Site: Cometa (also spelled Kometa)
Central Scientific Industrial Enterprise
Cometa, 8 Velozavodskaya
Moscow 109280, Russia
Date Visited: October 2, 1997
WTEC: Neil Helm (report author)
Cometa is similar to the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office. Both agencies have opened their veils to some extent and now are seen as cooperating with other government agencies and in some cases companies in the development and exchange of technologies. For the first WTEC satellite communications report five years ago, this author talked with Dr. Savin about the development of a 30 meter space antenna that at that time was going through ground tests. Cometa is known as being a Russian leader of space technology development.
Dr. Savin stated that he didn't have any potential commercial activity with a 30 meter antenna at the present time (1997). However, he said that he had a 15 meter antenna that had commercial capability and alluded that Cometa had a strong technical and operational level of confidence in designing, building and operating an antenna of this size. While he did not go into the beam forming network in detail, he said he had one design that would provide 270 beams with the 15 meter antenna. It is also reputed that NPO-ELAS, a contractor for the Coupon spacecraft, has an advanced electronically steered, active phased array antenna that may be workable with a large antenna.
Dr. Savin mentioned the recently announced $2 billion contract won by Hughes to build a satellite for a Middle East customer that utilizes a 15 meter antenna. He said that he did not know all the technical requirements of this antenna, but from his knowledge he felt that Cometa could build a 15 meter antenna similar to the Hughes specifications, for a cost that is two or three times less than what Hughes will spend.
Cometa's activities have certainly been limited, with the Russian Federation's large reduction in its military space program, although it is clear that there is still an ongoing level of activity. When this author visited Cometa five years ago and saw the level of technical expertise that Cometa had in large spacecraft antennas and other space hardware, it seemed clear that a joint venture with one or more of the large Western space manufacturing companies was assured. While Dr. Savin mentioned that some serious discussions have taken place with Western companies, to date, Cometa has not entered into a large joint venture commercial contract. The reasons for this are not clear; perhaps some reluctance exists on both sides. Dr. Savin stated that Cometa has a development project going with an American university that he hopes will be successful for both partners.