×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Russian Manned Space Vehicle May Land With Rockets

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the this-can-only-end-well dept.

Space 197

The Narrative Fallacy writes "Russia's next-generation manned space vehicle may be equipped with thrusters to perform a precision landing on its return to Earth. Previous manned missions have landed on Earth using a parachute or, in the case of space shuttles, a pair of wings. Combined with retractable landing legs and a re-usable thermal protection system, the new system promises to enable not only a safe return to Earth, but also the possibility of performing multiple space missions with the same crew capsule. The spacecraft will fire its engines at an altitude of just 600-800m, as the capsule is streaking toward Earth after re-entering the atmosphere at the end of its mission. After a vertical descent, the precision landing would be initiated at the altitude of 30m above the surface. Last July, Korolev-based RKK Energia released the first drawings of a multi-purpose transport ship, known as the Advanced Crew Transportation System (ACTS), which, at the time, Russia had hoped to develop in co-operation with Europe. 'It was explained to us how it was supposed to work and, I think, from the technical point of view, there is no doubt that this concept would work,' says Christian Bank, the leading designer of manned space systems at EADS-Astrium in Bremen, Germany. However, the design of the spacecraft's crew capsule had raised eyebrows in some quarters, as it lacked a parachute — instead sporting a cluster of 12 soft-landing rockets, burning solid propellant. Inside Russia, the idea apparently has many detractors. During the formal defense of the project, one high-ranking official skeptical of the rocket-cushioned approach to landing reportedly used an unprintable expletive to describe what was going to happen to crew members unlucky enough to encounter a rocket engine failure a few seconds before touchdown."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

197 comments

Unprintable expletive? (4, Funny)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760629)

Of all the crap I've seen on /. I didn't realize we had unprintable expletives around here? Now, I'm curious - what could be so bad that it can't be printed on a /. page?!

Unicode support (4, Funny)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760647)

It's Russian, and Slashdot doesn't support the russian alphabet well?

Re:Unicode support (4, Informative)

srmalloy (263556) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762013)

It's the BBC; if he used a term in Mat' [wikipedia.org], the colloquial translation would be outside the range of what could be considered 'good taste', and in many cases the literal translation would be equally vulgar.

Re:Unprintable expletive? (2, Funny)

Chasmyr (1261462) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760805)

what could be so bad that it can't be printed on a /. page?!

Well he could have been running around the stage pretending he was an airplane.

Re:Unprintable expletive? (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760847)

I didn't realize we had unprintable expletives around here? Now, I'm curious - what could be so bad that it can't be printed on a /. page?

Remember, the expletive was in Russian.

Obviously, the expletive would be written using the Cyrillic alphabet, which, due to lack of UTF-8 support, is unprintable on slashdot.

Also, in Soviet Russia, unknown expletive cannot print you.

Re:Unprintable expletive? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27761059)

Goddamn commies...

Re:Unprintable expletive? (4, Funny)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761099)

Must be related to the unpronounceable symbol [wikipedia.org]

Re:Unprintable expletive? (3, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761177)

Um... That's pronounced "Publicity Stunt".

Re:Unprintable expletive? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761261)

Everyone knows it's pronounced "cha-ching!" That, or it's what it looks like when Prince tries to sign his name while having an especially energetic fit.

Re:Unprintable expletive? (2, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761237)

You must be new here.

It's not a question of "what's unprintable on slashdot".

It's a question of "from whence was the summary text plagiarized, and what is considered unprintable there".

Re:Unprintable expletive? (1)

The Redster! (874352) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761571)

The bit about the "unprintable expletive" is a direct grab from the first article. BBC News didn't print it in the first place.

You didn't seriously think a slashdot editor actually checked a summary, did you? :)

Re:Unprintable expletive? (1)

Garth Vader (75778) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761649)

So I wasn't the only one who's first thought when reading this was "Well I am sure there is no way the Russians can fuck this up"

"unprintable expletive" (2, Funny)

gapagos (1264716) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760641)

one high-ranking official skeptical of the rocket-cushioned approach to landing reportedly used an unprintable expletive to describe what was going to happen to crew members unlucky enough to encounter a rocket engine failure a few seconds before touchdown.

