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Russians Can't Make Contact With Busted Space Probe

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the expensive-fireworks dept.

Mars 117

New submitter benfrog writes "Despite repeated attempts over the past few days, Russia is unable to make contact with Phobos-Grunt, the probe that was supposed to make it to Mars and never left Earth's atmosphere. Estimates now vary widely on the time left to contact the probe, but it is descending toward Earth and will likely turn into scrap before it can be reached." Official information is still hard to come by, but the Planetary Society Weblog has been keeping up with the story.

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In Soviet Russia, probes call you (1, Funny)

howardd21 (1001567) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028568)

In Soviet Russia, probes call you

Re:In Soviet Russia, probes call you (3, Funny)

anagama (611277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028612)

In Soviet Russia, Mars probes you

Re:In Soviet Russia, probes call you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028640)

In Soviet Russia, Phobos samples you

Re:In Soviet Russia, probes call you (4, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029160)

In Rural USA, aliens probe you!

Re:In Soviet Russia, probes call you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38031026)

In Soviet Russia, Mars consistently and ridiculously fails to explore Roscosmos.

Re:In Soviet Russia, probes call you (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031600)

In Soviet Russia, Mars probes you

In Soviet Russia, Soviet Russian KGB/FSB agents probe you.

Re:In Soviet Russia, probes call you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38029122)

Wait! Don't you mean in Post-Soviet Russia? Soviet Russia is so pre-1990s.

Russian Space Pencils? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028610)

Is it possible that one of Russia's fame space pencils broke, sending shards of graphite and wood into the instruments?

This seems like another example of the shoddy workmanship that brought down the IIS resupply ship, and turned the Mir space station into a zero gravity death trap.

Re:Russian Space Pencils? (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028718)

turned the Mir space station into a zero gravity death trap

It lasted longer than Skylab and Russians did not get bill for littering.

Re:Russian Space Pencils? (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029276)

a zero gravity death trap.

No, you're thinking of the broken toilet on the IIS. Trapped in close quarters with a bunch of other folks, orbiting the Earth in a tin can . . . and the toilet doesn't work.

That, my friends, is a zero gravity fate worse then death. I wonder if they have NASA air freshener spray up there?

Re:Russian Space Pencils? (1)

Bahamut_Omega (811064) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031870)

Will we be having another Cosmos 954 on our hands this time?

Atmosphere or orbit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028630)

If it never left the Earth's atmosphere, does that mean that it's in a hanger somewhere in Kazakhstan?

Re:Atmosphere or orbit (1)

petteyg359 (1847514) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028690)

Only if the hanger is on the ceiling of a hangar in Kazakhstan.

"Busted", really? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028634)

Dear sirs,

"Busted", as used in this context, is not a real word.

Yours faithfully,

The English Language

Re:"Busted", really? (5, Funny)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028696)

Dear pedant,

STFU.

Yours truly,
Everyone Else

Re:"Busted", really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028958)

mod parent up. waste your points modding this one down

Re:"Busted", really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028982)

Especially considering I have nigh unlimited karma.

Mod me down, and... well, I'm already more powerful than you can imagine. MUHUHAHAHA

Re:"Busted", really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38029434)

Holy shit, possible +5 Troll. C'mon, mods...

Re:"Busted", really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028708)

The American Heritage Dictionary disagrees. It's a valid, albeit informal, definition.

Re:"Busted", really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38029202)

Considering "American Heritage" itself is an oxymoron I'm not too concerned with their opinions TYVM.

Re:"Busted", really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028728)

It it conveys the intended meaning, it's a word. For instance, you are a douche - discuss.

Re:"Busted", really? (1)

Loopy (41728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029882)

Dear AC,

The comma goes inside the quotes.

Sincerely hoping you don't breed,
The Rest of the English-Speaking World

Re:"Busted", really? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38029958)

Dear idiot,

The comma does not go inside the quotes,

Yours sincerely,
The non-American English Speaking World.

Re:"Busted", really? (1)

xigxag (167441) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030786)

Apparently it's been "not a real word" since at least 1806 [etymonline.com] .

