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US Senate Allows NASA To Buy Soyuz Vehicles

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the maintenance-in-spaaaaace dept.

Space 298

arc.light writes "According to a report at Space.com, the US Senate voted to allow NASA to buy Russian Soyuz vehicles for the purpose of servicing the International Space Station. Because Russia continues to assist Iran with its nuclear energy and ballistic missile programs, NASA would otherwise not be allowed to buy Russian hardware by the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000. The US House of Representatives still needs to give its approval before NASA can make such a purchase."

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298 comments

In.... (1)

theJerk242 (778433) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640646)

In America, NASA buys Russian Soyuz.
But in Soviet Russia, Soyuz buy NASA!

the important thing is (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640648)

this might be a first (post) for nasa

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640661)

Palm consults Microsoft, the USA consults Russia...

THE END IS NEAR!

politics is teh sux (0, Offtopic)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640667)

Thank god our senate knows when not to be stupid Maybe they shouldve used their minds the same way when they sent us to war

Stop The Politics Stories!!!! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640680)

Slashdot is really jumping the shark with this continuous stream of "politics" stories. This story and many others the last few days have very little to do with politics. It's so outside what slashdot used to be about, nowadays, it's just flamewars between leftists and bush-haters nowadays.

If you look at the FAQ, [slashdot.org] you'll even see the politics section is supposed to be about US politics, this story barely fits the description.

Time to get rid of Zonk, and his endless political baiting. He's trolling, no different than GNAA, or the adequacy folks.

Re:Stop The Politics Stories!!!! (1, Offtopic)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640742)

Some members of the Slashdot community have called for Zonk to be replaced by TripMaster Monkey [slashdot.org] .

Re:Stop The Politics Stories!!!! (0, Offtopic)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640879)

I'd vote for him if he told me how he gets +4 or +5 on just about every one of his posts.

Re:Stop The Politics Stories!!!! (-1, Troll)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640919)

The current theory explaining that phenomenon supposes much cock suckery to be the cause.

Re:Stop The Politics Stories!!!! (1)

william_w_bush (817571) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640940)

I'm not totally against zonk, but I'd def vote for trip to get editor privs.

His british jedi PM comment made the washington post, full cited quote. Sartre would be pleased.

That would be me (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13641031)


TMM [slashdot.org] should [slashdot.org] replace [slashdot.org] Zonk [slashdot.org] . Seriously, he could really do something great for slashdot. Bring back its golden years or something.

--
Bonk the Zonk!
Trolling all trolls since 2001

Re:Stop The Politics Stories!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640863)

This story has lots of technological aspects:

1) NASA sucks/is run by bureaucrats/etc...
2) Outsourcing
3) Nuclear proliferation
4) Countries we may possibly attack in the future...

It's about a decision of the US Senate regarding foreign policy. I don't see how that could be any less about US politics.

Re:Stop The Politics Stories!!!! (2, Informative)

william_w_bush (817571) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641099)

Actually it does. The clause in NASA's budget stopping them from buying Russian made soyuz capsules in the first place is there because Russia sold nuclear reactor technology to Iran, and congress got mad. So it is politics, just a different kind.

Sad state of our National space program (3, Insightful)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640697)

anyone else see this as the sad state our national space program is in when we are buying old Russian space capsules because our burecrates in NASA cant get their collective heads out of their asses and build a better spacecraft.

I mean why dont we just take Apollo back up there while we are at it, they where both built around the same time and seem to be better off than the shuttle is now :/

There HAS to be a better solution than these old 60s relics that doesnt cost a are and a leg like the flying deathtrap the shuttles are.

Re:Sad state of our National space program (5, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640738)

Old Russian space capsules? You mean the ones that have been supplying the ISS for the past 2 and a half years? Oh those ones eh? Just because they have the same name doesnt mean they use the same technology, the current generation of Soyuz, the TM, first flew in 1986 and has had several updates since then. These are far from 1960s relics.

Re:Sad state of our National space program (3, Informative)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640773)

Tell the parent that these [Soyuz] vehicles have had a near perfect record during their operation - better than anything the US has ever developed. When a Soyuz is launched, there is near 100% certainty that they will reach their intended destination and return without problems. Now, contrast that with the so called latest and most advanced US technology.

Re:Sad state of our National space program (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640822)

Depends on how you look at it, 1 more has died on a Soyuz than on a Apollo, but the Soyuz has been around longer in actually space use. but that doesnt make it less costly than other systems that can be developed as everything is tossed in the end.

There has to be a better solution that is reusable but actually saves money.

What I know... (3, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640936)

...is that when a shuttle is to be launched, NASA at that time cannot be 100% sure everything will go as intended. That's a fact. The Russians on the other hand, are always certain and are always seen assuring skeptical American minds that everything will be OK. And indeed everything normally goes fine.

When a shuttle is launched or is to return to earth, there is a lot of fanfare...as if to suggest that there was a sizable chance that things could go all wrong. No wonder we are now looking to Russians for some help.

