Astronautics’ future is limitless, and its
prospects are as infinite as the universe itself
Sergei Korolev

The era of space exploration began Oct. 4, 1957, when the world’s first artificial satellite launched into orbit. Called the PS-1 — short in Russian for the “Simplest Sputnik”— the name said it all. It was a mere 58-inches in diameter, a 86.3 kilo ball with four 2.4 to 2.9 meter radio antenna pins. But it changed the world.

The signal

Just a few minutes before the launch, space lore has it, a bugler appeared. He rose his dimly gleaming horn in the twilight and the «Listen all» call sailed over a quiet but ready-for-action cosmodrome.

While the story of the bugler has evolved into space legend, there was indeed a bugler at the launch. His mission, though, was more prosaic . He was there to warn staff when to leave the launch area. It was a simplistic warning for a simplistic sputnik.

Just 315 second later, the satellite detached from the second stage of the rocket and made the first ever transmission from the orbit: «Beep! Beep! Beep! » It was a call heard around the world.

A new era had begun.

From that day on, the space exploration program became a symbol of national pride for Russia. It gave the Soviet Union the title of a great space power , and the manned spaFrom that day on, the space exploration program became a symbol of national pride for Russia. It gave the Soviet Union the title of a great space power , and the manned space missions that followed demonstrated the intellectual, technological and economic strength of the nation. of Rostec Corp. , which has become a global leader in 21st Century space technology.
Rostec has achieved that status both by making sure that traditions are passed from one generation of space technology inventors to another and by maintaining and developing unique products based on previously unknown technologies.

This is a panoramic video. Holding down the mouse button, move the camera to watch part of ‘Proton’ rocket case is going into autoclave chamber, which is used to carry out industrial processes requiring elevated temperature and pressure higher than ambient air pressure.
ONPP ‘Technologiya’, RT-Chemical Technologies and Composite Materials

For instance, it’s is hard to imagine that at the dawn of the space age the inventors of rocket technologies were forced to work without today’s lightweight composite materials. And when the Russian national space program was in need of special materials that would have these new physical characteristics, it was an Obninsk firm Tekhnologia that succeeded in developing the first samples. Today, Tekhnologia is part of RT-Himkompozit, a Rostec subsidiary. RT-Himkompozit makes high-tech products for the aerospace, aviation, military, chemical and other industries. The holding company produces more than 30 tons of composite parts per year for the domestic aerospace industry, which meets about 85 percent of total demand.

Composite materials are made of multiple components that enhance each other’s qualities. A rapid development of composites began at the peak of the space race between the USA and the USSR. Engineers have always fought to shed every extra kilo that doesn’t have to be put into orbit. In came lighter and stronger composites, replacing the usual materials: metal alloys, aluminum and titanium.

The first commercial samples of composites and ceramics that met the stringent requirements of spacecraft developers were made in Obninsk in the 1970s. The first time they were put to practical use was when several parts were made for the Venus space station. Composite use reached its peak when the Russian space shuttle Buran went into production. One-tenth of Buran’s total weight accounted for the parts made in Obninsk, which included the famous thermal insulation tiles for the outer skin of the spaceship. These tiles can be heated with a blowtorch on one side, with a human hand flush with the other side not feeling a thing.

Carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer details: nose cones, integrated cylindrical sections, carrier rocket stage and booster fairings.
ОNPP ‘Technologiya’, RT-Chemical Technologies and Composite Materials

Modern carbon fiber plastics have characteristics that in many ways still seem straight out of science fiction. Some carbon fiber parts are five times stronger than steel alloys and several times lighter. They do not corrode, can withstand heavy loads and extremely high temperatures, and the multi-directional setup of the carbo-fiber layers ensures they continue to perform in temperatures ranging from −196 to + 2,700 Celsius.

Just a few decades ago, the main method of manufacturing carbon fiber involved hand-making layers of prepreg —a semi-finished composite carbon fiber or fiberglass material soaked with a special binder. But hand layering is a relatively long process. And raw materials can change their characteristics over time, which makes it difficult to get a consistent product.

Tekhnologia cleared this obstacle and found ways to start mass production of the composite. That enabled Tekhnologia to start making products that previously would have been economically unfeasible, including carbon fiber shells for booster nose cones that are more than 4 meters in diameter, over 30 square meters long, as well as smaller but more frequently needed parts like integral cylindrical compartments, stage fairings and booster shells for Proton-M, Rokot and Angara rockets.

The share of composites made of carbon fillers ranges between 50 percent to 90 percent in such integral parts of launch vehicles as fairings, compartments, instrument cluster frames and ducts.

