Beta
×

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!

The Incredible Shrinking Cosmonaut Corps

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the not-what-they-used-to-be dept.

Space 81

jonerik writes "Space.com (via MSNBC) has this article about the declining prestige — and size — of Russia's cosmonaut corps in these post-Soviet years of wild 'n' woolly Russian capitalism. Where at one time the mighty Soviet space program could count on thousands of applicants offering their services as cosmonauts, today the vast majority of young Russian civilians prefer more lucrative private sector careers, though recruitment among Russian Air Force pilots is still good since the pay is higher in the cosmonaut corps. Russia currently has a total of 37 active cosmonauts in three units, and though these numbers are considered sufficient, there would be fewer available reserves if the ISS crew expands to six, as had been originally intended. 'In the 1960s one would dream of becoming a cosmonaut, now the young men are dreaming of becoming bankers,' says Sergei Shamsutdinov, an editor at the Novosti Kosmonavtiki magazine. 'The romantic aspect of the manned space exploration is no longer there; it has been replaced by gray daily routine.'"

cancel ×

81 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Been there, done that... (4, Interesting)

Channard (693317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16984976)

Well, not personally, but given that they're just talking about tooling around in space, what's the attraction of that? Now, if they were to actually try and get a man on Mars, you'd have no shortage of applicants.

Re:Been there, done that... (1)

Josh Lindenmuth (1029922) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985262)

Exactly. Who wants to sit around in a space station for a year, with little entertainment and 24x7 responsibility, to conduct experiments? Astronauts used to have the prestige of being explorers, today they are viewed as scientists that must work more hours, for less pay, little prestige, all while putting their bodies through unbelievable stresses, and risking their lives in the process. If you saw those characteristics on a job posting, would you apply?

If there was a good chance of going to space when applying to become an astronaut/cosmonaut, I think more people would do it. But everyone knows that it's ridiculously difficult to get into the training program if you're not a highly specialized scientist and/or fighter pilot, then your chances of being put on a manned mission are rather small as well.

Re:Been there, done that... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985342)

"Exactly. Who wants to sit around in a space station for a year, with little entertainment and 24x7 responsibility, to conduct experiments?"

Not to mention that tough 1-2 years curriculum at cosmetology school!!

It must be tough to handle the weightlessness....

:-)

Re:Been there, done that... (1)

testadicazzo (567430) | more than 7 years ago | (#16999796)

Who wants to sit around in a space station for a year, with little entertainment and 24x7 responsibility, to conduct experiments? Astronauts used to have the prestige of being explorers, today they are viewed as scientists that must work more hours, for less pay, little prestige, all while putting their bodies through unbelievable stresses, and risking their lives in the process.
Well, I would do it, particularly if I was interested in the research being conducted. But I've never seen any scientific results published from all these zero G experiments (other than the effects of long periods of weightlessness on the human body). Can anyone post some links to some meaningful research that's come out of the ISS?

Modernization of the Russian Economy (3, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985354)

The Russians are slowly modernizing their government and their economy. At this stage of economic development, there is little resources for government projects that most rich nations can afford. Consider Japan. Before 1977, the Japanese made little progress on space projects. Most of the national budget funded the development of infrastructure to support the economy.

There is no reason to lament the fact that most Russians prefer to be bankers instead of cosmonauts. Russia is simply not at the right economic stage to splurge on space programs. During the Cold War, the Russians spent heavily on space projects, but that situation is due to government intervention (in the economy) against the will of the people. That intervention wrecked the economy.

When Russia becomes rich like the rest of the West, then the Russians will return to space. Given the the incredible accomplishments of Russian mathematicians, I expect that a Russian genius will decipher and advance the work of Burkhard Heim [newscientist.com] . In so doing, he shall develop the first working prototype of a warp drive. (The Americans have already developed phasers [slashdot.org] , which can be deployed on a jet fighter. Are the Japanese working on shields?)

However, that is just an illusion for now. Right now, we must concentrate on steering Russia towards developing a true democracy and a real economy not based solely on commodities. The current pathetic state of Russia is partially due to the shenanigans of the Harvard elite [thenation.com] .