Re:What I know... (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641235)

bull there is always fanfair because its still not a everyday thing. The russians where notorious for the amount of deaths they have on their head in space, a LOT more russians have died in space than Americans even if the Soyuz is safer, most where covered up though because of the cold war, and information about who died is still iffy since many where reported as dying in training accidents and or military accidents, not space accidents which the evidence points to.

No one, not even the Russians can EVER be 100% sure. NASA was 100% sure, and it cost them two shuttles. The Russians on the otherthand dont balk at a few people dying for the greater cause, something Americans do because often the causes are wrong in American minds.

Its a questions of additude, its not a question of safety

Re:What I know... (1)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641260)

...something Americans do because often the causes are wrong in American minds. Really? I don't see any huge public movement for NASA to cancel space flight which would the case if your statement was correct. Most of the public is IGNORANT of the risks, they just like the "gee whiz" effect. And for sure they are not competent to judge the risks. Those of us who ARE competent to judge the risks and the chances those risk may come to pass are not highly thought of at NASA. We just give off too many "negative vibes" I guess.

Re:Sad state of our National space program (1)

Halfbaked Plan (769830) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640826)

Yes, but do US Based multinational corporations get their cut when a Soyuz capsule is launched? What about the US Trade Unions? The NASA bureaucrats??

Re:Sad state of our National space program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640883)

you tell the parent.

Re:Sad state of our National space program (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641048)

[Soyuz] vehicles have had a near perfect record during their operation

In terms of the number of fatal accidents per flight, Soyuz has about the same level of safety as Shuttle.

The difference is that Soyuz continutes to improve, so that recent flights are safer than earlier flights. Shuttle safety is at best remaining the same over time, and I think the reason is complacency on the part of NASA.

Of course it doesn't help that the Shuttle is a huge monolithic vehicle, where changing one component requires changes to many other components. By comparison capsule based systems (Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Soyuz) have better defined interfaces between the launch vehicle and the spacecraft. As a result they accomodate evolutionary changes with less overall redesign.

Sad state of our Nation (5, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640750)

So....
IT is outsourced to India
Manufacturing is outsourced to China
High tech going to Russia
U.S. will supply the world's managers?

Re:Sad state of our Nation (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640952)

Exactly. In fact, I hear one manager, a Michael Brown, is looking for a job managing something. He'll take anything, even if he knows nothing about it.

Re:Sad state of our Nation (1)

pmike_bauer (763028) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641052)

I, for one, welcome our U.S. managing overlords.

Who cares about managers? (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641060)

The really interesting question is to whom will they outsource lawenforcement and national defense?

Re:Sad state of our Nation (1)

banzaimonkey (917475) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641065)

IT is outsourced to India I thought Tech Support was outsourced to India.

Re:Sad state of our Nation (2, Funny)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641101)

Before supplying the rest of the world with top class managers, you'll have to break them out of jail first...

Re:Sad state of our Nation (-1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641241)

Its pretty obvious that the US as a superpower was a post-WWII accident and the rest of the world has caught up, thus the decentrilization of wealth, power, industry, ideas, etc. Instead of lamenting "this sad state" we should be preparing for a future where the US isnt the king of all things and learn how to better compete, create new markets, etc.

Re:Sad state of our National space program (1)

bjomo (832719) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640806)

NASA HAS laid out its plan to replace the space shuttle with a flexible combination of vehicles capable of heavy lifting and manned space flight. This system will be capable of everything from missions to the moon and mars as well as launching and servicing large scale observatories or space stations.

http://www.nasa.gov/missions/solarsystem/cev.html [nasa.gov]

Why do people not understand that the recent plans NASA has laid out are about much more than just going to the moon? It is about establishing a fleet that will serve the many needs of future missions.

probably because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640966)

it's what they have been saying all along. For decades. And we aren't there. We used to be there, then they dropped the ball bigtime, a combination of voodoo politics combined with overly complex engineering just-for-the=hell of it, with a dash of bureaucratic inefficiency compounded by a sense of entitlement because they had been around so long.

In other words, we don't care what some new piece of paper says. Talk is cheap.Nasa talk when it comes to involving humans flying around is expensive talk, but it is still talk. There's the difference. Take humans out of the equation, nasa gets at least a C+, include humans, D-. It is time to admit reality, they ain't got the 'right stuff' no more. Just is, is all. Nothing personal, just business.

That and some are cynical because they know the military has some better tech but they won't release it for public use.

Re:Sad state of our National space program (4, Insightful)

Amiga Trombone (592952) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640818)

There HAS to be a better solution than these old 60s relics that doesnt cost a are and a leg like the flying deathtrap the shuttles are.

Well, we have the CEV in development, but that won't be ready until 2012. Why not buy from the Russians? They have an interim solution to our needs now, and truthfully, why waste the money to develop a spacecraft that's going to be performing what are now fairly routine missions? Our next generation is on the drawing board. Actually, it's refreshing that NASA is going to be taking the path of least resistance rather than reinventing the wheel because of a case of NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome.