Today, Obninsk Research and Production Enterprise (ONPP) ‘Technologiya’ provides batch production of carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer covers for nose cones of increased dimensions, that are more than 4 meters in diameter and more than 30 square meters in area, instrument compartment details, wiring duct covers, ‘Proton-M’, ‘Rokot’ and ‘Angara’ carrier rocket stage and booster fairings.
The ‘Proton M’ carrier rocket nose cone produced at the moment is 15,255 meters in height and is the largest nose cone made in Russia.

In a range of batch-produced details for carrier rockets such as nose cones, wiring duct covers, instrument frames and air ducts, carbon-based composite materials usage is 50 to 90%.

Before a composite material detail ends up in a cosmodrome, where a rocket is being prepared for launch, it has to pass through the multilevel quality control system in ONPP ‘Technologiya’.

During production, composite material details may develop various heterogeneous structure types: porosity, fiber undulation, extraneous material, layer separation and fissures. In extreme conditions, such local defects may cause the destruction of the whole structure.

Controlling the production of composite material details is challenging because their components vary in form and thickness. That is why such careful attention is given to the production non-destructive testing stage, when details undergo all-round inspection by the methods of acoustic, ultrasound, thermal and optic control.

One of the stages of multilevel construction control is manual fault detector check.
ONPP ‘Technologiya’, RT-Chemical Technologies and Composite Materials

The enterprise is constantly developing and implementing fundamentally new types of produce. These are ultra-light-weight CFRP solar cell carriers with weight characteristics no more than 500 g/m2, or a passive thermal control subsystem co-developed with ‘NPO Lavochkin’ (‘Lavochkin Research and Production Association’) experts. Earlier, space vehicle lifespan was about 5 years due to considerable temperature differences that caused vehicles to go out of order. Now, the new thermal control subsystem will help increase lifespan to 12-15 years.

‘RT-Chemical Technologies and Composite Materials’ have very recently developed new composite materials for Angara rocket carrier engine nozzle. This novelty is unique because composite material nozzles do not cool down forcedly, have a considerably smaller mass than their steel counterparts, and are resistant to rocket gas temperature.

July 9, 2014, Angara-1.2PP was successfully test-launched at Plesetsk cosmodrome. It is the first carrier rocket created since the collapse of the USSR.

The introduction of Russia’s new cosmodrome, the Angara space rocket complex, called for a new generation of launch vehicles. The Angara family now includes light, medium and heavy classes of boosters that can launch a payload of 3.8 to 35 tons.

In late 2014, the largest modification in the family, the Angara-A5, was launched. Tekhnologia supplied fairings for the rocket and a number of local power units made of polymer composite materials. Angara is an environmentally friendly rocket, which was created solely from Russian components. It is expected to be mass deployed starting in 2018, and by 2022 it should completely replace the Proton booster rocket. Proton has been the main system for delivering spacecraft into orbit since 1965.

Tekhnologia is not the only Rostec company that makes components for the space industry. On April 12, 1961, the first man, Yuri Gagarin, was launched into the Earth’s orbit by the Vostok-1 spacecraft. The engines for the rocket were created at JSC Kuznetsov, part of Rostec’s United Engine Company. JSC Kuznetsov makes engines for space programs and for military and civil aviation, as well as drive gas compressor units and gas turbine engines for spacecraft.

The legendary RD-107/108 engines that were at the root of the Soviet manned space program remain technically relevant, with modified versions still being used in today’s booster rockets.

In operation over 50 years, JSC Kuznetsov has manufactured more than 10,000 liquid rocket engines of eight modifications. These engines have propelled into space more than 1,800 rockets, including boosters such as Vostok, Voshod, Molniya and Soyuz.

JSC Kuznetsov is one of the world’s largest aviation and space engine production companies. Besides the well-known engine brand RD, the company is also making the NK-33 engine, which was developed in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s by designer Nikolay Kuznetsov for the first stage of the moon bound rocket N1-L3. The engine is closed circuit with afterburning of oxidized generator gas after turbine use. It is still a unique engineering marvel of aircraft and rocket technologies intertwined.

In 1969, the Americans were the first to land on the moon, and the Soviet manned lunar program lost its relevance. By that time, 94 NK-33 engines had already been made. Soviet leaders ordered them destroyed, but Kuznetsov’s crew saved almost all of the engines by hiding them in a non-descript warehouse.

Soyuz-2.1V with NK-33

The engine was rediscovered in 1991when it was featured at a trade show in Moscow. This Soviet engine, which in many ways was ahead of its time, impressed American specialists so much that Aerojet Rocketdyne representatives bought 47 units from the stock that had been mothballed in 1974.

Since then, the work on the revival of NK-33 has taken two directions. One is the Antares middle class booster launch program, which is a part of the international contract with Aerojet Rocketdyne. The other is domestic, to launch a light class Soyuz-2.1V booster.

The main advantage of NK-33 is its minimal weight with maximum traction, reusability and — even more relevant today — fuel economy. Additionally, the cost of a commercially produced modernized NK-33 is half that of similar thrust rocket engines made by other designers and manufacturers.