Re:Modernization of the Russian Economy (1)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985410)

Right now, we must concentrate on steering Russia towards developing a true democracy...

Especially one where people are no longer being assassinated [cdi.org] , poisoned [thesun.co.uk] , "disappeared [interactivist.net] " or otherwise shut down [hrw.org] . Is there any country on the planet that is become more free and its citizens getting more rights?

Re:Modernization of the Russian Economy (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 7 years ago | (#16987698)

Yes, but the positive side of all this is that it's never been a better time to be a Russian researching exotic poisons and poison delivery systems!

Seriously, it's pretty hard to believe that Russian intelligence didn't have a hand in the recent poisoning of Litvinenko. The KGB has a long history of tracking down and silencing dissenters. Plus the Russians have a fetish for James Bond-esque plots involving bizarre poisons. There was Georgi Markov, offed with a ricin-laced BB fired from an umbrella. There was the use of an opiate gas against the Chechen terrorists who seized the opera (most of the people who died during that incident were killed by the gas), Yuschenko's poisoning with dioxin (arguable whether this was the FSB or the Ukraine's own former KGB men), and now this... and likewise, given his strongman tendencies, and given that Putin was a long-time KGB member, and and given that he was formerly the head of the FSB (the new, friendlier name for KGB), I find it very hard to believe that he doesn't keep close tabs on the FSB. Old habits die hard, I guess.

When Russia becomes rich like the rest of the West (2, Interesting)

andersh (229403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16986490)

Well, Russia is the worlds largest nation and has the largest natural resources of any nation. With less than 120 million people they are well on their way to wealth. Living next door to Russia it is quite obvious they are both rich [englishrussia.com] and poor - and what nation does not have both groups of people? It is all about the distribution of course - just like in the US.

Russia ended 2005 with its seventh straight year of growth. Strong oil export earnings have allowed Russia to increase its foreign reserves from only $12 billion to some $180 billion at yearend 2005. During this time, poverty has declined steadily and the middle class has continued to expand. Nevertheless, serious problems persist. Taken from the CIA World Fact Book [cia.gov]

An interesting comparison might be to look at the GDP of the US, Russia and the two largest economies in Europe:
US $12.31 trillion
Germany $2.48 trillion
France $1.794 trillion
Russia $1.584 trillion

Re:Modernization of the Russian Economy (1)

Vadim Makarov (529622) | more than 7 years ago | (#16990784)

I agree with you. Any scientific or technological development in a foreign country is a threat to the United States.

Conveniently you overlook the fact that your own space program (in case you are for its continuation and not against) still needs a strong competition in order to secure funding to move along. Where would it be today without the chilling news in 1950s and 1960s of Russians getting ahead of the U.S. in space?

For sure (1)

hotcakes.co.nz (874015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985408)

I agree, just wandering out in space ain't that fun.... haven't tried tit myself, but would be good to be aiming somewhere than just being in a gravity free zone.

Re:Been there, done that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16985504)

Well personally I wouldn't apply. Not until they can land at least a probe without screwing up.

Re:Been there, done that... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985664)

Well, not personally, but given that they're just talking about tooling around in space, what's the attraction of that?

Welcome to the real world of science and engineering - where only .01% of the job is glory and glamour, and the remainder is dully gray workaday.

Because... (5, Insightful)

SRA8 (859587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16984998)

I am similarly a sellout. As a child, I wanted to be a physicist -- like Newton. Then I realized that my fate (PhD) would be in the hands of a person I dont necessarily trust for 8 years. After that, i would not be able to afford decent housing or much of anything (unless I made it to the top 5% of my field.) Keep im mind its not just my own fate, but also of my wife and kids. Becoming a banker, programmer, consultant, whatever, was a decision to *not* save the world, but rather be able to find a job quickly whenever I needed and not have to worry about housing, childrens' wellbeing, etc. Housing is the key issue. I think if it wasnt for the exorbitant cost of housing, many more careers would be open to people who truly want them. With housing in the mix though, you spend every penny of your earnings trying to pay off your house and have little time to really contribute to society.

Re:Because... (-1, Offtopic)

johansalk (818687) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985254)

I don't understand why housing is expensive in the US. You guys got lots of land and it's a whole new nation.

