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Further Details From Soyuz Mishap

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the remind-me-never-to-crash-my-spaceship dept.

Space 190

fyc brings us some information from Universe Today about what happened to Soyuz TMA-11 when it re-entered the atmosphere late last week. Reports indicate that a failure of explosive bolts to separate the Soyuz modules delayed the re-entry and oriented the capsule so the hatch was taking most of the heat, rather than the heat shields. CNN reports that the crew was in 'severe danger.' They experienced forces of up to 8.2 gravities. NASA officials have voiced their approval of how Russia handled the crisis. They expect to rely heavily on Soyuz spacecraft once the shuttles are retired in 2010.

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GAO Report (4, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202310)

It is interesting that the GAO has concerns about the ability of Soyuz to take the shuttle's place. [orlandosentinel.com] And anything else with capabilities that approach the shuttle's are basically vaporware at this point. I think that it is not out of line to ask if the ISS is going to make it. I'm not saying that because I think it wont, I just don't think it is to difficult to imagine very realistic scenarios where it does not.

Re:GAO Report (0)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202522)

No, there are several viable alternatives. For example, Russia has Buran spaceship. They just cost way too much.

For now, Progress cargo ships and Soyuz crew ships should work just fine.

Re:GAO Report (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202576)

No Russia doesn't they have one rusting hulk of Buran on display the rest have been scrapped. At this point it would be cheaper to build a new orbiter.

Re:GAO Report (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202802)

Yes, that's what I meant. The existing Burans are not usable, but it should be possible to build a new one.

Several years ago, I've read article in Russian space magazine about it - surprisingly much of required infrastructure for Energia+Buran is still present.

Re:GAO Report (4, Informative)

BZWingZero (1119881) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202596)

No they don't. At least not in anywhere near a usable state. One (that actually flew in space once in 1988) is crushed under a building, another is on its way to a museum in Australia. And another is a simulator ride in Moscow. Helping SpaceX finish their Falcon 9/Dragon capsule launch system would be easier and more cost effective.

Re:GAO Report (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202654)

Australia? One is just 10km away from me now. came up the river Rhine two weeks ago and now is perpared for display in a museum from August on.

Re:GAO Report (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203196)

Australia? One is just 10km away from me now. came up the river Rhine two weeks ago and now is perpared for display in a museum from August on.
Thats the new Australian colonialism for you. Look out Europe.

Re:GAO Report (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23202688)

The Buran orbiter was destroyed [buran.ru] in 2002 when its hangar collapsed. Two other orbiters weren't completed, although the Ptichka was very close to completion and could theoretically be bought from Kazakhstan and completed. The other one, Baikal, only really has the frame built.

Re:GAO Report (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202890)

No, there are several viable alternatives. For example, Russia has Buran spaceship. They just cost way too much.
"They just cost way too much" is another way to say "they're not viable".

Re:GAO Report (0)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202622)

Mod up parent! These are serious concerns, should not be swept under the rug. As much as I dislike the design of the Shuttle, it's the only one capable of carrying that sort of heavy payload to the ISS' orbit (LEO).

Re:GAO Report (2, Informative)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202832)

Mod up parent! These are serious concerns, should not be swept under the rug. As much as I dislike the design of the Shuttle, it's the only one capable of carrying that sort of heavy payload to the ISS' orbit (LEO).

Comparison of heavy lift launch systems [wikipedia.org]

Is Wikipedia on crack again, or are there no less than four other currently operational launch systems with nearly identical payload capacity to the shuttle?

Re:GAO Report (3, Informative)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203076)

You're misreading it. The shuttle has the highest launch capacity of any currently operational heavy lifter. There are others (Angara A5, Ares V, Falcon 9 Heavy, Long March 5) on the books, but a NASA payload is unlikely to ever launch on a Long March rocket. The remaining lifters on the list (Energia, N1, and the Saturn line) are retired; the two Soviet lifters had a dismal record of one success in six launches.

The closest operational heavy lift system is the Delta IV Heavy coming in at only 1450kg less mass to LEO than the shuttle's max payload, and which has one successful and one partially successful launch on its record. However, the Delta line is a good one, and none of the eight Delta IV launch vehicles (including three Medium and three Medium+ launches) have been lost.

Re:GAO Report (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203858)

You are all missing the essential point: How often is the maximum payload launch weight flown on a shuttle mission? I am not certain without looking up the mission records, but I would bet that it is rarely done out of safety concerns. Why not divide the payload into more than one trip on heavy lift boosters? Also, how often would it be the case that more than three (3) crew members would need to embark to the ISS on a single trip (the shuttle carries seven)? The unique capabilities of the Space Shuttle are often cited by defenders of the program without mentioning how rarely those capabilities are actually used or how multiple launches of smaller vehicles could achieve substantially similar results in most cases.

Re:GAO Report (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202656)

Wasn't the ISS 'lifted' to a higher orbit once by the space shuttle. have rockets or something been installed so the ISS can lift itself now?

