Space: Red Birds Rising

Archives

July 3, 2008: For the third time this year, Russia launched a military satellite. The Proton rocket was used. Including the partial failures, the Proton is having about a ten percent failure rate. The Russian launchers, and Russian launch facilities, are cheaper than those in the West, and nearly as reliable. But these three failures of the Proton rocket are causing some concern among potential customers. But the Proton is still cheap, even if you have to pay more for insurance.

Since the Cold War ended in the early 1990s, the Russian spy satellite program has seen its budget cut year after year. Unable to replace satellites that were wearing out, the Russian satellite fleet dwindled. Currently, only about a hundred birds are in orbit (60 percent of them military), Russia has seen its satellite fleet shrink by over two-thirds since the end of the Cold War. Worse, a shortage of money for satellite design research has meant that many replacement birds sent up in the last decade have been two decade old designs. But in the last five years, more money has gone into updated satellite designs, and now the Russians are launching much more capable birds. This does not mean more Russian satellites in orbit, but more capable and longer lasting ones. The new designs will last ten years or more, compared to about three years for the older birds.

Three years ago, Russia began building a new generation of spy satellites, ones that were closer in capability to Western ones. The U.S. has 4-5 times as many spy satellites in orbit, so Russia has a lot of catching up to do. Even with a recent boost in spending, their space program is only about a fifth the size of the American one.

There's nothing secret about Russian satellite research and development, as they are offering many of their new designs on the international market. By offering long experience, and low prices, the Russians are getting attention from countries that want their own satellites up there, but can't afford the much more expensive Western designs.

 

 


Article Archive

Space: Current 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close