However, a successful launch of a spacecraft into the Earth’s orbit solves just one part of a complex technical problem that comes with each space flight. For humans, space is a hostile environment. Each flight takes place in an almost complete vacuum, with temperatures rapidly rising and falling, and under invisible rays of ionizing radiation. To stay productive and survive, a person needs special gear and protection.

Rostec’s NPP Zvezda makes life-support systems for pilots and astronauts. Zvezda was formed in 1952 and remains the leader in its field. Its products are inextricably linked with the glorious history of Russian space exploration. Yuri Gagarin, during his historic first flight, and Alexei Leonov, as he made the first spacewalk, both wore spacesuits by Zvezda. Their designs have seen a lot of action in open space. During the 15 years of the MIR space station’s existence, Russian and foreign cosmonauts made 78 spacewalks in Zvezda suits.

Over time, the suits have been upgraded. They became more convenient and light, allowing for spacewalks of up to 10 hours. Their electronic guts rival those of a contemporary automobile in complexity, although they are much more expensive. One spacesuit costs $11 million to $17 million, 70 percent of which covers the life-support and operating systems.

Zvezda’s special pride is a new generation of a spacesuit, the Orlan-MK, which is superior to all comparable equivalents. Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky were wearing Orlan-MK suits when they took the Olympic torch for a spacewalk before it was used to light up the Olympic Flame in Sochi in 2014. The cosmonauts also set a new spacewalk record, spending 8 hours and 10 minutes in open space.

Orlan-MK space suits, which cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazansky were wearing them when they were the first to take the Olympic torch into open space. They also set a record in working in outer space in Russian space suits, 8 hours 10 minutes.

A new model is next on the agenda: ‘Orlan-MKS’, a 5th-generation space suit equipped with an automatic thermal control system. Thanks to replacing the rubber cover with polyurethane one, engineers managed to prolong spacesuit lifespan from 4 to 5 years, and increase the number of space walks from 15 to 20. Apart from that, cosmonauts can not only put on the new space suits themselves, but also manage to adjust them and make minor repairs. In case of depressurization caused by cover damage, ‘Orlan-MKS’ has a system that can sustain necessary pressure inside the suit during 30-50 minutes, which is enough to return to the station.

Apart from space suits used for spacewalks, and search-and-rescue ones, the holding company enterprises produce shock-absorbing seats and brake parachutes for descent vehicles, as well as water-supply and sanitation systems for space vehicles.

The very first photo of the far side of the Moon was made October 7, 1959, by the Soviet space vehicle ‘Luna-3’. Only 17 images were transmitted to the Earth, after which the connection with the station was lost.

Far back in 1959 the unmanned interplanetary probe «Luna-3» succeeded to photograph the back side of the Moon for the first time. The historic pictures were taken by means of the AFA-E1 camera manufactured at the Krasnogorsk factory in the name of S. A. Zverev. Nowadays the enterprise is a part of a State corporation Rostec «Shvabe» Holding, which includes 64 organizations of electrooptic branch in Russia. The Schwabe enterprises are by right considered to be «the eyes» of the Russian space industry. Production of the Holding is delivered to 85 countries of the world.

On June 25, 2013 the carrier rocket «Soyuz-2.1b» was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome with the «Resource-P» spacecraft which had the poly-zonal electrooptic film-making equipment «Geoton-L1» and the the GSA hyper spectral equipment installed onboard. This unique equipment was also manufactured in OJSC "Krasnogorsk factory in the name of S. A. Zverev (OJSC KMZ) — the leading Russian enterprise of production of various electrooptical devices for space complexes of remote sensing of the Earth and monitoring systems of outer space.

The equipment of OJSC KMZ was also utilized in the «Meteor-3M» space complex. On July 8, 2014 the carrier rocket «Soyuz-2.1b» was launched with the Meteor-M spacecraft No. 2 which had the unique infrared Fourier transform spectrometer IKFS-2 installed onboard. It is has been established has taken place. He is intended to be used for temperature- humidity sensing of the atmosphere of the Earth.

At the end of December, 2015, the works on the unique electrooptical far-reaching multispectral «Aurora» equipment was finished at the Krasnogorsk factory in the name of S. A. Zverev. The novelty will be performing the monitoring of the planet Earth from space on the board of the.

‘Resurs-P’ is a series of Russian space satellites of Earth remote probing. With the help of ‘Geoton-L1’ device, the satellite may obtain high-definition footage of the surface of the Earth with the resolution of 70 cm in monochromic mode.

Also significantly, Schwabe is the world leader in developing optics for large telescopes that astronomers use. Another Schwabe subsidiary — Lytkarino Optical Glass Factory — produces almost one-third of world’s large optics for ground-based telescopes and spacecraft, including remote sensing satellites and telescopes operating in the orbit.