Re:GAO Report (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23202764)

The ISS is routinely reboosted by visiting Soyuz, Progress and now European ATVs as well as the Shuttle. The Zarya "Tug" which was the first component launched can also reboost the station (it's why Progress and ATV's carry extra fuel to be offloaded to the ISS).

They have visiting craft like Shuttles and Progresses use their extra onboard fuel for reboosts to preserve the ISS's onboard fuel for emergencies.

Re:GAO Report (3, Informative)

gharris (188182) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202814)

Yes. It needs periodic 'lifting' to boost it back into the proper orbit. In fact, the new ESA ATV just did that today according to space.com (European Cargo Ship Boosts Space Station's Orbit [space.com] ):

Europe's first Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) cargo supply ship has successfully raised the International Space Station into a higher orbit...
additionally:

Russia's unmanned Progress supply vessels are also is capable of boosting the station's orbit, as are the U.S. space shuttles of NASA.
It is in good hands in that regard.

--Glenn

Re:GAO Report (1)

rijrunner (263757) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203434)

The reality is that the private sector has been quietly moved into manned space activity to the point that an official NASA vehicle will likely be a white elephant when, and if, it ever flies.

Shuttle was always a stretch in the first place. They could have built a number of designs which would still be viable. It was the inclusion of a fairly large cargo bay to a manned ferry vehicle which made Shuttle economically non-viable. They could have built a smaller winged reusable ferry for the crew. The Rutan design is pretty much the same stuff that NASA discarded back in the 1960's - not because it was not viable, but because they wanted a Swiss Army Chainsaw of a vehicle.

We don't need another vehicle of Shuttle's capabilities. As a broad class, we can break down Shuttle into a manned ferry vehicle, a 2 week long experiment platform, a cargo launch vehicle, and work platform. You can probably combine the 2nd and 4th of those capabilities into a single vehicle with no real cash penalty. A manned vehicle can be in the 10-20 ton range for most uses. Cargo does not really require a manned capability. Just a good unpiloted capability to dock with your destination.

(And, I think the proposed CEV/Stick configuration is a not-funny joke. CEV is much larger than it needs to be and the Stick is a completely unnecessary vehicle to meet the demands of getting things into orbit).
 

Re:GAO Report (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203754)

The reason there isn't anything to replace what the Shuttle can do was because the Shuttle was a bad idea anyway. One of the few significants thing the Shuttle did that really can't be done is return large objects from orbit, but that was only done a very small number of times. It's much better to have heavy lifters and human ferrying be separate vehicle types, rather than try to do do everything and then some in one craft.

The other major thing the Shuttle did that can't be done by other craft yet, is to repair satellites in orbit. That wasn't used much either. There was Hubble, and I think there's another satellite that was repaired, but the weight of the shuttle really limited the range of satellites that it could reach. I think NASA has learned that it's cheaper to put up a special-built telescope dedicated to a specific mission than it is to upgrade Hubble. And they've put up several such telescopes in the past decade, they all served very well. Hubble has been quite useful, and I do support repairing it, but for the forseeable future, new orbiting telescopes will not be serviceable.

Don't hit me... (2, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202312)

In soviet Russia, bolts explode you!

Testing Spellcheck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23202738)

Something sounds suspisious...

Ok, it doesn't work.

Re:Don't hit me... (1)

Devv (992734) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203026)

That is kind of off-topic since this is the Russian Federation we are talking about.

Re:Don't hit me... (1)

PacoCheezdom (615361) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203168)

No, in Russian Federation, you manually land Soyuz. In Soviet Russia, Soyuz landed YOU.

Re:Don't hit me... (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203376)

In Soviet Russia, "In Soviet Russia" jokes went out with Soviet Russia.

Re:Don't hit me... (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203580)

Does that mean that everywhere else, Soviet Russia went out with "In Soviet Russia" jokes? And since "In Soviet Russia" jokes have not gone out, does that mean that Soviet Russia has not gone out yet?

Re:Don't hit me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23203528)

In Soviet Russia, crew protects heat shield!

We won't always be so lucky (4, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202336)

It will be interesting to see public outcry when one of the Russian craft craters with Americans onboard. This will inevitably happen, even if the Soyuz is safer than anything America has (which it probably is). Then we'll all have to be dragged through a lot of media-driven "soul-searching" about whether it was smart to "outsource NASA" (you heard it here first).

Re:We won't always be so lucky (1, Interesting)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202446)

And everyone with a brain will point out that more americans have died in american shuttle mishaps than have died in russian shuttle mishaps. Space is inherently dangerous, everyone knows it, and the public outcry against the shuttle disasters up to this point hasn't been that severe; I doubt it'll be too severe when an American dies on a foreign craft.

Re:We won't always be so lucky (4, Insightful)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202464)

Never underestimate the power of xenophobia on any public mob.

Re:We won't always be so lucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23202834)

<flamebait>
Never underestimate the power of Idiocracy, and the danger of getting between a cretin and his entitlements.
Ask not what technology can do for you, ask what you can do to extend the welfare state!
</flamebait>

Re:We won't always be so lucky (3, Insightful)

inviolet (797804) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202870)

Never underestimate the power of xenophobia on any public mob.

