RSC Energia is one of Russia’s main space companies. It plays a key role in the development of space technologies, as it bids to keep Russia at the forefront of innovation in the global space arena. RSC Energia’s president is Vitaly Lopota.
Lopota was born in 1950, in Grozny where he began his working career as a fitter at an oil refinery. After completing army service, he studied in Leningrad Polytechnical Institute (known as Leningrad Polytechnical University since 1990) where, after completing postgraduate studies in 1981, he rose through the ranks, starting off as a junior research associate, to eventually become a professor, a department chairman and the head of an applied research laboratory, which later became known as the Laser Technology Center. In 1991, Lopota became the director and chief designer of the Central Research and Development Institute for Robotics and Engineering Cybernetics (known as TsNII RTK since 1981, established in 1968 under the auspices of Leningrad Polytechnical Institute as OKB TK). Since July 2007 Lopota has been heading up RSC Energia.
Lopota talks about RSC Energia’s plans in developing new systems and technologies and how he views recent developments in the launch services sector, as the major shareholder in Sea Launch.
VIA SATELLITE: What are the main capital expenditure plans for RSC Energia over the next two years? What new technology capabilities are you looking to invest in?
Lopota: RSC Energia’s main capital expenditure plans for the next few years are, first, to upgrade its production equipment in order to bring it to advanced technical levels that are consistent with global space companies. And also, we want to expand our production capabilities of our existing line of spacecraft and to introduce next generation systems both internally and through international partnerships with other companies.
We are also focusing on improving the production capabilities of the Soyuz- and Progress-type spacecraft. We will be investing reducing the manufacturing cycle time and achieving higher technical characteristics, as well as in launching a new generation of spacecraft for manned flight.
The main technical challenges facing us in this area will be developing new manufacturing technologies for the next generation spacecraft (i.e. for the spacecraft body, thermal coating, landing device, soft landing propulsion installation, control system devices, and solar batteries with advanced performance characteristics). Of special note is the fact that these new technologies will have to support a 10-fold increase in the usage of the spacecraft’s return vehicle command module.