Re:Because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16985296)

Simply put, unlike Europe, and many other places, everyone in America wants the "American Dream", i.e. a nice house with a nice yard, ect, ect. This is not necissarily a bad thing, but the fact is that not everyone can get than and live in and around the suburbs, their just isn't enouph land.

Re:Because... (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985788)

There was a clearance of the yeoman farmers (sometimes called family farmers) off the lands subsequent to WW II -- cramming people into metro areas.

This resulted from the capture of the US policy making apparatus by an urban elite that fundamentally could not create wealth -- but it could liquidate the foundation of US wealth and capture the residual wealth.

The result is a wealthy parasite class and the destruction of the United States, not only as a dream, but the very people of the US are being replaced by others.

Re:Because... (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16986630)

A masterful troll if I ever read one. A tip of my hat to you. The only problem I can see is that in general it's written in language too advanced for the average Slashdotter, thus excluding the prime target of a troll: the idiot class.

I'd respond myself, because such a great troll deserves at least one bite. But I can't understand what the fuck it's about. All I know is that it is truly a great specimen of the genre.

Re:Because... (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16989046)

From what I understand, he's saying that there's an urban conspiracy to undermine farmers.

Re:Because... (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16987444)

Because people want land close to a whole bunch of other people, which is expensive. They're literally giving away land in Oklahoma and such where there aren't any people.

Control cost of housing (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985320)

Your post indicates that high housing costs are preventing people from pursuing careers they really want. Let's say we all put you in charge of lowering the cost of housing. What would you do?

Re:Control cost of housing (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985760)

I have partial answers. First, tax real estate (and perhaps other forms of wealth), use that revenue to offset reductions in income tax. Second, restrict real estate loans. Third, encourage telecommuting (via tax deductions for employees that spend significant time from at home). And fourth, privatize passenger trains and complete the privitization of airlines by allowing various airlines to go bankrupt or merge.

Nice try, but... (1)

doug141 (863552) | more than 7 years ago | (#16987018)

Wealth = nest egg for retirement. This plan creates a disincentive to save, and taxes my ability to retire. Furthermore, it taxes the wealth I conscientiously saved out of my previous AFTER-TAX dollars.

Re:Nice try, but... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16992636)

Wealth = nest egg for retirement. This plan creates a disincentive to save, and taxes my ability to retire. Furthermore, it taxes the wealth I conscientiously saved out of my previous AFTER-TAX dollars.

OTOH, your nest egg probably makes up a very small fraction of the tens of trillions of dollars of real estate in the US. Or the tens of trillions of dollars in equity. Besides it aligns government interests with your interests. Currently, government has strong incentive to encourage consumerism. Earn lots of money and spend it right away in order to inflate other peoples' salaries. They also have a strong incentive to inflate money in order to pump up home prices and collect revenue from home sales at inflated prices (at least, I'd eliminate taxes on home sales). Inflation is a strong disincentive to saving.

But if government is taxing wealth, then they have a strong incentive to make more wealth. Besides, government is protecting your nest egg. You don't want something bad to happen to it, right?

Re:Control cost of housing (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 7 years ago | (#16987040)

What do you mean by 'restrict real estate loans'?

Re:Control cost of housing (1)

SRA8 (859587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16987678)

They likely mean -- restrict the near-fraudlent types of loans in the market now. While everyone should have access to money, people shouldnt have access to money they cannot ever pay back. Option ARMs come to mind. You can now purchase a million dollar home with a 40k/yr salary. Unless you are one of the rare people who have salaries increasing by 40 to 50% a year, these loans almost by rule will put a borrower in default sooner or later. Yet widespread sales of these loans have allowed the housing market to continue into the stratosphere.

Good points. I dont pretend to have answers. I'm just stating why *I* wouldnt want to be a cosmonaut or any other scientist.

Re:Control cost of housing (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 7 years ago | (#16988566)

I have no problem with 2 free entities, in this case the borrower and the lender, entering into a voluntary agreement. Given today's laws on disclosure of terms, borrowers know they are gambling and as a free man in a free and open society I don't have a problem with that.