I know you're being flippant, but xenophobia can be very rational.

Some cultures area more productive than others, and they all compete with each other for resources -- consisting mostly of land, energy, and minds. Sometimes that competition devolves to open war, other times to guerilla war, but nowadays mostly to ideological subversion. The current "all cultures are equivalent" drumbeat is an example of this kind of attack.

When one culture has developed an efficient pattern -- one capable of producing vast amounts of safety and comfort and making it available in some proportion to all of its members -- then it is rational for that culture to adjust its pattern to breed resistance to changes that other cultures try to introduce into it. Xenophobia is probably the cheapest way to mobilize that kind of resistance en masse.

Re:We won't always be so lucky (1)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202904)

Where did I saw anything in my post about all cultures being equal? My post was in response to this statement:

I doubt it'll be too severe when an American dies on a foreign craft.
History doesn't bear this out very well.

Darwinism is stupid (1)

jharel (1201307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203328)

There is no "Soyuz Capsule Culture" that is trying to introduce a "new space hardware culture change", and there's no resistance to this non-existent "Soyuz Capsule Culture".

Re:We won't always be so lucky (1)

Samgilljoy (1147203) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203080)

Never underestimate the power of xenophobia on any public mob.

Very true, but I'd blame it on those inciting a xenophobic reaction rather than on the weakness of the mob.

I don't know the reason, but when the news first reported the mishap, they reported that the Russian government was blaming the Americans for the mishap, which seems rather odd, unless the American passengers were, I don't know, rocking the capsule back and forth on the way down.

Re:We won't always be so lucky (2, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203890)

unless the American passengers were, I don't know, rocking the capsule back and forth on the way down.

Sorry, we won't let it [wikipedia.org] happen again ;)

Re:We won't always be so lucky (2, Informative)

sokoban (142301) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202482)

And everyone with a brain will point out that more americans have died in american shuttle mishaps than have died in russian shuttle mishaps.
And everyone with a brain will point out that there have been no manned russian shuttle flights.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buran_(spacecraft)

Re:We won't always be so lucky (1)

Redneck Flyboy (1278048) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203338)

Doh! Beat me to it (I guess I should have scrolled down).

Re:We won't always be so lucky (1)

Redneck Flyboy (1278048) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203286)

And everyone with a brain will point out that more americans have died in american shuttle mishaps than have died in russian shuttle mishaps.
I would hope so given that it only flew once (unmaned). ;-) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buran_(spacecraft)/ [wikipedia.org]

Re:We won't always be so lucky (3, Interesting)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202530)

Maybe they'll decide not to outsource NASA then.

I expect the attitude might change somewhat when China and India start putting people on the moon too. Then we'll find out whether the United States is in inevitable decline or whether there's some life left in the old empire.

Re:We won't always be so lucky (1)

Major Blud (789630) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202826)

Actually, both the Soyuz and Shuttle are 2 for 2 on lost crews. While both the Challenger and Columbia disasters ended in lost crews, so did Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 11. So is Soyuz really "safer"? I guess it depends on how you measure such things...

Re:We won't always be so lucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23203604)

Actually, both the Soyuz and Shuttle are 2 for 2 on lost crews. While both the Challenger and Columbia disasters ended in lost crews, so did Soyuz 1 and Soyuz 11.

So is Soyuz really "safer"? I guess it depends on how you measure such things...
I agree, it depends how you measure it, there will always be risks with any solution. However, the Soyuz 1 accident was in 1967, and the Soyuz 11 accident was in 1971 — ten years before the first shuttle launch.

Re:We won't always be so lucky (3, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202958)

It will be interesting to see public outcry when one of the Russian craft craters with Americans onboard. This will inevitably happen, even if the Soyuz is safer than anything America has (which it probably is).

The safety differences between Soyuz and Shuttle are statistically insignificant. Unless you engage in shady practices like not counting Soyuz-1 and Soyuz-10 "because they were a long time ago", etc... By that that metric one should be able to discard Challenger as well - at which point Shuttle's safety is still equal to or better than any other booster excepting only Soyuz. Even so, the difference is still statistically insignificant because neither vehicle has a enough flights to create valid statistics.
 
Myself, I'm not surprised at the latest Soyuz incident. Soyuz has a long history of incidents and near accidents.

Re:We won't always be so lucky (2, Interesting)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203410)

The safety differences between Soyuz and Shuttle are statistically insignificant. Unless you engage in shady practices like not counting Soyuz-1 and Soyuz-10 "because they were a long time ago", etc... By that that metric one should be able to discard Challenger as well - at which point Shuttle's safety is still equal to or better than any other booster excepting only Soyuz. Even so, the difference is still statistically insignificant because neither vehicle has a enough flights to create valid statistics.
No, we discount Soyuz-1 and Soyuz-10, because they were completely different craft than the capsules that are flying today.