More of the same (4, Interesting)

Titoxd (1116095) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028658)

And Mars continues to give Russia a big, fat middle finger. No Russian/Soviet probe has successfully completed a mission to the Red Planet...

Re:More of the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028682)

No, Russia continues to give the Planetary Society a big, fat troll face. I am seriously thinking of declining to renew my membership until they stop giving money to these clowns to blow stuff up.

Re:More of the same (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028806)

Maybe better....they should put conditions on it.... we pay you to do it.... after the probe makes it past the moon at least?

Or require some more QA testing and auditing of procedures to make sure things are working properly? I dunno, its hard to say what they need before a full investigation is done (if one is), but, they have a program and are a damned site closer to being able to do it than most others.

I mean, who else could the PS go to?

Re:More of the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38029020)

I mean, who else could the [Planetary Society] go to?

NASA could use some money.

Re:More of the same (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029094)

I would think the PS would use NASA first if NASA would work with them on the project. There must be some reason they are not working with NASA on this.

Re:More of the same (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029404)

I could be wrong, but I'd imagine it's because NASA is much more expensive.

Re:More of the same (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029078)

Come on guys, give the Ruskis a break. At least they're trying. What you have is really a small group of people on a shoe string budget with a truly horrendous administration / supervision problem (hint - the 'old' CCCP still lives in little pockets in Russia, nowhere more so than the space program). If you read some of the newsgroups you can get a feel for the frustration that is rampant.

There are a half dozen separate groups involved in Phobos / Grunt and they don't have the same level of expertise, funding or supervision. There is little (comparatively) money for integration. There are lots of politics. Looking at the problem from afar, it's clear that they have a few systematic issues of late and it's also becoming apparent they haven't fixed them.

And on top of it all, spaceflight is hard. Very hard. Unforgiving and expensive. Let this be a lesson to everyone else. Pay up, work hard or boom.

Re:More of the same (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029192)

Oh, I am with you. I have no problem with the Russians getting the money, as long as the job gets done. Yes its hard, yes shit happens, and thats ok. However, there is a difference between shit happens and, shit happens and we don't do shit about it. As you said, its been clear that there are problems and they haven't been fixed. Thats too bad.

If they can fix them, then, more power to them. I hope they do. However, the Planetary Society does work off donations and seeing all those donations go up in smoke, well... even if it can't be avoided all the time, every reasonable effort should be made to avoid it.

Re:More of the same (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029270)

I've dumped quite a bit of money on AMSAT [amsat.org] . Most of it has gone up in smoke (literally) but it's a nice idea. I'd be much more active if I lived anywhere I could actually help build the things, so it's sort of a vicarious ? pleasure kind of thing.

Re:More of the same (5, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029834)

What you have is really a small group of people on a shoe string budget with a truly horrendous administration / supervision problem (hint - the 'old' CCCP still lives in little pockets in Russia, nowhere more so than the space program).

The old USSR, however, could get space shit done, for the most part. Sure, there were problems - like with previous Mars probes - but heck, at least they've got those probes to Mars! This thing failed from the get go - not because of "pockets of USSR", but because there are fewer and fewer things left over from USSR that still work, and things developed in post-Soviet Russia tend to be fail more often than not.

Specifically in case of Phobos-Grunt. One major fail is that there was no constant communication with the satellite once its orbit deviated from what was predicted, so they spend a lot of time just trying to figure out what's going on in the very limited communication windows that were available. Why is that? Well, in USSR they had these [dachavodka.com] kinds of ships, that could be positioned in anticipation of the launch in such a way as to give pretty much complete coverage of the sky regardless of where on orbit the thing goes. After USSR collapsed, all those ships were sold for scrap metal [google.com] - they only have ground stations for tracking now.

As for bureaucracy, it's a problem for sure, it's far worse in Russia today than it ever was in USSR. Going by the simple measure of number of government employees per capita, it's 2.5 as large in Russia today as it was at USSR's heyday. Worse yet, at least in USSR only the connections mattered - now it's connections and money (bribes).

