Site: Moscow Aviation Institute
Volokolamskoye shosse 4
Moscow, 125871, Russia
http://www.mai.ru/english/index.htm

Date Visited: September 30, 1997

WTEC: Neil Helm (report author)

Hosts:

Discussions with other Russian officials included in this site report:

Prof. Alexander P. Reutov
Joint Stock Company, Interseismicprognosis
78, Profsoyuznay st.
Moscow, 117420, Russia

Dr. Vladimir N. Voronkov, Chief of Direction of Information Projects
International Center of Payloads of Space Objects
Olimpiysky prosp., 50, Mytishy
Moscow area, Russia

Prof. Victor A. Nevrovsky
Moscow State University of Aircraft Technology
27, Petrovka str.
Moscow K-31, 103767, Russia

Prof. Alexander P. Kurochkin, Head of Antenna Systems Department
VEGA-M Scientific and Production Corporation34 Kutuzov ave.
Moscow, 121170, Russia

Prof. A.I. Bugrova, Moscow Institute of Radio Engineering
Electronics and Automation and Technical University
prosp Vernadskogo 78, Moscow 117474, Russia

BACKGROUND

While the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) is the primary institute visited, this site report covers the activities of a number of technical universities and institutes in the Moscow area. The former Soviet Union used these technical universities not only to prepare future engineers and scientists, but also used the professors and senior faculty as chief designers and project leaders for their defense and civil space activities. In contrast to the United States, which has only a few examples of academic research institutes given responsibility for leading large projects, such as the Lincoln Labs/MIT and the Jet Propulsion Lab/CIT, Russia has hundreds of these large academic/research institutes. MAI, for example, has over 10,000 students. This Russian cooperative system used its government contracts to subsidize the pay of the faculty and their graduate students. The severe downsizing of the Russian military, far greater than in the United States, has thrown these technical institutes into a level of near poverty. Mid-level faculty have salaries of $100 per month, and senior faculty including academicians make approximately $200 per month. Many of these leading academics drive taxis and do other menial jobs to support their families.

RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY

Spacecraft Antennas

Professors Voskresensky and Grinev led the discussions at the Moscow Aviation Institute on their work on advanced spacecraft antenna designs, especially in the area of active phased array antennas and hybrid opto-electronic processors. They discussed design and construction principles of array antennas having multi-element transmit and receive amplifiers combined with hybrid opto-electronic signal processors. They also discussed radio-optical arrays, a class of multi-channel wideband receiving antennas with wide angle panoramic scanning with time division signal processing. They displayed some bench-board spacecraft antenna component hardware that demonstrated a knowledge of advanced technologies in signal processing, coherent optics, microwave and laser components, along with electro-optics and acousto-optic devices. MAI faculty members are not working with NPO/ELAS, which has reputedly developed an advanced electronically steered active phased array antenna with onboard switching. This antenna technology is scheduled to fly on a Bankir/Coupon spacecraft being built for the Russian Central Bank.

Spacecraft Ion Plasma Thrusters

The Russians have studied the use of ion engines for spacecraft control, with publications and development by A.I. Morozov going back to 1968. The Russian space program currently has a good test history of plasma thrusters, and two YAMAL satellites jointly being completed by NPO-Energia and SS/Loral will fly Russian built xenon plasma thrusters for station keeping. Prof. A.I. Bugrova, a student and now colleague of A.I. Morozov, discussed work she is doing at the Moscow Institute of Radio Engineering, Electronics and Automation on advanced plasma thrusters, and demonstrated two laboratory thrusters including one completing lifetime cycle testing. The current plasma thrusters, while reliable and fairly simple, operate at efficiencies of 50 to 55% with powers in the range of 0.5-2 kW with thrusts in the range of (2-10) x 103 dynes. A disadvantage of the current thrusters is a large divergence of the outgoing jet (~+45 degrees.) Prof. Bugrova's research is working to increase the accelerator efficiency by 15-20%, and to decrease the divergence to <+10 degrees. She demonstrated the work of her group with laboratory thrusters, one just completing life tests. She acknowledged that her recent work on plasma thrusters has been performed under contract with the French company SEP.

INFRASTRUCTURE

In the five years since the previous WTEC review of a number of the academic/research institutes in the Moscow area, there were few visible increases in test equipment, computers and laboratory facilities.

CONCLUSIONS

With the sharp reduction in the last decade of the Russian Federation's defense and space activities, the numerous academic and research universities and institutes have fallen on hard times. The defense contracts allowed senior faculty to work on research and to hire graduate students and young faculty to assist with the research. These academic centers are full of well trained engineers and scientists who are extremely open to working with outside academic and commercial entities. Plus, these engineers and scientists often have decades of experience in designing and building equipment that must operate in space. It would seem that countries that have little or no space experience, such as Korea, but want to have an active satellite communication system in the near future, could use the experience of the Russian researchers.


Published: December 1998; WTEC Hyper-Librarian