And, yes. I think you actually might be able to discount Challenger, because the fundamental design "bug" that caused it to happen was fixed.

However, one of the chief "safety" features of Soyuz is the robustness of the basic capsule itself, which has allowed it to protect the crew, even in the event of the catastrophic failure of several of its systems (one of them exploded on the launchpad, and the crew survived). As long as the retro-rockets and parachutes are intact, a free-fall to earth is usually survivable.

The shuttle, on the other hand, does not have many favorable abort modes. If any part of the craft fails, the integrity of the entire craft is compromised, and the crew are almost certainly doomed. Had a challenger-type incident occurred during a Soyuz, it is likely that the crew would have survived. Similarly, the fact that the crew entered literally upside-down during this past mission demonstrates that a Columbia-type failure isn't all that likely either.

The Space Shuttle has literally millions of parts and components, the failure of any one of which can spell doom for the mission and crew. The Soyuz engineers were not nearly as optimistic regarding their own manufacturing and quality-control abilities, and made something that was idiot-proof.

Ironically, NASA's next-generation craft design [wikipedia.org] resembles the Soyuz more closely than anything else. The Russian [wikipedia.org] and ESA [wikipedia.org] designs all opted for something that most closely resembles a hybrid between a capsule design and shuttle design (but on a much smaller and less extravagant scale).

Re:We won't always be so lucky (1)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203524)

However, one of the chief "safety" features of Soyuz is the robustness of the basic capsule itself, which has allowed it to protect the crew, even in the event of the catastrophic failure of several of its systems (one of them exploded on the launchpad, and the crew survived).

Clarification -- it was the booster that exploded on the pad, and after (by a few seconds) the Soyuz had safely blasted away from the booster with its escape rockets (as it was supposed to). The flaw here wasn't in the Soyuz itself, but in the booster and in the support systems. The booster caught fire and almost instantly severed the "hard wire" connections that would normally be used to initiate a pad abort. The controllers managed to initiate the abort by radio signal just before the explosion. But the capsule did exactly what it needed to do, saving the lives of the two cosmonauts (although one was pretty seriously injured in the abort and never flew again).

Re:We won't always be so lucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23203798)

Challenger was also booster-related.

Re:We won't always be so lucky (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203616)

Got anything other than Soyuz Fanboi/Shuttle Hater propaganda? Because you haven't the foggiest clue what you are talking about.

Similar to Soyuz 5? Upsidedown reentry. (4, Informative)

node159 (636992) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202340)

Sounds very similar to the Soyuz 5 rentry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_5), would have been quite an ordeal. For more 'interesting' reentries have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_space_disasters [wikipedia.org]

Safe even upside down? (2, Insightful)

SleptThroughClass (1127287) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202398)

It's interesting that it reentered safely without using the heat shield. What part of the design helped that?

Re:Safe even upside down? (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202434)

Blind chance?

Re:Safe even upside down? (3, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202470)

The frame of the Soyuz is made of titanium. Someone had linked to a list of Soyuz accidents before, and I recall that the titanium shell has enabled the vehicle to survive a flawed reentry before (I think it might have been a hole burned in the heatshield or another skewed reentry).

Re:Safe even upside down? (2, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202632)

Titanium is good but not that good.
Odds are that the Soyuz righted it's self at some point. Also I am not sure what hatch took the heat. Does the Soyuz have a side hatch of just the top hatch?
If it was the top hatch they are very lucky that the chute system didn't fail from the heat.

Re:Safe even upside down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23202898)

Soyuz's were built to be able to come in at a slant, and get some lift off their chubby tall gumdrop shape, so they aren't doing a pure, quick, violent ballistic reentry, but a longer gradual cooler reentry. To do this though, the entire return capsule is liberally coated in heat-shield material. Originally it was phenolic impregnated oak sawdust, whatever it is now, it is still a typical ablative material that chars and erodes carrying away reentry heat. So.. still that is amazing that the parachutes weren't cooked.

Re:Safe even upside down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23202950)

They even rescued Soyouz 23, from the depths of a frozen lake after a flawed re-entry.

Everyone was saved.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_23

400 Km off target!!! (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202412)

good job Russia is so big then...

You are being held by a force of two gravities! (0)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202452)

They experienced forces of up to 8.2 gravities.
And here I thought that six gravities would crush your ribs to jelly and explode your heart.

Re:You are being held by a force of two gravities! (4, Interesting)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202568)

People have willingly endured 46.2g [damninteresting.com] 's.

Re:You are being held by a force of two gravities! (4, Informative)

AJWM (19027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202646)

Don't know where you got that figure from.

Modern fighter aircraft are software-limited to 9G maneuvers, with the crew in G-suits and trained for it. (The hardware can probably take higher). The Gemini launches on converted Titan-II missiles routinely hit about 8G during the ascent (Shuttle does 3G).