Re:Sad state of our National space program (2, Insightful)

cpu_fusion (705735) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640914)

Yes, it is a sad day for our space program, but maybe the sense of pride this will give to the Russian people will help continue to heal the wounds of the cold war, which are many and festering.

Re:Sad state of our National space program (2, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641121)

will help continue to heal the wounds of the cold war, which are many and festering

With all those Cold Warriors in power, tirelessly giving the fowl to the world on a daily basis? You must be joking.

Re:Sad state of our National space program (1)

codewritinfool (546655) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641135)

Look, I'm as patriotic as the next guy, but I think this is a great idea. Those Soyuz ships are fantastic. Their failure rate is so low that I wouldn't hesitate to get on one and travel. We don't need reuseable spacecraft. We need a cheap disposable workhorse that is reliable. The Soyuz fits the bill nicely.

Hands off Iran (-1, Offtopic)

johansalk (818687) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640698)

Iran is not as bad as the Bush administration claims. A key US ally boils people alive and the US rewards him with very generous aid. "Our Presidents New Best Friend Boils People Alive WARNING horrific images of torture! http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article39 43.htm [informatio...house.info] )

Iran on the other hand, amongst many things, gave us many humanist movies such as Kandahar about Afghanistan, on Time's best 100 movies of all time http://www.time.com/time/2005/100movies/0,23220,ka ndahar,00.html [time.com] and Turtles Can Fly about Kurdish Iraq http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artic le?AID=/20050414/REVIEWS/50324002/1023 [suntimes.com] Iran is *not* evil, nor is Chavez. Hands off!

Uh, Iran's pretty evil (-1, Offtopic)

mcc (14761) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640769)

The Iranians are giving us some great art, writing and cinema, but it's despite the best efforts of the government.

Like those great political films coming from Iran? Okay, have you noticed how many of these films are about the repressive nature of the state and culture within which those filmmakers live? And have you noticed the extent to which those filmmakers have to be jailed, executed, etc [payvand.com] in order to express themselves? The good things you're seeing coming out of Iran aren't the signs of a good place, they're the signs of a bad place with a good dissident community. The fact that the dissidents can sometimes overcome the climate of censorship does not make the climate of censorship okay.

The American military and government definitely does not have the interests of the Iranians at heart right now. Iranians arguably are freer right now than the Iraqis under American rule, and if America assumed control of Iran then you can bet that among the fog of war the the burgeoning Iranian dissident movement would be hurt. But if you try to wish away the evils of the Iranian government because "at least they're not the U.S.", then you are acting against the interests of those Iranian filmmakers you like so much. The enemy of your enemy is not your friend.

Re:Uh, Iran's pretty evil (0, Offtopic)

johansalk (818687) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640844)

If you want to see repressive governments you only need to look at key US allies such as Uzbekestan and Saudi Arabia. Iran had a calming influence in Iraq, in fact, Iran can be thanked for the remarkable restraint the Shias had despite the terrorism against them (Sadr and Mahdi army are anti-Iran). On the other hand, the Saudi government has been too happy to export its repressed and disillusioned youth to die in Iraq instead of bothering the Saudi royals, friends of Bush.

Re:Hands off Iran (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640774)

> Iran is *not* evil, nor is Chavez

I have Venezuelan friends who say that Chavez is a power-hungry, greedy wannabe dictator. Not necessarily evil, but just another politician who doesn't deliver on his promises, stirs up public opinion (mostly the poor) and points to some villain du jour (the U.S.) to blame for all his country's ills, instead of doing something to make his people's lives better. Funny, that sounds a lot like some guy who lives in public housing on Pennsylvania Ave. in zip code 20500.

Worth the investment? (1)

PocketPick (798123) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640704)

Is it really worth the cost to purchase a spacecraft which, by Russian admissions, are outdated and slated to be replaced? Unless NASA believes it has something to learn from the nature of the spacecraft, this is a stupid purchase. The funds would be better vested in performing research on MODERN technology.

Re:Worth the investment? (5, Interesting)

HillBilly (120575) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640723)

Both countries have old and due to be replaced space crafts. Difference is Russia's crafts have provened to be more realiable and cheaper.

Re:Worth the investment? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640755)

The reason Soyuz is being replaced is not because its outdated, far from it its proved to be a good airframe thats adaptable to new advances time after time, but its because the contract to build them runs out soon and due to political issues it cant be renewed or extended anymore. So they get to build the Klipper.

Re:Worth the investment? (1)

bjomo (832719) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640853)

This is a stop gap measure. NASA has made public their plans to develop vehicles, both manned and unmanned, based on the shuttle platform. NASA has also made it clear that the CEV will not be completed by the time the shuttle is retired. Right now there is a projected 2 year gap. Clearly, this agreement is to allow NASA the access to space they require until their new systems are complete (or while shuttle is on the ground pending RTF again). Anyway you look at it NASA is not saying that we should invest in old Russian technology. They are using what is readily available until they have the new systems in place.

