As Pravda.Ru has reported before, Russia's Progress space freighter crashed in the Altai region of the country on August 24. The breakdown has already affected the work of the International Space Station. Experts said that the crash occurred because of the crisis in the Russian space industry. It just so happens that 20 billion rubles assigned from the national budget for the development of the industry turn into space garbage.
The crash of the spacecraft has led to two problems related to ecology and economy.
"The explosion of the fuel tanks can be compared to the explosion of the vacuum bomb. Damage can be caused to the territory of up to several hundreds of kilometers. Heptyl, a toxic substance, may affect deep layers of soil," Vladimir Polipovich, an official with Altai regional authorities told LifeNews.
Experts from Baikonur space port said, though, that most of the toxic fuel had burnt during the take off of the spacecraft. The rest burnt out during the fall. Therefore, the fuel does not pose any danger to the environment, officials said.
In the meantime, a number of local residents have already asked for medical help. The people complain of respiratory disturbances, headaches and coughing. They are certain that their diseases were caused with the crash of the space freighter.
Heptyl may cause asthma, blood poisoning and oncological diseases. One of the first symptoms of heptyl poisoning include headache and nausea.
As for the economic problem, the freighter was carrying fresh water, food, medications and fuel. This cargo is priceless for the members of the ISS crew. Food and water supplies on board the station will be enough for two or three months. However, the failed launch of the Russian spacecraft will shelve several very important projects for the Russian space industry. This will inevitably affect the Russian economy.
US shuttles do not fly to the ISS anymore, so Russia's Soyuz and Progress spaceships became the only option to deliver astronauts and cargoes to the space station. NASA signed multi-million-dollar contracts with Russia's space agency Roskosmos after the US shuttle program ended. The most recent contract, for example, is worth $753 million. Russia will have to be responsible for the dollars that disappeared in the Altai region.
If Russia does not find a way out of the situation, it will cast serious doubts on the prospect of space cooperation between the USA and Russia.
Soyuz capsules also serve as space safety boats for the astronauts. The capsule that has already been docked to the ISS may not be safe for further use, so several members of the ISS may have to return to Earth ahead of scheduled time. There will be no replacement for them, and a series of important experiments on board the station will have to be canceled.
If the problem remains for a year, all members of the ISS crew will have to be evacuated back home. The station will not have a new crew, and the investments will be wasted.
The crash of Progress space freighter is not the first breakdown that has occurred to Russian spacecraft.
The previous incident took place in the middle of this August. Express AM4 communication satellite went off radar screens before it reached orbit. The cost of the lost satellite made up 7.5 billion rubles.
A Proton booster rocket with three Glonass-M satellites on board crashed into the Pacific Ocean in December 2010. The crash resulted in the loss of 4 billion rubles.
Geo-IK-2 global positioning satellite burnt in space in February this year. The breakdown halted the Russian space GPS program.
Konstantin Kreidenko, an expert with Glonass Herald magazine, believes that the Russian space industry is outdated.
"All these problems take place because of the mistakes made by previous administrators of the industry. All technical malfunctions occur on the level of rockets and their components, not on the level of spacecraft. This is not a surprise at all because the rockets have not been replaced for years, they were only modernized. This is the core of the problem," he said.
Igor Lisov, an expert with News of the Space Industry magazine, shares a similar point of view.
"The crisis in the industry is not news, it is a consequences. We have to realize that we do not have many good specialists in the industry. We hope for young people, who come to work in the industry, but if they get paid less than street sellers of ice cream, then we have nothing to hope for," he said.
"As for education for young specialists, up to 80 percent of professors are pensioners who work in cold officers and receive low salaries. The institute looks depressing, many students are simply shocked with what they see in the building. Everything is broken and dilapidated. The people don't know what they work for. There is no national idea. Everyone knows that top officials in the industry have billion-ruble budgets, but no one needs any innovations."
Ivan Preobrazhensky, an editor of the political department of Rosbalt news agency said: "It is about time everyone must realize that Russia is not the first country in the world when it comes to either ballet or the rocket industry. The Soviet scientific school no loner exists. The people that the school created have either died or retired for age reasons. No new scientific schools have been created in the country in the field of physics, cosmology, philosophy, history, biology, etc. There is no demand for it either on the part of the society or on the part of the authorities," he said.
"In less than a year, the Russian space industry suffered 16 billion rubles of losses. This is the price for restoration works in the Hermitage, development programs on Kurile islands and the support of small business before 2013. This money was literally launched into space and wasted," the expert added.