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Russia to Build New Spacecraft by 2020

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the shouldn't-we-have-ftl-by-2020 dept.

Space 101

Tech.Luver passed us the word that Russia is now working on a new generation of spacecraft, presumably to help fuel its renewed space exploration ambitions. The Space-based industry is still one of the few areas in which Russia is intentionally competitive, and they intend to exploit that in the coming years. Even still, the new technologies are not expected to see use until 2020. ""A tender to design a new booster and spaceship has been announced," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Roskosmos chief Anatoly Perminov as saying ... Perminov did not give further details of the tender, but said TsSKB-Progress from the Volga city of Samara is likely to bid with its Soyuz-3 design of spacecraft, as well as Moscow's Khrunichev centre with Angara 3P and Angara 5P. The United States beat the Soviet Union in developing multiple-use Space Shuttle rockets, which form its current fleet of manned spacecraft. Russian space officials have said single-use spacecraft like the Soyuz-TM currently used are cheaper and more practical."

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rockets vs shuttle (0, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21304985)

yeah wow so the rocket is cheaper... pity it carries a fraction of the shuttles payload

Re:rockets vs shuttle (4, Informative)

SamP2 (1097897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305057)

yeah wow so the rocket is cheaper... pity it carries a fraction of the shuttles payload


Yes, and you always use a 16-wheeler to drive your kids to school, right?

The vast majority of space launches which currently use the shuttle, transport people or regular vital supplies (food, water, etc) to the ISS. The shuttle was not designed for, and cannot do any missions other than low-earth orbit (ISS, Hubble, etc).

In those cases where you really need large cargo (such as lifting components of the ISS), you can use other rockets, such as Delta V or the upcoming Ares-IV (which, by the way, intends to replace the unreliable shuttle in the first place).

The shuttle was nothing but an attempt to appease the moronic treehuggers by creating the illusion of "recycleable" craft, even though (1) the difference in price between launching a shuttle and a light rocket could pay for reducing emissions in other areas that would bring much greater net benefit to the ecology, and (2) consuming the fuckton of fuel to launch a heavy-ass shuttle that carries two people negates any "cleanliness" achieved by just throwing 75% of the shuttle (boosters go, remember?) instead of the ~95% when rocket goes, capsule comes. In an effort to appease the same treehuggers we were periodically stuck with forced solar panels on rovers instead of nuclear power, which among other things forces our Mars rovers to hibernate through the winter instead of working as usual. Thank God that with New Horizons and further nuclear-powered missions we finally got over the yoke.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (0, Troll)

Kerstyun (832278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305161)

Yes, and you always use a 16-wheeler to drive your kids to school, right?
I do. Its my constatutinal right. Use it or loose it.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (0, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305227)

err, what crack are you smoking? we try get every bit of gear up into space we can with every launch. If we didn't have the abilities of the shuttle ISS would not exist. each mission to the ISS requires taking tons of gear, a rocket wouldn't cut it.

we don't make little runs back and forth, it's not economical at all even with cheap ass russian rockets.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305829)

If we didn't have the abilities of the shuttle ISS would not exist.
OR maybe there would be an ISS whose modules are smaller and lighter than the current one's but that has two or three times the number of them.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306197)

Wrong. The Delta IV heavy can carry a max of 25,800 kg to LEO to the Space Shuttle's max of 24,400 kg. The Ariane 5-ECA can carry 21,000 kg. The Proton can carry 22,000 kg.

There are plenty of cheaper, expendable rockets that can lift larger or similar payloads as the Space Shuttle.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#21308029)

If we didn't have the abilities of the shuttle ISS would not exist.
You say that as if it would be a bad thing ;)

Revisionists unleashed! (5, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305427)

The shuttle was nothing but an attempt to appease the moronic treehuggers

Another attempt to blame a bunch of rare and disorganised hippies with no political power at all at the time for some dubious political decisions mostly about spreading the pork. The shuttle design is most likely a lot older than the poster and "moronic treehuggers" don't even have the political clout to get Kyoto signed now let alone sabotage a space program decades ago.

Re:Revisionists unleashed! (4, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305713)

The big space shuttle design flaw (the solid rocket boosters) was driven by a very stupid Air Force mission requirement (single orbit return to base
reconnaissance missions) which to put it mildly was not thought out, and which was not challenged sufficiently by NASA.

At the time, reusable rockets were widely seen in the space establishment as the way to cut the cost of on-orbit delivery. What people hadn't
thought through was the cost of ground support, which is very high for the Shuttle. Even if the Shuttle flight hardware was free, it still wouldn't be economical to operate compared to Soyez. Realistically, as soon as the shuttle launched we should have started designing the next version, taking into account what we had learned from the first attempt. We are now 20+ years behind the curve now, and it shows.

Re:Revisionists unleashed! (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 6 years ago | (#21307861)

The big space shuttle design flaw (the solid rocket boosters) was driven by a very stupid Air Force mission requirement (single orbit return to base
reconnaissance missions) which to put it mildly was not thought out, and which was not challenged sufficiently by NASA.