If it's not broken, don't fix it. (1)

banzaimonkey (917475) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640988)

The funds would be better vested in performing research on MODERN technology.

I think that's a flawed way of thinking under the circumstances. Russia has technology that works. Why not utilize that? Otherwise, you'll spend much, much more money on the R&D, testing, etc. in addition to not having an immediate fix to the problem. In terms of what is financially responsible/feasible in this case, I think NASA's making a good move.

Going into the nit-pickiness... how much more modern do you think you can get? Most of the time, "upgrades" to existing technology are nothing more than new, fancy packaging around the same old junk. So you have a car with a CD-player and a GPS system and powered windows, but it's still a car and it serves the same function as the one you would have used twenty years ago without the CD-player, GPS, and powered windows. It gets you where you need to be. The rest of the stuff is just icing on the cake.

Re:If it's not broken, don't fix it. (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641140)

Otherwise, you'll spend much, much more money on the R&D, testing, etc. in addition to not having an immediate fix to the problem.

NASA would need to spend not just money but lives of test pilots as well. This is something it absolutely can't afford.

Yes (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641062)

It is a short term solution to a specific transportation problem. i.e. Get people and small loads back and forth to the ISS. It is not a Shuttle replacement, it is not a permanent solution.

It's akin to buying a clunker when your primary SUV breaks. Either you can limp along with something old and small, or you can walk to work while you save up for a new car.

Choice (4, Interesting)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640707)

So it seems that after Russia sends the last obligatory shuttle to the space station, we are left the with the options of a.) buying Russian gear to send our own folks or b.) paying the Russians to do it for us?

Whatever, if it saves money, I'm sure the government will do it. I'm pretty sure they can use extra cash wherever they can find it now.

Re:Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640846)

Whatever, if it saves money, I'm sure the government will do it.

Well, if you talking about the current US administration, you'd want to qualify this:
If it saves wealthy Republicans money, I'm sure the government will do it.

It's a good idea to buy the best technology. (4, Insightful)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640711)

Often it is a very good idea to buy the highest quality technology. Indeed, that is what NASA needs to do right now considering their extremely awful image in the eyes of the public (following the Challenger and Columbia disasters). Any more disasters and NASA is fucked. At least by purchasing this former Soviet equipment they can blame the Russians for any problems. Faulty manufacturing and engineering done by the Russians, and not by NASA, for instance. Considering NASA's current position, they have very little option but to prevent further incident, even if it means resorting to Soviet technology.

Re:It's a good idea to buy the best technology. (1)

banzaimonkey (917475) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640735)

At least by purchasing this former Soviet equipment they can blame the Russians for any problems.
Seems to me like we'd have been better off with Soviet hardware from the beginning. Sure, our stuff looks sexy on the drawing board, but their stuff works.

European versus American engineering. (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640762)

Indeed. There is quite a difference between European and American engineering. Perhaps that's because of cultural differences.

Europe has, for the most part, suffered from limited access to resources. America, on the other hand, has for its history had nearly unlimited access to natural resources.

European engineers have for centuries been forced to use the minimal amount of material, and to come up with designs that just plain work from the very beginning. They don't have the resources to waste on the actual product, let alone on testing models that may be destroyed or rendered useless.

Indeed, it may very well be these resource constrains that lead to European-engineered items being of supreme quality.

What Europe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13641057)

That's too simple. Europe is not a nation, and there certainly are nations that have had no problem in getting resources. The fact is that the US is so much larger - but not greater. The EU is just forming, in a few decades we will have the US beat. We're 500 million versus their 300 million people. Oh, and our economies are almost the same size. When we add another country or two - we'll be larger in every way.

Re:What Europe? (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641078)

And what will happen a couple years after that when the economies of India and China mature to the point where they trump those of America and Europe several times over?

Re:It's a good idea to buy the best technology. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640786)

Do you know the Soviet's history with their space program? Its much worse than the US's is, and ever will be.

lol (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640721)

bus burned up on i45
how long until the old lady smell goes away?

I've just been laughing so hard (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640727)

I've just been laughing so hard at this entire thing:

1982: Russia has holdings in Iran. Russia makes moves that make America afraid Russia has expansionist interests in Iraq. As a result, America gives support to Iraq, in the hopes if Iraq is strong Russia will not be able to take it over.

2005: America has holdings in Iraq. America makes moves that make Russia afraid America has expansionist interests in Iran. As a result, Russia gives support to Iran, in the hopes that if Iran is strong America will not be able to take it over.

The constant in both cases: A man named Donald Rumsfeld who is working for the U.S. president of the time, lies to the public

Re:I've just been laughing so hard (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640778)

Are you suggesting that a Soviet-style collapse of the American republic is soon to follow? Indeed, that assertion may not be so far from the truth. With the natural disasters in the central southern states, many there may be willing to leave the Union. And their leaving may open the door for the more liberal east and west coast states, also tiring of incompetent federal rule, to leave as well.

