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Outside View: GLONASS plans -- Part 1

By ANDREI KISLYAKOV, UPI Outside View Commentator   |   June 9, 2008 at 10:48 AM
MOSCOW, June 9 (UPI) -- The Russian displays at the ILA-2008 International Aerospace Exhibition, held in Berlin from May 27 to June 1, can be described as epoch-making.

And it is not due to the space they occupied or the names present, such as Energia, the Khrunichev Center, Progress, Energomash, Lavochkin Association, and others. Should Russia's Federal Space Agency -- Roscosmos -- implement even some of the programs made public in Berlin, the Russian space industry would be in for a resounding triumph and a return to its former greatness.

Russia could, moreover, become a supplier, not only of a limited number of long-established rocket engines, but also of up-to-date satellite systems.

But let us begin with a news release by Roscosmos chief Anatoly Perminov, distributed at ILA-2008.

Its message is that Russia should lead in a variety of sectors of the international launch services market. The reference is above all to launch vehicles and all types of satellites.

"Russia's rocket and space industry occupies a considerable place in the global production of space equipment -- 8 percent in real terms. Its share in the market segment concerned with the production of spacecraft can be increased both by opening its domestic market and by entering other markets," he wrote.

"The main objective of the space industry's international strategy is to stay competitive in traditional markets; in particular, to maintain its leading position in commercial launch services -- 30 percent -- and to expand its presence in the manufacture of commercial spacecraft," stated the release.

The outlook providing for more profits and returns for the country's economy is clear. But if you feel a doubt nagging at the back of your mind, it is probably the gap between today's achievements and these bright future prospects.

Take the launch services market. Last year Russia again led the world for the number of launches. Its rockets took off 26 times, accounting for 38 percent of the world's total. Nine of these carried foreign payloads under commercial programs.

In 2005 and 2006 Russia also led the world in the overall number of launches, including commercial ones. Statistics available for 2005 show that the profits from them were not shared equally among the participants. The biggest beneficiary was Europe, which earned $490 million from five Ariane-5 launches, followed by Russia -- with $350 million from eight launches; the international Sea Launch Project -- $280 million from four launches; and the United States -- $70 million.

Even adding Energia's 25 percent stake in Sea Launch, Russia remained second.

The picture is unlikely to have changed in the past few years.

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(Andrei Kislyakov is a political commentator for RIA Novosti. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)

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(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

© 2008 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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