News

MDT943 AMDS JAN 22, 1997 23:03:01 Z

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UNCLAS 3B/LD MMU
WARNING: TOPIC: DOMESTIC, ECONOMIC, INTERNATIONAL, TECHNOLOGY
WARNING: ATTN BBC SD
SERIAL: MK2201134497
PASS: COPY TO RISD
COUNTRY: RUSSIA
SUBJ: MANNED FLIGHT PROGRAM JEOPARDIZED BY LACK OF FUNDS
SOURCE: MOSCOW NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA IN RUSSIAN 22 JAN 97 P 1
TEXT:

{REPORT BY DMITRIY PAYSON: "RUSSIA COULD END UP WITHOUT A MANNED SPACE FLIGHT PROGRAM. YEVGENIY YASIN PROPOSES REDUCING THE COUNTRY'S PARTICIPATION IN THE INTERNATIONAL ORBITAL STATION PROJECT"}

{FBIS TRANSLATED TEXT} THE END OF LAST YEAR AND THE FIRST WEEKS OF THIS YEAR PROVED RICH IN SPACE AND PARASPACE EVENTS -- UNFORTUNATELY, FOR THE MOST PART SAD ONES. THE SUNK MARS-96 {SPACECRAFT} AND THE INCREASING SIGNS OF OUR GRADUAL ALIENATION FROM THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION PROJECT HAVE BEEN AMONG THE MOST VISIBLE "ALTITUDE MARKS" IN OUR CURRENT DIVE.

THE PAST WEEK WAS ALSO MARKED BY DEVELOPMENTS PERHAPS NOT SO SAD BUT, IN ANY EVENT, ONES THAT BODE LITTLE GOOD. UNEXPECTEDLY, AFTER A 40-YEAR HISTORY OF DOMESTIC COSMONAUTICS, IT SO HAPPENED THAT THERE IS A NEW TEAM, OR RATHER, "INTEREST GROUP," AS THEY SAY IN THE WEST, WISHING TO TAKE THE HELM, WHICH CAN LEAD TO SOME VERY GLOOMY CONSEQUENCES.

LAST FRIDAY {17 JANUARY}, A REGULAR SESSION OF THE INTERDEPARTMENTAL SPACE EXPERT COMMISSION {MEK} TOOK PLACE IN THE PREMISES OF THE PRESIDIUM OF THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES. CREATED IN 1992, SIMULTANEOUSLY WITH THE RUSSIAN SPACE AGENCY, THE MEK WAS CALLED UPON TO BECOME AN "IDEOLOGICAL AGENCY," FORMULATING THE BASIC PROPOSITIONS OF DOMESTIC SPACE POLICY, A FUNCTION THAT IN ITS TIME WAS SOMEHOW OR OTHER PERFORMED BY THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION OF THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS. UNTIL NOW THE MEK HAS NOT ASPIRED TO MAKE CRUCIAL DECISIONS, BUT THE LATEST SESSION, WHICH WAS HELD IN THE ABSENCE OF COMMISSION CHIEF (AND ALSO PRESIDENT OF THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES) YURIY OSIPOV AND CHAIRED BY ACADEMICIAN ALEKSANDR BOYARCHUK, WAS ATTENDED BY, AMONG THE USUAL PARTICIPANTS, A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ECONOMY MINISTRY. AT THIS POINT IT BECAME APPARENT THAT YEVGENIY YASIN'S DEPARTMENT HAD ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN STRAIGHTENING THINGS OUT IN THE SPACE SECTOR OF OUR ECONOMY, OVERBURDENED WITH PROBLEMS. AND IT ENGAGED IN THIS IN SUCH A WAY THAT FROM THE VERY START FRIGHTENED THE ENTIRE "SPACE BEAU MONDE."

THE ECONOMY MINISTRY PREPARED AND SENT A MEMO TO VIKTOR CHERNOMYRDIN, SIGNED BY YEVGENIY YASIN. THE PREMIER'S AIDES READ THE MEMO AND PASSED IT ON TO THE "IDEOLOGICAL AGENCY": THE MEK. AT THE FRIDAY SESSION, ACADEMICIAN BOYARCHUK SET A VERY TOUGH TONE FOR THE DISCUSSION: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO AGREE WITH THE ECONOMY MINISTRY, WHICH SEEKS TO SCALE DOWN THE MANNED SPACE FLIGHT PROGRAM.

