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Eugene Wirzer, the builder of the spaceport Vostochny, the general director of the engineering company INSISTEMS, spoke about the essence of the space project at the new Vostochny cosmodrome
On April 28, the first rocket launch took place at the new Vostochny cosmodrome. This is a significant event - we are proud to have brought it closer. Unfortunately, the general public knows little about the essence of the project, but hears a lot of talk about the problems of building a cosmodrome. Rocket launch is a good reason to put the right accents.
The launch of the cosmodrome is an important stage in the technological development of the space industry. Overall, we can say that it is in good condition. The industry is closed, it was not very susceptible to external influences, and therefore there is no failure in astronautics. This is evidenced by Vostochny, one of the best, if not the best in terms of its technological solutions, cosmodrome in the world.
Its main innovation is compactness and unification of most services under one roof, in a single closed room, in which the required temperature regime is maintained.
The rocket does not need to be assembled at one facility, then transported by rail to refueling, refueled and transported again by rail to the place of docking with the spacecraft. All objects are within a single complex. A transborder gallery has been built, which allows you to move the rocket and its parts between the buildings of the technical complex at any time of the year and at any time of the day.
Vostochny is 6,5 times smaller than Baikonur and 1,5 times smaller than the cosmodrome in Plesetsk - but this is more an advantage than a disadvantage. Yes, it still has one launch pad and one technical complex, while at Baikonur, for example, there are eight launch platforms and 15 technical complexes for different types of missiles.
Vostochny will have another launch pad and several technical complexes for medium and heavy missiles, but the main focus is on operational efficiency: more launches using the same equipment.
Team from Sochi
Vostochny is compared to Sochi in terms of its symbolic significance for the prestige of Russia - but since we worked in Sochi and Vostochny, I can say that these are different construction tasks. Vostochny is more complicated in terms of the use of high technologies.
It is much more difficult to attract personnel there - there was no such problem in the Krasnodar Territory. Suffice it to say that the entire population of the Amur Region is like the population of three districts of Moscow. Workers came from different regions of the Far East, but our company brought a team of engineering and technical workers from the Krasnodar Territory - the one with which we worked at the Sochi facilities.
And the logistical conditions for the construction of Vostochny are much more complicated, not to mention the natural and climatic conditions.
Not all reached the finish line
The cosmodrome is the most difficult engineering and construction task that modern Russian builders have solved. He gave a powerful impetus to the development of the industry - both in terms of technology and in terms of management. Although we have worked and are working at all major construction sites in Russia, and for us it was a colossal school.
We entered Vostochny in June 2014, initially making only air ducts and cables. At the end of 2014, funding problems began. Then these problems were resolved, but a number of companies left the project because of these difficulties. Several companies withdrew from the project, unable to cope with the technological challenges.
Only the most professional and efficient reached the finish line.
Success of import substitution
The cosmodrome in the Amur Region is extremely rich in engineering systems. Moreover, a significant part of them were manufactured within the framework of import substitution. With the sharp rise in the euro and the dollar and the imposition of sanctions against Russia, construction tasks have become much more complicated.
We, engineering specialists, have decomposed the situation "into molecules" and have decided what we need to buy from abroad at all costs, and what we can do on our own, within the framework of reasonable import substitution. It turned out that a lot.
For example, it was necessary to develop and assemble a refrigeration center - to maintain cold in the assembly halls of the rocket and spacecraft. A modular German refrigerator was supposed to be delivered to the cosmodrome - but it was not. I had to design the refrigeration system ourselves and assemble it from both domestic and imported elements. The system works great.
And this is far from an isolated case of this kind. These examples will be replicated at the production facilities that are planned to be built near the launch site.
The point of industrial growth of the Far East
Interesting projects of industrial cooperation around the cosmodrome are already being born - that is, the cosmodrome will become the basis of an entire economic cluster.
There is even a place in it for the tourist component. There is something to see, in addition to launches: the Amur Region has very beautiful nature.
A city for workers of the cosmodrome for 40 thousand inhabitants - Tsiolkovsky is also being built next to the cosmodrome.
That is, Vostochny is a new large project for the Far East, while a high-tech project related to production, a project for the future, and not related to a one-time event, which was the project of preparation for the APEC forum in Vladivostok.
Criticism of the situation in Vostochny, which until recently practically overshadowed the achievements, in most cases did not reflect the real situation.
Construction delays also occur at other large facilities, including commercial ones. Moreover, Vostochny is organizationally unique: more than 400 large and small companies participate in the project, and most of them are local from the Amur Region and other regions of the Far East. Not all of them were up to the challenge.
As in all cases of government orders, the prices there are quite tough, and the conditions for completing tasks are even tougher. This or that company could not close the volumes on time - and did not receive the money. And if the company is small and cannot pay salary costs through other projects, arrears arise.
In addition, there are expensive and cheap works at the cosmodrome. If a company has a month of cheap work, it causes them financial difficulties.
So nothing supernatural was happening there compared to other objects. There was no corruption in the East, and there is not.
Money is in the background
Most importantly, Vostochny has become something more than just a commercial task for everyone involved in the project. We treated this project as a project of national importance, a breakthrough point for the country as a whole.
The Eastern is an object with a soul, an object that we have been waiting for a long time, rallying everyone who participated in it. A project like the construction of the BAM or the construction of Baikonur for previous generations.
Eastern is a project that offers challenges, thanks to which you become stronger, which unites for the sake of great goals. One of the points of a positive change in the economic paradigm of the development of our country.
The material was published on the website of the Business newspaper "Vzglyad" on May 04, 2016.