"incompetent federal rule" (1)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640824)

We have waaay too much "incompetent federal rule" going on these days. Too much dependence on out-of-touch beltway blowhards with more money than brains and a penchant for "doing something".

Read this:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig4/ellis1.html [lewrockwell.com]

Re:I've just been laughing so hard (0)

william_w_bush (817571) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641051)

... As a member of a liberal east coast state, why would I leave?

I live about 1 mile from lexington, which some american's remember as part of "Lexington and Concord" where the revolutionary war began. You can't go 10 feet without tripping over a monument to a great battle, or a founding father, or where the constitution was signed.

I guess what I'm saying is, I doubt we'd leave. For all the red states call us pussies and tell us we're not "Real Americans" with "Real American Values", we consider ourselves to be more truly american than anyone, especially considering how I doubt most of the people who honestly believe that kind of crap have never read the consitution they so claim to defend. It's an intellectual document, a work of art from a time when the main form of government was a crazy monarch buying up hundreds of clocks and planting or cutting down trees.

I don't think I would care if they left much personally, for all that they call my state "Taxachusetts", the federal budget sends something like 65% of our tax revenues to the poorer southern states who laugh at us for having a social conscience, but I'd rather they just stayed quiet instead of parroting the latest political manipulation by those who have agenda's that require their support.

We have a beautiful place up here, the guy who bags my groceries makes about $11/hour, more than most college grads from Tennessee, where I used to live, and the college graduation rate is huge, probably close to 50%, so to those who call me a liberal weakling who doesn't stand up to government trying to take all their money, and who is driving us towards a social state, I disagree. I paid $100K in taxes last year, and consider every penny worthwhile, because I really love my city, my state, my country, and my way of life, and am willing to pay for it. To those who decry any federal influence or taxation, to those who decry our apparent lack of "true american values", to those why scream that we are "out of touch with the american mainstream", can you say the same about yourselves?

There are few states in the country where I see the American dream as fully realized as Massachusetts. I know more first generation immigrants putting their children through college or grad school and creating new dynasties of success here than all other 12 states I have lived in combined.

So, if any states really want to leave, go in peace, I love my country as it is, thx.

What? (4, Informative)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640730)

I remember one NASA official saying to the effect that the Soyuz being decades old technology, is no good for any serious American use, despite its very good performance record! We now are about to buy this hardware? Give me a break...! Oh wait...the Soyuz has had a near 100% perfect operation since inception; better than any US hardware.

I remember one US plane that had to be transported from China in a Russian Antonov-124. The US did not have any aircraft that was up to the task! How long shall we have to rely on so called "third world economies" to achieve our goals?

Why doesn't this [Bush] administration pay Americans to build these Soyuz like crafts instead of simply buying?

Re:What? (2, Interesting)

banzaimonkey (917475) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640772)

I remember one US plane that had to be transported from China in a Russian Antonov-124. The US did not have any aircraft that was up to the task! How long shall we have to rely on so called "third world economies" to achieve our goals?
I like to think of the United States being the world's R&D department. We come up with the ideas, bungle them, and then someone else picks it up and does it properly. There's the occasional successful project in the US, such as FedEx, the iPod, etc. I suppose those are the ideas that don't need to be refined too much, or are designed specifically with American culture in mind.

Re:What? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640790)

Your "near 100% perfect operation since inception" includes two missions that ended in the deaths of their crews. Out of 97 manned Soyuz missions, that's pretty darned close to the same record as the shuttle (two lost out of 114 flights).

Re:What? (2, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640876)

Well, you are right on those numbers, but when unmanned Soyuz missions are added up, the statistics reveal something very impressive for the Soyuz.The ability to be operated remotely is very telling of the Russians ability to deliver.

The other difference is that as Americans, we celebrate every shuttle launch and landing with lots of fanfare, The Russians do nothing of the like; to me, this suggests that we are probably not sure the shuttles will perform, right?

Re:What? (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641083)

Interestinglty enough, there can be no unmanned shuttle flight, so, they are risking human lives (and taking additional weight) even when all that's needed is a cargo lift.

If you factor in the unmanned cargo flights, Soyuz and Soyuz-derived vehicles have a much better success ratio. Of course the unmanned Progress ships burn in the atmosphere, so we may well count that as somewhat less important successes, but it is possible because their systems allow them to function without humans.

Re:What? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641130)

Your "near 100% perfect operation since inception" includes two missions that ended in the deaths of their crews. Out of 97 manned Soyuz missions, that's pretty darned close to the same record as the shuttle (two lost out of 114 flights).

Don't forget that the two fatal accidents were near the begining of the Soyuz program, several decades ago. Meanwhile the latest Shuttle accident was about two and a half years ago. Another way to put this, there hasn't been a fatality since the 11th mission (giving almost 90 launches since then). The records aren't the same.

Re:What? (2, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641268)

Your "near 100% perfect operation since inception" includes two missions that ended in the deaths of their crews.
Are you joking? The last Soviet space fatilities were in 1971 - that's right, 10 years before the first Shuttle launch. In other words, for the period when both existed, the Shuttle has had 14 fatalities while the Soyuz has had 0.