Anyway, this open letter [google.com] was written by a disgruntled employee of the state company that developed the probe, and it was written two months before the failed launch. It explains a lot - my favorite quote there, regarding reliability measurements, purportedly coming from the manager of the person who wrote the letter: "If it's needed, I (personally!) will pay to the director of Reliability Centre [the department that's responsible for measuring], and he'll give us the number that we need to pass".

Re:More of the same (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031828)

Interesting letter. If I get off my butt, I'll look for the original and stare at it awhile to see if it's any different.

Re:More of the same (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031866)

different from the Google translation, that is. Sadly, it's not a whole lot different from tales told in many bureaucracies.

Re:More of the same (3, Interesting)

ElusiveJoe (1716808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030596)

Being somewhat close to one of the Russian space projects, I can say it's not the funding that is the problem. It's that everyone care only about sucking as much money as possible from different sources and getting away with it. Burying several billion $ project in space is a perfect example of this attitude. You'll see, no one will be held responsible for this, it's just *puff*, and all the money has sadly disappeared with no result because of some unfortunate event.

Whenever you hear about another ambitious Russian project, remember: science in Russia is dead. Period.

In fact I'd advise not doing any business with Russia at all.

Re:More of the same (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031848)

The few people I know are always complaining about funding. Of course, that statement and yours aren't necessarily incompatible - it's just that the money isn't going to the right place.

On second thought, I'm shocked, thoroughly shocked, that this could be the case...

Re:More of the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028808)

Not just Russian, any if I remember correct.

I swear, NASA signed an exclusivity deal with the Martians, too many failures with everything but NASA probes.

Re:More of the same (1)

Truekaiser (724672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028816)

not just russia, mars seems to be a black hole for a lot of other missions as well.
remember even sending things to another planet in our solar system is not easy..

Re:More of the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028856)

Troll. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_program [wikipedia.org] : The Mars 4M spacecraft; Mars 2 and Mars 3 missions consisted of identical spacecraft, each with an orbiter and an attached lander, which became the first spacecraft to reach the surface of Mars.

FLAWLESS VICTORY! (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029008)

And Mars continues to give Russia a big, fat middle finger. No Russian/Soviet probe has successfully completed a mission to the Red Planet...

What are these "fingers" of which you speak, denizen of the Blue World?

Planetary celebrations [slashdot.org] have been extended for a third day in the light of the latest victory of our special forces team.

K'breel, speaker for the Council, declared:

Our world grunts in united gleeful mockery over the pathetic invader's busted attempts to escape the Blue World's gravity well! Eight of our fallen warriors are remembered this day, their ichor still thick and gooey in the works of this invader's highly-charged exhaust!

When a junior blogger for the Red Planetary Society suggested that the only ichor present on the stranded invader consisted of biological samples from the Blue World itself (as part of an experiment in xenobiology), K'Breel had the blogger's gelsacs sealed up in tiny canisters and fired into orbit for three days, and incinerated upon re-entry.

Further rumors that despite the successful defense of Z'treem, the Blue World was prepared to launch a second invader - more mobile, powered by Pew-238, and armed with a glarbin' photonic ampradstim unit on its head, and that the Blue World was prepared to launch this invader within fifteen days - were not raised, and therefore did not need to be addressed by the Council at this time.

Re:FLAWLESS VICTORY! (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031052)

grunts

I see what you did there

Re:FLAWLESS VICTORY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38032290)

The source of the rumor regarding the second invader spoke on condition of anonymity to the Z'treem Times. "Of course I have solid data," he said. "But do you think I'm stupid enough to speak up in the Council with K'breel in charge? Let some newly-elected Council member break the news and become tomorrow's inciner-a-que. I need all of my gelsacs for my mistresses."

Re:More of the same (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029552)

In other news, it turns out sending probes to other planets is hard.

Re:More of the same (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029858)

You'd have a point if the probe failed on Mars or en route, as older Soviet orbiters and landers did. But it failed on Earth orbit. Sending probes to Earth orbit is not all that hard, we've been regularly doing that for decades.

Re:More of the same (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031512)

It doesn't work like that. A complex mission profile adds complexity at every step. The Russians have been putting things in Earth orbit for a long time as well.

Re:More of the same (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030350)

...and they're bringing down the score. We were tied [anl.gov] , but it looks like this puts Mars up by one.

