Systemic Failure Of Rocket Engines Puts Moscow’s Space Program At Risk – OpEd

An investigation into the failure of the Progress MS-04 rocket at the end of last year, one that has already uncovered massive diversion of funds and the substitution of cheap imitation materials for other more valuable ones that could be sold, has forced Roskosmos to recall all the rocket engines to the factory for extensive testing.

According to Aleksandr Sharkovsky in “Nezavisimaya gazeta” today, these problems “bear a systemic character,” that is, they may affect far more than just these launch vehicles and thus force a pause of some time for Moscow’s space program and possibly part of its nuclear triad as well (ng.ru/economics/2017-01-26/2_6912_proton.html).

“Prosecutors, FSB officers and the Investigation Committee” have been brought in to try to answer “the eternal Russian questions: who is guilty and what is to be done?” the Moscow journalist says. What they will find and who will suffer the consequences remains to be seen.

Initially, it appeared that Roskosmos and its factory managers would get away with at most a slap on the wrist, Sharkovsky says. After all, rockets fail a certain percentage of the time. But now that it has been discovered that managers substituted cheap components in order to sell for their own benefit the expensive ones specified in the contract, that is certain to change.

For more on this emerging scandal, see polit.ru/article/2017/01/25/vmz/, kommersant.ru/doc/3200920, svpressa.ru/economy/article/164999/ and

topwar.ru/107955-roskosmos-otzyvaet-vse-voronezhskie-raketnye-dvigateli-grafik-zapuska-na-2017-god-sorvan.html.


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Paul Goble

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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