What is the russian translation for fuck? Babelfish doesn't translate it...

Re:"unprintable expletive" (0, Troll)

moofmonkey (741160) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760705)

Chechnya ... I think

Re:"unprintable expletive" (2, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760863)

"Chechnya"

You have insulted my mother you American pig-dog, prepare for a duel!

Re:"unprintable expletive" (0)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761013)

Level 80 epicced DK here bitch, prepare to lose.

Re:"unprintable expletive" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27761983)

Your poofy lvl80 point and click is no match for my AWP.

Re:"unprintable expletive" (2, Interesting)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760717)

In most languages copulation isn't an expletive. A native German speaker told me that the worst he could think of was "Go to the Devil", in Deutch.

Re:"unprintable expletive" (2, Interesting)

gapagos (1264716) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760849)

I noticed there are generally 4 things people swear to:

1- Sex
2- Toilet-language
3- Animals
4- Religion

In French Québec, we're lucky enough to combine all four.

Ex: "Tabernac d'osti de merde de pute à face de boeuf."
Translation:
"Tabernacle of hose of shit of prostitute with a bovine face."

Re:"unprintable expletive" (1)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761101)

That is soooo my new insult of choice.

Re:"unprintable expletive" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27761837)

As opposed to simply being your new insult of choice?

Re:"unprintable expletive" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27762055)

And illness. In Dutch, Kankerman (Cancer Man) is a pretty bad insult.

"Belgien" (1)

Charles Dodgeson (248492) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761797)

In most languages copulation isn't an expletive.

Where did you come up with that factoid?

A native German speaker told me that the worst he could think of was "Go to the Devil", in Deutch.

Surely you must know that the strongest taboo word in German is Belgien.

8==C=O=C=K==S=L=A=P==D (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27760651)

I can't wait to fill that spaceship with fat American tourists.

Using rockets for breaking? (5, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760671)

That's so retro.

Re:Using rockets for breaking? (1)

kreyszig (1419293) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760763)

retro as they are, the rockets are used for braking to stop the cosmonauts breaking

Re:Using rockets for breaking? (5, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760903)

retro as they are, the rockets are used for braking to stop the cosmonauts breaking

or...

If the retro retro's break, there will be no brakes to break the fall and the cosmonauts will become cosmo-nots.

Re:Using rockets for breaking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27760957)

yo dawg i herd...

Re:Using rockets for breaking? Homage to NASA? (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761293)

It was a "windy day in Arizona" when the US flag fluttered.

Now, Federal'noe kosmicheskoe agentstvo Rossii, (RKA) will blow DUST in the yankee eyes by landing with RETRO RETROs... But, i don't know if it will be a dusty/chokey day in Chernobyl or Sunny Siberia...

(Since, apparently, Russia has no deserts...

http://www.worldreviewer.com/travel-guides/desert/in-russia/ [worldreviewer.com]

)...

Re:Using rockets for breaking? (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761505)

Well, they probably do a good job if you are trying to break things by burning them. Not sure how that is 'retro' though.

Expletive vial even to non-Russians? (0)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760681)

one high-ranking official skeptical of the rocket-cushioned approach to landing reportedly used an unprintable expletive to

I only know enough Cyrillic to recongize it, I can't actually read Russian.

Imagine, an expletive so vial it transcends language barriers.

Re:Expletive vial even to non-Russians? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27760773)

Belgium

Re:Expletive vial even to non-Russians? (5, Funny)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760901)

"Imagine, an expletive so vial it transcends language barriers."

I don't have to imagine it. The word you refer to is "Belgium".

Weight problems? (3, Interesting)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760721)

In other words, they must think that adding that extra fuel weight (for landing) is worth the extra fuel weight that is needed to launch the rockets into space. After all, the landing fuel will cost them a lot of extra weight. I don't know how much extra it would be, but it doesn't sound like a good idea.

Re:Weight problems? (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760877)

Yes, but how heavy were the parachute, parachute deployment system, and parachute shielding system that they were able to remove?

