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Russia Tops With 45% of Spacecraft Launches in 2006

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the model-rocket-engine-ban-hurts dept.

Space 119

knight17 writes "This year was a really good year for space exploring nations, but Russians may be the most happiest among them, because they grabbed a huge 45% of the spacecraft launching market this year. The coming year is also very good for Russian space programs, since next year they will finish the GLONASS navigation project. The US is in second place, and China & Japan in third with six launches each. The Russian officials said that the launches of spacecrafts will be lesser than what this year has been seen."

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119 comments

Go, CowboyNeal (5, Funny)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 6 years ago | (#17408814)

Clearly, Slashdot has the most best editors of all the internets.

Re:Go, CowboyNeal (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 6 years ago | (#17408906)

I wonder - is slashdot editor a paid job? What are the responsibilities of an editor when he's on a shift?

Re:Go, CowboyNeal (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17409128)

>>What are the responsibilities of an editor when he's on a shift?

Slashdot editors are responsible for filling several quotas before their shift is up:

1. At least two but as many as eight posts criticizing Microsoft for real and imagined transgressions.
2. At least one post with a title made entirely out of acronyms.
3. At least one but no more than four pieces of internet-joke-bait, involving sharks, lasers, tubes, snakes, or Russia.
4. At least one but as many as six top ten lists, about any subject.
5. At least two but as many as four posts praising the imminent ascenscion of Linux as the world's primary operating system.
6. At least two posts regarding contemporary scientific achievements or potential future technologies which have an extremely questionable grounding in reality.
7. At least one post speculating about Apple products.
8. At least one post that asks if Google is evil yet.
9. At least two but as many as nine posts that can be tagged "bigbrother".
10. At least one post about the RIAA/MPAA.
11. At least one but no more than four slashvertisements.

Re:Go, CowboyNeal (0, Redundant)

JungleRob (571035) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411878)

>>What are the responsibilities of an editor when he's on a shift? Slashdot editors are responsible for reaching quotas during their shift: 1. Up to eight, but no fewer than one post indicting Microsoft for imagined or real assultations. 2. No less than one post with a title that is only acronym-based (A.B.) or a group of acronyms that are acronym-based. 3. Up to four, but no fewer than one cliché involving lasers, sharks, snakes, Russia, or tubes that are internet-joke-bait fodder. 4. Up to six, but no fewer than one top ten list(s), about any number of subject(s). 5. Up to four, but no fewer than two posts praising the completely likely move of Linux as to this planet's primary operating system. 6. No fewer than two posts that site current scientific discovery or probable future discoveries which may no be grounded in reality. 7. No fewer than one post speculating about products by Apple. 8. No fewer than one post that begs the question whether or not Google is evil. 9. Up to nine, but no fewer than two posts that may be tagged *bigbrother*. 10. No less than one post that refers to the MPAA/RIAA. 11. Up to four, but no fewer than four slashvertisements. 12. Up to six, but no fewer than three redundant posts.

Re:Go, CowboyNeal (-1, Flamebait)

bouis (198138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17412962)

Don't forget 2-3 alarmist "global warming" stories.

infinite doop (1)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415280)

There must be a "6. Goto 4" somewhere in there...

Re:Go, CowboyNeal (0, Redundant)

JungleRob (571035) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411904)

>>What are the responsibilities of an editor when he's on a shift?

Slashdot editors are responsible for reaching quotas during their shift:

1. Up to eight, but no fewer than one post indicting Microsoft for imagined or real assultations.
2. No less than one post with a title that is only acronym-based (A.B.) or a group of acronyms that are acronym-based.
3. Up to four, but no fewer than one cliché involving lasers, sharks, snakes, Russia, or tubes that are internet-joke-bait fodder.
4. Up to six, but no fewer than one top ten list(s), about any number of subject(s).
5. Up to four, but no fewer than two posts praising the completely likely move of Linux as to this planet's primary operating system.
6. No fewer than two posts that site current scientific discovery or probable future discoveries which may no be grounded in reality.
7. No fewer than one post speculating about products by Apple.
8. No fewer than one post that begs the question whether or not Google is evil.
9. Up to nine, but no fewer than two posts that may be tagged *bigbrother*.
10. No less than one post that refers to the MPAA/RIAA.
11. Up to four, but no fewer than four slashvertisements.
12. Up to six, but no fewer than three redundant posts.

Re:Go, CowboyNeal (1)

inKubus (199753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414486)

In Soviet Russia, the launches of spacecrafts will be lesser than what this year has been seen.

TELL ME, HAVE YE EVER BEDDED A WOMAN? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17408846)

A woman with as sweet an ass as Nicole Brazzle [nicolebrazzlexxx.com] ??????

Re:TELL ME, HAVE YE EVER BEDDED A WOMAN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17410122)

She's kind of fat...

obligatory (-1, Troll)

gsn (989808) | more than 6 years ago | (#17408866)

In Soviet Russia spacecraft launch you! Oh wait...

Re:obligatory (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#17408892)

Ooo-Oooo, Mr Koter , Mr Koter - "In soviet russia you position sattelite".

Hybrid receivers? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17408908)

I wonder if it'll become worthwhile to build a hybrid gps/glonass/galileo receiver to cross-compare data from all three and get better precision...