And, to be fair, it's hard to blame NASA. They had just gone to the moon, and were basically convinced that they could build anything. The space shuttle was a perfect storm of hubris, mish-mashed design goals, pork politics, and a dozen other things. People often look for a specific group to blame for why the space shuttle turned into a design disaster. Everybody involved basically contributed to the shuttle living up to nobody's expectations, and from everybody's perspective, each of them was 100% justified in their contribution to the clusterfuck.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (1, Insightful)

IhuntCIA (1099827) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305481)

In an effort to appease the same treehuggers we were periodically stuck with forced solar panels on rovers instead of nuclear power, which among other things forces our Mars rovers to hibernate through the winter instead of working as usual.
RTG's (nuclear powered thermal generators) are:

1. heavy: the size of one that would be of use is so great that rover must be made huge, and expensive / impossible to launch to Mars. NASA's choice was solar, I guess they know better.
2. dangerous: in case of bad launch someone has to find damn thing, or its peaces. Solar panels are safe to be left where they are...

Re:rockets vs shuttle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21306391)

Uh, the MSL (Mars Science Laboratory, though if you needed the clarification, wtf are you doing posting in this thread?) is likely to use RTGs, it is considerably larger than the current rovers, but far from impossible.
  RTGs have a small amount of radioactive material and it's very well encased, and it's not such a big deal if one gets lost, it has happened before. It's not like there aren't natural sources of radiation, not to mention natural fission reactors (yes, look it up).
  Stupid treehuggers are to blame for this and the fear of everything nucular. Smart treehuggers are in favour of nuclear power, of course :)

Re:rockets vs shuttle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21306977)

Uh, the MSL is likely to use RTGs, it is considerably larger than the current rovers, but far from impossible.
Looking forward to that. I would like to see a rocket capable on launching several tons heavy rover to Mars.

RTGs have a small amount of radioactive material and it's very well encased, and it's not such a big deal if one gets lost, it has happened before.
...well OK, It is small, as far as I understand radioactive decay, small amounts give small energy, rowers need lot of power, so how exactly small is small?

Correct me if I'm wrong, terminal velocity in Earth atmosphere is high, say 200+ kmph so, what happens when RTG's case hits solid rock?

It's not like there aren't natural sources of radiation, not to mention natural fission reactors (yes, look it up).
Well it's quite cold here, I'd like to have one natural please. WTF are You talking about? All natural fission reactions are deep underground far away from surface.

Stupid treehuggers are to blame for this and the fear of everything nuclear. Smart treehuggers are in favour of nuclear power, of course :)
Smart or stupid, they can't eat nuclear, so they gonna stick to trees. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against RTG's in fact I'd like to see one boring the Moon or Mars surface. Instead of posting some informative references You are flaming. Shame on You.

Enough feeding nuclear trolls...

Re:rockets vs shuttle (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306227)

Thank God that with New Horizons and further nuclear-powered missions we finally got over the yoke.
Quoth Wikipedia: "A common application of RTGs is as power sources on spacecraft. Systems Nuclear Auxiliary Power Program (SNAP) units were used especially for probes that travel far enough from the Sun that solar panels are no longer viable. As such they are used with Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini and New Horizons. In addition, RTGs were used to power the two Viking landers and for the scientific experiments left on the Moon by the crews of Apollo 12 through 17 (SNAP 27s). RTGs were also used for the Nimbus, Transit and Les satellites. By comparison, only a few space vehicles have been launched using full-fledged nuclear reactors: the Soviet RORSAT series and the American SNAP-10A."

They've hardly gone unused over the decades.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (1)

AaronLawrence (600990) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306481)

That's hilarious! Blaming environmentalists for the Space Shuttle! I think I can see the thought process ... "space shuttle bad... reusable... sounds like hippies... the hippies made the space shuttle!". Knee connected directly to mouth?

The drivers for making a reusable space launcher were economic, engineering idealism, the desire for a big fancy "proper" spaceship, and in the background a large expensive project to fund lots of aerospace work. I doubt environmental considerations were even mentioned except in an offhand manner after some PR person thought of it.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (1)

Divebus (860563) | more than 6 years ago | (#21318775)

Remembering the early descriptions of the shuttle while under development, it was presented as a "Space Truck" - the rough equivalent of an 18 wheeler for space. Lifting ability is only half of it. It's also got a crew of workers with living quarters, a big crane to pull payloads out of the back, manipulate objects outside or place workers at a job site. It even has the ability to recover a satellite or part of the ISS and bring it back if necessary. You can fly it around a target and position it for whatever the mission requires. What booster is going to do any of that?


Now, if you just want to hurl stuff into space, a booster is fine for that. When the shuttle delivers something to space, there are probably dozens of other things going on in the payload bay that come back to earth.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21321023)

Exactly right. The big advantage of the shuttle is that it can grab a satellite and bring it back to Earth. Unfortunately, in the entire life of the shuttle, there has not been a single mission of this nature (to the best of my knowledge, I'm sure someone will quickly correct me if I'm wrong). So, yes, the shuttle is better than a rocket, except for all of the missions that the shuttle has been used for.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21329441)

"The shuttle was nothing but an attempt to appease the moronic treehuggers by creating the illusion of "recycleable" craft, even though (1) the difference in price between launching a shuttle and a light rocket could pay for reducing emissions in other areas that would bring much greater net benefit to the ecology, and (2) consuming the fuckton of fuel to launch a heavy-ass shuttle that carries two people negates any "cleanliness" achieved by just throwing 75% of the shuttle (boosters go, remember?) instead of the ~95% when rocket goes, capsule comes."
No you are totally wrong.
The idea behind the shuttle was that it would be cheaper to fly a craft over and over than two throw it away. You don't throw away a ship when it gets to port and you don't throw away an airliner when you get to your airport. You load it back up with fuel and you fly it again.
The original designs for the shuttle might have actually pulled that off but where too expensive to develop. The Shuttle might have be a premature jump from the conestoga wagon mentality to the DC-3 but it wasn't inspired by "moronic tree huggers"

