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Russia has announced that it is canceling the development of a new lightweight Proton rocket, conceived as a way to attract new international commercial customers.
Russia’s Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center has decided not to go ahead with its project to develop the Proton-L (Proton Medium) two-stage launch vehicle (LV), a source at the center told Interfax.
“The project to create the Proton-L launch vehicle will not be pursued for financial reasons,” the source said.
Let me translate. They have not gotten sufficient international commercial orders for this two-stage version of Proton, and thus it will be unprofitable to build it. The lack of orders is likely linked to Russia’s ongoing quality control problems, along with rampant corruption, within its aerospace industry.
Unfortunately, the Putin government’s solution to the quality control problems and corruption has been to consolidate the industry into one corporation under government control, thus eliminating any competition inside Russia. Such an approach however has been found historically to routinely produce more corruption and quality control problems, as it has no built-in incentives to encourage improvement.