Goals and tasks of cosmonautics

The Law of the Russian Federation "On Space Activities" determines the following goals of cosmonautics:
  • “…to develop economic growth of the country, to raise fortune of the population of the Russian Federation through rational and effective use of space equipment, space materials and space technologies, and through broader scale of their use;
  • to strengthen and develop scientific and technical and intellectual potential of space industry and its infrastructure;
  • to strengthen defense and security of the Russian Federation;
  • to further improve and collect scientific knowledge about the Earth, the space and celestial bodies;
  • to develop and expand international cooperation of the Russian Federation for further integration of the Russian Federation into the system of world economic relations and international security”.
This statutory provision of Russian legislation sets the priority of economic focus in the space activity. It hasn’t always been so: in the first ten years of cosmonautics in Russia (USSR at that time) political tasks were a priority de facto, and from mid-60s to mid-80s military issues were in the focus.

The goals of space activity can be divided in two categories. The first one is construction and use of space systems, the second one is exploitation of space systems for the demands of people and companies. In modern terminology these two categories are often called “upstream” and “downstream” (literally: “up the stream” and “down the stream”). Picture 1. shows the main functional blocks of “upstream” category.

These task blocks are necessary to launch space crafts to the space, where they can create opportunities for exploitation of space systems (“downstream” category). Picture 2.shows the main ways for exploitation of space systems.

Here every block can be characterized by the area of exploitation, by physical and technical solutions. Each block includes many tasks, for example communication includes TV and radio broadcasting, fixed and mobile communication, internet. We could continue dividing, each block can include hundreds or even thousands of projects.

On the first level all tasks can be divided into two – fundamental and application tasks. Fundamental ones are aimed to extend our knowledge and gain basic experience. They include astronomical and astrophysical research with the help of space telescopes, exploration of planets and other objects of the Solar system, materials science and bioassays. Manned flights are also in the category of fundamental tasks and there are a lot of them even though application tasks can be accomplished on the manned crafts.

From economic point of view fundamental tasks are expensive and are usually financed from the state budget (hardly ever from scientific funds or university budgets). Later fundamental tasks may become useful and applicable.

Application tasks solved with space system have certain consumers of their results. First of all these are tasks to ensure communication, Earth remote sensing (ERS), navigation. Application tasks also include launching of various space crafts aimed at test operations and training before future projects.

Comparative “shares” of the main space focus areas can be seen on Picture 3. (data period 01.01.2001-31.12.2017).

Financing of application programs is diverse. In general these programs are profitable (except military ones) and could be financed by those who use their results or by investors. However the creation of space crafts for application programs is very often financed from the state budget – such as meteorology, navigation, partly communications and ERS. During the first years of the Space age it was all financed only by the governments (of the USSR and the USA at that time). And the idea that space is a governmental focus area dominates nowadays. However after the USA approved Communication Satellite Act in 1962 the share of non-governmental sector in the space market was constantly on the rise, and today it amounts to 80%. Many predict its further growth with regards to the state space politics of Europe and USA. This politics is as follows: while some area of cosmonautics is unprofitable, it is financed by the state, however once it become profitable, the state does its best to hand it over to private sector.

World Space Market

Tens of countries and groups of countries, hundreds of large international and national companies and organizations cooperate and participate today to solve tasks of astronautics and use the results of its activity. To fully estimate and evaluate the role of space activity in the world economy a special term has appeared recently – World Space Market (WSM).

It hasn’t become common yet, different schools comprehend its structure in different ways, characterize it in different figures. Moreover when we compare or sum up economic indicators of the space industry in different countries, some of these figures should be treated carefully. This happens due to different appraisal objects, various methods, part of information is unavailable, currency exchange indexes fluctuate and often can’t be calculated correctly in the light of specific features of space industry in different countries. These figures can be considered adequate if they coincide with actual space activity (in particular the statistics of space craft launches) and with data from different sources.

With regard to aforesaid and basing on data of research organizations (Satellite Industry Association, Space Foundation, Euroconsult) the turnover of WSM in 2017 was about $350 billion. More conservative estimates say $300–400 billion which is about 0.25% of global GDP. And the turnover grows rapidly, by 7–9% each year, twice as fast as world economic growth in general (3.9%).

Depending on the purpose of research WSM can be divided into two sectors – public (budgetary) and private. These sectors are interconnected.
According to Euroconsult in 2017 public expenditure on space programs amounted to $62 billion, more than a half of which is in the USA ($35,957 billion). Among the world leaders are also Europe ($10,376 billion), China ($4,909 billion), Russia ($3,182 billion), Japan ($3,018 billion) and India ($1,092 billion). Picture 4 shows revenue changes in WSM.

We should underline here what a space activity implies in general opinion – construction and launch of boosters and space crafts. But financially this activity has not as large share as the sectors of exploitation the results of these launches and the work of Space Agency. Subjects of sectors also differ – a satellite or a booster can be constructed only by large countries or companies, while the Earth equipment and services can be provided by small and medium enterprises.

Countries-participants of space activity

There are three levels of participation in space activity:
  1. Countries with own space ports, boosters and satellites (sometimes such countries are called “spacefaring nations”). There are ten such countries for today (in brackets is the year of the first successful launch of a satellite): Russia (USSR, 1957), USA (1958), Europe (France, 1965), Japan (1970), China (1970), India (1980), Israel (1988), Iran (2009), DPRK (2012) and the Republic of Korea (2013). European countries are in one category because their space programs are closely connected.
  2. Countries with own satellites. As of 31.12.2017 there were 76 such countries. This year Kenia, Costa Rica and Bangladesh launched their first satellites too.
  3. Countries which exploit the results of space activity – these are all countries of the world.
Picture 5. shows the level of participation of different countries in the space activity in 2017. The method is similar with the one in space focus areas research – booster lift-off weight.

The number of countries-participants of space activity has grown in the recent years. The reasons are general technical and economic development of many countries, as well as cheaper “entrance ticket” to the space arena. At the same time countries have a choice – either to carry on their own space activity or to purchase its results in the World Space Market.

Russia in the World Space Market

Different sources estimate Russia’s share in WSM from 0.5 to 1%. In public financing of space activity its share exceeds 5%, physical volume (Russia’s booster lift-off weight) – more than 16%. The number of employees in the space industry in Russia is about 250 thousand people (0.35% of all employed people), which is three times more than in the USA.

There are several reasons for this. Technological problems reflected in high accident rate, weak governmental control and legislation for space industry, low economic effectiveness of some programs, institutional shortcomings. All these problems were characterized by the management of space industry as “system crisis”.

At the same time to solve many of these problems is still cheaper and faster than to construct new boosters and satellites. Time and money can be found within the development of organization of the space sector.

the space sector. Better legislation can improve the situation too, especially for investments in space activity, for the reforms of governmental control of cosmonautics in Russia, for the development of innovative institutes.

There are examples in history when crisis drives fast development. Cosmonautics in Russia has good chances in this regard.