Re:Weight problems? (5, Informative)

snaz555 (903274) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761119)

Without use of Kazakhstan, Russia has only a narrow strip of land that stretches far enough south to be worth launching from - and landing at. And this is not a flat desert wasteland. The reason for the rockets is to allow for a controlled landing. Parachutes are more suited for an ocean or desert landing where a few miles of accuracy doesn't make much difference. Presumably they figured that the weight of the landing system is outweighed by the benefit of launching (and landing) at a more southern latitude. Ocean landings aren't exactly free, either.

Re:Weight problems? (1)

skynexus (778600) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761145)

After all, the landing fuel will cost them a lot of extra weight.

But what is the difference in weight between the thruster versus parachute landing systems?

[...] it doesn't sound like a good idea.

Sure, the added complexity may not improve the odds, but ignoring the inherent risk new technology entails, how much of an impact on safety are we really talking about here? It would seem that this is the way forward considering how NASA has also been contemplating a similar approach with the Delta Clipper [wikipedia.org] for quite some time.

Re:Weight problems? (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761807)

they must think that adding that extra fuel weight (for landing) is worth the extra fuel weight

Or, they could get their fuel on space.

Is there any cheap way of sending light materials to a space station and turn them into fuel there to make a refueling orbital station for returning spaceships?

Re:Weight problems? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761965)

Well, nothing in space is cheap. But we are currently using the cheapest methods of moving materials, or in the process of moving to cheaper methods. I think the Shuttle isn't very cheap when used to move raw materials, but there are somethings that only it is able to put in space due to size/weight of a discrete object.

I think you are trying to invent the space elevator/gun or what not. Which sounds like a good idea. Go for it. Let me know when its operational, and I'll send a bottle of Sparking wine.

Old news? (5, Informative)

AZScotsman (962881) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760747)

McDonnell-Douglas did this almost 20 years ago - the DC-X (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DC-X), later known as the Delta Clipper.

Re:Old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27760817)

It never did it after re-entry, though.....

Re:Old news? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760845)

Thanks for the reminder on the DC-X. I forgot that thing existed, much less actually worked (for takeoff and landing, getting out of the atmosphere wasn't attempted).

Re:Old news? (4, Informative)

AZScotsman (962881) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761355)

The original DC-X was a half-scale (IIRC) version just designed to demo the tech of "Landing on your own tailfire", and all the initial flights were tethered. Flew several times in '93 and '94, but the final flight in '96 experienced a hydraulic line failure in one of the struts, and tipped over. In a "full-up" system, a backup manual extender would have mitigated the problem.

Good info on the flights are found on NASA's Website http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/x-33/dc-xa.htm [nasa.gov]

Re:Old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27761761)

but the final flight in '96 experienced a hydraulic line failure in one of the struts, and tipped over.

This was after it was handed over to NASA after the initial concept; i.e, taking-off, maneuvering and landing under rocket power was proven.

NASA outfitted it with an experimental fuel tank (I forget, either the H2 or LOX tank) and it tipped over while landing when a tech "forgot" to connect a hydraulic line to one of the landing structs. Oddly enough, it wasn't the tipping over that destroyed it, but the fire caused by leaking LOX.

NASA didn't want it and went on to "prove" that SSTO is impossible with the failure of the X-33 project.

What? Me a cynic? Where did you get that idea?

Re:Old news? (1)

netruner (588721) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760899)

Didn't the clipper use liquid fuel? IIRC that was its downfall when it blew up on the landing pad when one of its feet didn't deploy and it tipped over.

Either way, I would urge anyone trying to crack this tech to review the clipper's failure before continuing.

Seems Pretty Inefficient (4, Insightful)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760795)

It seems pretty inefficient to carry the fuel mass for the retro rocket braking all the way up out of the gravity well into orbit and then back down into the gravity well so you can use it in the last kilometer of the flight. There doesn't seem any way to stop at a gas station on the way down, but maybe they are planning on lifting the fuel to orbit on non-reusable tankers, which also seems inefficient. In something like this, inefficient equates to really fucking expensive.

Re:Seems Pretty Inefficient (2, Interesting)

arielCo (995647) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761009)

It seems pretty inefficient to carry the fuel mass for the retro rocket braking all the way up out of the gravity well into orbit and then back down into the gravity well so you can use it in the last kilometer of the flight.