Re:Control cost of housing (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16992526)

The problem is that the bank is gambling with Other Peoples' Money and the people making the loan decisions often get paid for how many loans they make, not whether those loans were good for the bank. I suppose it's a healthier attitude that the people who put savings into that bank should know the status of the bank's loans and incentives for their loan officers, but the US government has taken over that role. I think it's pointless to look at it from a heavily libertarian viewpoint since government regulation and the resulting ignorant dependency in the public will continue to infest banking for some time to come.

Re:Control cost of housing (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16992556)

Ie, restrict duration of the loan and reduce the amount that a bank can loan based on a family's salary. I recognize that libertarian notions are better here, but the US government has coopted various watchdog roles that usually would be done by the bank and the people who hold deposits in that bank.

Re:Control cost of housing (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16989658)

Personally, I'd build more tiny apartments. As a college student, I'd be happy to live in a glorified closet if it was cheap, close to campus, and I didn't have to share it with anyone. Unfortunately, such a thing doesn't exist (mostly because I live in Atlanta rather than Tokyo).

Re:Control cost of housing (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 7 years ago | (#16991392)

Okay, so now you are in charge. How will you finance the construction of tiny apartments? How will you convince the property owners that their land should be use for tiny apartments?

Re:Control cost of housing (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16992874)

The premise of being "in charge" implies that I'd have the power to carry out my plans. The problems you mention only apply in reality, where I'm not in charge. ; )

Oh, Please... (1)

doug141 (863552) | more than 7 years ago | (#16986930)

Your wages are roughly a measure of how valuable the rest of us find your work, with some averages and guesses of future output thrown in. Housing costs big money because PEOPLE build them (for wages... gasp!), and the best land gets sold by its property owner to the highest bidder (the nerve!!). If housing were priced below market value (i.e. if I were stealing land from landowners and labor from laborers), then, yeah, I'd be freed from necessary drudgery to pursue my dream job... in my case, undercover margarita tester.

Re:Oh, Please... (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16986996)

>market value

It's not "market value" if the buyers are being subsidized. Not only does the mortgage interest deduction push up demand, it most rewards the richest buyers.

richest buyers (1)

doug141 (863552) | more than 7 years ago | (#16987092)

No, the richest buyers exceed the $1 million mortgage cap on interest deduction, and are most likely to have to pay the Alternative Minimum Tax anyway.

You make an interesting point about how subsidies (to make housing affordable) can make housing expensive (by pushing up demand). Not sure what to make of it... if that was your point.

Given NASA's last track record... (1)

Genocaust (1031046) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985002)

I'd be less than apt to sign up, too. If NASA has problems with shuttles exploding on launch, who's to say Russia will fare better with its program? Sorry, as nice as the "final frontier" might be, I'm not keen on the idea of being vaporized just trying to get there.

Re:Given NASA's last track record... (2, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985062)

Just to set the record some what straight, both NASA and Russia have less than a 4% fatality rate among manned missions. You are more likely to be hurt in a car accident than an astronaut is going to be killed while on a mission.

so are you going to stop driving cars now? As the Allstate commercial says there is a car accident every few seconds in just the USA.

Re:Given NASA's last track record... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16985110)

Just to set the record some what straight, both NASA and Russia have less than a 4% fatality rate among manned missions. You are more likely to be hurt in a car accident than an astronaut is going to be killed while on a mission.

Even ignoring the fundamental difference between 'being hurt in an accident' and 'fatality', you CAN'T seriously expect people to believe that anything like 4% of car driving "missions" result in hurtful accidents. That just isn't plausible.

Re:Given NASA's last track record... (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985158)

Even if your figures are right I'd still jump at the chance to go into space, but quoting a fatality rate of less than one in twenty isn't going to comfort anyone. There are probably wars with lower death rates than that.

Re:Given NASA's last track record... (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985178)

Err... one in twenty five. Okay, so I'd fail the cosmonaut math test so the dying bit isn't even an issue :(

Re:Given NASA's last track record... (1)

thealsir (927362) | more than 7 years ago | (#16996028)

Yeah, if 4% of automobile expeditions resulted in deaths, everyone would be dead.

