Pavlovich hoped that the station would remain
on orbit until the end of its 15-year operating period. But Yuri
Nikolayevich and Yuri Pavlovich almost have no choice now: there
are no technical capabilities to sustain the station. There is only
one space vehicle for today. Although, from a scientific point of
view, it would be desirable to send the last crew there. It is true,
that we are reaching a 15-year target. Russia is the only country,
which can certify space manned objects for 15 years of operational
use. Americans have no document evidencing that the ISS design service
life was calculated correctly. In order to verify design service
life, at least one third of the Project cost would be required.
One third of the Project cost amounts to 96 bn US dollars.
|Announcer:||It hurts me to hear that we have a better
understanding of this space technology, broader experience in its
use, while we are not playing the leading part in this ISS. Probably,
because they have more money. Is it the only reason for it?
|Nikitsky:||I do not think so. We
are still plying an important part. In this connection, two points
are important here. Firstly, we should view the present-day situation
as a disappointing situation, but we need to struggle for its survival
till the last minute that impulse generated to carry out the splashdown,
seek for alternatives. Why? Because there is still a great deal
to do at the station and advanced technologies. The results produced
due to these technologies could compensate for our costs incurred.
Secondly, it will be difficult for us to carry out any research
and implement any projects at the ISS, despite the fact that we
are provided there with ample opportunity. We are not bosses there.
And quite a different situation-
|Announcer:||It is rumored that they will exploit
us, we shall build them all, carry them as cabmen and they will
throw us out afterwards-
|Nikitsky:||No, I am not talking
that they make use of our knowledge, experience, they just will
not take our interests into consideration.
|Announcer:||I conveyed the opinions of our TV viewers
and the information we has received by now at site. One more call.
There is very little time left. Good afternoon!
|TV viewer:||Good afternoon! Yuri Andreyevich, Moscow.
The question is the following. Now our specialists are employed,
we are engaged in making the modules for rockets and so on. Who
will be the owner? How much of the station will be in the possession
|Koptev:||All these issues are
regulated by specific agreements. There is the intergovernmental
agreement signed by 16 nations. The agreement was ratified by Duma
on December 15. I just want to emphasize that there are a lot of
intelligent people there. The voting results were as follows: 382
votes were ‘for’; 6 votes abstained; 2 votes- ‘against’.
|Koptev:||All these issues are
regulated and clearly defined: both ownership right, disposal right
and the right to implement a national program. Therefore, one thing
is clear: ‘We shall build the station. We have committed ourselves
to further support it. We must meet these commitments’. Thus, this
terminology like ‘we shall be thrown out’, ‘we shall be admitted
or’ we shall not be admitted’ is not constructive. We stated our
views to our Government Administration, which emphasized the need
of Russia participation in international cooperation, European Economic
Community, other international business. When it comes to this area
of activity we say ‘No’. If there is no national space station,
we are unwilling to proceed with it. I wish to inform you that in
1997 our intelligent people, the Academy of Sciences, all customers
devoted the entire year looking into the matter of how to further
develop manned cosmonautics following the Mir epoch. And they took
the decision that the best option was to develop it within the framework
of the International Space Station.
|Announcer:||Thank you for your participation in our
talk. Our telecast is coming to a close. Very little time is left.
I was glad to hear your opinions. Our TV viewers expressed a lot
of opinions too. I want to remind you that one TV viewer got through
to us during the previous broadcast. She compared the Mir station
with such symbols of power, pride, spirit as the Kremlin, Cathedral
of Christ the Saviour. Here is what one can say to the proponents
and opponents of the Mir station splashdown: ‘for the former, it
is the sophisticated scientific and technical complex; for the latter,
it is a sort of temple’. I think the proponents should recall the
words of a great physicist N. Bore that science cannot be immoral,
while the opponents shall remember one of the Bible commandments
which reads as follows: ‘Do not make an idol in your heart’. The
whole epoch of national cosmonautics i.e. our history has been descending
from its of orbit at the rate of 450 m per day. The splashdown is
scheduled for March 6. And there are only 32 days left before the
splashdown of the Mir orbital station.