Then-Captain John Stapp in his rocket sled experiments in the late 1940s/early 1950s routinely experienced 18G in the "eyeballs in" position, and 30G in "eyeballs out" deceleration as the sled stopped. The peak force he survived was around 45G. (Black-eyed, bloodshot, bruised, with the occasional cracked rib and generally beat up, but survived.)

Russian hardware (5, Interesting)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202472)

Give me Russian-built aerospace hardware any day. Their stuff is built brick-shithouse tough. Re-entry without the heatshield? Astonishing. I've heard lots of stuff over the years about how tough the old Migs and SUs were as well, and I think the attitude would translate well to space exploration. I think NASA's approach of building craft out of gold foil and tissue paper in clean rooms, trying to turn every last ounce of the payload into instrumentation is misguided. How much does a Soyuz laucnh cost compared to a shuttle launch? Fuel and other materials are the cheapest part of the overall cost of spaceflight, so the logical thing would seem to be to build simple, cheap, super-tough craft and just launch dozens of them rather than investing heavily in individual craft. And why not launch missions with a fleet of craft, rather than just a single vehicle? When we do launch more than one vehicle, it is months apart as in the case of the Mars rovers. Doesn't make much sense.

There's a moral that applies here... how does it go again? Something about not putting all your eggs in one basket, if I recall correctly...

Re:Russian hardware (5, Insightful)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202494)

If you want to talk about durability and toughness you just need one word: AK-47.

Re:Russian hardware (0)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202784)

if you want to talk about the ak-47 you just need two words: spray and pray.

Re:Russian hardware (1)

Uncle Focker (1277658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202924)

Spray and pray is an extremely effective strategy. With my trust AK-47 I was almost always able to get 2.0+ KDRs in CS.

Re:Russian hardware (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202948)

I just want you to know that may have given me the best laugh I've had all day. I'll be saving that comment away for sharing with friends. Well played.

Re:Russian hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23203414)

In Counter Strike ? Yes, it's true. Real AKMs are quite a bit better, reasonable accuracy at 150m from standing-up position, recoil does not come anywhere closer to what you can see in CS and can take a lot of rough treatment. ... spray and pray ... indeed, pray if you're on the other end.

I was going to say F4... (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203256)

Phantom II. There was a sturdy beast. A friend who was ground crew talked about picking small trees out of what landed, replacing unheard of percentages of missing wingspan and getting them back in the air.

I've also head it reported that the sum total of criteria for certification to flight, for things going on a Soyuz, can be "did the check clear?".

Credit where credit is due... (1)

botsmaster25 (463073) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203688)

The AK-47 was a knock off of the Sturmgewehr 44 Wiki link [wikipedia.org]

Re:Russian hardware (4, Interesting)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202644)

Having spoken with two ex-Mig flight trainers who had also flown F-16s, my impression of their impression was that they loved the potential of the Migs, but were always nervous that the electronics would get them killed. American aircraft have had system crashes that have endangered (and probably in cases I don't know about, killed) pilots, but in India it was considered common for Mig pilots to die because instruments went glitchy at a bad time (like in low visibility situations). Maybe this was somewhat specific to Indian Migs, though. One of the pilots told me that his dream plane would be a Mig design built in the US.

Re:Russian hardware (4, Interesting)

phliar (87116) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203590)

By "electronics would get them killed" do you mean in combat?

My brother is a MiG-29 (and Su-27) pilot. (He has also flown F-16s on a USAF detachment.) On a landing approach in the MiG-29, he hit a truck that was parked a little too close to the runway. They had to replace the wheels and tires but otherwise the aircraft was fine. The truck was totalled.

Re:Russian hardware (3, Informative)

AsnFkr (545033) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202748)

NASA's approach of building craft out of gold foil and tissue paper in clean rooms, trying to turn every last ounce of the payload into instrumentation is misguided.
I agree with what you said about the sillyness that is the Space Shuttle "reusable" program, but you mention gold foil and tissue paper, which I can assume was a jab at Apollo's LM. In that case the weight of the spacecraft was VERY VERY specific, and the "gold foil" was the best way to control the heat from the thrusters of the craft without adding a ton of extra weight and was actually a pretty slick way about it. Sometimes lightweight spacecraft with instrumentation on every inch is a good thing. That said, fuck the shuttle.

Re:Russian hardware (4, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202798)

Well they didn't reenter without a heat shield. It looks like the hit sideways until the propulsion section broke away and then righted themselves. At least that is what it looks like from the pictures I have seen.
Your comments about Russian aerospace hardware is at best optimistic and based more in folk lore than anything.
A lot of Russian jet aircraft are simple but pretty fragile. US aircraft tend to be pretty complex but very rugged. The Mig-21 was made of tissue paper compared to the F-4, F-105, A-6 and or F-100.
Even the F-15 has huge kill ratio VS every Migs.
There was at least one F-15 that had a mid-air and lost a wing! That plane made it home!
Yea US aircraft tend to require more man hours and you have to have more skills and tool than your average oil change tech but they tend to be very rugged and reliable.

