Oleg Mansurov, Success Rockets: “Space is now not only the territory of superpowers”

“It is important for us to show by personal example that private space is possible”

- The first thing I noticed

studying your activity, chevrons in honor of the company's first mission.They say The bear wakes up. It seemed to me that this phrase encoded how you see the mission of the company. When was the golden age of space for us and how do you want to bring us closer to it?

I am of the opinion that the golden ageRussian space is ahead, it is just beginning. Our and other teams that work in parallel are the basis for this golden era. But, of course, we must rely on the foundation laid by the great designers, innovators, pioneers who were in our country not only in the 20th but also in the 19th century.

Why such a slogan?Because the company is still being built and sent outward from Russia. We understand that space is what Russia can give to the world, because we have opened the way there. This right of pioneering must be preserved and multiplied. We should not live only in history, but in practice show new achievements and successes.

Why bear?Many foreigners associate it with Russia. Waking up - because after the collapse of the USSR, the Russian cosmos experienced hard times. Now we understand that we then reached the lowest point, and now we are in the stage of growth. Therefore, the bear wakes up, and private astronautics helps him wake up completely.

- But wakes up after whom? Tsiolkovsky, Queen, Tupolev?

- The bear was born in the time of Tsiolkovsky. Then he grew, gained strength. After the implementation of the Energia-Buran project and the Mir space station, the bear went into hibernation.

"Why a bear? Many foreigners associate it with Russia"

— You said that you had been formulating the idea of ​​the company for a long time. Where did you stop?

It is important for us to show by personal example thatprivate space in our country is possible. This will be the result that will ignite the hearts and minds of a large number of people who are now involved in the space industry. It is important to show that they can be bolder and create their own companies related to space.

Why is private space important? Why should not only states deal with it?

- There are many reasons for this.The state will not have enough budgets to fully develop the space industry in all directions and cover all topics. Space is so vast that there is enough room for everyone. Moreover, private capital is growing, these are resources that can be directed to the space industry. They are more mobile, adaptive, flexible, which allows you to implement projects more efficiently and quickly. Now is the time to do it - modern astronautics is experiencing a strong reduction in prices, the threshold for entering the industry has become much lower. Space is no longer the territory of large superpowers, but also of companies, including medium-sized businesses. Now even small and medium-sized businesses can order a small spacecraft, launch their own satellite.

- You talk a lot about private space, but at the same time you work closely with Roskosmos. Is completely private space in Russia still impossible?

“It’s easier, cheaper, faster to work with them.Moreover, Roskosmos is a regulator, we cannot bypass them, because we are obliged to comply with safety criteria. This is an absolutely natural process - cooperation should be at least minimal, like with a regulator, but we interact with them more widely. We are talking about the allocation of a site, production facilities, test benches.

- You said that one of the areas of your work is to soften the regulation of legislation. What is wrong with him now?

— We are working at the level of the Federation Council,State Duma. Now there is no legal concept of "private space" in the legislation. We want to change this, which will expand the possibilities for the implementation of private space projects in Russia. In addition, we want to soften many norms and rules that are redundant for private companies. Therefore, we created the Association of Private Space Companies, so that together we could defend the interests of private cosmonautics in Russia both at the legislative level and at the level of executive power.

- And why is there no such thing as private space in the law, given that there were already private space companies in Russia?

“It's not a quick process.In fact, legislation in the field of space began to change 10 years ago. But, unfortunately, the inertia of state institutions does not allow for a cardinal or radical change in the situation in a short time. Some companies initiated this process, and we continue it.

Oleg Mansurov

“Launches will cost not hundreds of billions, but tens of millions of rubles”

— Do your clients and businesses understand why they need space?

— Yes, and understanding from the business side has become oneof the reasons why we created the company. The demand for space data is growing. To receive, transmit and process space data, we need an infrastructure that we are creating as part of our work on launch vehicles, satellites, satellite constellations and a computer center.

How exactly do you help them?

- We are engaged in light rockets, which so farthere is not in Russia. This will allow for cheaper launches with a small payload in a short time. A huge number of companies will be able to conduct their experiments and launch small spacecraft into orbit. And it will cost not hundreds of billions, but tens of millions of rubles. We can be useful in remote sensing of the Earth in different ranges, tracking construction, logistics, natural disasters. A business can cut costs or create new products this way.

“We are engaged in light missiles, which are not yet available in Russia”

- And within this direction, as I understand it, there are KPIs? How do you formulate them?

— Yes, this is the price and speed.There is a type of client who is ready to wait, but wants to launch as cheaply as possible. And there is a type of customer who wants to launch quickly, but is willing to pay more. Our main task is to satisfy all demand.

- You have already said a lot about the ambitions that seek abroad. Has anything changed for you since February 24?