Summary confusion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028684)

Am I missing something or does the summary not make any sense? It was supposed to go to Mars, never left Earth's atmosphere, yet it is descending to Earth. Is this a lack of differentiation between Earth and earth? Or did it actually get out of our atmosphere and that was some form of a joke?

Re:Summary confusion. (2)

RapidEye (322253) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028890)

The first stage only took it to a low Earth parking orbit, where it is now.
The next stage was supposed to lift it to a higher Earth orbit, and the third stage would send it on its way to Mars.
The problem happened after the first stage burnout and prior to the second stage ignition.
Everything in low Earth orbit (like the ISS) encounters the uppermost parts of our atmosphere which induces drag and degrades the orbit.
We get around that on the ISS by having resupply ships give it a periodic boost up to a higher orbit.

Re:Summary confusion. (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031810)

Or did it actually get out of our atmosphere

It depends on how you define "out of our atmosphere". The atmosphere doesn't really have a hard edge.

There is a range of altitudes where the atmosphere is thin enough to make orbiting possible but thick enough that those orbits have a relatively short lifetime unless reboosted periodically. As the altitude increases the required reboost frequency decreases.

It seems debugging spacecraft is too hard... (5, Interesting)

Wierdy1024 (902573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028722)

Plenty of good spacecraft suffer software malfunctions and fail as a result, and most failures end up with the craft not returning any data about what went wrong. Future crafts end up sent with exactly the same problems because we never find out about them.

There already exist plans for tiny satellites which can transmit a radio signal back to earth - eg. the Kicksat :http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/251588730/kicksat-your-personal-spacecraft-in-space

Why not glue lots of these Kicksats, self powered, to the outside of any spacecraft - maybe connect a few to internal data systems to collect more data. Now if the spacecraft blows up, if even a few survive the explosion, their radio signals can be tracked precisely by a reverse-gps scheme (where you triangulate exact position from many ground stations) allowing a realtime 3D model of the parts of the spacecraft which have kicksats on to be produced. Since some have connections to the internal monitoring systems, if only a few survive they can transmit data back to the ground very slowly over the next few days (very slowly since they have very limited transmission power)

Re:It seems debugging spacecraft is too hard... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028854)

Glue FTW

Re:It seems debugging spacecraft is too hard... (1)

RoverDaddy (869116) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028940)

Any engineer knows that Duct Tape would work better.

Re:It seems debugging spacecraft is too hard... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029170)

Just what we want - more space junk. You'd do better by having a small 'flight data recorder' store bus signals, compress it, and dump it out to some other satellite or ground station.

One of the big issues we're seeing (other than the actual failure, of course) is that Russia has limited ability to track the satellite from the ground. It's in a low orbit so each earth station has a very limited time to aquire the radio signals. I think the article quotes times on the order of 5 minutes. You don't know exactly what the satellite is transmitting at a given time so it may take time get enough data downlinked to understand what's going on.

Russia might do well to establish protocols with NASA and ESA to utilize their ground stations ahead of time. I'm sure that this would be perfectly obvious to the engineers and perfectly frightful to the politicians.

Re:It seems debugging spacecraft is too hard... (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030670)

If you read the story or even the summery, it's not "space junk" its coming down very quickly.

"Varying reports in the Russian media suggest the probe could fall to Earth and burn up in the atmosphere in the next few days – reports vary between 26 November and 3 December."

Re:It seems debugging spacecraft is too hard... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029250)

Why not glue lots of these Kicksats, self powered, to the outside of any spacecraft

Because it's an expensive, heavy, and complex way to impose a huge performance penalty on the spacecraft with very low odds of actually gaining any useful data.

Tough Break (1)

RapidEye (322253) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028738)

This mission was supposed to launch during the previous Earth-Mars window, 26 months ago, and they missed it due to technical issues. So they even had an extra 2 years to make sure this would work and they still couldn't pull it off. Gotta be a lot of Vodka being consumed in Baikonur right now...

BTW - when I read the headline, I thought someone had arrested the craft....
CmdrTaco - we still need you!!!

Obama calls Putin: (-1, Troll)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028786)

Obama: "Vlad, man, what the fuck is up wit' yo' spaceship, man?"