Three main mirrors for three Royal Greenwich Observatory (UK) telescopes were made at Lytkarino. The company has also made a set of astronomical mirrors for the Chinese Academy of Space Technology, the primary mirror of the telescope at Max Planck Institute of Heidelberg (Germany), unique high aperture surfaces of primary and secondary mirrors for ESO Paranal Observatory, ready-to-use mirror segments and Astrositall elements for LAMOST project (the largest component ground-based astronomical telescope in China), the optical system of the German Stella telescope, 4 main and 2 secondary mirrors for the TTL project (Telescope Technologies Limited, United Kingdom), and mirrors for Greek and Spanish telescopes.

The main 11-meter mirror of the Southern African Large Telescope —one of the largest in the world — consists of 91 pyroceramic optical elements made at Lytkarino. S chwabe is one of only two companies in the world that owns the high technology to make the modern glass-ceramic material, pyroceram. Pyroceram has a number of unique characteristics. Among them is its low density — it is lighter than aluminum — and its high mechanical strength, hardness, heat resistance and chemical resistance. This combination, along with the glass-like qualities, make it an ideal material for the production of various optical elements.

In addition to new products, the Lytkarino Optical Glass Factory also modernizes and repairs previously released products. Given the size of its products, their maintenance is also executed on a cyclopic scale. Some time ago, a six-meter, 42-ton mirror belonging to the largest telescope in Eurasia was brought here for repairs. The mirror had been used at Zelenchukskaya Observatory since the 1970-s. The scheduled maintenance, which included polishing the six-meter telescope mirror, took about four years, or a year longer than it took to make it. The mirror processing technology requires pre-cooling to avoid cracking and the temperature is lowered gradually — by 0.03 degrees per hour. The mirror cooling alone took two years, and the grinding and polishing another 16 months.

A huge, 6-meter-diameter, mirror of the Zelenchukskaya Observatory telescope, the largest in Eurasia, returned for renovation and modernisation into the same Lytkarinksy Plant of Optical Glass where it had been created in the 1970s.
Lytkarinksy Plant of Optical Glass (LZOS), Shvabe

Schwabe also consistently pushes the envelope for the most precise products ever built. When Lytkarino Optical Glass Factory won the contract for the production of VST mirrors with asphericity of 100 microns, many experts doubted that a product like that could be manufactured. Until then, such technical characteristics had never been attempted by any manufacturer in the world. However, the company was able to master that difficult task, and delivered the product on schedule.

A few years later Lytkarino Optical Glass Factory took up the LZOS VISTA project (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy), which required much higher aspherical numbers — 1,000 microns.

Today, these mirrors are part of the European Southern Observatory. Its highly sensitive VISTA infrared telescope with a large field of view is a one-of-a-kind tool that can register the most distant galaxies of the early universe. Their light reaches Earth in the form of infrared waves, so astronomers now have a unique opportunity to trace the stages of the formation of galaxies and their evolution at different stages throughout the history of the universe.

So whether Rostec is lifting space vehicles into orbit, enabling the Olympic torch relay in open space or creating telescopes to discover new galaxies — no task is too cosmic for Rostec to master. Rostec’s space-age technology is still the bedrock of a universe of achievement.

Conquest and retention of new markets for the space industry are at the core of Rostec’s Development Strategy until 2025. The new strategy focuses on the competition “from the future”: instead of trying to catch up with other countries, the goal is to create the necessary domestic conditions for the work on cutting-edge technologies. In that, the State Corporation looks towards the markets of new materials, electronics and control systems.

Aerospace engineering sets high demands for the standards of materials. Modern composites match these requirements the best. Specialists of “RT-Chemcomposite” constantly perfect their innovations, introduce new technologies and create new, improved materials.

World market of composite materials grows annually by 4-5% and amounts to 68 billion euro. And Rostec is getting ready to expand its presence on this market as much as possible.

Another vivid example — a significant reduction in electricity costs with the help of Rostec’s pilot plant, located on a space satellite. The plant harvests solar energy and transforms it into a laser beam. It is then transmitted to Earth where it is transformed by the plant into electric energy. American scientists are currently working in this field as well, but Russian inventors have good chances to establish themselves as its leaders.

Shvabe holding company is working on developing new optics equipment and systems for the space industry.

Enterprises within the holding are launching the production of a new generation of ultrastrong sitall for astronomical and navigational devices. A new homogenous and heat-resistant vitrocrystalline material surpasses the known one and will allow construction of even more precise and high-quality world-class instruments.

Rostec’s Development Strategy seeks to not only preserve but significantly reinforce Russia’s leadership in the space industry. For that, Rostec possesses educational and industrial facilities, a prominent school of thought and most importantly — a new generation of inventors with nontrivial worldview. These factors will allow Rostec to become the “core” of technological — and together with it — economic development of the country for the next 20-30 years.