Nikolay Testoyedov, ISS-Reshetnev - ОАО «ИСС» имени академика М.Ф. Решетнёва
Release Date: 2009-01-28Nikolay Testoedov, General Director of ISS-Reshetnev, has been interviewed by Russianavia.net in January 2009 to discuss the unique position of ISS-Reshetnev as the top Russian spacecraft manufacturer, its contribution in the GLONASS program, its international prospects and the technical excellency of the Russian spacecraft engineering.
As it is widely known, Russia’s scientific community has always played an important role in the intellectual and economic development of the country, and produced the most progressive discoveries of the XX century. As the head of a key institution in the sphere of applicable science, how do you estimate the current position of the scientific community in Russia today?
There is no doubt that space programs are attached to the well-being and economic development of any country. As Friedrich Engels said a century ago, “You can’t live in a society and not depend on it”. Accordingly, development of technology is always tied to the development of the economy. Russia hasn’t lost its traditions and its level in the development of technology in the sphere of space research. One example is GLONASS, the only full-fledged navigation system in the world that develops alongside with GPS and Galileo. Another example is Russia’s role as an equal partner in the development of International Space Station; high technological level of satellites that comply with the standards of the best world manufacturers and the corresponding standards of the orbital group of the Ministry of Defense. It’s clear that it is based on the potential of science and technology both in research and universities. A clear example of the continuity of our interest and expertise is the latest opening of four new federal universities two years ago. So, I’m quite optimistic concerning the development of science and technology which is confirmed by the federal target program GLONASS and a few other programs that are being currently developed in Russia.
Could you describe the current activities of Reshetnev Company related to GLONASS program and give us a short comparison regarding European and American similar programs, like Galileo and GPS?
GPS, GLONASS and Galileo are practically identical by their performances. The point is that Russia has made a later start in its commercial development of GLONASS. Today the GLONASS orbital group is developing confidently: at the end of December we launched three Glonass-M spacecraft and 20 spacecraft operate today in the orbit. It is enough for providing complete servicing of the northern latitudes, including Russia, with navigation signals. In 2009, we will launch six more Glonass-M spacecraft to provide a full global satellite constellation requiring 24 satellites. In 2010, we will launch another six satellites to renew the constellation and provide its reserve and launch new Glonass-K satellites with improved technical characteristics and new navigation applications such as the international rescue system implemented in the USA and Russia. The main advantage is a new technological level with lower launch and production costs.
The success of GPS is also based on its divulgation and commercialization. When we speak about GLONASS, would its application remain within the boundaries of the Russian Federation or spread out internationally?
As it is widely known, GLONASS and GPS originally started as military systems and now they are dual-purpose systems. Today GPS and GLONASS are open systems according to the USA and Russian Governments decrees. So, the most prospective devices will be combined ones. Today, combined devices prove their high efficiency. Today GLONASS unites 5 subprograms: orbital constellation, that the JSC “Academician M.F. Reshetnev” Information Satellite Systems” is responsible for, navigation equipment for transport, for the Ministry of Defense, for civil consumers and for geodesy. The purpose of GLONASS Federal Goal Program is to unify and coordinate orbital constellation and its on-ground application. The most important task is the creation of electronic maps of Russia, which has been given to the Agency of Geodesy and Mapping with the necessary budget. According to the President’s Decree the general managerial role has been given to Roscosmos (the Federal Space Agency). But Roscosmos, by definition, is primarily responsible for satellites, so a dedicated Federal Target Program for 2009-2015 has been prepared by Roscosmos for the Government. This program is not limited to navigation spacecraft; it covers communication spacecraft, remote Earth sensing, photo satellites, and all the necessary coordinating and bilateral actions of state bodies and business structures.
This year Reshetnev Company has become a JSC - does it mean something in particular or is it a merely formal procedure?
It might look formal, but actually it is a very important event. Although Reshetnev Company remains a 100% state enterprise, change of the company's status is the first step in the possible succession of events. Firstly, bigger strategic corporation is being created on the basis of the ISS-Reshetnev. An important contribution in this structure is a corporate business management resource that ensures integration and development of space activities for better performance and priority of space orders. In fact, many spacecraft manufacturers that will join this corporation are diversified, and space activities are not predominant in all cases. In the future, the state might privatize some of the shares remaining the major shareholder and retaining its control functions. A successful example is “S.P. Korolev's “Rocket and Space Corporation Energia“ that operates under the auspices of Roscosmos. The state share there is 38% only.
What do you think is the strength of Reshetnev Company today and in which projects would you like to see the company participating in the near future?
Firstly, ISS-Reshetnev is the largest manufacturer of spacecraft for the Ministry of Communication of Russia. 10 out of 12 satellites of RSCC (Russian Space Communication Corporation) are manufactured at our enterprise. The Ministry of Defense of Russia is one of our main customers. ISS-Reshetnev has the full production chain - from initial drafts of the spacecraft, designing, production, testing, and launch, and up to its maintenance. Another advantage is a full-fledged testing base that guarantees on-time supplies and quick response to any deficiencies. Of course, some components are purchased from foreign companies, but ISS-Reshetnev provides integration, assembly and testing. The technical advantages and quality of performance of our spacecraft are among the best in the world.
