ROSCOSMOS: journey from Ministry to State Corporation

ROSCOSMOS: journey from Ministry to State Corporation


Currently known ROSCOSMOS State Space Corporation was termed variously at different times: Federal Space Agency “ROSCOSMOS”, Russian Space Agency, Russian Space Agency under the Government of the Russian Federation, Russian Airspace Agency. However, ROSCOSMOS State Space Corporation dated back to April 2, 1955, when, by the Decree of the Armed Forces of the USSR, one established a brand new organization based on three ministries: the Ministry of General Machine-Building Industry of the USSR (MOM).

MOM and first person in space

The Ministry of General Machine-Building Industry of the USSR supervised a huge amount of scientific organizations and enterprises that developed and produced nuclear-missile weapons and equipment for space exploration. It was led by Petr Goremykin, Brigadier General of the engineering and artillery service. In 1957, the Ministry was integrated with the Ministry of Defense Industry of the USSR.

It is under the supervision of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR that the first-ever launch of the Artificial Earth Satellite (Sputnik-1) and the first-ever human space flight took place. On April 12, 1961, the Vostok 1 space ship sent cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in space. In general, the USSR conducted 12 launches of Vostok spacecrafts with 10 of them being successful.

On March 2, 1965, the Ministry of General Machine-Building Industry became an independent department again and functioned like this up to 1992. It was led by Sergey Afanasiev, a double hero of socialist labor. At that time, Vostoks were replaced by Voskhods: they were designed for three cosmonauts, a shirt-sleeve flight up to 22 days, and an opportunity for space walks.

The next space ship upgrade was called Soyuz. The first start of Soyuz was on April 23, 1967. These vehicles became the most reliable and time-proof: Soyuz ships were launched successfully 126 times. Between 1971 and 1986, the Ministry was launching Salyut and Progress spacecrafts on Proton launch vehicles.

InSpace Forum ROSCOSMOS: journey from Ministry to State Corporation 1

Mir and investigation of distant planets

A milestone in space exploration was the launch of the first module of the Mir station on February 19, 1986. It was the world’s first station assembled out of the variety of models and served as a prototype of the modern ISS. Mir spent 5511 days in space with cosmonauts (all together 104 people) being there 4594 days. It carried out 86 331 rotations around the Earth and allowed to conduct more than 23 000 experiments.

The Mir station was designed by 280 organizations from 20 Ministries and departments. Salyut stations were the basis for modules.

Besides, the Ministry of General Machine-Building Industry launched a lot of research vehicles to the Moon, Mars, and Venus between 1961 and 1971.

Standstill period

A long standstill period of the Russian space industry started in the 80s and lasted until the end of 90s. In 1991, the Ministry of General Machine-Building Industry was abolished and replaced by the Russian Space Agency under the Government of the Russian Federation in February 1992 that was renamed as the Russian Space Agency in September. In 1998, one launched the first ISS module made by Russia with US money. At the same time, there was less and less money for supporting the Mir station.

In 1999, the department was renamed once again as the Russian Airspace Agency. This development stage was marked by the flooding of Mir station on March 23, 2001. Three years later, the Roscosmos Federation Space Agency appeared, encouraging the growth of Russian cosmonautics (space exploration).

Roscosmos Federation Space Agency

Between 2000 and 2009, the Roscosmos Federation Space Agency conducted 176 launches with only five of them being wrecking.

Meanwhile, Roscosmos developed and launched Soyuz-FG launch vehicles from the R-7 family of rocket. In 2001, the Agency launched a heavy-lift launch vehicle from the Proton-M family: it was designed for placing automatic vehicles into orbit.

From November 2007 till November 2011, one conducted the Mars-500 unique experiment simulating astronaut travel to Mars. Six volunteers agreed to be in the closed complex within 519 days under the conditions as close to the round trip to Mars as possible.

In 2011, Roscosmos launched to Mars the US Curiosity vehicle by NASA order. In the same year, the Russian space station called Phobos-Grunt was sent to the Red Planet, but it stayed on the low earth orbit because of some defects. Early next year, it burned within the dense atmosphere.

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Roscosmos State Corporation

The last reorganization took place in May 2015, transferring the department into the Roscosmos State Corporation. It keeps implementing Russia’s policy in space, regulating space services and public property management in the space sector.

In the beginning of 2016, Roscosmos announced a new space program for ten years, consisting of two stages:

  • 2016-2020: the increase of the amount of Russian space vehicles of scientific and social nature. The development of new technologies and equipment. The upgrade of manufacturing and experimental bases of the rocket-and-space industry.
  • 2021-2025: the support of space grouping of vehicles, its partial re-equipment with new satellites. The development of competitive technologies.

As part of the program, Roscosmos launched the Soyuz-2.1а carrier rocket on July 14, 2017. Such a launch was notable, as the rocket delivered the record amount of satellites for the Russian cosmonautics: 72. Moreover, there was the Kanopus-V-IK satellite for monitoring fires and technological disaster on board.

Totally, Roscosmos carried out 17 launches in 2017. In 2018, it has already performed three successful launches using Soyuz-2 carrier rockets. The next launch is scheduled for March 21: Soyuz-FG will start up from Baikonur. It will have to deliver in space the Soyuz MS-08 manned spacecraft that will bring three cosmonauts to the ISS.