MOD PARENT DOWN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305105)

HE LOVES TO SUCK COCKS

Re:rockets vs shuttle (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305131)

yeah wow so the rocket is cheaper... pity it carries a fraction of the shuttles payload
Shuttle's payload? Russia did develop the Energia rocket to launch their Buran Shuttle (which was launched once unmanned). This rocket had a 100 ton payload which is just about the bare minimum needed for reasonable lunar exploration. But more importantly they were also developing the Energia II shich would have had the ability to reenter the atmosphere and glide to a landing at an airfield making it completely reusable. They also had a 175 ton rocket under development.

Though to be fair, NASA still wins in the ideas department with advanced Saturn models, the NERVA rockets, and especially the completely reusable 500 ton Sea Dragon Rocket (which had a full design study). Hopefully the latter two ideas will be looked at again when the different space agencies consider building a spacecraft to travel to Mars.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (5, Informative)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305139)

Shuttle carries 26.8 tons [wikipedia.org] into LEO. NASA was budgetted $368 million per launch in 2001, but it actually takes about $450 million [nasa.gov] .

The Ariane 5G [wikipedia.org] can lift 17.6 tons into LEO for a cost of about $165 million [corwm.org]

While not mentioned in TFA, the Soyuz 3 [russianspaceweb.com] would be able to put 17.8 tons into LEO. If they can get the price comparable to the Ariane, they'll have a winner.

Don't count the Russians out of the race just yet.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305175)

Shuttle carries 26.8 tons [wikipedia.org] into LEO. NASA was budgetted $368 million per launch in 2001, but it actually takes about $450 million [nasa.gov] .


The Ariane 5G [wikipedia.org] can lift 17.6 tons into LEO for a cost of about $165 million [corwm.org]


While not mentioned in TFA, the Soyuz 3 [russianspaceweb.com] would be able to put 17.8 tons into LEO. If they can get the price comparable to the Ariane, they'll have a winner.


Don't count the Russians out of the race just yet.

Your numbers for the Space Shuttle are misleading in comparison to the others. The Shuttle Cargo Bay can carry 22.7 tons. The orbiter itself weighs about 70 tons. Thus the total mass you are putting up can be up to around 100 tons. If you wanted to do a fair comparison (for example with the Soyuz launch vehicle) you would have noted that the Soyuz Spacecraft weighs around 15 tons without additional cargo.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (2, Insightful)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305565)

Your numbers for the Space Shuttle are misleading in comparison to the others.
No they're not, they're the whole point about what's wrong with the shuttle. If your job is to put things into orbit don't take bloody wings with you - it's a waste of payload.

100 tons to LEO is nice, it's a pity 70% of it is useless.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305701)

Don't be a dipshit. The comparison of the GP was for spacecraft. Saying that the Space Shuttle costs $450 million to put 22 tons into space while the super advanced European and Russian rockets can do it for hundreds of millions is misleading at best. A better comparison would have been something like a Delta IV rocket or an Atlas V rocket. Using the Space Shuttle as a comparison was done simply to make it look like NASA couldn't figure out how to put 20 tons into space without spending half a billion dollars. The GP was trying to intentionally mislead people and you know it.

Manned spacecraft don't have a high cargo/total weight ratio. The Soyuz craft has basically a zero ratio. The Shuttle comes in at about 1/4. This is how manned spacecraft work. You may think that the Shuttle is a waste of money and that it is not worth it to put so many support systems into the spacecraft as well as trying to make it reusable and able to operate in space for weeks at a time (and I do as well), but it is intentionally misleading to compare it to a cargo craft. It is not a cargo craft. That is just one of its many abilities.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305851)

Hey motherfucker, look back at the other motherfucker's troll post. He as such an idiot himself, brought up the shuttle to disparage Russia's vehicles, so he was the one who brought up the shuttle here. Not anyone else. Take your fucking persecution complex somewhere else.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305333)

So where are all the soviet russia jokes? Or may be its soviet China now?

Re:rockets vs shuttle (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305417)

While not mentioned in TFA, the Soyuz 3 would be able to put 17.8 tons into LEO.

Yeah... And in the mean time, NASA will continue working on the Ares V, which can put 145.0 tons into LEO.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305575)

Yeah... And in the mean time, NASA will continue working on the Ares V, which can^W if it is ever built is planned to put 145.0 tons into LEO.
Never count your rockets before they fly.

Re:rockets vs shuttle (1)

X'16435934 (988304) | more than 6 years ago | (#21311581)

Ahhh... Spoken like a TRUE AMERICAN!
You keep that stars`n`stripes lapel-pin polished, boy!

Space Shuttle (5, Insightful)

cd-w (78145) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305021)

The United States beat the Soviet Union in developing multiple-use Space Shuttle rockets, which form its current fleet of manned spacecraft.

... and we now know what a big mistake that was:
  • Limited to low-earth orbit.
  • Vulnerable to damage on launch.
  • Over-complex tile-based heat shield.
  • Very expensive to launch.
  • No launch escape system.
  • Not actually very reusable at all.