Re:Hybrid receivers? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17409074)

GPS/GLONASS receivers were built in the days that GPS was artificially worsened by SA but had better coverage (more satellites).
When SA was switched off, interest in GLONASS has vanished. Probably Galileo receivers (and certainly the early ones) will be GPS/Galileo.

Re:Hybrid receivers? (2, Informative)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#17410012)

No, the problem was that GLONASS vanished. It has been resurrected recently. When the USSR broke up it caused various problems, including one astronaut that was left in space for almost 2 years, the first GLONASS was never completed and what was up there died eventually.

Re:Hybrid receivers? (1)

lagnis (878185) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411002)

There are hybrid GPS/GLONASS receivers already, actually GPS/GLONASS/GALILEO. http://www.topconpositioning.com/ [topconpositioning.com] Laica and Trimble have GPS/GLONASS. But for use in a GPS with a street map or something like that? I doubt it will be worth it, the increase in precession doesn't matter much for that, for professional use it's worth it, especially since you have a better chance of always having enough satellites around.

What language? (2, Interesting)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 6 years ago | (#17408930)

The Russian officials said that the launches of spacecrafts will be lesser than what this year has been seen.

This must have been literally translated from Russian. Most other languages are hilarious when literally translated without changing cases or tenses - "Throw me down the stairs my hat".

Re:What language? (4, Funny)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#17409836)

The real question is, "what does it mean?"

My guess is: "Warden, the vodka is strong, but the meat is rotten."

Re:What language? (1)

snarkth (1002832) | more than 6 years ago | (#17412444)

No, no. What it really means is:

  The oxen are slow, but the earth is patient.

  See? :)

  snarkth

Re:What language? (1)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415220)

"This must have been literally translated from Russian. Most other languages are hilarious when literally translated without changing cases or tenses"

I certainly hope this is the reason, but lets face it, up to now slashdot editors have not really needed translation problems to serve us broken english.

hum (1)

epiphani (254981) | more than 6 years ago | (#17408938)

The Russian officials said that the launches of spacecrafts will be lesser than what this year has been seen.

Does. Not. Parse.

Re:hum (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#17409346)

It's a broken translation. The original quote means something like: "There will be less launches next year than this year". The direct translation from Russian looks like: "The next year is going to see less launches than this year".

The original article is here: http://rian.ru/analytics/20061215/56977055.html [rian.ru]

news making (3, Insightful)

nettamere (672641) | more than 6 years ago | (#17408940)

Ok- so that means that Russia had what - 26 launches or so? I don't recall many of them making the news in the US. See - that is the kind of stuff I want to see make the national news for the masses- not the OMG moment of some political nut job of the day-

Re:news making (3, Insightful)

WaZiX (766733) | more than 6 years ago | (#17408980)

well, they never blow up or anything...

Maybe they should ask Nasa for some PR advice...

Re:news making (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 6 years ago | (#17409032)

well, they never blow up or anything...

The Russians have had their share of accidents.

Re:news making (1)

twostar (675002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17412572)

Just see the DNEPR launch this summer. Little problem with some hydraulics and down comes the rocket.

But they do have a better percentage just because they do fly so many. Even if they loose one a year it's 1 out of 25. When the US looses 1 it's out of 15.

Re:news making (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17409160)

Your basic knowledge of the past 60 years of USSR/Russian history is seriously flawed.

Re:news making (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 6 years ago | (#17408994)

Russia has had a history not announcing space flights until a successful landing had occurred, so that any failures could be quietly swept away. I'm not sure if that still is the case today, but that and the fact that most were boring unmanned ISS resupply missions means the general drooling public just can't be distracted from who the latest American Idiot^H^H^Hol is this week to give a crap.

Re:news making (1)

xENoLocO (773565) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411544)

26? The article says 40...

Oh wait... they use the metric system in Russia, right?

Good. Teach NASA a lesson. (4, Insightful)

the_REAL_sam (670858) | more than 6 years ago | (#17409024)

Hurray for Russia!!

Perhaps they can teach NASA how to run an economical, yet highly effective, space program.

Re:Good. Teach NASA a lesson. (0, Troll)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 6 years ago | (#17409218)

Highly effective? More launches != more effective.

Re:Good. Teach NASA a lesson. (1, Insightful)

Enonu (129798) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411130)

The Russians aren't idiots. I'm sure they're collecting loads of scientific data with each flight to help then design and implement future space programs. In the long run, practice will make perfect.

Personally though, I'd just scrap NASA entirely as it's entirely too encumbered by red-tape to do anything worthwhile and replace it with commercial space programs. Competing interests will result in increased innovation and cost reduction.

Re:Good. Teach NASA a lesson. (2, Informative)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 7 years ago | (#17412754)

Personally though, I'd just scrap NASA entirely as it's entirely too encumbered by red-tape to do anything worthwhile and replace it with commercial space programs.

How does one create a commercial space program capable of manned missions to space and interplanetary scientific probes?

Private industry will jump in as soon as they feel it's profitable. NASA's continued existence in no way forbids this. The payoff from NASA's current activities will come decades, maybe centuries in the future when manned spaceflight has matured enough to allow humans to colonize other worlds. The reward from this is no less than the continued survival of the human species in the event of a planetary cataclysm. (which is only a matter of when, not if)

Mining asteriods and the greater solar system can reduce the environmental impact of terrestrial mining operations and might be quite profitable if it can be done efficiently enough. Everything that has been learned (and continues to be learned) from NASA's probes will be of tremendous help in figuring out how to tackle something like that.

