Indian, Chinese rockets to rival Russian carriers by 2015

A senior member of the Tsiolkovsky Academy of Cosmonautics believes the gap is rapidly reducing between Russia and the Asian giants.

Chinese and Indian carrier rockets could rival Russia’s by 2015, Aleksandr Zheleznyakov, a member of Russia’s Tsiolkovsky Academy of Cosmonautics, said.

“The Proton (a Russian heavy-duty carrier rocket) is not the only option even now, as potential customers have the choice between the Proton and the European Ariane rockets. China is actively attracting clients for its own carrier rockets. I believe they (the Chinese) have been rather active in this market after achieving their national objectives of deploying a navigation system, a satellite system and an Earth probing system. India has become more active in this area with its rockets – they too are capable of delivering cargo to the geostationary orbit,” Zheleznyakov said at a webcast conference at RIA Novosti.

In his opinion, India and China could rival Russian rockets by 2015.

He also announced the results of his calculations of the reliability of Russian carrier rockets compared to Soviet rockets. “Soviet-era rockets were 94.6 percent reliable, while Russian rockets are 96.82 percent reliable. Admittedly, at 2 percent, the difference isn’t all that great, but the indicator still tends towards 100 percent. We have to acknowledge that after all, Russian rockets have become a slightly more reliable than they used to be in the early years of the space era,” Zheleznyakov said.

Russia’s state-funded space programme has come under severe criticism in the recent past. Earlier this month, a Russian Proton-M rocket carrying three GLONASS satellites veered off course seconds after its launch from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur space centre, crashing in a large fireball

It was the second unsuccessful launch of a Proton-M carrier rocket with Russia's flagship GLONASS positioning system on board in the last three years, and is another setback for Moscow’s space programme.

India and China also have state-run space programmes, with the latter making more rapid strides in the Final Frontier. India employs around 16,000 people for its programme, including scientists, engineers and support staff, while China employs over 120,000 technical staff.

First published in Russian in RIA Novosti.

Soyuz-2.1b rocket launch. Video provided by the TV Channel "Zvezda".

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