Re:Space Shuttle (0, Offtopic)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305041)

In Soviet Russia, Spacecraft Builds You?

The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (3, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305339)

Russia is not yet a wealthy developed nation. According to the CIA World Factbook [cia.gov] , the Russian GDP per capita is $12,200. By contrast, the Polish GDP per capita is $14,400, and the Poles are not investing in a wasteful space race.

The Russians need to stay focused on modernizing their economy and political system. Russia still has considerable poverty, and the money wasted on the space race would be better spent on welfare programs and the education system. At the same stage of development, the Japanese did not waste money on either a space race or a massive weapons program.

Unfortunately, the Russians have become obsessed with nationalism since Vladimir Putin came to power. Big, impressive national projects have become more important than simply improving the quality of life for the poorest segments of the population.

The Russians have a lot to learn from the Poles. The latter are not wasting money on either a space race or a massive weapons program.

The most important lesson that the Russians can learn from the West is that the greatness of a nation is not measured by the size of the weaponry or the speed of the space ship. Rather, the greatness is measured by the quality of life for the average person.

The Soviet Union had awesome weapons and space vehicles, yet was the Soviet Union a great nation?

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (4, Insightful)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305523)

You do realize that Russian space program is mostly self-financing in the first place? You know, people pay money to launch commercial satellites.

Besides, Russian economy is much bigger than Polish - so $10000000 for space program take less than $1 from each citizen.

GDP per capita is very misleading: Luxembourg currently leads with $81511 (against measly $43223 in USA). So should USA just stop all scientific programs and channel all money to welfare?

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305771)

GDP per capita is very misleading: Luxembourg currently leads with $81511 (against measly $43223 in USA). So should USA just stop all scientific programs and channel all money to welfare?
___

I'm from Luxembourg and it's great.
Never been mugged, don't know anyone who has been, all bums and junkies get 1500 bucks a month "minimum guaranteed income" so they don't have to do crimes to get booze and drugs.

Much cheaper than paying trillions to the army and police.

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305821)

The problem is: it doesn't scale well.

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

thanasakis (225405) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306123)

The problem is: it doesn't scale well.
Let's not rule that out just yet. There are other nations like Sweden, Switzerland, Finland or Denmark that can boast similar achievements in a much larger scale. Though in principle I personally tend to prefer the archetypal freedom and self-determination mantra which is so prevalent in every way of life in the US, it must be acknowledged that there are certain lessons to be learned from other nations. At humanity's present technological level, almost all developed nations could in fact provide a minimum guaranteed quality of life for all citizens. It is not a matter of capability, it is a matter of willingness.

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306157)

If you guaranteed a minimum quality-of-life for everyone, I guarantee that at least 20-30 percent would stop working that day, and become nothing more than a burden on the rest of society. Unless you plan to start forcing people to work, a system like that would collapse rather quickly.

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

RevHawk (855772) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306435)

Why? Did this happen in the other nations that implemented this? I can't understand why people assume this...Unless, of course, that's what you've been told/

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (2, Insightful)

thanasakis (225405) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306671)

No, most people would still want to work to have an even better life and acquire more goods. People should be free to work and improve their lives, but not having to be afraid that something unexpected might happen so that they'll end up in the streets.

Besides, this is not fantasy, those countries I mentioned have implemented schemes that mostly work. I don't see 20-30% unemployment in Sweden.

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306159)

It is not a matter of capability, it is a matter of willingness.


That's why I said that it doesn't scale :(

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

ConcreteJungle (1177207) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306055)

perhaps a better measure (granted, still not perfect) to look at would be GDP per capita on a PPP basis

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305571)

Funny little polish dork. All you got to show to the world is your shitass "pride". Don't open your moth wide though, because new war can stomp on your country again and again. What a bunch of losers.

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

Reservoir Penguin (611789) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305579)

I'm Russian and I have nothing against Poles. But as you it has already been pointed out the Russian space program is self-financing through commercial launches and the last thing the poor need is handouts from the government. e have a lot of expertise in space industry, it's not just an expensive nationalistic hobby, losing it would be very short sighted. The poor will be taken care of naturally by the expanding economy, I live in Siberia and the investor money previously confined to the Moscow metro area has finally started spilling into the regions like a flood. You're right about the nationalism tho, despite Putin's authoritarianism there is an overall feeling of well-being, stability and growth in the minds of the people, and that makes them proud and nationalistic. I don't really know how to feel about that...

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

SamP2 (1097897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305599)

Yes, because the US OBVIOUSLY has LONG since solved it's own poverty problems, solved racial issues, introduced free and available universal healthcare, offers affordable university education, etc.

Hell, if I had to be in the poorest segment of the population, I'd rather be in Russia than the USA. Healthcare may be relatively crappy in Russia, but at least it's free, and I (or my 7 year old son) won't be left to die in the gutter from common flu if I can't afford a doctor or buy prescription drugs.

Not necessarily saying that leftist welfare-state is the best form of government, but if you choose to take that route, the US has a lot more to fix than Russia. Neither am saying that all is well in Russia (I don't deny that it's pretty much a police state, no political freedom, power come from selling oil and holding the world on the tip of an ICBM), but the US ain't a fucking utopia either, and think about fixing your own shit before you start preaching other nations what to do. If you at least were a die-hard lasseiz-faire sink-or-swim right-wing-nut, then at least you'd have some grounds to accuse Russia of being different from the US (and the rest of us can either buy or not buy your argument depending on our political standing), but attacking Russia on NOT being a welfare state compared to the US is the peak of hypocrisy.