In other words, spend additional energy to take more energy up with you, which you will spend dissipating all of the energy you gained going up.

That, or to keep taking advantage of the viscous gas you'll find on the way down to brake, where available. If you want precision, then you add a bit of chemically-generated thrust to steer. Where there's not enough gas (Mars and smaller), gravity may be weak enough to make the DC-X approach add up.

Re:Seems Pretty Inefficient (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761477)

That, or to keep taking advantage of the viscous gas you'll find on the way down to brake, where available.

Oh, they're doing that... Its not like you'll decelerate from orbital to rest in just 600 meters above the surface. Heck I don't know if you'd decelerate from orbital to reset going 600 meters below the surface.

I did enjoy the funny slashdot headline, if you emphasize the word "may" as in possibly or maybe.

Re:Seems Pretty Inefficient (4, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761199)

Your choices are rockets, parachutes, wings and landing gear, or a variety of weird and exotic options (like deploying helicopter blades; see the Roton concepts). There are a variety of reasons to prefer rockets to parachutes (and vice versa). The rockets are likely somewhat heavier than the parachutes and their deployment system, but I suspect the weight difference is small enough that the decision would likely be made on the basis of operational advantages (like being able to do a landing on solid ground instead of the ocean easily).

The American space program seems to be of the opinion that everything should be as light weight and efficient as possible, without regard to other criteria. The Russians, on the other hand, have a long history of being willing to build larger, heavier, less efficient rockets in order to make operations easier. Personally, I think the Russian approach is better -- the correct figure of merit to optimize is not liftoff weight, but cost. If you can develop, build, and/or operate more cheaply by spending more weight on the problem, that's a win in my book.

Re:Seems Pretty Inefficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27761763)

If you had read the article, you'd find out that in this case the reason to go with rockets is not cost, but politics. The russians want to stop using Kasachstan for their space port, and since they want to have efficent location as far south as possible for the launch, they are limited to a rather small speck of Russia to land on. To aim more precisely at that small speck, they need rockets for their improved control.

Re:Seems Pretty Inefficient (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761847)

Your choices are rockets, parachutes, wings and landing gear, or a variety of weird and exotic options (like deploying helicopter blades; see the Roton concepts). There are a variety of reasons to prefer rockets to parachutes (and vice versa). The rockets are likely somewhat heavier than the parachutes and their deployment system, but I suspect the weight difference is small enough that the decision would likely be made on the basis of operational advantages (like being able to do a landing on solid ground instead of the ocean easily).

This is where you have to weigh the cost of the additional weight of rockets vs. parachute with the cost of having a carrier battle group standing by to pluck the astronauts out of the water. The Russian technique of just pointing the capsule at a wide expanse of steppe and sending out helicopters to retrieve the crew makes a lot of sense, far cheaper.

High-G landing? (3, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760811)

Let's see, how fast might the ship being going when the landing system kicks in? Falling from orbit to the ground is going to produce a lot of velocity to bleed off in apparently a very short time. The shuttle uses both atmospheric braking and S-turns to bleed off velocity and still lands pretty darn fast.

It sounds like this just falls without a chute. I'm not going to do the math, but even if it is subsonic at 800m, you are going to have to brake like mad at the end. 10G braking? 20G doesn't sound like it would be outlandish. OK, so it is a short period of time and with solid-fuel rockets it is just one pulse. But it sounds like it would be ohe heck of a pulse.

Re:High-G landing? (2, Interesting)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761005)

Something is amiss here. The energy to stop a falling box of people is APPROXIMATELY* the same energy is takes to get it up to where it fell FROM.

If this could REALLY work as described, we wouldn't need a whole stinking stage to get the box o'humans UP into space. Email me when this works. If it doesn't, I'll hear about it.

*Yes, the atmosphere drags both ways, but the speed it gains from falling 100,000m to 800m is less than what it would lose punching through the atmosphere.