A lot of good science is being accomplished with NASA's robotic missions. This may be of little value to some, but it's the life's-work of others. Some might sneer and call the martian rovers "expensive toys humping rocks on another planet," while others view it as another step on the very long path to humanity leaving its cradle.

Re:Good. Teach NASA a lesson. (0)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414124)

Private industry will jump in as soon as they feel it's profitable. NASA's continued existence in no way forbids this.

Let me ask a question: at what point is it profitable to compete when your competition's profit is based on their ability to spend larger and larger amounts of someone else's money?

The more money Nasa spends on spaceflight, the harder it is for comercial flights to happen - who is going to invest in a business competing with the US government?

That said, I think the current Nasa management sees the problem, and is trying to avoid it. The launcher they are currently building is so large that it will never be profitable, even ignoring sunk costs. That leaves an opening for the little guys to shine on a per mission cost basis.

But never doubt - Nasa being there delays comercialization of space. Unfortunate, but true.

Re:Good. Teach NASA a lesson. (1, Informative)

cyclone96 (129449) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411324)

More launches != more effective

Agreed. Number of launches is not necessarily a good indicator of overall health of a nation's space program.

For a variety of reasons (some related to how cheaply and reliably they can launch), Russian satellites tend to be designed for shorter lifetimes than their western counterparts. For example, the article cited Glonass satellites. A Glonass vehicle has a design lifetime of 3 years, while the American GPS system has a satellite lifetime of ~ 10 years. The Russians need to launch more often to maintain the constellation.

Does that mean that either program is healthier than the other? No. It just means the Russians chose to design a constellation with a cheaper satellite that requires replenishment more often instead of one with a more durable (and expensive) spacecraft that doesn't require as many launches. One philosophy isn't better than the other, each side chose the one that best fit their design requirements and the resources they had at their disposal.

Re:Good. Teach NASA a lesson. (2, Informative)

Venik (915777) | more than 6 years ago | (#17412006)

Russians developed several versions of the GLONASS satellite. The original model was designed for three years. The first satellite of this type was launched in 1992. GLONASS-M is designed for 7 years (first one launched in 2005), and GLONASS-K - for 12 years (to be launched in 2008).

Re:Good. Teach NASA a lesson. (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413040)

Perhaps not always, but usually.

As long as the rockets don't fail (and I haven't heard much of that happening during 2006), it tend to mean they get more research projects in the air.

Also, the Russians of course know that minimizing the rocket launches necessary is essential for their space program.

They aren't stupid, many actually being rocket scientists! :-)

Very Simple actually (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411526)

Perhaps they can teach NASA how to run an economical, yet highly effective, space program.

Create the rockets back in the 60's and keep building them the same way. Oh, pay your ppl about a fraction of what other countries make. And do not worry about fires on a space station, O2 generators that fail, rockets that blow up early in the program (and yes, the USSR lost more than their fair share back in the 60's and 70's). Oh, have a much higher failure rate on other parts of a space program, so focus on the areas where you have success from 30 years ago, rather than focus on why you failed and move on.

So, here are some real thoughts. USSR/Russia has had their successes. So has America. USSR/Russia has had their failures. So had America. So has India, EU, Japan, China, and Brazil (hopefully, they continue theirs, since it seems like nothing has happen since the accident). But a good country learns from failures and moves on. NASA moves on whenever they get funding. Problem is, admins play havoc with NASA starting with Nixon killing off Apollo. Even now, Bush and congress is telling NASA to go to the moon, without proper funding. By the time that we have a new launcher, there will be multiple private launchers and space stations. The cool thing is that the costs will go down, and going to the moon will be quite a bit cheaper.

In fact, I would guess by 2011, the space config that will go to the moon will be a tug-pushed Bigelow station with orion in the front of it. In addition, by 2013, we will have a lunar lander and a number of Bigelow station that will serve as the core hubs of a lunar station. Quite simply, we are heading towards a much lower costs space program. And why is that? Because NASA (and RKA) did the vast majority of the research. Even now, Bigelow's was NASA's research. The private rockets that will launch the world into space ALL owe their expensive research to 2 countries space programs. And even then, USSR "borrowed" heavily from NASA. Ever wonder why the Bruan was so similar to the space shuttle?

Re:Very Simple actually (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411748)

I think you have many excellent points. The Russian economy is very depressed and they can launch cheaply by the fact that their engineers and other labor is very cheap, IIRC, fairly dissapointing wages at that. I thought it was the US legislatures that cancelled Apollo. That program didn't seem very rooted in science though, and given that the cost was $1B a trip in 1970 dollars, it was too expensive to justify for less than a week's stay. I hope that the private ventures find a cheap way to moon & Mars because NASA's way is just too expensive. To me, the biggest initial problem is cost to orbit, the amount of energy needed to loft a kilogram just into orbit is a major expense and there doesn't seem to be an easy solution to that problem.

The Buran / Energia combination was very similar to the US STS but it did have interesting twists on the idea, for example, IIRC, it was flown completely unmanned and I don't remember the US system having that capability.