Now for a real shock, let's compare how many times each has flown. The total is 850 for Soyuz and 113 for Shuttle, but that's going back before the Shuttle existed. I wasn't able to find how many Soyuz launches since 1981, but I'll be it's at least twice as many.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640842)

i thought the russian plane was used because of chinese policy. i didn't know it was because of technical reasons.

Re:What? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640902)

I remember some interview in which astronaut Michael Foale (who was on the Mir space station) had some very kind words to say about the Soyuz and explained how well the completely automated docking functioned - until it was dismantled to reduce costs. At the time the ground facility it required was in Ukraine (IIRC - outside Russia but in a former Soviet state anyway) and Russia couldn't afford to pay for the use of it and decided that commanders should perform the docking manually and the accident when a Soyuz collided with Mir was a consequence of this (the manual docking went wrong). I also remember that there was some commentary in the same documentary stating that the commander performing the docking got the blame and not mission control even though all other cosmonauts that afterwards tried to perform the same manoeuver several times in a simulator failed too until one finally succeded when he didn't follow the instructions by mission control exactly.

Re:What? (1)

Halfbaked Plan (769830) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640948)

Why doesn't this [Bush] administration pay Americans to build these Soyuz like crafts instead of simply buying?

Trade Union labor and NASA bureaucrats would become involved, and the quality would go to shit.

Come on, don't let mediocrity take over EVERYTHING.

Re:What? (1)

romka1 (891990) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640985)

Why doesn't this [Bush] administration pay Americans to build these Soyuz like crafts instead of simply buying?

Because it would cost several billions to design and several years to build, and why do that when you can buy it at a fraction of what it cost to launch one shuttle

Re:What? (5, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641043)

Why doesn't this [Bush] administration pay Americans to build these Soyuz like crafts instead of simply buying?

If only you were involved in hiring of techies, as I am, you'd know the answer already. United States does not produce [enough of] good engineers. You can't hire anyone competent, or nearly competent. And one out of a hundred who knows his trade wants $200K/yr and benefits and stock, and your firstborn too if he is hungry.

So you can't hire fools because they are useless, and you can't hire that rare skilled guy because he will bankrupt you. So what do you do? Good question. Many businesses just hire a few mediocre performers and hope for the best.

Mod Parent Idiot (5, Insightful)

william_w_bush (817571) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641200)

Yeah ok, I'll just get my 4 guys together, pull the parts list off the internet and roll out a few FUCKING SPACESHIPS!

How complicated to build and design do you think these things are? How much money do you think we have?

No we don't have an An-124, it's the largest plane currently flying, built by the russians partly as an expression of national pride, and it cost shitloads. Only flies a few times a year btw, not a lot of people need that much lifting power.

We don't (always at least) blow money on giant phallic symbols of economic domination, it takes money away from real economic domination, and apparently you are too much of an idiot with regards to finance to understand that.

Global free-market economics is based on specialization, ie. everybody doesn't do everything, but everyone finds something to be good at, and if someone else needs to do it too you pay that guy to help you. It's why we make most of the movies in the world and kashmir makes all the nice knit sweaters, and columbia makes all the cocaine, specialization has oppurtunity cost.

Even if we decided today to make a cheaper soyuz-type launch vehicle, expect one ready to fly in about 8-10 years, counting design, validation, testing, certification, etc. That is unless you want a bunch of astronauts to jump into a tin-can, strap a giant rocket to their ass and hold their breath.

The shuttle took nearly 2 decades to become flight ready, and cost ... a real fucking lot, and still didn't fill half of it's original mission profile. Originally it was supposed to be a single piece to orbit vehicle, no boosters or external fuel tank or nothin'.

Unlike most things, this is rocket science, and logistics, and economics, and like 900 other things, and is much harder than throwing together a toaster.

Btw, Russia has had about 3 space stations in orbit during the 70's, 80's and 90's, including mir which was a surprising success. They are much MUCH better and more experienced at space than we are, which is why we had them help us with the ISS, just like we ripped off all of germany's experience when we started nasa and wanted icbm's. America is not the holy god of all everything, superior to all other countries in every way, though we do generally run the tables in most things. A lot of the time our experience and success comes from finding other countries that are very skilled at various fields, and ripping off their scientists and techologies, ie stealing britain's machinery expertise in the 19th century to build our own industrial revolution, or getting einstein, niels bohr (they had to call him nick during ww2 because niels was "too german"), werner van braun (warner brown), and everyone else from germany to build our atomic techonology, and space technology, and everything else.

Calling Russia a third-world economy is insulting and arrogant, and shows your ignorance/youth.

Third world??? (4, Insightful)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641211)

Uhh - last I checked, Russia has a trade surplus, while the USA has been running a trade deficit for longer than anyone can remember. Large parts of the USA is extremely backward and large parts of US cities are decaying (or now, covered in mud and water). Don't believe everything you see on CNN regarding other countries. CNN is not even reality television, it is more like show wrestling...