Do we know the plan doesn't use air resistance? (2, Interesting)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761007)

Ok, so the design is based upon rockets, but does it mean that it uses *no* aerodynamic braking at all? I don't know a whole lot about aerodynamics, but I remember from physics class the discussion of drag and terminal velocity. Is it possible that the shape of their vehicle has a relatively slow terminal velocity, so that the rockets don't have to do *that much* braking at the end? Not that I'm saying that I think even requiring a small amount of retro-rocket braking is a good design, but it seems like maybe you are assuming an awful lot about what speed it will be at when they fire the rockets?

Re:Do we know the plan doesn't use air resistance? (2, Interesting)

evanbd (210358) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761241)

I suspect you're absolutely correct. Killing your orbital velocity on rockets alone is almost as hard as getting there in the first place. In fact, if you take the weight of the Apollo heat shields and the amount of delta-v they provide during reentry, you find they get an Isp of around 7000s -- compared to numbers in the range of 260-450 for bipropellant rockets. Heat shields are so vastly superior for the problem that you'd be insane not to use them.

Re:Do we know the plan doesn't use air resistance? (3, Informative)

jbb1003 (514899) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761455)

The energy to stop a falling box of people is nowhere near the same energy it takes to get it up to where it fell from when you're dealing with high speeds. Aerodynamic resistance is signficant even on a bicycle at 30mph, never mind a space reentry behicle.

The atmospheric drag does work both ways. But on the way up, a rocket presents an aerodynamically efficient profile - i.e pointy bit first. On the way down reentry vehicles go what you might call butt first, presenting the most aerodynamically *inefficient* profile possible.

Re:Do we know the plan doesn't use air resistance? (2, Informative)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761569)

I think I know what you're talking about. I remember when I was young, going to some sort of space museum (I think it was part of the NASA facility near Cleveland, OH), and they had a space capsule (well, it might have just been a replica - don't remember if it was real or now). But, the capsule was presented 'detached' from the rocket, and it had a very wide, slightly rounded 'bottom', which they said during re-entry orients itself towards the ground, so all the air is colliding with the large surface-area bottom, creating a lot of drag.

I suppose this proposed Russian design is at least somewhat similar.

Air is not enough. (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761537)

Ok, so the design is based upon rockets, but does it mean that it uses *no* aerodynamic braking at all?

I'm sure it does. Hard to imagine that they could carry enough fuel to rely solely on the rockets for braking.

But they still need to land. Since you're moving relatively slow at this point (but still fast enough to kill your crew) you can't airbrake with your vehicle body. At this point you have to deploy a system that works at relatively slow speeds. Most spacecraft rely on parachutes, sometimes supplemented by the extra cushioning of an ocean landing. But this doesn't give you a lot of control over how you touch down, and you really need it if you're going to design a reusable vehicle.

And we really need to reuse more of our space hardware. We'll never have a self-sustainable business model for space travel as long as all our expensive hardware is one-use-only.

The Shuttle implements precision landing by turning into a glider after the aerodynamic braking is done. (I still think this is the best model; the Shuttle's problems stem from skimping on other features of the design.) The Russians would seem to have decided that landing rockets are a better approach (pun unavoidable).

Re:Do we know the plan doesn't use air resistance? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761719)

Is it possible that the shape of their vehicle has a relatively slow terminal velocity, so that the rockets don't have to do *that much* braking at the end?

Yes, and not only that, you can take an off the shelf survivable roll cage and crunch zone design from a race car, and build the capsule around it. So, if the rocket doesn't work, the vehicle is an utter total loss, but the crew walks away basically unscratched, more or less.

Re:High-G landing? (4, Funny)

RobertB-DC (622190) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761021)

It sounds like this just falls without a chute. I'm not going to do the math, but even if it is subsonic at 800m, you are going to have to brake like mad at the end. 10G braking? 20G doesn't sound like it would be outlandish. OK, so it is a short period of time and with solid-fuel rockets it is just one pulse. But it sounds like it would be ohe heck of a pulse.

You're missing the point, though. Gravity is an *acceleration*. These guys will be *decelerating*. You know, like zero gee is zero acceleration? Since they'll be slowing down, they won't feel a thing. It's genius!

(I can feel the karma draining now...)