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (2, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21307203)

Healthcare may be relatively crappy in Russia, but at least it's free, and I (or my 7 year old son) won't be left to die in the gutter from common flu if I can't afford a doctor or buy prescription drugs.

You do realize that if you or your son (or anybody else) is "dying in the gutter" from anything, you can wander into the nearest Emergency Room in the US and get health care that isn't based on your ability to pay. Not that the system is perfect, mind you. Not that you will appreciate the rather largish bill you will eventually receive (if you're foolish enough to give them your correct address), but you will be cared for. Your statement is a bit hyperbolic there.

Besides we've tried the "welfare state" bit. Unevenly, of course. Full of paperwork and fury. Subject to the whims of the budget and locality (the US is a tad larger than Sweden). It works rather poorly to improve the human condition. In my neck of the woods, most members of the various Native Alaska tribes get some form of guaranteed income (varies from tribe to tribe). That still hasn't eliminated poverty, alcoholism, drug use, physical abuse and all of the other flotsam and jetsam of living on the low end of the economic line. Perhaps if they (and everyone else) got guaranteed six figure incomes, things would be different. I'll vote to try that out if you can figure out how to pay for it.

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

alienw (585907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21311567)

You do realize that if you or your son (or anybody else) is "dying in the gutter" from anything, you can wander into the nearest Emergency Room in the US and get health care that isn't based on your ability to pay.

Maybe you should try that before you suggest others do it. That law doesn't exactly get enforced, and you probably won't get treated if you are, say, dying from cancer or have something that won't kill you tomorrow.

Perhaps if they (and everyone else) got guaranteed six figure incomes, things would be different. I'll vote to try that out if you can figure out how to pay for it.

Maybe if the US government didn't waste billions of dollars "freeing" Iraq and building bridges to nowhere in Alaska, it would actually have money to spend on social programs.

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21313979)

Maybe you should try that before you suggest others do it. That law doesn't exactly get enforced, and you probably won't get treated if you are, say, dying from cancer or have something that won't kill you tomorrow.

Your trolling to the wrong person here. I am an ER doc. I live with that law daily. It's called EMTALA [google.com] . It is one of the most carefully enforced regulations in US medicine. There is the potential for a $25K USD fine for each occurrence. You can get nailed for filling the damn forms out incorrectly.

Now, you do have a point about more chronic issues, but your statement is entirely hyperbolic. If you are sick enough to be dying of cancer, you go the the ER and get admitted. We'll treat you to the best of our ability. We will even try to figure out some sort of follow up (come on guy, give us a break - it's not like this doesn't happen on a daily basis).

Of course, the billing department will then attempt to squeeze all the blood out of your turnip (or that of your estate) AFTER the fact. There are huge issues in American medicine but routinely dumping sick people out the door happens infrequently and tends to make headlines when it does.

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

temcat (873475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306175)

While you might have some valid points, Russians are perfectly capable to decide what they need without your preaching.

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

HandsOnFire (1059486) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306747)

Ever bother to think that the Russians have better things to do than be like the Polish?

Clearly, they are a different country in a different situation, and they probably have different values.

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

Venik (915777) | more than 6 years ago | (#21307705)

I think Poland is being extremely wise to concentrate its massive financial resources on developing new types of kielbasa. Who needs space exploration when you can eat fried pig fat?

Re:The Space Race is a Rich Nation's Game (1)

lionheart1327 (841404) | more than 6 years ago | (#21309345)

Unfortunately, the Russians have become obsessed with nationalism since Vladimir Putin came to power. Big, impressive national projects have become more important than simply improving the quality of life for the poorest segments of the population.


Since when the hell is this new?

Re:Space Shuttle (1)

vbraga (228124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305867)

Over-complex tile-based heat shield.
Can you suggest other, please, in face of the mission requirements? You may say Buran had a better tile configuration but we don't have the data for that analysis. The shuttle heat shield design is the only possible with current technology in face of the challenge.

Actually, most of your list of "big mistakes" are a result of the engineering solution that comes from a flawed requirements list - the need for a fancy spacecraft instead of a reliable one and the merging with Air Force needs.

So, you'd better redo your mistakes list: it's not an engineering fault (especially the thermal engineering guys, who did a great work). It's the direct result of bad requirements design. The blame is, mostly, on upper management.

PS: I'm not a native English speaker. Sorry for grammar errors and other incorrections in my post.

Re:Space Shuttle (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21311153)

I agree completely. With the sort of money and requirements NASA was given for the shuttle, it's amazing that they got anything at all out of the probram. It's not their fault that they'd be making a small reusable for a reasonable budget, and then it got turned into a huge reusable with an underfunded budget, and then when they actually produced a first-generation, albeit problematic, reusable orbiter, it had to become their workhorse.