"IN PRINCIPLE THIS WAS NOT THE POINT AT ISSUE," ECONOMY MINISTRY EXPERT DMITRIY SALKOV, WHO WAS PRESENT AT THE SESSION AND TOOK THE FLOOR, TOLD YOUR CORRESPONDENT. WE DO NOT CATEGORICALLY RAISE THE QUESTION IN THE FORM IN WHICH IT WAS RAISED BY THE MEK. WE DEMAND THAT THE FEDERAL SPACE PROGRAM BE REVISED AND ADJUSTED TO THE PRESENT-DAY REALITY."

EVERYBODY UNDERSTANDS WHAT THE PRESENT-DAY REALITY IS. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PROGRAM? WHAT THE ECONOMY MINISTRY SEES AS OUR SOLE "BUREAUCRATIC" PROGRAM DOCUMENT IN THE SPACE SPHERE, WHICH WAS PREPARED IN 1993 AND APPROVED BY THE GOVERNMENT AFTER MUCH CONSIDERATION, INDEED DOES NOT QUITE CONFORM TO REALITY. IN PARTICULAR, IT IS PROPOSED TO TAKE THE ORBITAL COMPLEX MIR OFF THE ORBIT AS EARLY AS 1997, ALTHOUGH WITH U.S. ASSISTANCE IT COULD BE KEPT IN SPACE UNTIL THE YEAR 2000, WHILE OUR PARTICIPATION IN CREATING THE INTERNATIONAL ORBITAL SPACE STATION IS SPELLED ALMOST IN THE FORM OF "GOOD INTENTIONS" AND SMALL-SCALE RESEARCH-AND-DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS, WHICH, RECALCULATED INTO THE "CURRENT" MONEY, ARE ESTIMATED AT 6.7 TRILLION RUBLES IN THE PERIOD FROM 1996 UNTIL 2000.

THE COST OF THE RUSSIAN SEGMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION PROJECT IS ESTIMATED AT $3 BILLION. TRUE, THE ECONOMY MINISTRY, CITING U.S. SOURCES, QUOTES A MUCH HIGHER FIGURE. BE THAT AS IT MAY, THIS IS COLOSSAL MONEY. GIVEN THAT THE MOST "LUCKY" ELEMENT OF THE STATION -- THE FUNCTIONAL-CARGO BLOCK, WHICH HAS ALREADY BEEN BUILT BY THE M.V. KHRUNICHEV RESEARCH AND PRODUCTION CENTER WITH U.S. MONEY -- COST $190 MILLION (AND IT IS PLANNED TO HAVE ABOUT 10 SUCH MODULES IN THE RUSSIAN SEGMENT), IT IS CLEAR THAT THE BULK OF THE EXPENDITURES IS CONSTITUTED BY THE COSTS OF COMMISSIONING AND MAINTAINING THE EQUIPMENT....

GENERALLY SPEAKING, YASIN PEOPLE URGE THE FORMULATION OF CERTAIN "RULES OF THE GAME" AND "LEGALIZATION" OF OUR PARTICIPATION IN THE SPACE STATION PROJECT. BUT BECAUSE IT IS BEING ALLEGED THAT IN ITS SCOPE THE RUSSIAN SEGMENT IS APPARENTLY COMPARABLE TO THE CONTRIBUTION BY OTHER "UNDERDEVELOPED" COUNTRIES LIKE THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, JAPAN, AND EUROPE {AS PUBLISHED} TAKEN TOGETHER AND THAT THERE IS NO COHERENT SCIENTIFIC PROGRAM FOR PARTICIPATION IN THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION, IT IS NOT DIFFICULT TO GUESS WHAT WAY THE WIND IS BLOWING. WILL THE PROGRAM BE SHUT DOWN?... TO REMAIN WITHOUT A MANNED SPACE FLIGHT PROGRAM IN THE YEAR OF THE 90TH ANNIVERSARY OF SERGEY KOROLEV AND THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LAUNCH OF THE FIRST (SOVIET!) SPUTNIK IS A TERRIBLE HUMILIATION. WE WOULD LIKE TO THINK THAT THE DECISIONMAKERS -- AND THESE ARE CERTAINLY NOT MEK MEMBERS OR ECONOMY MINISTRY EXPERTS -- UNDERSTAND THIS.