We've had a little change, it'sassociated with plans to work with Korea. We planned to set up a joint venture to develop a light launch vehicle. Now Korea is on the list of unfriendly countries, so we stopped working with them. If something changes, we will resume. In Korea, there is a demand for launches of their devices, we wanted to get access to an order for the launch of these devices.

In all other areas, we are working as usual, because the space sector has already been very regulated and embargoed for about 10 years. Now nothing fundamentally has changed.

— Did you have ambitions to compete with foreign companies like AeroSpace? Or will you now be more focused on the domestic market?

— No, we never wanted to developexclusively within the country. But they did not immediately consider the American market. We targeted the markets of the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America. And we continue to do this, because there really is a demand there. We can say that the Russian market is just being formed. Before that, there was only the state budget, within which there is a federal space program, and you can fit into it or not, but this had nothing to do with market mechanisms.

- How do you manage to sell the idea that you can be useful, especially in foreign markets?

- Selling something in the space industry is difficult.These are complex, unique products, usually with a very long cycle and large investments. The work is done very individually. The desire of the company to be a leader, to expand the product line and the desire to master space technologies is working.

- Has anything changed in terms of the team? You said that you outsource many tasks.

— This was the initial thesis, but we came tobecause that doesn't work. We still need to develop competencies within ourselves, because it is vital and economically feasible. There are about 60 people in our team now in all directions, in a good scenario, this figure may double by the end of the year.

Who are these 60 people?

Mostly engineers. We have about 10 people in the back office, the rest are engineers, programmers, designers, heat engineers, chemists, ballistics and so on.

- You also spoke about the three main areas of your activity. Why exactly them? Is it your personal interest or decisions based on market demand?

- This is an absolutely objective decision.It is connected with the fact that in order to create the most competitive and popular product, you need to build vertical integration. Vertical integration in our case is missiles, launch vehicles and launch services. The second direction is the spacecraft themselves and the groupings based on them. And the third is working with data. And it is precisely building such a chain of these three segments that allows you to make a profit.

“In five years, we want to fully and regularly fly into space”

- I noticed that many of your launches are overgrown with additional PR activities. For what? Are just launches for people already boring?

— We are a startup, we do not have a big bag of money inthe form of the state budget, so you need to show entrepreneurial ingenuity. We consider any monetization schemes, cost reduction. Many space projects that were created in our country were weak precisely from an entrepreneurial point of view, but rather existed in the plane of resource distribution. Several projects were financed by large oligarchs, wealthy people, and then closed because there was no business in them, just a waste of money. We believe that any event should be associated with know-how, a bright element.

- At the same time, you plan a lot in advance, talk about plans for 5-10 years. Have you adjusted these plans lately? Take, for example, an IPO.

- I am now knocking on wood so that plansrealized. Why do we plan so much ahead? The cosmic sphere is characterized by long cycles. Long-term money in the space sector cannot be planned for a short period, because nothing can be done in a short period. We need to resolve the issues that will confront us in a few years, otherwise it will slow down our development.

— What will be the indicator of the company's success in the next five years for you?

- There is a separate goal for each direction.In five years, we want to fully and regularly fly into space, launch our own spacecraft, our own satellite constellations on our rockets, which will generate a continuous constant high-quality data stream that will provide services to states, businesses and individuals.

Is the spaceport an important goal for you?

— Yes, we will have a cosmodrome in any case.This may be a site at the Vostochny cosmodrome or at Baikonur. This may be the site of some foreign spaceports or a separate independent spaceport. There are many options, the whole question is economic feasibility and whether we can pass all the requirements of regulators and supervisory authorities.

- Do you have a goal to reduce the cost of launches? Or is it also a constantly changing figure?

- This figure is variable, here you need to askclarifying questions. The cost of launching into what orbit? What cargo do you want to send? Do you want to send it in the next month? Or are you willing to wait a year? That is, it cannot be said here that the price is the same for all types of services, for all orbits, and so on and so forth. No, everything is much more complicated. And, of course, we strive to make launches cheaper than they are currently on the market.

Do you feel condescending towards yourself? In the comments, they often write that you are engaged in aircraft modeling, and launches below 100 km are not considered something significant at all.

- Of course, there is such an attitude, but for some reasonbecause you have to start. We, unfortunately, are not oligarchs and not large enterprises that we built in the Soviet era, so we need to grow evolutionarily. Of course, many would like to see right away that we are investing huge amounts of money and building large factories. Our people love to engage in megalomania, which is natural, because space has long been about big rockets and spaceports, huge budgets.

But one of the trends of our time is cheap andavailable space. What used to be possible only with heavy satellites can now be done by devices weighing several tens of kilograms. Therefore, a logical question arises - do we need to deal with heavy rockets and large satellites? Probably not. We proceed from business logic and do what the market needs. Of course, if we had an unlimited budget, we could immediately deal with a large, super-heavy and even an interplanetary rocket.

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