Re:Russian hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23203108)

My father was a test engineer for the Air Force back n the day. He was in an F15 when the pilot tried to disengage the fuel tanks. Only one let go, this then caused the jet to only turn in one direction or go straight. The pilot took the plane in a nose dive, and suddenly pulled up as quickly as he could. This did cause the fuel tank to fall off...it also took about 4 feet of the wing. The pilot was able to fly back to Egland AFB in Florida and land. Granted, it was a very precarious ride.

Re:Russian hardware (3, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203124)

Indeed. Here's one of the better writeups [f-16.net] .

IAF F-15 Mishap (5, Informative)

clbyjack81 (597903) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203186)

There was at least one F-15 that had a mid-air and lost a wing! That plane made it home!

The incident to which you refer was a mid-air collision in an Israeli Air Force training flight. Here is a link [youtube.com] to the History Channel interview with the pilot. After McDonnell Douglas analyzed the accident, they concluded that the F-15's lifting body design allowed it to remain airborne on one wing, given enough speed.

Gigantic kudos to the pilot who brought that plane home safely! After a full investigation into the accident, a new wing was fitted, and the fighter returned to service.

How's that for American aircraft ruggedness! (Well, in the F-15's case anyway)

old-fashioned engineering (4, Insightful)

tetromino (807969) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202824)

It's not so much a difference between Russians and Americans as between old-fashioned and modern engineering practices.

Back in the old days: "We don't fully understand the physics of this thing, so let's make this part 5 times stronger than it has any reason to be, just in case shit goes seriously wrong."
*kaboom*
"Heh, good thing we had that margin of error!"

Modern engineering: "We can shave 0.37% off the cost of the final product by replacing this part with cheaper, lighter materials. The computer model tells us this is perfectly safe to do."
*KABOOM*
"Oops, I guess our computer model didn't account for turbulence."

Re:Russian hardware (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23202858)

I second.
They don't even do FOD sweeps at Russian airfields. Instead, they just designed the aircraft to operate from runways that might have some debris on them.

Re:Russian hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23203046)

With all the space junk that is out there, some of the old soviet ways of fighter jets might be a good idea. I am not sure which jet it is, but there is a MiG that has a retractable vent that covers the air intake for takeoff because the runways used to be all cratered and dirty. In the US we walk for FOD (foreign objects and debris) before any of our jets can take to the skys. If only we could get make the spacecraft like a tank, unfortunately it takes something only 10% of a spacecraft can be the weight of the craft and payload, the other 90% is propellants

Re:Russian hardware (4, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203092)

Give me Russian-built aerospace hardware any day. Their stuff is built brick-shithouse tough. Re-entry without the heatshield?

They didn't re-enter without the heatshield. They started re-entry improperly oriented and properly oriented the craft at virtually the last possible instant. That isn't tough, that's damn lucky.
 
 

How much does a Soyuz laucnh cost compared to a shuttle launch?

Soyuz is much cheaper than a Shuttle per launch. But considering it takes something like four Soyuz launches and four Progress launches to incompletely replace a single Shuttle mission to ISS, it shouldn't be surprising that it is cheaper - lower capability almost always implies lower costs. I say 'incompletely' because Soyuz/Progress cannot deliver station modules, cannot deliver external cargo, cannot deliver ISS racks, cannot return hardware... etc.. etc... All of which the Shuttle can do. (Not to mention that the CBM hatches available to Shuttle carried cargo containers are nearly four times as big as the APAS hatches used the Soyuz/Progress.)
 
 

the logical thing would seem to be to build simple, cheap, super-tough craft and just launch dozens of them rather than investing heavily in individual craft.

If only cheap and super-tough weren't mutually incompatible.
 
 

When we do launch more than one vehicle, it is months apart as in the case of the Mars rovers. Doesn't make much sense.

It makes perfect sense - because assembling and launching them in serial (as opposed to parallel) means you can apply lessons learned from assembling the first to assembling the second. You can 'promote' and 'demoted' hardware from one vehicle to the next to ease schedule pressure. Etc... Etc... Launching them at the same time means assembling them at the same time - and for one-off (or severely limited production) vehicles that means more expensive, more likely to fail, more likely to slip schedule, etc... etc... Without providing an iota more science return.

Re:Russian hardware (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203320)

> Give me Russian-built aerospace hardware any day.

You can keep it. There can't have been an air display in recent years which hasn't ended with a plane ploughing into the ground at 900 mph. Who won the cold war again? Whether it's plane, subs, rockets etc, you can count on the Russians to come up with expensive shit which simply doesn't work reliably, and then attempt a laughable cover up when it goes wrong. I remember with special amusement the submarine which got into trouble, when the Russians refused help from superior western vessels. Why? Did they think we wanted to copy their half-baked crap, like it was some sort of secret?

> How much does a Soyuz laucnh cost compared to a shuttle launch?

Remind me, why should we copy the Russians in the space arena? In which regard are they ahead of the west?

