Roscosmos: Russian Federal Space Agency & Intl. Launch Systems (ILS)

Roscosmos, Russian Federal Space Agency logo.Roscosmos is the Russian Federal Space Agency that has taken over all state services related to space from the Soviet Union, which achieved many firsts and still runs the Star City Cosmonaut Training Center, located just outside of Moscow. The now privately owned International Launch Systems, which sells space launch operations, uses the Russian government owned Baikonur Cosmodrome for its launch operations.

Roscosmos Cosmonauts have a permanent presence on the International Space Station and perform many vital functions as is noted in the segments of an article in the September 2015 Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine highlighted below with links to the full article on their website.   

Map of Russian space launch sites in Kazakhstan, famed Baikonour Cosmodrome and others.The Baikonur Cosmodrome is an historic launch site, as noted by below, and ILS employs their workhorse Proton Breeze M launch vehicle from that location.  The Baikonur Cosmodrome is located approximately 2,100 km (1,300 miles) southeast of Moscow.

History: Founded in 1955, the Baikonur Cosmodrome is one of the Russian Federation’s two major space launch complexes. Baikonur is located in the Republic of Kazakhstan approximately 2100 kilometers from Moscow. Baikonur has been the launch site for Soviet, and later Russian, human spaceflight programs, geostationary satellites launches and scientific missions to the moon and planets.

On 2 June 2005, Baikonur celebrated its 50th year anniversary. Baikonur has been the site of some of the earliest achievements in space:

  • 4 October 1957: Sputnik, the first man-made satellite to orbit the Earth, was launched from Baikonur
  • 12 April 1961: Yuri Gagarin lifted off from Baikonur to become the first man in space
  • 16 June 1963: Flight of the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova
  • 20 November 1998: Zarya, the first piece of the International Space Station (ISS), designed and built by Khrunichev launched on Proton
  • 12 July 2000: Zvezda, the main component of the Russian section of the ISS is launched on Proton

The Russian government leases the land that the Baikonur Cosmodrome inhabits from the Kazakhstan government. The long-term lease is currently set to expire in 2050.

Specifications: Baikonur is a large Y-shaped complex, shown below, that extends about 160 kilometers (100 miles) east to west and 88 kilometers (55 miles) north to south. The vehicle processing and launch areas are connected to each other and to the city of Baikonur by 470 km (290 mi) of wide-gauge railroad lines. The rail system is the principal mode of transportation. Rockets are carried from their vehicle assembly buildings to their launch pads horizontally on railcars and erected onto the launch pad.

Two launch pads are available for commercial Proton missions. Launch vehicle and spacecraft time on pad is five days.

The spacecraft is transported to the Baikonur Cosmodrome by air and is offloaded at the on-site Yubileiny Airfield. It is then transported to the state-of-the-art processing facility in Area 92 for testing, fueling, mating to the Breeze M Upper Stage and encapsulation with the payload fairing.

Weather conditions in Baikonur have very few launch restraints, offering additional schedule assurance for customers.

Map of famous Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan used by Russian Space Agency.

Russians Fixing the Space Station Film Space Walks with GoPro in HD
and First Female Cosmonaut Gets Ready for Space Station Duty

ILS Proton Launch System Mission Planners Guide

To help our customers understand the capabilities of our launch system and prepare for a launch campaign, ILS publishes the Proton Launch System Mission Planner’s Guide.

This document is intended to serve as a general reference to the capabilities of ILS launch services and is not intended to be exhaustive. It is not a contractual definition of launch service capabilities and has been cleared by the U.S. Government for placement in the public domain. Approval documentation is on file at ILS headquarters.

This guide contains valuable information on the Proton launch vehicle performance capability, payload environments, payload interfaces, mission integration process summaries, launch operations, and basic management data.

Proton Launch System Mission Planner’s Guide
View complete Guide with acrobat pdf reader

Look at Russian Side & Their Jobs on ISS
Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine, Sept. 2015

September 2015 cover of Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine with story on Russian side of life at International Space Station. An article in the September 2015 issue of the Smithsonian Air & Space magazine provided a look not only how the Russians live and work on the International Space Station (ISS), but the commonalities that keep it going. It first went on to explain that the partner space agencies in ISS, United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada, appear to be “harmonious partners” but that there is really a separation in terms of living, working quarters and labor between the Russians and the others.

On the Russian side, at the end of Russian built propulsion and storage and module Zarya (Sunrise) is the Zvezda (Star) module which is the primary Russian living quarters. On the the other side is the American side with European and Japanese laboratories attached, essentially making it a divided life in which Western audiences rarely get to see Russian cosmonauts at all.

Russian Cosmonauts Living on International Space StationBut Zvezda is also what amounts to, as described in a Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine in September 2015 article, a “living quarters for the Russian crew and works as a space tug for the entire outpost, steering it, as necessary, away from space junk and compensating for the constant drag of the upper atmosphere. It also provides a powerful life-support system that works in tandem with the system inside the U.S. lab, Destiny.

“Inside their Zvezda home, the cosmonauts have turned the module’s aft bulkhead into a wall of honor on which they put photos and mementos. A careful student of Russian culture could monitor certain political moves by watching the changing images on the wall, which serves as a backdrop for crew photos and ceremonial broadcasts. The Soviet-era Salyut and Mir stations had similar walls, and naturally this prominent spot was often adorned with portraits of Vladimir Lenin and other Communist leaders. Sharp-tongued space engineers dubbed this spot ‘iconostasis,’ referring to a wall in Russian orthodox cathedrals where icons of the saints are displayed. The nickname has turned out to be prophetic.”

     International Space Station Russian Segment

Graphic cross-section of Russian segment of the International Space Station.

The following quotes from the article pretty much sum up the division of labor on the station; the Russians participating in few scientific experiments, keeping the station fixed and running while on the U.S. is replacement of worn out parts and scientific experiments of various kinds.

International Space Station with Russian segments highlighted in a graphic cross-section format. While answering online reader questions for the Moscow-based magazine Novosti Kosmonatiki, cosmonaut Sergei Ryazansky acknowledged the problem: ‘Our share in numbers [of scientific experiments] is obviously less than we wanted. We can argue about the scientific value of experiments conducted by our [non-Russian] colleagues, but their equipment and its deployment is thought out and organized much better. On Mir we had specialized scientific modules and the entire spectrum of scientific research, but the ISS, in this respect, is in much worse shape’.“

“Nor do Russian cosmonauts participate in non-Russian scientific programs. ‘Crews work together during the flight onboard Soyuz and during emergency practice drills,’ Ryazansky explained. ‘The rest of the time, everybody works according to their plans and schedules. Of course, we try to get together for dinners, when we discuss current affairs, and to watch TV shows and movies, but unfortunately, not every day’.”

Click Here to read the whole article entitled A Rare Look at the Russian Side of the Space Station: How the other half lives.