I think it's a shame that Russia had to pretty much shelve their Kliper program out of what were basically political considerations (where to build the facilities). What a shame. That was a nice design. Titanium, for easier reentry and lower maintenance on reuse. Lifting body and stubby wings, for a low-beta reentry and the ability to aim for your desired landing site but without the weight penalty of full-size wings or big chutes. A focus on lifting crew instead of merging the requirements of cargo and crew. Usage of a space tug optimized for vacuum operation so that you don't have to keep hauling up and down the weight of your orbital maneuvering system -- only the fuel that it needs. Thermal protection systems utilizing a reusable TPS on the lower load areas and prefab disposable TPS elements for the high heating areas. Fully autonomous landing. Spacecraft designed to be reused, but not for a huge number of flights as the shuttle, so that you gain the benefits of not having to rebuild your craft each time, but you don't have to make every system keep running forever as it degrades from the hostile conditions of launch and operation in space.

"Multiple-use rockets" indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21312123)

The giant boosters are one-off and needing them kinda makes the shuttle's own thrusters redundant. The Soviets very cleverly didn't have these at all in their Buran, which inherently made it a safer vehicle as well as simpler and cheaper.

intentionally competitive? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305045)

Which areas is Russia UN-intentionally competitive?

"Comrade, production is too high! You must reduce performance to the planned levels or we will succeed."

Re:intentionally competitive? (1)

juanfgs (922455) | more than 6 years ago | (#21307785)

In Soviet Russia my day made YOU!

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305059)

The cargo bay doors open HAL!

Re: (0, Redundant)

slap20 (168152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305069)

Ah yes, the obligatory soviet russia joke... *Sigh*, you crazy kids.

Practical Space Access (3, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305103)

If they want to be practical about getting to space, the old X-15 program had it down pat. Three vehicles, 200 flights in less than 10 years. One fatal crash. You launched the thing from a plane or a balloon. No waste, no fuss. And because you're not constantly throwing something the size of a young apartment building into orbit, a single accident doesn't effectively knock you out of space for years. It couldn't carry much more than the pilot, but only an idiot would doubt that by the third generation (the original RFP's went out in the mid-50's) it would have carried a reasonable payload.

I think it all started to go wrong for NASA when politicians were allowed to their poke their long, ratlike noses into the business of scientists and engineers. If not for the damned shuttle program, there'd be a crew drinking beer on Mars by now.

Re:Practical Space Access (4, Informative)

grumbel (592662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305467)

Isn't there that little problem that the X-15 doesn't give you space access? It scratches space a little bit and then it goes back to the ground, just like SpaceShip One. Its a nifty thing, but you can't get into orbit that way, since neither altitude nor velocity are even close to what they should be.

Re:Practical Space Access (2, Interesting)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306465)

I think you may have misunderstood me a bit. My point wasn't what the X-15 did then, but what the X-15 approach would have yielded by now. The X-15 program was intentionally limited as part of the decision to use adapted ICBM's for launching manned space vehicles.

At least some (maybe all) X-15 pilots have their astronaut wings because the higher flights achieved altitudes defined nationally and internationally as "space" (The service ceiling is officially reported at 67 miles). The pilots were given very clear orders about how high they were allowed to go. Even the original model was space-capable, and if reports are correct, in one case the pilot was threatened with career death if he allowed his vehicle to achieve orbit. That would have brought the program into direct competition with Mercury, and that was deemed unacceptable.

The real story is that the original 1959 edition could, as you put it, "scratch space a little bit" repeatedly and land with no big deal. If allowed, even the original configuration could have done much more. Blown the doors off its competition, Project Mercury, without even cracking a sweat.

The X-15 flew 200 times for only $300 million. That was nearly half a century ago. I think it's reasonable to assume that they could have made an improvement or two to make the thing truly space-capable if we'd gone down that road.

For an apples-to-apples comparison, put the X-15 up against its direct competition, the Project Mercury space vehicle. You could barely shoehorn an astronaut into Mercury, it flew only 6 times (two of those sub-orbital). The program cost a billion and a half dollars.

Re:Practical Space Access (2, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21307779)

The X-15 program was intentionally limited as part of the decision to use adapted ICBM's for launching manned space vehicles.

Nonsense. The X-15 program was never intended to go into orbit - it was built to do exactly what it did do, explore hypersonic and high altitude flight. (Though it could only do one or the other on any given mission.)
 
 

Even the original model [X-15] was space-capable, and if reports are correct, in one case the pilot was threatened with career death if he allowed his vehicle to achieve orbit.

ROTFLMAO. The X-15 was no more capable of reaching orbit than the minivan sitting in my driveway is. As it is, the 60 odd miles altitude it reached was the extreme outer limits of it's altitude performance.
 

The X-15 flew 200 times for only $300 million. That was nearly half a century ago. I think it's reasonable to assume that they could have made an improvement or two to make the thing truly space-capable if we'd gone down that road.

The proposed (and never built) space (orbital) version of the X-15 was an entirely new craft. New engines, new heatshield, new structure, new life support, new guidance, etc... etc... It was anything but an 'improvement or two' on the X-15 as built.
 
I don't know where you got your information on the X-15, but to put it simply - it's utterly wrong. You have an extremely inflated and utterly incorrect idea of it's capabilities.

Re:Practical Space Access (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21307907)

I think you are latching onto the X-15 as an object whereas the original poster is talking about the x-15 as a concept. To break it down:

1950s scrap x-15 project in favour of strapping a monkey ontop of a rocket

monkey flips the switch

1970s and 80s return to spaceplane design with the woeful shuttle

Twenty to thirty years wasted.

