Main Engine Cut Off

Doug Messier on the State of the Russian Space Industry

Doug Messier of Parabolic Arc wrote up a fantastic rundown of the issues in the Russian space industry that’s worth your time. The crux of it:

Employees at the engine builder receiving only 10,000 to 15,000 rubles per month, which works out to between $166 and $249. That’s not very much at all. Especially with the ruble’s decline against the dollar and the rise of inflationary pressure.

Of course, the scourges of low pay and an aging workforce have been a perpetual issue in the Russian space program. Officials have made efforts to boost salaries and make the industry attractive to new workers, but Rogozin’s comments suggest those efforts have fallen short.

Meanwhile, Russian officials have acknowledged that the space sector is bloated and inefficient, with too many workers doing too little work. So, at the same time the industry needs to attract talented replacement workers, it also needs to shed tens of thousands of existing workers who have the expertise needed to keep the rockets launching on time.

There are several factors at play, and each factor accelerates the others. It’s a sad, painful death spiral to watch, and it’s been going on for decades.

If you remove the historical link to the success of the Soviets in space, what does Russia have going for itself today? All of the bright spots one could point to are holdovers or descendants from a previous era.