Re:Russian hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23203476)

Mr. President, if I may speak freely, the Russkie talks big, but frankly, we think he's short of know-how. I mean, you just can't expect a bunch of ignorant peons to understand a machine like some of our boys.

keep it simple stupid (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202496)

Always thought that business of 3 interconnecting modules would be the weak spot & it is. That's malfunction #3 with it. They could swap one disposable module for a more robust docking mechanism & a bigger crew capsule but they won't.

Re:keep it simple stupid (1)

AsnFkr (545033) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202762)

Malfunction #3 out of what...98 manned flights? Not *that* bad of a track record. At least they didn't mount their payload the the side of a rocket and leave a HUGE heat shield exposed for the entire flight, including launch, right...right?

Re:keep it simple stupid (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203348)

Always thought that business of 3 interconnecting modules would be the weak spot & it is. That's malfunction #3 with it. They could swap one disposable module for a more robust docking mechanism & a bigger crew capsule but they won't.
Are you saying that the interface between the propulsion module and descent module is the problem here? Every capsule design works this way. It worked very well for apollo for example.

I don't see how else you can operate anyway. The propulsion/service module protects the heat shield. It contains retro rockets which have to be behind the heat shield.

Its not hard to get explosive bolts to work reliably. Its just that the russians haven't worked that bit out yet.

Built tough. (3, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202516)

I'm continually amazed by how robust and dependable the Soyuz modules are.

They're the Volvos of the space program.

Re:Built tough. (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203236)

Volvo is already in the aviation business. Now just imagine if they started building spacecraft. :)

Re:Built tough. (2, Funny)

Sique (173459) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203296)

They're the Volvos of the space program.
They use turbo charged Renault-engines?

Re:Built tough. (1)

KingPunk (800195) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203314)

you DO realize that VOLVO is manufactured by Ford Moto Co. Correct? Don't get us laughing here.. please. *gasp*

Re:Built tough. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23203888)

built soyuz tough?

Anonymous Coward (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23202636)

The "hatch first" story is already in doubt, latest info says separation of the entry module was delayed, it entered sideways and computer thus went to ballistic mode after a certain time and was in said mode when it finally separated.

I just read a forum where knowledgeable people translate from a reliable known guy on a russian forum. Not much official has yet been revealed.

Details here [nasaspaceflight.com]

The story on TMA-11 is secure... (1)

jelton (513109) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202672)

But what ever happened to Tycho Magnetic Anomaly 1?

Re:The story on TMA-11 is secure... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203360)

But what ever happened to Tycho Magnetic Anomaly 1?
Its still there waiting for us.

There's another way... (4, Interesting)

bigfootindy (1184927) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202706)

There's an alternative to waiting 5 years after the final shuttle launch - check out http://www.directlauncher.com./ [www.directlauncher.com] It'd be ready 2 years after the final shuttle launch and it would cost a heck of a lot less than Ares...

Re:There's another way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23203720)

Besides the official site, Wikipedia also has a nice listing of the advantages and disadvantages of DIRECT:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DIRECT#Advantages_and_disadvantages [wikipedia.org]

Proponents of DIRECT also argue that this proposal will enable NASA to fulfill the mandate of the Vision for Space Exploration faster, safer, and sooner than the planned Ares I and Ares V, at a much lower cost and with far less programmatic risk. Unlike the budget plans for Ares I and Ares V, DIRECT will still allow NASA sufficient room in its current budgets beyond launch vehicle development and operations to continue funding other missions such as the International Space Station beyond 2016, while being better able to withstand the unpredictability of future annual congressional/administration budget allocations.

The DIRECT proposal calls for NASA to use the massive development-cost and fixed-cost savings from DIRECT to accelerate the VSE's schedule for returning to the moon, to continue to fly missions to support the International Space Station, and to potentially fly other missions such as servicing missions to the Hubble Space Telescope. Like NASA's official Constellation plans, the DIRECT proposal calls for ensuring that the existing NASA Space Shuttle industrial base and workforce at sites around the U.S. would be retained (which is important from both the standpoint of maintaining Congressional support and maintaining the skills and know-how of this workforce). However, compared to Constellation, the much shorter gap in manned U.S. space flight under DIRECT would prevent the type of knowledge-loss that NASA suffered in the gap between Apollo and the Shuttle in the late 1970's and the related localized economic hardship in Florida's Space Coast that was seen during the same time period.

Opponents of DIRECT argue that the safety factor of this proposal is not as good as that of the original ESAS Crew LV proposal. DIRECT's proponents counter that the Jupiter 120 Crew LV has much greater safety margins than NASA's current plans for an Ares I Crew LV, which is a significantly different vehicle from the originally selected ESAS Crew LV. Opponents also contend that, as a plan developed outside of official NASA channels (NIH), DIRECT stands little chance of being implemented.

Can we vote this guy in (5, Insightful)

Shadow-isoHunt (1014539) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202734)

Now please?

"We seem to have gotten away from our concentration on science," said U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D- Texas.

Yeah, of course NASA is confident (0)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#23202854)

They love Soyuz. It's not like they have any other options at this point. The Constellation Program? Ugh. It's going to be to space vehicles what Vista is to operating systems.