Re:Practical Space Access (2, Informative)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21311157)

It would be impossible to make the X-15 LEO-capable with one or two generations. You just can't pack that much rocket into that small vehicle and expect it to achieve orbital speeds. There is a limit on how much energy you can carry with you. It's not only about how high you can go, but how fast.

The only device that could pack the kind of punch needed to launch useful payload to LEO with a X-15 sized vehicle would be a nuclear-thermal device. NERVA and ROVER had problems of radioactive exhaust and would be damn hard to justify unless there were no alternatives. Current designs can be much more cleaner and it could be possible to build something the size of an X-15 that could boost itself to LEO with a useful payload.

Another interesting approach could be to make the carrier plane fly faster and higher still with air-breathing engines (so that it would not require carrying oxidizer for the first part of the launch) easing the burden on the spacecraft propulsion system. Still, keep in mind that Mach 2, 3 or even 4 would be only about a fraction of what you need to get into LEO.

Re:Practical Space Access (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21323517)

"It's not only about how high you can go, but how fast"

I would like to revise it a bit. It's neither about how high nor how fast, but how much energy you have. You can enter orbit just by reaching a given altitude - that's what we call geosynchronous orbit.

Intentionally competitive (2, Interesting)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305145)

In which areas is Russia unintentionally competitive exactly?

Russia wins the spam gap too (4, Funny)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305179)

In which areas is Russia unintentionally competitive exactly?

Spam comes to mind.

Re:Russia wins the spam gap too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305361)

not counting botnets of course.

Re:Russia wins the spam gap too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21313291)

unless. the aircraft industry. I see know reason at all why Russias airliners
aren't competing more effectively with Airbus and Boeing. It's a shame since they're capable.
They need to get a new image maybe, including pump a load of money into safety.

Re:Intentionally competitive (1)

yoprst (944706) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305233)

Don't you read Slashdot [slashdot.org] ?

Re:Intentionally competitive (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21307333)

No recursion on the weekend, please.

Re:Intentionally competitive (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305323)

Maybe that's what it will take to get the US in gear when it comes to space, after we once again fall behind the Russians... and the Chinese... and the Indians... and the Japenese... and...

niggers gotta go! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305147)

what's better than a nigger? no niggers!

Sh1t. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305237)

parties). At THE Are you a nIGGER

If you take some time (3, Interesting)

yoprst (944706) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305251)

to read Russian space-tech related forums, you'll be pretty sure that Angara is a scam. They won the tender(many years ago) with one design, replaced it later with another (probably the only common thing for both designs is that they're rocket designs) and did nothing to implement either of those designs. This: Russian space officials have said single-use spacecraft like the Soyuz-TM currently used are cheaper and more practical still indicates that Russian space agency has not gone haywire yet, and may be capable of producing something useful in the future, but Angara is very unlikely to be one of those useful things

Gundam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305355)

Roskosmos chief Anatoly Perminov will soon be in charge of Gundam. Take that Japanese agriculture ministry!

Tovaritch (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305359)

Thank God for the Russians!

beat Soviets as well in wasting money (3, Insightful)

xristo70 (1184699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305403)

"The United States beat the Soviet Union in developing multiple-use Space Shuttle rockets, which form its current fleet of manned spacecraft."

The United States (together with Europe) have also beaten the Soviet Union in wasting countless billion of dollars on an International Space Station of very limited research value. Basically they just trying to try to stay alive up there and do 30 minutes of research projects per day. The Shuttle is currently also just a pork-barrel project. Those funds need to be spent in different ways (such as next generation planetary rovers).

The Russians have managed to keep their total costs for development and launches lower over the decades, by having at least some sort of "mass production" economies of scale.
Their MIR space station managed to get along for years against increadible odds, for a fraction of NASA money.
The Russians have very good and practical aerospace engineers. This illustrates the difference nicely: during the space race NASA spent money and effort in developing a pen which could work in weightlessness. The russian astronauts instead of pens used pencils in space.

Re:beat Soviets as well in wasting money (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305435)

Your post is full of utter bullshit. I'm not going to take time to refute it all but I will recommend that you stop making such stupid generalizations about two agencies that often have different goals. And you could at least look up some of your claims at Snopes [snopes.com] for chrissake. No doubt you thought that was unnecessary since you felt that the proof that NASA is full of fuckups is self evident.

Re:beat Soviets as well in wasting money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305549)

Amen brother coward; that guy is just another fucking idiot.

NASA Space Pen urban legend (5, Informative)

TimSSG (1068536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305511)

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/613/1 [thespacereview.com]

The Million Dollar Space Pen Myth is just that, a myth. The pens never cost a lot of money and were not developed by wasteful bureaucrats or overactive NASA engineers. The real story of the Space Pen is less interesting than the myth, but in many ways more inspiring. It is not a story of NASA bureaucrats versus simplistic Russians, but a story of a clever capitalist who built a superior product and conducted some innovative marketing. That story, however, is a little harder to sell to a public that believes what it wants to believe.
Tim S

Re:NASA Space Pen urban legend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21316297)

I would imagine that the graphite from the pencils would cause some trouble for the life support system.

Re:beat Soviets as well in wasting money (1)

GreggBz (777373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306169)

NASA did not spend a dime on the damn space pen. [wikipedia.org] Both space programs initially used grease pencils (and a few other things), then starting using pens, because yes, it was safer. Educate. [snopes.com]

Mod parent down Urban Legend (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306217)

The space pen bullshit's already been refuted so many times in slashdot that it needs its own FAQ entry.