Re:Given NASA's last track record... (1)

at_18 (224304) | more than 7 years ago | (#16986294)

Just to set the record some what straight, both NASA and Russia have less than a 4% fatality rate among manned missions. You are more likely to be hurt in a car accident than an astronaut is going to be killed while on a mission.

You are kidding right? A 4% fatality rate in cars means that, driving your average work commute, you'll be killed after a mere three weeks! Space flight is still *extremely* dangerous compared to anything else.

Re:Given NASA's last track record... (1)

RecordHigh (826643) | more than 7 years ago | (#16989762)

Just to set the record some what straight, both NASA and Russia have less than a 4% fatality rate among manned missions. You are more likely to be hurt in a car accident than an astronaut is going to be killed while on a mission.

You can't possibly be serious, can you? I wanted to refute your statements with some actual statistics from the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, but then I realized that you obviously haven't even mastered common sense, so it's unlikely that actual statistics would get through to you. Plus, if comments like yours can get rated as 4-informative, why should I bother spending my time finding factual information.

Anyway... By your logic, considering that I've been taking 2 or more car trips a day for 37 years and I'm still alive to post this, I'd have to be the luckiest person to have ever existed. Otherwise, I'd be dead a hundred times over by now.

Re:Given NASA's last track record... (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16990944)

4% of people who drive cars don't die in accidents.

Re:Given NASA's last track record... (4, Informative)

jonerik (308303) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985330)

The USSR/Russia has had a phenomenally safe manned spaceflight record. The last (known) fatalities occurred in 1971 on the Soyuz 11 mission. 35 years of fatality-free manned spaceflight is nothing to sneeze at.

Re:Given NASA's last track record... (1)

jedrek (79264) | more than 7 years ago | (#16987434)

Didn't two shuttles blow up in the past 20-some years?

Re:Given NASA's last track record... (1)

jonerik (308303) | more than 7 years ago | (#16988612)

My response was regarding the Soviet/Russian manned space system. As for the shuttles, they've actually performed quite well in space. The problem hasn't been with the shuttles themselves, but with the way they're launched into space.

Grey Daily Routine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16985016)

The romantic aspect of the manned space exploration is no longer there; it has been replaced by gray daily routine.
What is that supposed to mean? It is important that we complete the grey daily routine. They like to eat too you know. And their cages can get really dirty. You would think that with thousands of years of advancement in science they would know how to clean up after themselves!

What's the point (1)

karuna (187401) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985018)

Even if I was offered to become a first man to set foot on Mars, I would refuse. I don't understand the attraction. It is the same as when the USA decades ago sent some men to the Moon just for propaganda purposes. Mars is just a barren place and nothing interesting to see their. All the science can be done 10 times better and cheaper by remote technology. So, although for humans reaching the space was great achievement, it is time to also acknowledge that it is not a place for humans yet.

Re:What's the point (2, Interesting)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985196)

Even if I was offered to become a first man to set foot on Mars, I would refuse. I don't understand the attraction.

Have you ever been the first one to make love to a virgin?

It's kind of the same thing. Even though it's not quite ready for prime time, it's nice to be the first one there. Everyone else that comes after you gets to see all of your footprints from when the landscape was pristine.

Sure, I wouldn't mind taking a lunar or martian vacation and staying at the holiday inn, but I'd rather get there before the rush.

LK

Re:What's the point (1)

apollosfire (954290) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985444)

Have you ever been the first one to make love to a virgin?
Make love?! I think you're in the wrong place..

Re:What's the point (1)

johansalk (818687) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985268)

Before I go anywhere I want to know about the toilette facilities.

Re:What's the point (1)

Flentil (765056) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985326)

I think it's about immortality and making a permanent mark on history. Do you know who was the first man to set foot on the moon? Do you think your great grandkids will also know the name? If humanity goes on for 10,000 more years expanding to hundreds of other solar systems, the name will still be remembered.

Re:What's the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16991584)

You can chose to swallow the hype that the US was keeping up with the USSR in the space race but you don't have to inflict such idiocy on your kids.

Despite every advantage (they had the majority of unemployed Nazi rocket scientists after the war) and shedloads of money, the yanks messed it up. Whats new there eh!!

