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  #1  
Old 12-08-2012, 08:25 PM
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Default Another Embarrasking Moment For the Russians...

From SFN:
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The Russian space industry suffered another malfunction Saturday when the upper stage of the heavy-lift Proton rocket failed to perform the full duration of its final boost-burn, leaving a domestic telecommunications satellite in a lower-than-planned orbit at the end of a 9-hour flight from the Baikonur Cosmodrome...

The lower three stages that comprised the Proton core vehicle sequentially fired through the initial 10 minutes of flight, leaving the Breeze M upper stage to step through four burns over the next several hours to achieve a preliminary parking orbit before heading into intermediate orbits to hit the geosynchronous transfer orbit...

The rocket would then coast away from Earth for nearly five hours until the Breeze M would re-start its engine for a fourth and final burn of the day, raising the orbit's low point from 317 miles to 4,642 miles and bringing the inclination down from 48 degrees to 9 degrees relative to the equator where it ultimately would be stationed...

But instead of delivering nearly 9 minutes of propulsion as planned, the burn lasted several minutes short of that, leaving the satellite in the "off-nominal" orbit, according to a statement released by Proton rocket-builder Khrunichev...
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  #2  
Old 12-08-2012, 11:26 PM
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Wow, looks like we canned our manned spacecraft capability just in time to capitalize on the high water mark of Russian space technology quality assurance efforts.


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Old 12-10-2012, 08:53 AM
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And we have to fly on their rockets. Great. Just great.
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:06 AM
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It's been well known for a LONG time that the Russian program is MARKEDLY different from our own... and it's a totally different mindset...

For instance, I was reading in "Dragonfly" about the Shuttle/Mir program-- when the first NASA personnel went over to Russia to start working hand-in-glove with them on the Shuttle/Mir program and working toward integrating their contributions with ours on the ISS program, they were frankly shocked at what they saw... when they toured Russian "mission control" outside Moscow, they were shocked at how decrepit and run down the buildings and equipment was... and mission control was full of cats, walking along the consoles and running around the floors... when someone asked what all the cats were doing in mission control, one of the Russians replied deadpan "how else are you going to keep the mice under control?"

The Russian quality control system is basically nonexistant by our standards... of course that's part of the reason Russian launches and launch vehicles are a FRACTION of the cost of US launches/vehicles, as well. They have testing programs, to be sure, but they are largely considered 'substandard' by the US way of doing things... test procedures are murky and often changed or not followed precisely, making the conclusions suspect... inspection of work is neglected to a huge degree... that's why N-1 blew up from ingesting a bolt or nut left in the propellant duct, and how this past spring's Progress launch ended up crashing in the Altai mountains after ingesting a rag left in the lines, shutting the engine down. it's why an ICBM fired off its second stage on the pad and then blew up, killing 150-odd technicians and officials, including General Nedelin... and why a Proton with an LK lunar Soyuz on top partially collapsed due to a third (or fourth) stage tanking failure and leaned the Soyuz over against the gantry, which managed to hold it up until the rocket was detanked of propellants and the vehicle stabilized and the Soyuz removed... It's why a Soyuz started to lift off from Baikonur, ignited its engines but never throttled them up, and then fired off the escape tower before the rocket blew sky high... it's why a Progress was brought in by an exhausted crew using procedures they hadn't practiced in months with unfamiliar equipment under remote control, in a test of the "emergency mode" instead of via regular old KURS automated docking like the Russians have been doing since 1967, and ends up careening in at high speed and crashing into the Mir space station and puncturing one of its modules...

It's the reason that Gene Kranz was forced into retirement after he repeatedly warned that the Shuttle/Mir and ISS programs were more trouble than they were worth, and there would be a lot of problems with the reliability and working together with the Russians... Which has pretty much all proven true, but was politically incorrect, so out he went!

Don't get me wrong... the Russians do a lot of stuff right... the fact that they are still capable of flying not only thier own men but ours as well into space at any time, while the US sits on the ground, having retired its only operational yet hugely expensive and fragile manned space vehicle with no replacement in sight, mired in political infighting and contractor machinations over whatever NASA funding they can acquire... it's a testament to their skill and talents and brilliance... to their choices as well, as they're basically flying the same booster that has been flying since 1957, and the same capsule that's been flying since 1967, both of which have been progressively and steadily upgraded over time into an efficient space launch vehicle system. We could learn a lesson or two in this regard, since at present the US's only official "plan" is to spend $30 billion dollars and a decade to convert the shuttle boosters and External Tank and shuttle engines into a new inline core vehicle with a thrust structure and five segment SRB's... and to launch a manned capsule that's been being worked on for about 7-8 years now, and won't even fly a test flight for another 2 years... and won't fly operationally for another 8 at the earliest... rather pathetic IMHO... and all this to build a vehicle with no real missions yet scheduled, let alone designed or approved and funded... just nebulous "talk"...

SO, lets really look at the bigger picture when we start knocking the Russians... after all, those who live in glass houses aught not to throw stones...

later! OL JR
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:54 AM
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Ever get a close look at/in a Soyez capsule? It very much resembles an early diving bell. Cosmonauts don't sit next to one another, like in an Apollo capsule, they curl around one another like a wooden ball puzzle with peculiar straps, belts and such to keep them in their position.

From '67 are they? They look like something earlier than that. Positively archaic looking. They remind me of some kind of primitive medical device. You couldn't get me in one of those things for love nor money.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:26 AM
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I thought Russia was our "ally" now and we were supposed to root for their success now. Realign the cheerleaders!