Putin: "Technical error. Zee FSB will be executing ze traitors."

Obama: "Sheeit, all that tough shit and you can't get it up. Man, you Russians is punk ass bitches."

Obama: [yelling to someone in the background] "Reggie, where the fuck is that fo-tay I asked you for like 20 minutes ago? And get me a blunt."

Re:Obama calls Putin: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028878)

Was that supposed to be funny?

If you're planning a career as a comedian: forget it.

Re:Obama calls Putin: (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029100)

His career as a Tea Party commentator seems well under way.

Re:Obama calls Putin: (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029318)

That was terrible. Don't quit your day job... or post any more "jokes". Not only is your racism, well... racist... it's not even remotely funny. Do yourself a favor and keep your "humor" to yourself. Thanks.

Re:Obama calls Putin: (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029514)

Obama: "Vlad, man, what the fuck is up wit' yo' spaceship, man?"

Ah, because Obama is black he speaks like ghetto trash, I see. Very witty. An incisive commentary on his Harvard education. It must have taken you quite a long time to come up with it.

Re:Obama calls Putin: (2)

Buelldozer (713671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029636)

You know who else had a Harvard education and caught tons of flak for they way they spoke?

Our last President.

Re:Obama calls Putin: (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029756)

That's because we misunderestimated him.

In SOVIET Russia (1)

Roachie (2180772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028798)

Space probe bust YOU!

Mars isn't a given no matter the technology (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38028820)

The U.S. had to work hard to manage that feat. I figured at
one time maybe there is life on Mars and it didn't want
us there.

"One explorer wanted a mm we gave it an inch, another just
kept right on going spewing Hydrazine as it passed, others
never left the launch pad.

A better source than I:
"The exploration of Mars has come at a considerable financial
cost with roughly two-thirds of all spacecraft destined for Mars
failing before completing their missions, with some failing before
they even begin." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploration_of_Mars [wikipedia.org]

good post (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029954)

Seriously, few realize that this is hard work to have successful missions.
That is also why we need to get away from 100% newly developed systems esp. for things like pushing there.
A space tug that provides motion, electricity, even communication, would be a useful item to sell.

Re:good post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030354)

In other news, rocket science in, in fact, rocket science.

Re:good post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38031450)

But don't worry, the Free Market (tm) will now take over the lucrative vacuum mining business!

Re:good post (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38032570)

Not really. Russia rarely makes use of new and innovative designs. Instead, this is a simple QA issue.

Just wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028836)

until the Free Market (tm) fixes all these bugs! It's not that getting into space is complex, dangerous, resource intensive and deadly even to machines, no, it's because there's no McDonald's on the Moon! Let's get going! Elon Musk is going to need doctors and nurses on Mars when he retires there!

Well there's the problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38028918)

The thing was probably built by Russian nerds. Everybody knows that nerds can't make contact with anything "busted". They should have built one with no bust, or a really fat one. Maybe then they might have had a chance.

Phobos-Grunt? (4, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029054)

Someone in the Russian space program is a big Doom fan it seems.

Re:Phobos-Grunt? (1)

MrNJ (955045) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029088)

"grunt" means soil in russian.

Anonymous (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38029074)

Ok Anonymous lets see what you script kiddies really have, take control and fire the cruise stage.

Busted?? (2)

AntEater (16627) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029084)

I guess the editors really have dropped all pretense and have given up on the English language.

Re:Busted?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38029214)

I've seen this more and more on TV news too. It's astonishing.

Re:Busted?? (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029472)

I'm sorry, but what is wrong with saying "busted space probe"?

I mean, you use the wore "keybinding" in your sig to refer to "computer key macros", so I would think that you have come to terms with the idea that language is in a constant state of flux. Stop being such a snooty prick and try making an argument that has actual import. Thanks.

Re:Busted?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030844)

My friend's child calls a car a "vroom-vroom". Should Reuters start using that term as a valid synonym in their news reports now? No, using simplistic colloquialisms in places where Standard Written English is expected is a sign of ignorance and/or laziness.

