President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Mr Ostapenko, you were just recently appointed to the post of Head of the Federal Space Agency. However, you are no stranger to this sector and have a good grasp of the situation there very well. So I very much count on you to get immediately involved in this work, knowing all the nuances and the sector’s strong sides and its problems.
How do you assess the sector’s current state and last year’s performance?
Head of The Federal Space Agency Oleg Ostapenko: Mr President, first of all, allow me to express my enormous gratitude to you for the trust that you have placed in us by appointing us to these posts: me as head of the agency and Mr Komarov as the deputy head. Let me assure you that we will carry out all the objectives assigned to us with honour and will do everything to ensure that Russia increases its existing potential and opportunities, and holds an independent position in the world.
As far as last year’s performance is concerned, it was indeed a very active year. A great deal was done in launching spacecraft: we launched 26 spacecraft in the state’s interest and carried out a large volume of work on the Vostochny Cosmodrome. First and foremost, we were able to shift, strengthen and direct momentum in the development of this effort in a positive direction. Since August, we have reduced schedule delays by two to two-and-a-half months. This gives us good prospects for fulfilling the objectives we have set.
As for the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, meaning the construction of the Angara space centre, we have already reached the practical stage and are completing installation of the technological equipment. We have mounted a light rocket (model) at the launch pad. All the issues pertaining to adapting this rocket to the launch pad have been resolved. Now we are entering the final phase of this work.
We did not stop working during the holidays. People were at the space centre and briefed me daily on the progress and volume of work performed.
In addition, we have done a great deal of work at an international level. Substantial efforts have been carried out with Kazakhstan, pertaining to the Baikonur Cosmodrome and other areas of activity. A great deal has been done with Belarus: we are engaging in joint projects there with several companies to address challenges of mutual interest. We have also expanded our collaboration with Ukraine.
In addition to our work with CIS nations, we also held a meeting with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden here in Moscow, where we discussed prospects for joint projects. There was a meeting with the French minister in charge of the space sector, and we also outlined some cooperation opportunities. So this activity has not stopped, and we have intensified it as much as possible recently.
At the end of the year, much work was done on the launch programme. We conducted a series of spacecraft launches from Baikonur. We launched the Express communications satellite and three communications units using the Rokot launch vehicle from Plesetsk, and worked out military issues at Plesetsk. Also, on December 28, we launched the Soyuz-2.1v light rocket. This had fundamental importance; it had been postponed since 2012, and it was not easy for us now. But the rocket overall and its entire complex performed perfectly, and we can now state that we have this rocket and we can continue efforts in this area.
Thus, however difficult the year may have been, we nevertheless essentially met all the challenges. Granted, we did not make several planned launches and postponed them until 2014 for technical reasons: they are included in the programme, and we will do everything to complete them in 2014.
Vladimir Putin: Mr Ostapenko, I will say again that you are clearly familiar with the strengths and problems in the sector. We need to build up the high-tech aspect of the sector overall, and we must give careful attention to this in the near future.
As far as the Vostochny Space Launch Centre is concerned, we have fallen behind in some areas. You just said that the schedule delays have been reduced, which is good. I don’t know whether this is enough, but I am asking you to treat it with as much attention as possible. I mean all the aspects: the construction, and aspects pertaining solely to the space centre’s operation and preparing for launches from this site.
But while Mr Ostapenko has worked in this field all of his life, this is a new area of work for Mr Komarov. I very much count on you to use all of your managerial knowhow here, which you have shown in a very positive light at AvtoVAZ. And, as you work with Mr Ostapenko, I hope you will get up to speed with all the specificities of the highly complex aerospace sector as quickly as possible.
Deputy Head of the Federal Space Agency Igor Komarov: Mr President, thank you for your confidence.
I understand that the sector has enormous significance for our nation. It is a special sector that is very closely tied to the history of our country. I greatly value the help provided by the heads of companies, the contacts established with them, and the help of Mr Ostapenko and Roscosmos leadership in getting to know the details and projects in the sector in order to ensure that they are carried out on time, impeccably, and as efficiently as possible.
We are now working on establishing the United Rocket and Space Corporation, which we plan to register by April, creating a supervisory authority; in the summer, we will transfer the corporation’s shares to joint stock companies and thus complete the first stage of its formation. During the next stage, in 2015, we will complete the auctioning of federal state unitary enterprises and form the configuration of the corporation as it was outlined in the Executive Order.
Vladimir Putin: It is a very big job, and mistakes here would be simply unacceptable. We need to look at this entire sector very carefully and attentively and not miss out on anything. We must optimise it so that it functions technologically and organisationally at the highest level. As for the financial side of things, for the economic component, we must make sure the sector meets modern demands.
Igor Komarov: Yes, of course, we understand the importance and magnitude of the objectives set before us, and we will do everything to meet them.
Vladimir Putin: Good.