THE MINISTRY'S DEMARCHE NATURALLY EVOKED A STRONGLY NEGATIVE REACTION AMONG THOSE PRESENT. IN PARTICULAR, THE STATEMENT BY YURIY KOPTEV, GENERAL DIRECTOR OF THE RUSSIAN SPACE AGENCY, WAS COUCHED IN VERY HARSH TERMS. IF WORK ON THE MANNED SPACE FLIGHT PROGRAM IS SCALED DOWN NOW, IN SIX TO EIGHT MONTHS RUSSIAN COSMONAUTICS WILL CEASE TO EXIST ALTOGETHER. "A VIRTUALLY UNANIMOUS DECISION WAS MADE: THE STATION SHOULD IN PRINCIPLE BE CREATED," ANATOLIY BOGDANOV, COMMISSION SECRETARY, SUMMED UP THE OPINION OF MEK MEMBERS. "OTHERWISE WE WILL, FIRST, LOSE AUTHORITY. SECOND, THIS MIGHT LEAD TO, SAY, SANCTIONS WITH RESPECT TO OUR PARTICIPATION IN COMMERCIAL LAUNCHES. BUT GIVEN THAT DECISIONS AND OBLIGATIONS HAVE OFTEN BEEN MADE BY TOP LEADERS IN PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS, WITHOUT CALCULATING THE CONSEQUENCES, WITH ANY DECISION ON THIS COUNT IT MUST NECESSARILY BE INDICATED THAT THE AGGREGATE EXPENDITURES FOR FOUR TO FIVE YEARS ARE ESTIMATED AT 17 TRILLION TO 20 TRILLION RUBLES..." IT IS PROPOSED IN THE FUTURE TO SAFEGUARD EXPENDITURES FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF OUR SHARE OF THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION PROJECT UNDER A SPECIAL SECURED BUDGET ITEM.... MEANWHILE, DURING THE DISCUSSION OF THE FATE OF RUSSIAN MANNED FLIGHT PROGRAMS, A SACRAMENTAL FIGURE -- 1 TRILLION -- PERSISTENTLY CAME UP AT THE MEK SESSION. THIS IS ALLEGEDLY HOW MUCH IT IS PLANNED TO TAKE FROM THE SPACE BUDGET RIGHT NOW. THUS FAR THIS IS ONLY "A THREAT." BUT NEW POLITICAL BATTLES AROUND THE MIR AND THE WOULD-BE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION LIE AHEAD. CONSIDERING THAT THE NEXT ELEMENT OF THE STATION -- OUR SERVICE MODULE -- IS BARELY 60 PERCENT READY, THERE IS ALSO THE DANGER THAT WE MIGHT BE KICKED OUT OF IT AS WELL.

MEANWHILE, A REPORT CAME FROM THE UNITED STATES. ACCORDING TO THE AMERICAN SCIENTISTS FEDERATION, NASA HAS ALREADY DECIDED ON HOW TO REPLACE THE INCREASINGLY ELUSIVE RUSSIAN MODULE. THE MILITARY CAME TO RESCUE: IT IS PLANNED TO USE THE TDL SEPARATION BLOCK -- THE UPPER STAGE OF THE TITAN-IV ROCKET, DESIGNED FOR LAUNCHING SECRET U.S. NAVY RECONNAISSANCE SATELLITES, AS THE SPACE STATION'S POWER UNIT.

THIS REPORT MAY CONTAIN COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL. COPYING AND DISSEMINATION IS PROHIBITED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE COPYRIGHT OWNERS.

(ENDALL) 22 JAN AS/NATAROV 22/1325Z JAN BT #1929