Where are the Russians Ilona Masks?


Another success of the private space company SpaceX associated with the successful launch of the manned spacecraft Crew Dragon into orbit has intensified public discussion on the topic of private astronautics in general and in Russia in particular.

The mastering of space technologies is carried out by several foreign private companies at once. In addition to SpaceX, Boeing is actively working in this direction, whose CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is scheduled to fly to the ISS at the end of this year. Blue Origin, founded by Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, is also developing rockets and spaceships.

In addition to this «big three», Virgin Galactic, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and many others are engaged in various space-related projects.

There have always been many talented engineers and scientists in Russia, so a reasonable question arises — where are our Ilona Masks? Where are the domestic private space companies? One might get the impression that they simply do not exist, but they are not. Yes, the main banner of Russian cosmonautics is carried by Roskosmos, but in our country there are also private space companies engaged in space projects.

Their successes and achievements are not yet as impressive as the successes of the same SpaceX, but SpaceX also started from scratch 18 years ago, and for a long time no one knew about them or Elon Musk.

The largest domestic space company is S7 Space, founded in 2016 by engineer and entrepreneur Vladislav Filyov.

S7 Space owns the Sea Launch launch platform and provides services for launching space rockets.

In addition, S7 Space received a license for the production of launch vehicles and is developing its own launch vehicle based on the technology of the Soyuz family launch vehicles.

The company also plans to develop its own reusable manned spacecraft, as well as to implement the Orbital Cosmodrome project based on the Russian segment of the ISS.

Another example of a domestic private space company is the SPUTNIX company, created in 2011 in the Skolkovo technopark.

This company develops hardware and software for communication satellites, scientific and meteorological satellites, as well as the development of ground equipment for communication and satellite control.

In total, during the entire existence of the company, it has developed 5 satellites that have been successfully launched into orbit.

A similar business is Dauria Aerospace, which also develops satellites. In 2014, the company launched 3 currently operating satellites into orbit.

However, in 2017, the company’s position was shaken due to the unsuccessful launch of two MKA-H satellites, which were successfully delivered by the Soyuz-2.1a rocket into orbit, but did not communicate with the Earth.

At the moment, Dauria Aerospace is mired in several legal proceedings at once over unsuccessful launches and contract failures, and its future prospects are vague.