SPACE FLIGHT 2004 - Russian Space Activities

With financial support by a slowly improving national economy only slightly increasing over previous years, Russia in 2004 showed relatively unchanged activity in space operations from 2003. Its total of 22 successful launches (of 23 attempts) was one more than the previous year’s 21 (of 21 attempts): Five Soyuz-U, two Soyuz-FG (both crewed), one Soyuz-2-1A (test), eight Protons, one Zenit-2, three Zenit-3SL (sea launch, counted above under U.S. Activities), one Molniya-M, two Kosmos-3M, one Tsiklon-2, one Tsiklon-3 (failed) and one Dnepr. The upgraded Soyuz-FG rocket’s new fuel injection system provides a five percent increase in thrust over the Soyuz-U, enhancing its lift capability by 200 kg and enabling it to carry the new Soyuz-TMA spacecraft, which is heavier than the Soyuz-TM ship used previously to ferry crews to the ISS. Soyuz-TMA was flown for the first time on October 30, 2002, as ISS mission 5S. It was followed in 2003 by Soyuz TMA-2 (6S) and TMA-3 (7S), and in 2004 by TMA-4 (8S) and TMA-5 (9S).

Russian cosmonauts continue to hold the worldwide lead in spaceflight endurance, with Sergei Avdeyev in front with 748 days (three Mir missions), followed by physician Valery Polyakov with 679 days (two Mir missions), Anatoly Solovyev (652d on five Mir missions) and Sergei Krikalev (625d on five Mir/Shuttle/ISS missions as of 4/24/05. In 2005, Krikalev will move ahead on ISS, becoming the front runner. The US Astronaut with the longest space duration, holding the U.S. record, at this time, is Michael Foale (374 d on six Mir/ISS missions).

Commercial space activities.The Russian space program’s major push to enter into the world’s commercial arena by promoting its space products on the external market, driven by the need to survive in an era of severe reductions of public financing, increased in 2004. First launched in July 1965, the Proton heavy lifter, originally intended as a ballistic missile (UR500), by end-2004 had flown 231 times since 1980, with 14 failures (reliability: 0.94). Its launch rate in recent years has been as high as 13 per year. Of the eight Protons launched in 2004 (2003: 5), six were for commercial customers (Eutelsat W3A, Ekspress-AM11 and -AM-1, Intelsat 10-02, Amazonas [Spain], AMC-15), the other two for the state/military (Raduga-1 comsat, three GLONASS navsats). Between 1985-2004, 179 Proton and 403 Soyuz rockets were launched, with ten failures of the Proton and ten of the Soyuz, giving a combined reliability index of 0.966. Until a launch failure on October 15, 2002, the Soyuz rocket had flown 74 consecutive successful missions, including 12 with human crews on board; meanwhile, another 15 successful flights were added, including four carrying 11 humans