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Roscosmos suspended insurance launches
Not enough money for insurance

Due to the lack of funding, Roskosmos is forced to abandon the insurance of satellites being put into orbit. As the launch campaign of this year unfolds, Roskosmos has not announced yet a single competition for the right to insure missiles, spacecraft and associated risks.

“Of the 25 launches planned for this year, only six are insured, and these are those launches that were postponed from last year,” said Ingosstrakh Vice-President Alexander Podchufarov. – We do not have any information on the rest of the starts, Roskosmos does not inform about its plans.

Roscosmos is a state corporation for the comprehensive reform of the rocket and space industry in Russia.

Insurance of space technology is usually carried out in advance: a practice is considered normal when the policy is issued and paid one month before the start. For example, the competition for the right to insure the cargo ship Progress MS-02, launched March 31, 2016, was announced in December last year. Since then, there have been no tenders, and Roskosmos could not explain when they were scheduled to be announced. According to previously published information, in the first quarter of this year Roskosmos plans to launch six launches.

A representative of one of the largest insurance companies noted that Roskosmos is still striving to provide commercial launches with insurance policies, but does so in a kind of rush style.

“For example, the policy for the Proton rocket with the Eutelsat 9B satellite (launched on January 30.“ Izvestia ”) was issued the day before launch, said the insurer. “And the Rokot rocket, which starts on February 16 from the Plesetsk cosmodrome with the Sentinel 3A satellite, wanted to insure less than a week before launch. There were no such cases before.

According to an informed source in Roscosmos, the main reason for the freezing of the insurance campaign is the delay in adopting the Federal Space Program for 2016–2025. It is planned to accept it in March, and until then the measures provided for in it are not funded.

“In fact, this means that enterprises are forced to get out themselves, since we cannot talk about, for example, RSC Energia stop making spacecraft for delivering cosmonauts to the ISS,” explained the Izvestia interlocutor in Roscosmos. – This means that the company will take a commercial loan and build the ships with this money. In this regard, insurance of missiles and satellites is not the main problem. We are now compelled to ensure that people in enterprises continue to receive wages without interruptions.

Last year, Roskosmos insured the entire launch program “wholesale”: the launches of 2015 were insured by the SOGAZ-Ingosstrakh alliance for 3 billion rubles. The insured amount under the contract amounted to 33.1 billion rubles. This year it was decided to insure launches separately.

The lack of funds for the insurance of space technology can bring us back to a situation in the very recent past, when rockets and satellites insured occasionally, mainly in commercial launches. Conversations about the need to insure all launches began in 2010, after Proton-M with three Glonass-M satellites did not go into orbit, sinking in the Pacific Ocean. The issue of allocating subsidies for insurance of spacecraft and rockets was settled only by 2014 – from that date everything that takes off, with the exception of military vehicles, really began to be insured.

At the same time, when writing the draft concept of insurance of space risks at the end of 2014, Roskosmos proposed to abandon the compulsory insurance of all launches of spacecraft performed at the expense of state funds. And this idea was supported by the Ministry of Finance, where it was considered that compulsory insurance at state expense of all launches under the FKP does not stimulate risk reduction and increased reliability of equipment.

If you look at the statistics of failures in 2015, then experts from the Ministry of Finance are right: there is no increase in the reliability of equipment, rather, on the contrary, crash records are beating. Five confirmed space accidents for the year, four of which became insured events (Proton with a Mexican satellite, Progress and two foreign-made Russian-made satellites – EgyptSat 2 and AMOS 5) that failed in orbit – are record-breaking indicators for the Russian space industry.

Due to several accidents that happened to our missiles and satellites last year, the insurance market scored so many losses that it created problems for Russian insurers in the reinsurance market: by the end of the year, about a third of the global insurance market players refused to work with Russian projects.