Personally, I think NASA's strong point is unmanned exploration, though maybe it's mostly JPL's doing. Pioneer, Voyager, Spirit, Opportunity, Deep Space One exemplify this. The fact that NEAR was able to land on an asteroid despite not having been designed for that feat is astounding. Cassini-Huygens is another example. Even Galileo did well despite the setbacks. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is a fascinating project too, being good enough to see the rovers, their tracks and the shado its mast casts.

Re:Very Simple actually (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#17412282)

I thought it was the US legislatures that cancelled Apollo.

Yes and No. The legislature put pressure on Nixon to balance the budget since he increased spending in so many other areas (esp in Vietnam). Nixon retaliated by going after the Democrats pet projects; Nasa was simply #1 on the hit parade. Technically, it was Nixon that killed Apollo, but it was under pressure from dems.


To me, the biggest initial problem is cost to orbit, the amount of energy needed to loft a kilogram just into orbit is a major expense and there doesn't seem to be an easy solution to that problem.

That is the core problem. Probably a better way to describe it is that getting up the life support (fuel, O2, water, and food) for any duration mission is too expensive. Our problem is that we keep launching these via rockets which have to launch not only the item, but the fuel and the rocket itself.
One solution is the elevator, but it is not practable at this time.
Another approach is to simply throw it into space. That has required a many miles launcher to be able to obtain the 17K MPH required to get there. But a recent idea may make this VERY doable. Roughly a multiple mile circular launcher that aquires speed by taking 1 or more days to accelerate. Once it is up to speed, it simply diverts to a side rail and is flung into space. This will probable happen in the next 5-10 years because the military needs something similar for inexpensive sat launches. One that will be here in about 5 years is the same one that NASA wanted in the 70s; a plane/rocket launcher. That is what Rutan is building at Scaled. I am guessing that they will have 2 versions, one of which is rigged for launching small cargo (including fuel and water).

The Buran / Energia combination was very similar to the US STS but it did have interesting twists on the idea, for example, IIRC, it was flown completely unmanned and I don't remember the US system having that capability.

Actually, the Russians admitted that they directly "borrowed" the plans. But yeah, I have to admit, that I liked their directions. In fact, by moving the engines from the shuttle to the tank (Energia), they basically, had the system that we are now creating with Orion (other than being side mounted). As to the autopilot, I was under the impression that it was strictly landing, but I could be wrong. The truth is, that shuttle has the capability to be totally automated, but then what need would there be for pilots? And would you prefer that the person in control of your vehicle be in it with you? I would.

I can understand yourself your liking the robotics stuff, but much of the robotics is possible because of what happened in the Apollo, Gemeni, and Mercury projects. I think that once we have a new launcher, that we will see huge advances in the robotics to support the mining and exploration of the moon. Once that happens, it will make exploration of Mars, Venus, etc much easier and cheaper. Hopefully, we will go after asteroids soon.

Re:Very Simple actually (1)

hughk (248126) | more than 7 years ago | (#17412604)

As to the autopilot, I was under the impression that it was strictly landing, but I could be wrong. The truth is, that shuttle has the capability to be totally automated, but then what need would there be for pilots? And would you prefer that the person in control of your vehicle be in it with you? I would.

Buran's one and only out of atmosphere misson was flown unmanned. The autopilot worked very well. To be fair, the life systems weren't complete at that point so no human could have gone aloft, but it was still an impressive achievement.

Also Buran could accept detachable jet-packs that allowed full in-atmosphere flight. This means that the whole business of ferrying became much easier

Cheap Labor (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413952)

Oh, pay your ppl about a fraction of what other countries make.

People keep forgetting about this. It is a trend that is eating into many science and tech related fields. It is hard to see how technology can be our comparative advantage, except maybe the cutting-edge stuff that no other country wants because of the boom-bust cycles it dumps on the careers of angry voters.
     

Re:Good. Teach NASA a lesson. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17412344)

Idiot. You clearly are an outsider with no concept of how the launch industry works. So nice that you get modded +5. True Slashdot form...morons get the mod point.

Call me when you work at KSC like I do.

mod parent up!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17415854)

^boost^

(lol?)

LOL Soviet Russia! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17409048)

In Soviet Russia, what this year has been seen.

Arianespace (4, Informative)

Schapsmann (969126) | more than 6 years ago | (#17409072)

For those interested, Arianespace toped 5th with 5 Ariane5 (omg 555????) successful launches in 2006. http://www.arianespace.com/site/launchlog/launchlo g_sub_index.html [arianespace.com]

Re:Arianespace (1)

Chris Daniel (807289) | more than 6 years ago | (#17412432)

Arianespace toped 5th with 5 Ariane5 (omg 555????) successful launches in 2006

Clearly a rather extreme example of the Law of Fives [wikipedia.org] .

So Russia won the spaCe raCe? (1)

PWNT (985141) | more than 6 years ago | (#17409082)

Apologies as my "C" key is busted, so I Cut and Copied the "C" from "Post Comment"!

Seemingly the Russians with their outdated technology are winning the space race. The USA with all its money, trying for reusable spacecraft, lost!

Re:So Russia won the spaCe raCe? (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 6 years ago | (#17409208)

Then why is the letter c lowercase in the second paragraph?
Seemingly the Russians with their outdated technology are winning the space race. The USA with all its money, trying for reusable spacecraft, lost!

Re:So Russia won the spaCe raCe? (1)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 6 years ago | (#17409402)

What a silly bunt.