Anyhow, the names that my children associate with the early conquest of space are Sputnik, Laika and Gagarin.

Re:What's the point (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985334)

Even if I was offered to become a first man to set foot on Mars, I would refuse. I don't understand the attraction.

And that's OK. Other people would jump at the chance. Like me.

Some people don't understand the attraction of roller coasters. Others do. To each his own.

Send Mark to space! (1)

goddidit (988396) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985036)

I'm pretty sure that openSUSE people would gladly pay a one way trip for him.
http://lists.opensuse.org/opensuse/2006-11/msg03 765.html

A shortage? (1)

caffiend666 (598633) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985076)

OK, so people are willing to pay $20 Million to participate in one flight, and the Russians are having problems getting people to participate for free/for small pay? The problem is probably not lack of interest. There's something else going on here.... They could be being too selective, they could not really be accepting anyone into the program, maybe the problem is they only take Russian's and ex-Soviet's. Then again, maybe a lot of people can't deal with leaving their fate for 10 years left up to a bureaucracy and then still stand an unlikely chance of accomplishing anything.

Re:A shortage? (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985214)

People pay for a JOYRIDE.
The have a hard time finding people who are

a) highly qualified to do actual work
b) physically in top shape
c) willingto put up with low pay

ironic (3, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985098)

In the 1960s one would dream of becoming a cosmonaut, now the young men are dreaming of becoming bankers,' says Sergei Shamsutdinov, an editor at the Novosti Kosmonavtiki magazine.

And here in America, we have bankers that dream of going up with Russian Cosmonauts.

Bah (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985108)

I would say that back then there were young kids dreaming about being bankeers as well. There were kids dreaming about being bus drivers, pirats, cosmonauts, scient men, and everything. Nothing has changed now in this case. The only thing that changed is that now kid have the *remote* oportunity of becoming a bankeer, when then they had more posibilities to become a party member or something. So, yes something has changed. Not the dreams, though.

Re:Bah (1, Insightful)

heroofhyr (777687) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985388)

I've never heard of a "young child" who even understood the concept of money and its limited supply and the fact people have to work for it let alone dreamt of one day being a banker. A bus driver, maybe. A pirate, probably. A cosmonaut/astronaut, I'm sure. A scientist, I can personally testify that that is a common child's dream. But a guy who sits at a desk all day filling out paperwork and wearing a tie? What the hell is wrong with a kid who wants to do that when they grow up? All right, maybe Michael J Fox in Family Ties, but other than that it seems unlikely. Incidentally, there were banks (sberkassy) in the Soviet Union as far back as the early 20s, and there were bankers as well. So if some weird, psychologically disturbed child really wanted to be a banker there was nothing stopping him/her.

Re:Bah (1)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985640)

But a guy who sits at a desk all day filling out paperwork and wearing a tie?

I dunno about you, but when I was a kid, "banker" conjured up images of being a fat cat wearing only the finest cut suits, sitting behind a huge mahogony desk at the very tippy top of a massive skyscraper, smoking fine cigars all day, barking out orders to cringing subordinates, riding in limos, eating at the finest restaurants, etc etc etc. Similarly, "astronaut" conjured images of Buck Rogers and Captain Kirk, and sometimes those guys and girls you saw on the TV who were floating around their high-tech spaceship, throwing M&Ms to each other and making little bubbles of water fly around.

When you're a kid, you have the leisure of idealizing everything. It's not until later that reality kicks in and you realize that all those jobs you thought were so cool when you were a kid really aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Let's not forget... (1, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985246)

...that though these numbers appear to be shrinking, the US will still be relying on Russian technology when it comes to space. This should not be a surprise because even in these United States, there is change all over the place. Sadly, this change is not all positive. Who has not heard about corruption, incompetence and cronyism at NASA?

Let's remember too that Russia still possesses and is still capable of developing some of the most deadly weapon systems known to man. Just look at what the US says when arms are sold to the so called "rogue states."

Re:Let's not forget... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16986788)

the US will still be relying on Russian technology when it comes to space.

Only because it is cheap and convenient to do so. There is nothing supplied by the Russians which the US could not develop if the need was there. And they would do a better job to, at 10 times the price.