Re:High-G landing? (1)

Rolgar (556636) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761533)

I think the space shuttle orbits earth 16 times a day (90 minutes/orbit), or about 27,000 kph. Terminal velocity of the capsule is much lower (less than 300kph) than the speed of the capsule in orbit, which is why the reentry from space is so hot, because the spacecraft is losing speed as it reenters, not picking up speed. This is the same speed that was gained when the craft originally launched into orbital. Link

If you compare this to a fighter taking of from an aircraft carrier, a catapult changes the speed of the craft by 265m in two seconds which works out to 9Gs. I think fighter pilots and astronauts are trained for at least 10G acceleration, and this craft would be making a similar change in speed.

Tough, sure, but it's nothing that these guys aren't trained for.

2174.749 f/s (2, Interesting)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762107)

Based on this NASA app: http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/termv.html [nasa.gov]
  • The Apollo Command Module weighed 12773lbf/5806 kg, but the app only takes 10000 lbf.
  • Diameter of 3.9m, 12' 10" yields frontal area of 128.5 square feet.
  • WILD A55 guessing the Drag Coefficient at 1.0 (based on the page: http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/shaped.html [nasa.gov])
  • Dropping from an altitude of 100000ft (ha!)

2174.749 f/s SOMEONE has the wrong terminal velocity. Are we sure this isn't a way to eliminate political dissidents?

Sounds more like NASA (0, Troll)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760859)

Take a simple, cheap, reliable solution (parachute) and replace it with an expensive, complicated and less robust solution (retro rockets).

I can't help but think of the space pen (beacause regular pens don't write in zero-g) that NASA invented at great expense. The Russians (allegedly) just used a pencil instead.

Re:Sounds more like NASA (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760937)

I can't help but think of the space pen (beacause regular pens don't write in zero-g) that NASA invented at great expense. The Russians (allegedly) just used a pencil instead.

That myth/urban legend has been busted long time ago, tovarish :o)

Re:Sounds more like NASA (5, Informative)

fracai (796392) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761055)

This again? Let it die.

NASA didn't fund the pen at all.
When it was developed, BOTH the Russians and the US adopted it's use.
Before that, they BOTH used grease pencils, because broken graphite and flammable wood are loads of fun in space.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_pen#Uses_in_the_U.S._and_Russian_space_programs [wikipedia.org]

Re:Sounds more like NASA (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761715)

BOTH

I understand the Bastard Operators but the T and H are beyond me. Anyone?

Re:Sounds more like NASA (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762081)

Well, "BOFH" is "Bastard Operator From Hell".

By simple symmetry, I'd guess that "BOTH" stands for "Bastard Operator To Hell" and represents the sysadmin's commute home.

H2H.

Re:Sounds more like NASA (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761591)

Take a simple, cheap, reliable solution (parachute) and replace it with an expensive, complicated and less robust solution (retro rockets).

Parachutes are by no means as simple and cheap (or reliable) as you'd think.

On the other hand, for a bunch of "rocket scientists" whats just one more rocket? If there's one thing rocket scientists know, its rockets.

Bonus points if you could use the "other half" of the final ascent stage. Of course no vacuum nozzles allowed, would need a ground pressure (or higher) rated nozzle to eliminate flow separation.

Safety (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760889)

I can't imagine that a parachute wouldn't still be used for the initial descent. This plan also requires comparatively large amounts of rocket fuel to be launched and brought back down and is a potential safety risk in the event of a malfunction on landing. In the case of the survived malfunctions with the Soyuz system, many have been sheer luck but some of the survivability has to be attributed to the simplicity of the design.

Unprintable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27760963)

Come on Comrade, I'd love to learn some Russian swear words. Openness and all, remember? :)

Cost? (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760967)

Just making new capsules without the rockets may be just as cost effective. That is all that you are saving from the trip.

Re:Cost? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761307)

Just making new capsules without the rockets may be just as cost effective. That is all that you are saving from the trip.

I think you're forgetting something. Is it just as cost effective to make new cosmonauts? Or maybe you planned to have them make some UHALO jumps. Master Chiefs away!