Re:So Russia won the spaCe raCe? (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#17410712)

Seemingly the Russians with their outdated technology are winning the space race. The USA with all its money, trying for reusable spacecraft, lost!

I'm not sure what you mean by that, since we didn't just try for reusable spacecraft we actually built them. They're called "Space Shuttles". We've put lots of stuff into Earth orbit using the Shuttle fleet. Granted, the launch cost was far greater than originally projected, but show me a single government on this planet that doesn't incur major cost overruns on a big project. Let's also remember that we didn't spend enough money up front to build the spaceplane that NASA originally wanted: the Shuttle is a flying kluge and it's amazing to me that it works at all. Sometimes it doesn't. Congress, in more ways than one, screwed us by getting cheap after the end of the Apollo program.

In any event, since you seem to think the U.S. space program has been a failure, let me point out that the U.S. Global Positioning System has been operational for decades while Russia's satellite network never achieved more than partial functionality. The entire planet has benefited directly from the U.S. investment in GPS (not that I expect any expression of gratitude at this point) so much so that now entire economies are dependent upon that kind of technology. Sort of like the Internet, for that matter. As I understand it, GLONASS wasn't working at all for a long time and at its peak had nowhere near the global impact of GPS.

Besides, "winning" a race depends upon the nature of the race, and what you are trying to achieve in the first place. Seemingly you need to do some more research before posting.

Re:So Russia won the spaCe raCe? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413054)

The space race is since long over.

USA and Russia are nowadays fairly often collaborating in space and both have played major roles in getting much of the tech at ISS up and running.

Re:So Russia won the spaCe raCe? (1)

linders (822835) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414860)

So you're the one to blame for the "ost Comment" bug!?

What about europe ? (1)

edavid (1045092) | more than 6 years ago | (#17409086)

Europe is not cited, and certainly did more than 3 launches last year. It seems very strange...

This just in (0, Redundant)

mackyrae (999347) | more than 6 years ago | (#17410250)

Europe is not a country. It is a continent, and Russia is part of it.

Re:This just in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17411648)

Europe is not a country. It is a continent,

Yes, but still a continent with its own space program (and that is without Russia).

Re:This just in (1)

AberBeta (851747) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411842)

Hang on, I thought they used "nation" in TFA.

Re:This just in (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413082)

Europe is not a country. It is a continent, and Russia is part of it.

Not enough to ever have a chance of entering the European Union though, and as ESA is largely a collaboration of EU contries, I also think there should be a distinction here.

The ESA doesn't have Russia as one of its members, and it's the primary European space agency (actually; that's what it's short for -- European Space Agency) in common speech.

Kazakhstan (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#17409142)

Don't the Russians actually launch their space vehicles from Kazakhstan?

No, I'm not just saying that because the scoop sounds like something Borat might have said.

Re:Kazakhstan (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#17409284)

Technically, Baikonur is Russian territory (rented from Kazakhstan).

In Soviet Russia... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17409176)

...spacecraft launches you. :)

true but...whats the point? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17409216)

The article states they grabbed LAUNCHES. I'm not sure that has much to do with their space program.

There are many launch bases in the world. Launch locations include Kaoru, French Gianna, Japan, China (at one time), and Hawaii. The bases are used to launch many types of commercial satellites. Private companies transport spacecraft all over the world to be launched. While the number of launches from Kaoru might be higher than the U.S. or elsewhere, the spacecraft being launched are mostly from other countries.

The Russian Antonov is the largest commercial plane in the world and this plays a role as well. It has 4 independent cranes can load next-gen sized spacecraft and the plane itself can house the entire launch campaign including employees. Companies like Space Systems/Loral have been leaving for launches out of Moffet Field for years.

It all boils down to cost. They produce cheaper rides, cheaper launches, and quality transportation. Therefore they launch more rockets. It also takes less fuel to get to orbit from Russia. I highly doubt these numbers represent anything special.

..and yes, we are messy. [nationalgeographic.com]

Re:true but...whats the point? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411032)

There is the chicken and egg effect that higher launch frequency drives down launch costs since the high fixed costs can be divided between more launches. Launch costs do form a significant part of the overall cost of satellites and probes and they indirectly drive up the cost of the total system. If your probe is expensive to launch, then you want it to be more reliable to cover that cost. End result is that high launch costs result in expensive, high redundancy cargos.

BTW, it takes more fuel to orbit from a high lattitude location than from a place near the equator (assuming of course that you launch in the direction of Earth's rotation).

Borat (2, Informative)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#17409234)

"The US is in second place, and China & Japan in third with six launches each. The Russian officials said that the launches of spacecrafts will be lesser than what this year has been seen."

And, by the way, Kazakhstan is in first place! Little known secret is that rockets are actually launched from Baikonur, which is in Kazakhstan, greatest nation in the world! All other nations have inferior rockets!

    -- Borat

I work as a NASA engineer on the launch programs (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17409456)

As a NASA engineer who works on the expendable launch vehicle programs I can tell you that the comments made so far are born out of ignorance. NASA contracts launch programs to launch satellites for itself. ULA, ILS, etc. sell rides to space. Russia's launch services have a high degree of American engineering and participation (I have US citizen friends who work in Borat'ville).

NASA makes satellites such as STEREO and then buys a ticket on a Delta II or an Atlas V. IT then oversees the launch process. Contractors make the rockets (Lockheed Martin, Boeing, etc.)

