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Cablegate: Russia Pushes to Commercialize Space

VZCZCXRO3901
PP RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
DE RUEHMO #1233/01 1231103
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021103Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7897
INFO RUEHZN/EST COLLECTIVE
RUEANAT/NASA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEAHQA/HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001233

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KSCA PREL PARM TSPA RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA PUSHES TO COMMERCIALIZE SPACE

REF: (A) MOSCOW 638
(B) STATE 19459
(C) 07 MOSCOW 01637

-------
Summary
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1. (SBU) Despite delays in the development of Russia's GLONASS
satellite navigation system as an alternative to U.S. GPS, the GOR
is pressing forward to make GLONASS global by 2010 and to develop
Russia's commercial space industry. To achieve these goals, the GOR
has granted Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) centralized
control over all GLONASS' civilian operations. It also launched a
"Space 2020" program to encourage ambitious space programs and
attract global investment in Russia's space projects. END SUMMARY.


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IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED...
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2. (SBU) On March 21, the GOR's Military-Industry Commission (MIC,
an advisory council chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Sergey
Ivanov) discussed the failure of GLONASS to meet its target of full
coverage of Russian territory by 2008. The MIC identified GLONASS'
lack of centralized management as a key barrier to success. Members
noted that there are several individuals or agencies in charge of
different parts of the process, but no single entity to oversee the
entire project. In addition to recommending that one Ministry or
Agency be assigned to manage all aspects of GLONASS, the MIC also
proposed that a Chief Engineer be appointed to coordinate the
development and production of GLONASS/GPS receivers.

---------------------
...REQUEST MORE MONEY
---------------------

3. (U) On March 27, Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) asked
the GOR to double its yearly funding for GLONASS to 20 billion
rubles ($869 million.) Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov claims the
increase is needed to make GLONASS fully operational. The previous
allocated funding ($410 million in 2007, 430 million in 2008 and 450
million in 2009) is not sufficient to reach the GOR's goal of global
coverage by 2010.

4. (SBU) The impetus behind the large funding request became clear
on April 7, when the GOR announced that Roscosmos would assume
oversight responsibility for all GLONASS civilian operations. This
decision significantly expands Roscosmos' authority, which
previously extended only to launching and maintaining GLONASS
satellites. It also fulfills the MIC's recommendation to assign a
single manager to the project. Roscosmos was selected over other
ministries under consideration, including Defense, IT and
Telecommunications, and Economic Development and Trade. The GOR
amended Roscosmos' by-laws to confer full GLONASS oversight
authority.

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THE BUSINESS SIDE OF SPACE
--------------------------

5. (U) On April 11, President Putin's Security Council discussed a
"Space 2020" program, in which Putin pledged to implement ambitious
space programs and attract global investment to Russia's space
projects. In his address to the Council, Putin underlined the
importance of GLONASS becoming "global and competitive" in space and
called for an end to Russia's role as a "space taxi cab driver."
Putin suggested that Russia's rapidly-developing business community
could help finance space projects that are now dependent on
government funding.

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GLONASS UPDATE
--------------

6. (SBU) On April 4, Sergey Revnivykh, Deputy Director for
Roscosmos' Central Research Institute of Machine Building (CRIMB),
gave us an update on GLONASS' satellite deployment. Revnivykh
reported that there are currently 16 satellites in orbit -- 3
"GLONASS" models and 13 "GLONASS-M" models. One of the 16 is not
operational (Roscosmos terms it "in maintenance".) The 15
operational satellites provide about 75 percent global coverage.
Revnivykh admitted that GLONASS is a year behind schedule, but
insisted that such a delay is normal given the complexity of the
technology. He noted that GLONASS designers expect satellites
guaranteed for three years of service life to actually operate for
five years, providing a boost to total coverage. Roscosmos is
planning two more launches in September and November, 2008, bringing

MOSCOW 00001233 002 OF 002


total satellites to 18, the number required for full Russian
coverage. An additional six satellites, needed to provide global
coverage, will be launched between 2009 and 2011.

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STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE AT SPACE FORUM
-----------------------------------

7. (U) As part of Putin's plan to attract global investment to
Russia's space programs, GOR Ministries and industry groups
sponsored the Second International Satellite Navigation Forum, April
7-8 in Moscow. The Forum attracted 1200 participants from 25
countries, representing more than 350 businesses and organizations.
Organizers played background music by "Space" (a 1980s French group
popular in the Soviet Union), while Forum staff donned shiny silver
costumes. Models roamed the halls in space-themed body paint (and
little else.) The Plenary featured a laser light show. Despite
these attractions, keynote speaker Deputy Prime Minister Sergei
Ivanov was a no-show, and the Forum was headlined by Yuri Nosenko,
Deputy Head of Roscosmos.

8. (SBU) At the Plenary, Yuri Urlichich, Chief Designer for GLONASS
and Head of the Russian Research Institute of Space Device
Engineering and (which supplies instruments for GLONASS satellites),
noted that Roscosmos intends to eventually expand the GLONASS
network to 30 satellites, to protect the grid from malfunctioning
units. (Note: the U.S. GPS system has 31 satellites for the same
reason.) Pedro Pedreira, Executive Director of European GNSS
Supervisory Authority (GSA), also provided an update on the EU's
Galileo system.

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Comment
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9. (SBU) We have learned rumors for months that the Medvedev
Administration might replace Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov. DPM
Ivanov's strident public criticism of Perminov's failure to meet
GLONASS targets was a primary impetus for the rumors. There are
also indications that as Prime Minister, Putin intends to assert
direct control over Roscosmos and manage the development of space
technologies.

BURNS

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