Firing off at 30 meters!? (1)

alta (1263) | more than 4 years ago | (#27760995)

That's got to be some serious thrust and precision. Actually, if this works, without intertial dampeners, the people inside are going to be goo on the floor ;)

what was going to happen to the crew (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761023)

During the formal defense of the project, one high-ranking official skeptical of the rocket-cushioned approach to landing reportedly used an unprintable expletive to describe what was going to happen to crew members unlucky enough to encounter a rocket engine failure a few seconds before touchdown."

It would accidentally the whole crew!

Not completely new (4, Informative)

Urban Garlic (447282) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761217)

The existing Soyuz TMA capsules also have "soft-landing rockets", they're used just at the point of touchdown to cushion the landing. Of course, the TMAs also have a parachute, so it's less of a problem if the landing rockets fail.
Interestingly, the very first Soyuz TMA had all kinds of other problems [jamesoberg.com], but the landing-rocket part actually worked.

the quotation is wrong (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27761243)

The high ranking official and flying expletive both refer not to the spacecraft design of today, but to the Zarya spacecraft of 80's. Read the article carefully - it mentions that; only the /. quote is wrong.

I'm still waiting for... (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761315)

Astronauts that have heat-shielded spacesuits and pop-out hang-glider wings gliding back to terra firma.

Buck Rogers (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761609)

Yea! We get the Buck Rogers rocket ships that land on their fins. Do we also get the evil galactic empires too? And the super-weapons of EE Doc Smith?

Is it just me... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761701)

Is it just me, or does this thing look a lot like the Orion module? Hmm... first the Buran which looks like the shuttle, now this thing that duplicates Orion. The Russians should try their hand at making a small, passenger only ship, like the HL-20 or the X-38, or the Mig Spiral.

For Mars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27761747)

Since you can't use parachutes on Mars (atmosphere too thin, craft with crew too heavy), this could potentially be reserved for landings on Mars, right?

Synchronize (2, Interesting)

djdbass (1037730) | more than 4 years ago | (#27761879)

I don't know the first thing about rocket science, so let me ask the crowd here.

How do you synchronize the firing of 12 solid fueled rockets?

Usable (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762051)

I think while this is fairly useless for landing on earth. It could be more useful for landing on other planets. If we are landing on a planet without much atmosphere or some harsh environment parachutes could be rendered useless. Ignoring that repacking parachutes outside of a cleanroom using robots is not really done. So parachute re usability is down. As well parachutes do not allow you to chose a very specific landing point even here on earth where we know pretty much everything about the wind. As well most of the parts involved in retrorockets are already in the spacecraft or would be in a good future design. The only lost space/additional mass is in the fuel itself (which IS a lot).

I don't think it is a very useful idea NOW. But in future spacecraft or more likely with future propulsion systems it could be. As odd as this sounds firing your rockets at insanely precise amounts and angles with thousands of recalculations a second could be simpler than using a parachute.

As well, the downside many people mention of noplanb is silly. If parachutes don't deploy sure you have more time to think about it but you are still going to impact the earth fast enough to liquefy your body. I don't see why it matters if your death is decided at 10km in the air or 1km. The pieces of ship remaining would be slightly larger that is about it.

Also this is old tech. I played lunar lander yearrrrs ago.

A precision landing with solid rockets? (3, Insightful)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762077)

Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of spaceships landing on a tail of fire, "the way God and Robert Heinlein intended!" But rocket-powered landings on Earth are a questionable engineering decision even when you get to reuse some of the liquid-fueled rocket engines that you already needed for liftoff and already wanted to recover intact. If you instead have to add extra weight to your upper stage for single-purpose solid rockets of lower ISP, it seems even more dubious.

And that's before you get into the issue of "solid rockets" and "precision". Even designing a liquid-fueled rocket with adequate throttle control for a gentle landing isn't easy. (It's like brain surgery! Or possibly like some other appropriate metaphor!) But at least throttling liquid fuel consumption rates is possible. Solid rockets basically have just three settings: "off", "on", and "kaboom".

Just like God and Robert Heinlein Intended (1)

The Shootist (324679) | more than 4 years ago | (#27762105)

Takes off and lands straight up and down?

Just like God and Robert Heinlein intended. Huzzah!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...