NASA = Need a Space Agency.

Don't mod me troll, search your feelings. You know this to be true.

Re:Yeah, of course NASA is confident (1)

AsnFkr (545033) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203364)

The Constellation Program? Ugh. It's going to be to space vehicles what Vista is to operating systems.
Ok, I'll bite. Do you say this because it looks like it will be pushed out to meet a timetable the low budget doesn't allow, or do you think there is a design flaw in the entire Contellation Program from the start?

Sad state of affairs (1)

navtal (943711) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203010)

I'm for anything that is a peaceful endeavor between nations....but we are about to loose the ability to put people in space. What amazing baby steps we have taken, how far have we fallen.

Learning From Mistakes (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203234)

As with most things, you learn far more when something goes wrong, than when it all goes right. By these standards the February 1997 fire aboard Mir and Apollo 13 have taught us more about how to survive space than any other missions.

They "expect" to? (1)

rueger (210566) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203246)

They expect to rely heavily on Soyuz spacecraft once the shuttles are retired in 2010.

I'd say they have damn little choice.... Yeah I'm old enough to remember Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. I seriously doubt that there's one person in Washington DC today that has a tenth of that kind of vision.

What are supposed to be "developing" nations are heading to space, and the U.S. doesn't seem to have a clue that they're being left behind.

Statistics (0, Offtopic)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203346)

Is there anyone out there with statistics that prove/disprove whether or not it is safer to go into space than it is to drive a car?

Recent NASA announcement on ISS resupply (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203518)

They expect to rely heavily on Soyuz spacecraft once the shuttles are retired in 2010.

One bit of hope is that NASA announced a few days ago that instead of using the Russian Progress vehicles for cargo transport to the ISS after 2010, they'll instead use US commercial providers. They haven't yet committed to using commercial providers for crew transport, but I imagine they're waiting to see how the sector performs first.

NASA Aims for All-Commercial ISS Resupply [aviationweek.com]

NASA will base U.S. resupply of the International Space Station on the untried vehicles of the Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) program, and will not buy cargo services from Russia after the space shuttle fleet retires.

U.S. space agency officials are set to begin discussions with Congress this week on continued use of Russia's Soyuz crew-launch vehicles following the final shuttle flight in 2010. But they won't ask for permission to keep using Russian Progress vehicles.

Instead, NASA plans to pay a U.S. commercial provider for delivery of at least 20 metric tons of cargo to the ISS between 2010 and 2015. Under the COTS program, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp. are splitting almost $500 million in NASA seed money intended to spur development of a commercial route to the ISS. ...

Administrator Michael Griffin has sent a proposed amendment to Capitol Hill specifically excluding Progress vehicles from a request to continue using Soyuz capsules to deliver crew to the ISS after the shuttle retires. Griffin had no immediate comment, but William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for spaceflight operations, says NASA believes one of the commercial vehicles in development under the COTS program eventually will be able to meet its ISS-supply needs.

Until a COTS vehicle is available, Gerstenmaier says, the U.S. agency plans to rely on prepositioned spare parts to be sent up before the shuttle retires. Two "contingency flights" among the 10 remaining shuttle missions to the ISS are slated to deliver station spares too large to get to orbit otherwise, he says.

Re:Recent NASA announcement on ISS resupply (2, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 6 years ago | (#23203576)

I also just came across some interesting related commentary here:

http://www.hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=5989&catid=49 [hobbyspace.com]

NASA needs the Falcon 9 [spacex.com] /Dragon [spacex.com] combo to attain crew service capability if the agency is to have a US based option for sending astronauts to the ISS sometime during the period between the end of the Shuttle program in 2010 and the start of Ares I/Orion operations in 2015. So far, all the designs reviews (e.g. here [spacex.com] , here [spacex.com] , and here [spacex.com] ) have found no fundamental flaws in either the Falcon 9 or Dragon designs. Assuming aerospace engineering does not involve black magic, this should mean something. Currently COTS is funding F9/Dragon (and also the Orbital Taurus II [orbital.com] ) only for cargo services. Increasing COTS funding to accelerate development of the Dragon [aviationweek.com] for crew transport would seem a reasonable gamble, especially considering it would cost a fraction of what is going into the Ares/Orion program.

On the other hand, if Falcon 9/Dragon succeeds there will most likely arise overwhelming pressure to kill Ares I/Orion to save billions dollars in further development and operational costs. (NASA could alter its lunar exploration architecture to use the Dragon instead of Orion, e.g. see this powerful option [blogspot.com] .) Jeff Foust and Rand Simberg comment on recent statements from Mike Griffin as he tries to deal with this situation:
/-- COTS contradictions? - Space Politics [spacepolitics.com]
/-- Griffin's COTS Contradictions - Transterrestrial Musings [transterrestrial.com]

[Update: Jon Goff also discusses the gap and COTS issues: Gap Math - Selenian Boondocks - Apr.8.08 [blogspot.com] .]
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