But don't worry (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640732)

Because despite not actually producing anything real whatsoever anymore, the US-fucking-A owns all the Innelectual Proberdeeeeee!!! We got the PATENT on space flight, baby. Or we will soon. If we need it to preserve the illusion we're relevant to the rest of the world as anything other than belligerent assholes with nukes. USA USA USA !!11!!!!

Actually I'm impressed.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640753)

Somehow I'd expect NASA would be much too arrogant to consider purchasing Russian equipment. If this idea is not rejected for stupid political 'national pride' reasons, I think it speaks pretty well for NASA ...

They have no choice, basically. (2, Interesting)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640795)

But they don't have any choice. Either they purchase this equipment, or they become irrelevant. This purchase is necessary for their very survival, even if it bruises a few egos.

Sometimes one is forced to choose between a shitty choice or death. In this case they're chosen the shitty situation which may allow for their survival.

Re:They have no choice, basically. (1)

banzaimonkey (917475) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640906)

Sometimes one is forced to choose between a shitty choice or death.
This choice only seems shitty if pride is your highest priority. In terms of practicality, it makes much more sense than what NASA's been doing for the past few years.

Re:Actually I'm impressed.... (1)

banzaimonkey (917475) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640867)

Now if only we could get the rest of the American government to follow suit and look to other countries for policy that works in practice, instead of only on the drawing board. ;)

Re:Actually I'm impressed.... (1)

william_w_bush (817571) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640916)

Harder to be arrogant when your shuttle breaks up into millions of bite-sized pieces over scenic texas.

But yeah, actually nasa wanted to pay the russians to use their soyuz to supply and man the iss before, the soyuz has about 1/10 to 1/20 the operational cost of the shuttle, and can be launched, like whenever, but congress would never allow it. I'm guessing the threat of "No Space 4 J00!" due to the shuttles' grounding has nudged them to be more flexible.

It's not so much pride btw, nasa and the us government are forbidden to do high level business with russia due to a provision in their budget that says they cannot due business with anyone who supplies nuclear technology to iran, which russia was kinda doing. So it's a law that was changed more than anything. Does speak well for nasa's willingness to be practical though.

Re:Actually I'm impressed.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13641036)

cannot due business with anyone who supplies nuclear technology to iran, which russia was kinda doing.

I guess that the primary reason why Russia is doing that is that they need the money (I doubt that Putin is too fond of the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons) so with a little luck the purchases could be made with strings attached - i.e. with the condition that Russia stops supplying Iran with nuclear tech. However, I have no idea what the amounts of money are so it could be that no such agreement is possible (if the amount Russia gets for Soyuz vehicles is an order of magnitude less than what Iran pays that is likely to be the case).

Re:Actually I'm impressed.... (1)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641124)

"Somehow I'd expect NASA would be much too arrogant to consider purchasing Russian equipment. "

They are too arrogant. PRoblem is they dont have a choice. The last shuttle flight proved it. They did everything to ensure a safe flight before the shuttle took off ... they spent a shitloads of money and what they got is a flight that turned out to be almost safe. That is there was too weeks of worrying, discussions about tiles, spacewalks, in space repairs, etc and then in the end we got lucky and there was no disaster, but everyone recognized there was a significant chance that we might not get lucky. Well, they cant have every single ISS refueling flight be like that. First of all, their budget cannot afford it, and second of all their already shaky reputation cannot afford it either.

So they have to eat some humble pie, buy Russian equipment and realize there is something wrong with the way NASA does business and try to fix it. My opinion is that the problem with nasa is also a problem with the military and pretty much every aspect of high tech government spending. That is that there is prevelant corruption, no free market economics and an eagerness to drive costs up by designing ever more complex and failure prone systems.

To confirm you're not a script, (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640784)

Please stick your head down the toilet and let me shit on your head.

I'd love to hear more about the NASA engineers. (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640812)

I don't mind if you do! Thanks!

Can you tell us more about your experiences working with the NASA engineers? Did they ever talk about the possibility of relying on Soviet technology if their designs failed?

How the mighty have fallen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640792)

Oh, for those days when we could sit back at laugh at the Chinese for using pitiful refitted Soviet space technology.

War against the economy... (-1, Flamebait)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640794)

Glad to see nothing is standing in the way of Bush's war on our economy.

If you have a job, the terrorists win! Outsource now!

Good News (2, Funny)

sd_diamond (839492) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640827)

This is just in the nick of time, because Crazy Ivan's Space Capsule Clearance House announced a sale for next week.

Not like it matters.... (4, Funny)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640832)

"Components. American components, Russian Components, ALL MADE IN TAIWAN!"

Re:Not like it matters.... (1)

JrbM689 (896692) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640962)

That was a great movie. From the look of your post's karma, the mods don't seem to agree.

yay (3, Insightful)

william_w_bush (817571) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640857)

wrote a while back during the last shuttle scare that this would be a good idea to keep america in space till they get a new launch vehicle sorted out, glad they finally did it.

