” …immediately after spacecraft separation, a series of telemetry problems were detected… “
In recent weeks some at the Russian Federal Space Agency – Roscosmos (re-branded in 1992) have seriously started to doubt their ability to conduct even the simplest of tasks in the ever commercializing space industry. The agency’s loss of Progress 44 in 2011, and now the same for Progress 59 in April of 2015 to a similar incident, have been costly. This is added to the fact that Roscosmos has also lost six Proton rockets in the last three and a half years at $55.5 million a piece (not counting contents/cargo). These set backs have pushed some Russian physicists, engineers, and even program managers to question the very existence of their jobs.
“Almost immediately after spacecraft separation, a series of telemetry problems were detected with Progress 59,”
“After the rocket exploded all I could think was, not again.”
– Russian scientists told a NASA spokesman
The Russian Federation’s Proton-M rocket is the primary competitor of SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket. Both of these delivery systems can transport approx. four and a half tons into geostationary orbits and have the ability to dock with the ISS. These are huge loads for today’s standards. The problem the Proton-M has repeatedly faced is its ability to successfully escape the Earth’s gravitational pull. This is key for space operations and a problem Russian scientists have battled for decades.
The general consensus of the International Space Community has been overwhelmingly similar. When will Russia sell it’s space program? It wouldn’t be the first time the former communist totalitarian state sold it’s rockets to the highest bidders. It’s all simple economics. In the world of technology and transportation it’s sink or swim. Russia had a good run and helped pave the way as a pioneer in the industry of space exploration. Bankrupting yourself twice in half a century doesn’t seem like the best economical decision though.