During the last 5 years, ISS-Reshetnev has been developing two spacecraft platforms for Roscosmos - Express-1000 and Express-4000. We have developed new spacecraft on the basis of Express-1000 platform weighing up to 1,600 kg with a 15-year life cycle and, most importantly, with cheaper launch costs. We also participate in Russian and international tenders: we have signed a contract with SРАСЕ-COMMUNICATION LTD. (Israel) in 2008 for manufacture of AMOS 5 spacecraft and won a tender for TELCOM 3 Indonesian satellite.
Structurally, ISS-Reshetnev is Roscosmos' the major developer for navigation, communication, telecommunication and geodesy spacecraft.
What do you asses as the weakest points that can be improved?
In fact, a common problem in Russia is the quality of electronic components. There are 4 ways of solving this problem. First, we test and control 100% of all Russian and imported EEEP and reject all elements that are both deficient and potentially risky. Secondly, we use a foreign element base for space, military and industrial application. Thirdly, we enhance reliability of equipment using redundant on-board spacecraft. Up to 2-3 devices are installed for the key systems of a spacecraft to ensure its reliability. Fourthly, our experience in designing allows using the so-called 'functional redundancy' of spacecraft. If a system fails, a redundant system switches on.
One challenge, apart from the technical aspects of space and Russian spacecraft development programs, is apparently the industry’s capability to attract new young talents to this intellectually challenging and not always well-paid industry. How does Reshetnev Company balance such a challenge?
We have a clear-cut and proven manpower policy. Six departments of the leading Krasnoyarsk universities work at our enterprise. We made contracts with the leading Siberian universities where a target quota of students studies at the expense of government. Nowadays, we contact with the universities in Moscow and St. Petersburg. There is also a material support system with three basic directions: good salary and support for young specialists, provision of housing or financial support in renting as well as opportunities for professional and scientific postgraduate studies. About 70 of our employees are taking postgraduate studies. That provides a stable flow of young specialists. Today, the average age at our company is 45 years, a perfect age to work in this industry.
We have recently seen ISS-Reshetnev actively participating in international events such as the China Airshow in Zhuhai. What has been the result of this trip to China in November 2008?
We participate in specialized exhibitions on space technologies jointly with Roscosmos because the potential customer should see the whole range of spacecraft backed by state support and HR. During our recent trip to China, we have met with our partners from the Chinese State Academy of Space Technologies. We were discussing current joint programs and suggested new platforms for improving technological level and commercial appeal of communication spacecraft. We also discussed opportunities for creating new generation of satellites for mobile communication. Roscosmos has potential for this joint production that China is interested in. All our possible relations will be in the framework of Russian-Chinese bilateral relations. At least, these activities will allow removing many bureaucratic problems both from Russian and Chinese sides.
It is said that the global scientific community speaks a common language. When you talk to your counterparts in China, do you feel that a Russian scientist and a Chinese scientist speak the same language and have a common understanding regarding the fundamentals?
Yes, I have a very clear feeling of speaking a common language with the Chinese scientific community. Their space industry is rooted in the Russian space industry, so there is no doubt that our common understanding and our common interests will make our current cooperation very fruitful both for Russia and China.
Today is a very interesting moment; on one side, the Russian government has decided to assign more funds for space research for new spacecraft production in Russia and, on the other side, companies like Reshetnev would have to waive the impact of an international financial crisis. Taking all this into account, what would you like to achieve as General Director?
Our priorities are related to the Federal State Program, the Federal Space Program GLONASS, state defense contracts and other Federal Target programs that have been fully developed scientifically, technically, financially and organizationally. However, we are aware that new Russian spacecraft and new opportunities - such as mobile satellites communication operators - are appearing, and we are interested in cooperation. Thus, we trace all the technological changes and developments and renew our production and testing bases improving all aspects of our activity. Current production means modern projects for creating a well-balanced structure that covers the whole production chain and different activities: Ministry of Defense, commercial projects, state programs and international cooperation.
For realization of that purpose, we have a well-balanced age structure at ISS-Reshetnev: our 6,300-strong staff has 1,200 people aged over 60 and 1,200 people aged younger than 30. Besides, this year we have provided 275 young engineers and workers. That’s why, I hope, that the Director, who will be 62 in 5 years, will have even younger assistants.
Last October, ISS-Reshetnev was the venue for the meeting of Roscosmos and the Government of Russia where the results of space activity were studied with reports of Anatoly Perminov, head of Roscosmos, Alexander Khloponin, former Governor of the Krasnoyarsk Krai, and Igor Schegolev, Minister of Communications of Russia. The current condition and development of the orbital constellation were discussed at the meeting as well.
Many people are very critical concerning the technical potential of space activities in Russia…
Having visited a wide range of similar enterprises of the sector, I’m confident that Russian spacecraft engineering is at the top level. There are very few space companies in the world that can produce 45 spacecraft at a time and own the full production chain - from designing to testing.
|Company:||ISS-Reshetnev - ОАО «ИСС» имени академика М.Ф. Решетнёва|
|Position:||General Designer and General Director|