The process is far more complex than that, but regardless this 45% capture does not reflect poorly on NASA whatsoever. Delta II's and Protons are tried and true and the current workhorses of the international space community.

  If you want to see NASA at its finest look at the Mars missions or STEREO or Cassini. They are marvels of engineering.

Re:I work as a NASA engineer on the launch program (2, Interesting)

papar (893096) | more than 6 years ago | (#17410044)

NASA does rule the scientific field and does the best job in engineering spacecrafts for scientific purposes mostly because you got the bigger budget (but how long?). The Russians have always been superior to U.S when it comes to launching stuff into space and in my opinion they still are. And isn't that what really matters? But hey, maybe that's why the U.S is hurrying up the new Moon missions and replacing the shuttle with the good old rockets. Why on earth did you replace the Saturn family with the space shuttle? Would have it really been too expensive to have them working side by side, the shuttle for the manned missions (repairs, visits to space stations etc.) and Saturn for the bigger payloads. Now that's where the U.S system fails, everything has to be always done in such a high and mighty manner.

What US failure? (2)

amightywind (691887) | more than 6 years ago | (#17410626)

Now that's where the U.S system fails, everything has to be always done in such a high and mighty manner.

What failure? The US designed the ISS. We are using the Space Shuttle to build it. The Russians have launched 2 small station modules. The US has launched 12. We were the first and only nation to make it to the moon, and we will be the first back with no competition in sight. Is any other country even attempting to build moon-capable launchers?

Re:What US failure? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#17410938)

The sum of the manned space program after more than 50 years of work is three people in space and an old RLV that's one way or another will be phased out in a few years. There are big plans on the distant horizon, but little in play now. That is failure.

And you're too optimistic about the US going back to the Moon. Recall that this fad has occured before. Whether or not this happens in the next couple of decades depends a lot on the next administration. It's not obvious to me that the Constellation program has a chance. And even if it does, it's not clear to me that this program actually will result in a long term lunar presence. The launch infrastructure appears too shaky to me. NASA is depending on high cost, low launch frequency homebrew launchers, and from their history with the Shuttles, they do a terrible job of getting back to work after a serious accident.

Homebrew launchers (2, Insightful)

amightywind (691887) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411352)

NASA is depending on high cost, low launch frequency homebrew launchers, and from their history with the Shuttles, they do a terrible job of getting back to work after a serious accident.

The Ares I and Ares V designs draw from the launch technologies developed over the past 25 years. The SRB Ares I first stage is fantastically reliable and cost efficient. The parallel staged Ares V combines the best of lightweight shuttle tankage and newly developed LH2 RS-68 engines. It is a smaller simpler design than the Saturn V that will have a 40% greater payload. The Orion spacecraft will support missions of many months and has huge interior volume compared to anything else ever flown. No other nation has a capability remotely comparable.

Re:Homebrew launchers (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411654)

Mostly good points. A couple of things is that Orion is really not all that spacious. It really does not have the ability to go to Mars or even a NEO asteroid by itself. But I think that combined with BA-330, that it will be a good combo.

I find it interesting that you think that the Ares I will be cost efficient. I was under the impression that it would be quite a bit more expensive for a small launcher compared to Deltas or even spaceX falcon.

Just out of curiosity, is NASA even looking at Direct Launcher? It strikes me that it is a good way to get the space program moving quickly.

Re:Homebrew launchers (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 7 years ago | (#17412736)

A Delta IV heavy is not a good design. The high impulse (and cost) hydrogen booster stages are wasted by drag losses in the lower atmosphere. Without booster to core propellant crossfeed and a new upper stage I don't think it is even an option. An Atlas V with solid motors might work, barely. Atlas V Heavy and Falcon are more vaporous at this point than Ares I.

I have no problem with the Direct Launcher proposal. It resembles shuttle derived concepts from the 1990's. But 2 SRBs a core vehicle and an upper stage must be more expensive than the Ares I configuration of an SRB and an upper stage. Seems to me it might create a "dial a rocket" continuum of launchers like a larger Atlas V. My only criticism is that the Orion vehicle should be made larger.

Re:Homebrew launchers (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413940)

Still the Delta IV sounds promising. They could always add solid boosters to get the rocket out of the atmosphere before turning up or even starting the first stage.

An Atlas V with solid motors might work, barely. Atlas V Heavy and Falcon are more vaporous at this point than Ares I.

IMHO that is an unfair comparison for Atlas V Heavy here. Ares I is in between the Atlas V Heavy and Falcon in terms of vaporware right now. Atlas V Heavy is based on expanding an existing launch platform and they already have the designs. Talking about how incomplete the EELV/a launchers (Delta IV Heavy and Atlas V Heavy) are, ignores that the Ares I wouldn't launch any sooner than 2012 and manned launches aren't planned sooner than 2014. I think it's a terrible idea to develope the Ares I rather than using these commercial platforms instead. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Homebrew launchers (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414238)

As I mention in my other post [slashdot.org] , I heavily favor using existing commercial launchers over developing new launch infrastructure. The Ares V is still useful because nothing comes close, but the same can't really be said for the Ares I.