Soyuz is one of the safest and most reliable space vehicles in existence, and considering the shuttles are grounded for god knows how long, we need a system to service and supply the iss.

Yeah I know it has limited cargo capacity, but it costs roughly 1/10 the cost of the shuttle to launch, if that, can be launched far more often, and its cargo capacity can be augmented by elv's like the delta or titan.

Plus side, we are less likely to lose astronauts, and can actually keep the iss supplied enough to do science beyond plugging the leaks with their fingers, and hopefully launch astronauts twice as often if it scales up well.

win/win from my pov.

ps. my "confirm i'm not a script" word is cannabis. Cool.

does it comes with an instruction manual? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13640905)

In Russian or English? Wondering when Russian is going to outsource it to India or China

height and weight of the crew (1)

YuriGherkin (870386) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640968)

haha, I like the part in the wikipedia entry about how the Soyuz to be sold to America has some modification like " more latitude in the height and weight of the crew and improved parachute systems".

I guess Americans are the fattest^H^H^H^H^Hlargest people on the planet after all! LOL!!

Yet another example of..... (3, Insightful)

Pop69 (700500) | more than 8 years ago | (#13640995)

the old saying "If it's not broken, don't fix it"

Soyuz has been successfully sending stuff into space for an awful long time and as far as we know has a very impressive safety record.

The space shuttle was a compromise design built by the lowest bidder.

Obligatory (4, Funny)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641034)

In Soviet Russia...

We fly the Americans to space.

What about SpaceX? (0)

puzzled (12525) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641055)


  Buying Soyuz when SpaceX is here? Oh, wait, can't actually admit that commercial is 7% the cost of NASA efforts, now can we.

http://www.spacex.com/ [spacex.com]

  I'm going to assume this is more bozorific NASA politics unless someone can explain why they won't use SpaceX for this job.

Re:What about SpaceX? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641079)

And SpaceX has flown how many orbital missions, exactly?

Bad idea. (0, Troll)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641162)

While I like the idea of continuing the space program the idea of allowing Russia off the hook for their behavior in regards to the Iranian nuclear program is not good.

Putting it bluntly no one in their right mind should trust Iran. Russia and China are doing this because they know that Iran will cause more trouble for the West before acting on them. While neither China or Russia are friendly to their own Muslims that gets totally brushed over by the Islamic extremist in Iran. Iran is quite willing to trade the lives of fellow Muslims if it gives them power, this means kissing off those in Checnya and other places.

A Nuclear Iran will be a nightmare for Israel, Europe, and the US in that order. Trading for support to maintain the ISS is to high of a price.

Re:Bad idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13641308)

ya sure and by boycotting russia you give their economy a thrust so they won't need to sell any nuclear stuff to Iran...

Because cheaper is better. (1)

mangamuscle (706696) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641207)

I am really surprised that americans are not buying cheap chinese soyuz-clones, hell, I am surprised they are not hiring chinese astronaut.

Honest commies are better than NASA (3, Insightful)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641225)

How could NASA be purchasing a space system developed by the system of communism which is a proven failure?

As I said when I was young and more prone to believe the system might work [google.com] :

The Soviet government's effectiveness in space activities can, in general, be attributed to the fact that while our private sector is more effective than the Soviet public sector, our public sector is LESS effective than the Soviet public sector. Why this is so becomes obvious when you consider that the Soviet public sector has no private sector to tax -- any costs are born by itself, directly, whereas in the US (and other relatively free market economies) the governments have the luxury of becoming fat and lazy at the expense of the private sector.

It is a simple matter of accountability, the US private sector is most accountable for its costs, the Soviet system is next most accountable for its costs and the US government is least accountable for its costs.

Re:Honest commies are better than NASA (2, Insightful)

william_w_bush (817571) | more than 8 years ago | (#13641299)

I disagree. Ever try to vote a communist premier out of office?

The Soviet public sector has an ENORMOUS economic base. In terms of actual resources, you have to realize that it's budget was roughly equal to the public and private budget of the united states combined, so putting 10% of that into a space program would be similar to putting 2-5x the total american federal budget into the space program. Also, the scientists have more "incentive" to succeed, when a failure means poverty, bread-lines, and possible execution.

In America, the politics of the budget and appropriations tend to screw the space program. It's hard to build a reliable launch vehicle when all parameters of its design and operation are mandated by a political board trying to satisfy their own constituents as a higher priority compared to the damn thing actually flying. For any of those commitee members, the possibility of forcing the shuttle to use launch base X means they can now raise funds from businesses profiting from that decision, making them more likely to stay in office. This is compounded by the fact that the decisions this commitee makes are changed very regularly depending on instantaneous public opinion, changes in the economy, changes in world politics, changes in national politics, changes in technology, changes in the private sector, ad nauseum extremis.

So blaming the public sector is very popular, but not always realistic, a lot of the time, the failure lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.
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