Wait till it crashes... (2)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029198)

That sucker is larger than UARS and fully fueled... Some say the fuel will freeze during re-entry, but I'm hoping Roland Emmerich will be on hand to film it.

I hope they're able to save the mission... a huge blow to Russian space exploration.

It's an era of reliability, as Medvedev announced (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38031676)

Russian president Medvedev announced the era of reliability :)) right after the last space shuttle landed. As russians say "Don't say gop.."

Bummer (1)

s.petry (762400) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029286)

Maybe they should have outsourced their space program to China

target toronto (1)

Msdose (867833) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029406)

If it lands on Toronto it'll get rid of half the worlds communists.

Re:target toronto (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029776)

If it lands on Toronto it'll get rid of half the worlds communists.

If it lands on Washington we can give it the Nobel peace prize.

If It lands +4, Informative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38029826)

  on Great Britain, it will get rid of the country responsible for most of the planet's colonialism over the last 300 years.

Yours In Moscow,
K. Trout

Quick! Send up the Space Shuttle to Rescue It! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38029732)

Oops, well, never mind then!

It runs LINUX, what did you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38029892)

Reliable Communications? Please - NOT with Linux!

Sad, but also an opportunity (2)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029928)

But it is time for America to step forward. One idea that private space, esp. SpaceX, should consider is creating a set of tugs that can perform autodocking. That will allow private space to put in space tugs that have engines, solar panels for energy, batteries, etc. These would come in various size and be put up space with a load, or even put up with out a load, but then dock with various cargos. If private space gets these developed AND TESTED, then they can be used to carry loads around leo, geo, lunar and martian.

SpaceX has perhaps one of the more interesting set-up. They have R&D, engineering, manufacturing lines, etc. With their varied engines, they could come up with multiple tugs that could hook to cargos. What is lacking is NOT fuel depots, but an automated docking system that will lock in 2 units securely and allow them to operate as one.

Wikipedia!! (1)

JohnnyComeLately (725958) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029944)

Hey, maybe someone here can cut and paste from Wikipedia and tell them how to fix it! I mean, it's not that hard and just doing a simple firmware software update should fix it!

The problem (4, Funny)

0WaitState (231806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38029968)

Somewhere on the probe, there is a cursor blinking on an small LCD screen ( or CRT, FFS), next to the letters:

STAGE 1 COMPLETE. HIT RETURN TO CONTINUE _

Re:The problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030912)

Keyboard Failure

Strike the F1 key to continue, F2 to run the setup utility

There is no way to contact it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030286)

According to scans of the manuals published at Russian cosmonautic news site (in Russian, here: http://www.novosti-kosmonavtiki.ru/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=10631&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=4785 ), there is no real way to contact the probe until the main fuel tanks (of main thrusters I assume) separate. Since they never separated, the on-board control system does not start and as such there is nothing to contact, so all this "we will contact" stuff is just a bluff.

Turn the number over to a scumbag debt collector (1)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030528)

They'll get through in no time.

Keep your fingers crossed... (3, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38030548)

... our turn is next with the very expensive (most expensive since Viking?) extremely ambitious (nuclear powered, "sky crane" lowered) giant (size of a mini-cooper) rover with no-backup! (no second rover)? Complete with rock vaporizing laser and 3D stereo cams!

Seriously, there's gonna be a lot of fingernail biting about 6 months after the (hopefully successful) liftoff on Nov. 25. If you want to see how how crazy the whole landing scheme is try googling the video for "Curiosity". Not being an engineer I'm not qualified to comment on how good an approach this is but it sure looks scary. Forget airbags or soft landers, instead think maybe Tarzan or special forces insertion (a la killing Osama Bin Laden).

Anyway, if you're in Southern California then, call in sick and head over to Pasadena. They usually have a live feed at the convention center for things like this.

Te Marsians are getting better, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38030924)

They can now shoot down our probes before they leave earth orbit!

Windows Vista? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38031950)

Maybe they forgot to disable UAC for the spacecraft that runs windows vista...
"Are you sure you want to launch to mars"

Not Again (1)

Lord Balto (973273) | more than 2 years ago | (#38031976)

The Martian Defense Force strikes again.
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