Looking at the consolidation of the two rocket lines (the Delta IV and Atlas V variants) that can come close to the Ares I, I see that they've been consolidated into a single monopoly, the United Launch Alliance [wikipedia.org] or ULA. That's not a sign of health. My take is that it's much more valuable to create genuine competitive in the commercial manned launch market (and prevent yet another economic disaster in the US space launch capacity) than to build the Ares I or for that matter to send expeditions to the Moon and Mars. Let us recall that development of launch infrastructure is higher up in NASA's charter [nasa.gov] than conducting space science or manned expeditions.

I consider the Ares I and V to "homebrew" in several ways. First, given their low launch frequency, they will be expensive. The Ares V is scheduled to launch 3-4 times a year while the Ares I sounds like it'll launch maybe 6-12 times per year (I really don't know, this unsubstantiated blurb [spacepolitics.com] indicates 10 launches per year over 2020-2025). The Ares I uses a 5 segmented sold rocket booster which to my knowledge is not a fantastically reliable and cost efficient design, but an untested redesign of the very reliable SRBs used on the Space Shuttle. Given ten launches a year, it won't be cost efficient either. By definition.

And ten launches a year would go a long ways to sustaining the US space launch industry in this region. Even if we including all existing Atlas V and Delta IV launches (of which there were apparently 5 total in 2006), that triples existing volume in this range. NASA can provide a big boost to this market now. And after the market gets more active (with both new competitors and fixed costs being divided across a larger group of launches than just the few NASA ones), then NASA can benefit from the resulting low launch costs.

Re:What US failure? (1)

papar (893096) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411110)

I'm not doubting the United States' current engineering superiority. What I'm doubting is the way things are being done. I wouldn't call the ISS a success. Yes, it is a great achievement in manned spaceflights and perhaps it will some day be useful when it comes to planning manned flights to other worlds but so far very little has been achieved. And why use shuttles to build it when you could have used just a few Saturn V rockets to get all the modules and structures to space. The shuttle is great for transporting humans to orbit and back but it sure is not the best option with heavy payloads. Even though NASA has been set on a course the get the U.S back to Moon and even to Mars I still have my doubts. The ISS is costing the US billions of precious money and now you're basicly trying to get rid off it. And why would the US get rid off something that has real value? They probably wouldn't and that speaks for itself. The US would be capable of manned flights to Moon and most likely to Mars too, but if it has no value in the political field (getting to Moon was ALL about beating the Soviet Union) the US goverment will most likely stop funding such a project. Though that's just a good thing, because most likely somebody will set his foot on the Moon in the next 20 years or so and the US sure would hate to see someone else doing it first. And by the way, there are several countries with plans of getting their men to Moon. Russia, China, India and maybe even the Europeans. Russia and China clearly have the resources to do it if they choose to and who knows about the Indians.

Show me the money (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411474)

And by the way, there are several countries with plans of getting their men to Moon. Russia, China, India and maybe even the Europeans. Russia and China clearly have the resources to do it if they choose to and who knows about the Indians.

One wonders why China and Russia, now flush with profits though adopting the U.S. style capitalism they fought for 50 years, do not aggressively build a greater capability. In America we say, "show me the money!" They aren't.

Re:Show me the money (1)

goldenpanda (1013311) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415058)

Hmm, world's highest rail road over permafost, world's biggest hydro electric dam.. we show the money where money counts for something.

Re:Show me the money (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 7 years ago | (#17416120)

The Tibet railroad is an instrument of repression, nothing more. It is my hope with US backing India will seize it back and restore the Dali Lama. As for the 3 gorges dam. Yawn. China is a joke.

Re:What US failure? (1)

madcow_bg (969477) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411112)

> The US designed the ISS. We are using the Space Shuttle to build it. The Russians have launched 2 small station modules.
As true as it is, don't forget that when the ISS was just two modules the Russians landed MIR, because it was 11 years in space. :)

Re:What US failure? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17411186)

What failure? The US designed the ISS. We are using the Space Shuttle to build it.

The ISS is spectacularily behind schedule. Because you are using Space Shuttles to build it. You also seem to forget that the ISS is a international project. Mainly because the US wanted to draw on Russian experience. They designed the Mir. Remember that one? ( Try searching for "Zvezda" or "Zarya" )

The Russians have launched 2 small station modules. The US has launched 12.

This is because the modules are designed for hitching a ride with the shuttle. Try counting *all* missions to the ISS and the picture looks slightly different.

We were the first and only nation to make it to the moon, and we will be the first back with no competition in sight

Well - the russians reached the moon first actually. And the reason that you will be first back has to do with the fact that most nations decided that the moon was a waste of time and money. Until someone in GWB's administration decided otherwise.

You should also be aware that the words "competition" and "moon" are rarely used in the same sentence as "space science" and "well spent money".

We saw Mir (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411304)

They designed the Mir. Remember that one? ( Try searching for "Zvezda" or "Zarya" )

You seem to forget the we (the US) have seen inside Mir. It was a carnival of danger and reckless management. This recklessness persists to this day with Russia's sleazy instance to fly moviestars in space for profit. Look up some of the interviews of US astronauts who spent time there. I for one am unimpressed.

Well - the russians reached the moon first actually. And the reason that you will be first back has to do with the fact that most nations decided that the moon was a waste of time and money. Until someone in GWB's administration decided otherwise.

A desperite crash landing of a probe can hardly be compared to the "giant leap" of Apollo. I gave GDub credit for injecting life into the moribund earth orbital program.

You should also be aware that the words "competition" and "moon" are rarely used in the same sentence as "space science" and "well spent money".

