Alexander Shaenko: “You shouldn’t be Elon Musk or work for Roskosmos to invent and launch spacecraft”

This story began with the Martian, that is to say from The Martian, Interstellar, Gravity, Gattaca, Korolev… Long and the short of it, from the cosmic Old New Year that I arranged for myself re-watching half a dozen films about space. As you know, a man goes where his attention is directed, so I myself, without realizing it, surfed the Internet and found out the Mayak project – a team of enthusiasts who intended to launch a self-made satellite into space.

Oh wow, I thought, turning the electronic pages of the Elon Musk’s biography. We have such guys in our country too! And if I ask them how they do it, because I myself recently wondered: do our millionaires, with islands and fleets of private planes and helicopters, have no dream of space, of investing in private space research and launches? I had a question – and I found the person to answer it: Alexander Shaenko, the leader and inspirer of the Mayak project, the first space satellite in modern Russia to be launched into orbit by the joint efforts of ordinary people.

Alexander is an engineer; he designed and constructed spacecraft, and then, noting that nothing had happened in the space industry for decades, except for allocation of budgets and work on developments, he decided to engage himself in productive projects in the aerospace industry. His main focus, no matter how funny it may sound, was not on capital or state support, but on enthusiasts. He is sure that today, as in the Soviet era, hundreds of designers and inventors sap at their ideas alone across the country. But if we join our efforts and do what we love together, we can again launch satellites into space, explore and develop, discover and invent.

For this purpose, Alexander headed the “Modern Cosmonautics” educational program at the University of Mechanical Engineering (MAMI); he lectures on space for professionals and amateurs throughout the country, works on launching into orbit the first amateur satellite named Mayak and manages the “Your Space Sector” community, dreaming of developing long-range space flight technologies.