Mandatory comment... (1)

ecuador_gr (944749) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985426)

In Soviet Russia cosmonaut becomes you!

Re:Mandatory comment... (1)

ecuador_gr (944749) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985442)

Woops, I missed the proper capitalization. Going to fetch my asbestos armor for the flaming!

Answer to the question, perhaps (2, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985486)

This is a bit of an answer to the question "Why go to the Moon, Mars, or an Asteroid?". I bet more candidates would get excited about something like that. Either they need to inspire these guys, or offer them more pay to twirl around in LEO tightening bolts and tending experiments. It might be more economical in the short run simply to offer more pay. In the long run, a partnership with other spacefaring nations to further exploration is probably the best thing for the long-term health of the program.

Re:Answer to the question, perhaps (1)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985568)

A partnership between all spacefaring nations is probably the best thing for the long-term health of space exploration as a whole.

Re:Answer to the question, perhaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16986420)

"It might be more economical in the short run simply to offer more pay."

" might ". You really can't work out in your head that doubling the salaries of a few dozen relatively low-paid people is cheaper than a Moon mission!?!

Anyway, I don't really see your point. Going to an asteroid to twirl bolts and tend experiments is better? The only real compensations I can imagine are a) fame* and b) beating that Lunar golf drive by actually putting a ball in orbit.

*bearing in mind that the only Apollo astronauts anyone remembers are Louis Armstrong and Tom Hanks.

Re:Answer to the question, perhaps (1)

dead nancy (239321) | more than 7 years ago | (#16987082)

I think Ali G helped bring about some awareness for Buzz Lightyear [youtube.com] (who is NOT jealous of Louis Armstrong).
 
DN

Re:Answer to the question, perhaps (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16988728)

I guess were you're from, nobody uses the "it might be X" construct, where X is obviously true. Maybe the proper usage would have been "it may be X", but in my experience people generally deduce the meaning from context, and don't question it. So. My grammar may simply not be correct. Or... it might be pedantry on your part. :)

Re:Answer to the question, perhaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16993758)

I think the correct usage would be something like "it seems that," or simply "it would be". However, I'm sure I would have understood you based on your tone of voice if you had been speaking rather than writing. Things like irony don't work well with text.

Thanks.

corpse (1)

Digitus1337 (671442) | more than 7 years ago | (#16985600)

Did anybody else read that as "The Incredible Shrinking Cosmonaut Corpse?" In soviet russia...

Re:corpse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16986278)

yeah, i did

Hardly Surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16986434)

To become an astronaut, cosmonaut, taikonaut etc., you have to build up a straight-as-an-arrow civilian and/or military career for 10+ years, always being in the right place at the right time. You know that around every corner, an incident can happen (injury, even a personal mishap) that could disqualify you. And even if you succeed at all that, then you're just one member of a large pool of astronaut wannabees, and the chance of actually making a flight are slim. Even if you make it into space, it's never more than a handful of missions that are about one week each.

Yes, I've dreamt of being an astronaut when I was a child. But then I realized how slim my chances were, and I didn't want to spend a whole life hoping for a small chance of a one or two week reward, however "magical" they might be. And think of all the astronauts that have trained all their life without ever making a single flight.

It's expected (1)

zecg (521666) | more than 7 years ago | (#16986938)

Since in Soviet Russia, astronauts become people.

Re:It's expected (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16987482)

It's in Soviet Russia, they're called cosmonauts there...

Stargate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16987022)

The ones in space now are for show the real ones are working on the Stargate Program

Dear Russian space program, (3, Funny)

kitzilla (266382) | more than 7 years ago | (#16989190)

Can't find enough Russian nationals to stock your space program? I'll go. Send me a Berlitz Russian language course, and we can get started right away. Mars, ISS, the moon -- whatever. Better to be a poor astro ... oops ... cosmonaut than a rich investment banker, I'm sure.

I'll even bring friends. Plenty of bodies to run your program into the next decade.

Star City, here we come.

but seriously.. (1)

Suchetha (609968) | more than 7 years ago | (#16989724)

why NOT advertise on geek sites like /.? there are enough of us here who pretty much wanted to go into space as soon as they heard it was a job opportunity. even i am willing to drag my sorry ass off the couch and start training if there was even a 0.001 chance that i would get chosen. and i really don't care where i go, ISS, moon, mars.. one way or return ticket. cover my food and lodging (and broadband) and you don't even need to pay me.