Re:beat Soviets as well in wasting money (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21307829)

The Russians have managed to keep their total costs for development and launches lower over the decades, by having at least some sort of "mass production" economies of scale.

The Russians have managed 'cheap' spaceflight because they inherited an already developed craft and launcher, and all the infrastructure, from the Soviet Union - for free.
 
 

Their MIR space station managed to get along for years against increadible odds, for a fraction of NASA money.

MIR managed to get along for years because for the latter half of it's life the Shuttle carried cargo and modules to it and provided reboosts.

Re:beat Soviets as well in wasting money (1)

X'16435934 (988304) | more than 6 years ago | (#21311635)

Ahhh, Good ol' MIR....!

A cosmonaut with the name Vladimir,
Kept a cageful of gerbils on Mir.
With cardboard tubes and some twine,
He used them one at a time-
An experiment he called "Richard's Gear".



The Space Race continues... (1)

tommiogi (1187129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305447)

90% of shuttle missions and space are pointless and only begun to stay ahead of competing nations. Look at the international space station, for instance. A pointless waste of money that could have done a thousand more useful things. We need to think space exploration through a little more before we send so many zeros after a dollar sign into the sky.

More practical ways for nations to compete? (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306161)

Like military invasions?!

If every dollar George spent in Iraq had gone to space instead, we'd all be better off.

Re:More practical ways for nations to compete? (1)

tommiogi (1187129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306705)

very true

Re:More practical ways for nations to compete? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21307389)

Yep, nuke 'em from orbit.

It's the only way to be sure.

Re:More practical ways for nations to compete? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21308961)

If every dollar George spent on Iraq was burned or used for tapestry we would still be better off.

FailZors (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21305471)

Exploration wins in the end (2, Insightful)

plnrtrvlr (557800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21305989)

Egads people..... The shuttle has a long list of problems and shortcomings. It's expensive and it isn't as reliable as the designers had hoped, NASA and the politicos who control the purse strings have finally come to a consensus on this point. Can we finally stop beating a dead horse? Every space-craft that we've launched -and by "we" I mean the human race, not just Americans- has had strengths and weaknesses. It's early in the game here people: a good analogy would be that the Europeans are just realizing that Columbus found a "new world" and not a shortcut to the far East. There have been a lot of people who have realized the right way of doing things for a long time, but like those early Europeans coming to the new world, it takes time to convince the people who have the money. There was a lot of begging for money, saying "I've got a plan that will work." Furthermore, there were a lot of failed starts in the new world: settlements that collapsed and vanished or packed up and left... This is not the time to say that spending money on manned space exploration is a waste so let's give up: of course it's wasteful right now, we're still figuring out the best way to go about it! There are those in Russia that have come to realize that someday the economic health of good ol' terra firma will depend on what we do in space, and they hope to be on the leading edge and therefore profit from it: I say good luck to them, the world needs their efforts. There are those in the USA, Germany, China, Japan, India (the list goes on) who agree and want their contries to be on that leading edge too: good luck to them as well. There are going to be a lot of false starts and a lot of wasted money, but in the end, we will find the best way by trial and error and forge ahead until space becomes the next economic powerhouse, the powerhouse that takes the world into new prosperity and health.

Re:Exploration wins in the end (1)

oliderid (710055) | more than 6 years ago | (#21314425)

I find the analogy with Columbus quite interesting.
The real problem of space exploration except satellites is that there is no business incentive.
The goal of Columbus was simple: get a direct link to spice productors (India).

The route around Africa was a Portuguese monopoly or something. The silk route was a Venice/Arabs monopoly. So the only available path was through the Atlantic. Here you can see a risk worth the money.

But for space? What should you go "now" to space? What is the business on the moon or on mars?
We put "human beings" in orbit for the glory currently. Glory and efficient business process are rarely good friends.

Russia to Build New Spacecraft by 2020... (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306577)

...but will there be any Russians left to build them? Demographics aren't looking very positive for Mother Russia.

Obligatory (1)

sobolwolf (1084585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306663)

In Soviet Russia the Spacecraft builds you... omg there goes the karma :(

That trick never works. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306741)

The Russians are developing a new generation of spacecraft? Again? Shouldn't they finish the last 'next generation [wikipedia.org] ' craft they proposed first?
 
Seriously folks, I suspect that this is just latest in a long line of paper spacecraft created by the Russians.

What happened to Kliper? (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 6 years ago | (#21306817)

One wonders what happened to the Kliper [wikipedia.org] ? It was touted as being practical and reliable. Russian space architecture seems confused.

Re:What happened to Kliper? (2, Informative)

tftp (111690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21308135)

The whole story here [wikipedia.org] .

But to summarize, the project was offered for bids in 2006, and none of the bidders could meet the specifications. Then European space agency came along and offered to work together on something else (KK Soyuz and ATV) and that was technically achievable. So the Klipper project got postponed until 2010-2015, and the resources reassigned to the ESA work. We don't have technology yet to build Klipper with planned capabilities and for planned cost (reusability strikes again, probably.)

Doubtful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21309641)

How are they going to "design" a new shuttle when the US hasn't developed a new shuttle for them to copy from?
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