Nonetheless, you can expect most of the spacefaring nations of the world to be grovelling for a piece of Project Constellation.

Re:We saw Mir (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17412358)

You seem to forget the we (the US) have seen inside Mir. It was a carnival of danger and reckless management.

And at which point did NASA become a paragon of good management?

A desperite crash landing of a probe can hardly be compared to the "giant leap" of Apollo.

A desperate crash? You need to read up on the soviet lunar programme [wikipedia.org] . I count 5 probes impacting/landing before july 1969 - Luna 2, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 13.

Nonetheless, you can expect most of the spacefaring nations of the world to be grovelling for a piece of Project Constellation.

Seeing that NASA has already ruled this out [planetary.org] , then no - I wouldn't expect that.

Re:What US failure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17413988)

Me me me me me me me.

Sore loser.

Re:I work as a NASA engineer on the launch program (2, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#17410848)

The budget for the Saturn V wasn't sustainable. Neither was the high launch rate (roughly 40 Shuttle launches per year) that the Shuttles were supposed to have. Now, NASA could have done something like Ares I and V back then. Ie, a smallish manned launcher and a heavy lifter designed to be cheaper to manufacture and launch than a Saturn V. But they didn't.

Number of launches isn't important (2, Insightful)

Rix (54095) | more than 6 years ago | (#17410674)

It's what they do.

On the Russian side, it sounds like much of that activity is from commercial satellite launches. Useful, but not all that interesting. On the American side, a big chunk is pointless, outdated shuttle launches. Some of those will be useful, such as fixing the Hubble, but most will just be the make work project that is the IIS.

Re:Number of launches isn't important (0, Redundant)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411146)

Well, I for one welcome our billions-of-dollar firework overlords.
</black humour>

Re:Number of launches isn't important (1)

rice_web (604109) | more than 7 years ago | (#17413136)

Some of those will be useful, such as fixing the Hubble, but most will just be the make work project that is the IIS.
Sheesh, I know Apache's the better server, but IIS can't be that bad.

not surprising in the least (3, Insightful)

davek (18465) | more than 6 years ago | (#17410918)

I am not surprised at all by this statistic. Every few months or so I've been hearning something about russia's space program in the major news sources (like CNN); this while the US space program was completly grounded.

Sometimes, it almost seems like beating the Russians to the moon killed the US space program more than anything else. It meant that we no longer had anything to proove, and could just sit back and watch space-planes evolve on their own. Well, that ain't happening.

What would happen if Russia became the first nation to have a semi-permanent lunar settlement? That I could see happening.

24 billion rubles is 2.3 million dollars? (2, Informative)

butters the odd (729841) | more than 6 years ago | (#17410988)

Google tells me 24 billion Russian rubles = 911.085634 million U.S. dollars. The poorly written blog has inaccurate information...

Re:24 billion rubles is 2.3 million dollars? (1)

fullphaser (939696) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414456)

Probably written by a NASA after feeling bad. They do have a history of doing piss poor conversions, or just none at all. .

Launch histories (1)

rijrunner (263757) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411174)

Unless I miss my guess, Russia hasn't trailed in number of launches per year in probably 30 years. This is roughly their normal percentage.

Russia Needs More Satellites Because of Location (1)

ctwxman (589366) | more than 6 years ago | (#17411866)

Part of Russia's need for more orbiting hardware is because of its far northern location. When you are close to the poles, it is impossible to use geosynchronous satellites. There is just too much atmosphere to cut through when the satellite is that low in the sky. Instead, Russia must use constellations of three satllites in a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molniya_orbit [wikipedia.org] Molniya orbit to accomplish what the US can do with one. I'm not saying this accounts for all the volume, but it's certainly some of it.

minus 1, Troll4) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17411890)

Re:minus 1, Troll4) (1)

fullphaser (939696) | more than 7 years ago | (#17414464)

moron troll fails to realize slashdot put an end to the shock site field a long time ago, way to go AC keep up the good work.

Borat will was be mi fryend! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17412158)

End i well be so klever to mit with shem! I love Kazakhstan!

I guess in this respect Soviet Russia was better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17412854)

because in Soviet Russia, the spell-checker corrects you.
In Modern Russia, you correct the spell-checker, and by looking at the OP it's clear this isn't working out :/.

by the way (1)

CJlECAPb (1045280) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415114)

i noticed several caustic remarks that we (Russia i mean coz i'm russian) use Baikonur for our launches. Yeah, we sometimes use it, but we pay $115billions for using it and we rented it up to 2050 by the way (http://www.interfax.ru/r/B/politics/23.html?id_is sue=11652093/ [interfax.ru] ). And the second, more important. 80% of our commercial launches we execute from our own Plesetzk space centre. Though it's more difficult/expensive and less profitable. And as to our research programs: two days ago we started experiment to prepare for Mars expeditions. 5 volunteers will spend 500days in special isolated module fulfilling functional duties of participants in the Marsian expedition. (http://www.interfax.ru/r/B/politics/2.html?id_iss ue=11656172/ [interfax.ru] )

Spacecraft sellers or spacecraft hardware? (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17415284)

Sounds like this author only counted spacecraft sellers like International Launch Services and Sealaunch. If you only count the stuff that lifted off, Russia produced all of it except 3 shuttle launches, some Delta II launches, some Arianne V launches, and a Minotaur launch.
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