Joy of space is gone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16989778)

Not just in Soviet (or Post Soviet) Russia, but in the US too. Space is boring, because its been monotony. We were all supposed to be in space by now. Instead, half a dozen (OK, several hundred) brainiac 9000 types have been in space doing really boring stuff. Few others, except the super-rich have been able to go. Mother keeps telling us that its cold out there, do up your coat, and pin the mittens to your space suit. Space had everyones attention in the 1950's and 1960's, because progress was constant, steady, and advancing rapidly. Once the airplanes got to about 1500 miles per hour, the need for more speed fell away. The space shuttle is a hatchback, not a sports model. No one has been on the moon since December 11, 1972. We are approaching 34 years on that one. Our dreams raced ahead of the technology. Innovation has slowed to a crawl. Innovation has occurred in other areas though. First computers, then bio-engineering, then nanotechnology (in roughly that order). The technology isn't ready yet. Progress will be slow while people slug out details which will lead to more innovation. A lot of dead ends will be tried before new great stuff comes along. Cosmonauts, Astronauts, Taikonauts. They will all be a rare breed till technology allows dozens (or hundreds) of people to go into space at a time. Until then, its all at the edge of a long forgotten dream, dremped by 5 year olds living in the late 1960's and early 1970's.

They're working on it... (2, Interesting)

PeterAitch (920670) | more than 7 years ago | (#16990852)

I've just come back from Korolev (aka Space City) as a paying guest of Energia Corporation. I was there with some 17-18 year olds for the "Space Olympics", an annual international event where the Russians are trying very hard to enthuse the next generation about Space Exploration in general. At the same time, they are making shed-loads of money out of their "guests": very New Russia.

Having met five cosmonauts (4 active; 1 retired) on this trip, it's my impression that they are all still struggling to some extent to come to terms with life in modern Russia. Mostly in their late 40's or early 50's, they seemed tired and somewhat cynical, or even bored with the endless PR. Many of the technical support people have baled out, either to administrative jobs within the same sector or elsewhere completely. There was a definite "Soviet" feel to the trip, as our Russian hosts have not made a complete psychological transition from the old ways when they were truly elite. For example, we were not permitted to visit any working churches (e.g. St Basil's in Red Square) and they kept driving us round and round Moscow to ensure that we ran out of time rather than allow this visit. Lenin's mausoleum was, naturally, "highly recommended" (i.e. mandatory).

Even so, most of those in Space City proper (which strictly is a separate part of the much bigger city of Korolev) are still an elite by Russian standards. They have bigger apartments - twice the average floorspace - and much better shops. The best schools (e.g. Lyceum No. 11) are eye-opening for someone from the UK educational system. Although not amazingly lavish in terms of resources (although still good), the attainment of their top students is awesome. Their performance in science, mathematics, foreign languages and performing arts was extremely impressive.

On the other hand, traffic is utterly chaotic, the food was mostly appalling and their organisation (general, rather than specialist) was quite poor. Medical care was surprisingly cursory (I fell ill during the visit) and they certainly don't trust the banking system - I had to go to the airport exchange booths in the middle of the night to cash travellers' cheques to pay them in CASH for our visit. (Very unsettling for someone from the West!)

There are certainly enough technically-minded young Russians (and Kazakhstanis) around to keep the system supplied with cosmonauts - at least within a few years' time. They currently fund specialist scholarships to Moscow State University and have a range of other incentives. Crucially, they are all still very proud of their long legacy of cosmonautics (edited for deaths and maimings, inevitably) and it was a real thrill even for me to be able to physically grab hold of Yuri Gagarin's re-entry capsule, which is displayed with loads of other hardware in Energia's museum.

Then again, when the Russo-American-European ISS has become the world's highest advertising platform with this recent golf-drive stunt, who can really be sure what the future holds for science and scientists? When I trained 30 years ago, I never really expected to end up teaching young adults, even when moving towards the sunset of my working life.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?