Russia and Europe negotiating return of rockets and satellites

Russia and Europe have begun negotiations concerning the return of the various rockets and satellites that were left stranded in both countries when Russia invaded the Ukraine and all cooperative international agreements between the two entities broke off.

[I]n January 2023, an industry source told that Arianespace representatives were exploring a potential deal with Roskosmos on the exchange of Soyuz rocket components stranded in French Guiana for a group of 36 OneWeb satellites stuck in Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan after the aborted 14th launch for the Internet constellation. The satellites were held at the Russian-controlled facility in Kazakhstan per the order by Rogozin, but the newly appointed head of the Roskosmos State Corporation Yuri Borisov was reportedly opened to negotiations on their fate.

There are many obstacles blocking this deal, the biggest being the on going war itself. It will be necessary to engineers to both places to facilitate the return, and the war right now makes that difficult if not impossible.

Ironically, Russia is likely in more need of this deal than Europe. OneWeb of course wants its satellites back, but it can replace them. Russia it appears is having trouble building complex things like rockets, and needs these rockets and components to replace components it no longer can get in the west.

Rogozin’s order banning Russian astronauts from using European robot arm cancelled

A planned spacewalk tomorrow to configure the new European robot arm on the Russian section of ISS essentally proves that the order by the recently fired head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, forbidding the station’s Russian astronauts from doing any work with that European robot arm has now been cancelled.

A Russian cosmonaut and an Italian astronaut are finalizing preparations for a spacewalk on Thursday to configure the International Space Station’s third and newest robotic arm. As the pair was being assisted by two cosmonauts the rest of the Expedition 67 crew ensured ongoing advanced space research was proceeding full speed ahead aboard the orbiting lab.

Station Commander Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) are scheduled to exit the space station into the vacuum of space at 10 a.m. EDT on Thursday. The spacewalkers will spend about seven hours readying the European robotic arm for operations on the station’s Russian segment. The duo will also deploy 10 nanosatellites to collect radio electronics data. [emphasis mine]

Though I suspect no official announcement will be made, it is likely that the new head of Roscosmos, Yuri Borisov, had quietly made it clear to all involved to proceed with the necessary work, as if Rogozin’s order had never been made.

Putin dumps Rogozin

In a reshuffle of cabinet positions, Putin has replaced Dmitri Rogozin, putting a new man in charge of the Russian defense and space industry.

The new guy, Yuri Borisov, appears to have the title of Vice Prime Minister. I suspect Putin had grown tired of the continuing corruption and loss of market share under Rogozin’s watch during the past decade. I also suspect that Borisov will have little ability to change things. The problem isn’t the person in charge. The problem is Russia’s centralized top-down method of operations. It discourages competition and cost control, while providing no incentives for innovation and quality control.