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The head of Roscosmos said today that they are pushing to accelerate the development of a new rocket, dubbed Phoenix, that will reduce launch costs by 20%, lowering the launch price per launch to $55 million.
I have been reading stories like this, about a new wonderful Russian rocket or spacecraft, for decades. First there was Clipper. Then there was Angara, repeatedly. Recently they have been talking up a new manned capsule and cargo ship. Along the way were a number of other forgotten proposals that would revolutionize space travel. None of these proposals however have ever seen the light of day, though Angara has completed two test flights.
In the past, Russia was not under any competitive pressure. They could undercut the launch price of every other rocket company in the world, without doing anything. Now, they face stiff competition that is only going to get stiffer. They need to produce, or they will be out of the game entirely.
The big question is whether they can, as a nationalized space industry run by a government that is rampant with corruption.