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Old 12-11-2012, 03:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foamy
You couldn't get me in one of those things for love nor money.


I wouldn't do it for love but pay me enough money I would go!

EDIT: on second thought that's only because I love money!
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Old 12-11-2012, 11:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foamy
Ever get a close look at/in a Soyez capsule? It very much resembles an early diving bell. Cosmonauts don't sit next to one another, like in an Apollo capsule, they curl around one another like a wooden ball puzzle with peculiar straps, belts and such to keep them in their position.

From '67 are they? They look like something earlier than that. Positively archaic looking. They remind me of some kind of primitive medical device. You couldn't get me in one of those things for love nor money.


Can't argue with what works... Who's still flying into space and who's sitting on the ground and can't even figure out the way forward??

Yep, Soyuz first flew in 1967... Korolev had been working on the design for at least five years though... probably six. Vladimir Kamarov was killed during the first manned flight, Soyuz 1, in 1967, just a few weeks or so after Apollo 1 fire, IIRC. Soyuz 1 failed to deploy one of its solar panels, so the vehicle was critically short of electrical power from the start... then many of the navigation and alignment sensors failed and Kamarov had to make a complicated manual reentry, virtually without operable sensors. He completed the deorbit burn correctly, and reentered successfully, and was coming down okay... the pilot chute fired off, drug the main chute out, but due to shoddy workmanship and changed, untested procedures at the factory, the parachute container was contaminated and prevented a clean deploy of the chute. The reserve chute was released, but tangled with the fouled main chute. The capsule impacted the ground at about 150 mph... the capsule burned and the landing motors exploded (the Soyuz is equipped with a bunch of small solid motors which ignite just before the ship hits the ground to soften the blow of landing, dropping the speed considerably).

Soyuz conducted the first completely automated docking in history, and basically at the very beginning of the program. The Soviets had automatic rendezvous and docking capability from late 67-early 68 onward... a capability the US STILL does not have! The Soyuz was misused early in its program (hence the death of Kamarov, and they crammed three guys into the small Soyuz descent apparatus (reentry capsule) like they did on their earlier Voskhod, which was virtually identical to the single-man Vostock that launched Gagarin, but outfitted for three and extended operability for a few days on orbit. Unfortunately, neither the Voskhod nor Soyuz was designed for three cosmonauts in pressure suits, so they flew in shirtsleeves. On Soyuz 11 this ended tragically when the three man crew, returning from a mission on their Salyut 1 space station, reentered the atmosphere and about the time the service module (instrument apparatus in their terminology) separated, an atmospheric pressure equalization valve popped open accidentally, decompressing the capsule. By the time the cosmonauts had landed, they'd long since asphyxiated from lack of air. Soyuz 5 had a near miss when the instrument apparatus didn't completely separate from the descent apparatus during reentry... so the Soyuz was entering upside-down, with the forward hatch facing into the atmosphere as it reentered instead of heat-shield first as it should... the forward hatch got hot, the rubber gaskets started to smoke and the hatch softened to the point that it started to visibly sag inwards and the cosmonaut thought himself only a matter of seconds from death when the hatch buckled and collapsed inwards, flooding the cabin with several thousand degree plasma... at just that moment, the instrument apparatus separated from the descent apparatus and the capsule swung around tail first, putting the heatshield down into the reentry slipstream... the hatch cooled and the gaskets quit smoking and the capsule made a safe return, deploying its parachute normally and landing in Kazakhstan...

Now, the Soyuz has been evolved several times... the Soyuz T and now the Soyuz TM have flown with great efficiency and safety for decades now. The bugs should have long since been worked out-- the remaining problem is the Russian's lackadaisical approach to quality control and testing procedures. Recently a Soyuz descent apparatus pressure vessel was "blown up" and ruptured from being overpressurized during a pressure test at the factory... the capsule was basically pressurized to about twice its design rating before it ruptured. Most of the Russian's problems have been with their launch vehicles, and the reasons for those failures have been due to poor testing and quality control-- without which even the best designed and robust systems, proven over decades of flight (remember that Proton has been flying in one form or another since the mid-60's as well) cannot hope to work correctly... in short, it's the "human factor" that is lacking, not the machinery...

In fact, without the "unmanned Soyuz" Progress resupply craft, there would BE NO ISS. ISS is TOTALLY reliant on the Russian service module Zvezda (Star), which was basically the core of Mir II, which provides reboost propulsion to the station and served as its power hub during the early construction, and still provides essential services to the station to this day... The Russian Hab/Lab Zarya (Sunrise) is also a major contribution to the station. The Russians invented the unmanned "Progress" freighter to service and resupply their later Salyut and Mir space stations. Progress is basically a Soyuz, with the pressurized manned descent apparatus replaced with an unpressurized tanker section, housing tanks containing the hypergolic propellants for the station's reboost engines, topped by the standard Soyuz "orbital module", the pressurized ovoid module on the front of the Soyuz vehicle that provides extra living and working space to cosmonauts on Soyuz missions, houses electronics and instruments and spacesuits and provisions needed on the mission. This orbital module is discarded before Soyuz reentry (so despite the fact that their capsule is "small", it is basically mainly used for ascent to orbit during launch, and descent from orbit during reentry and landing-- the orbital module is where most of the work is done once the spacecraft is in orbit... On the Progress freighter, the orbital module is pressurized and provides storage space for several tons of supplies-- clothes, food, water, replacement parts, experiments, etc... and provides a handy "trash dumpster" into which the station's dirty clothes, worn out or broken parts and old experiments, waste containers and trash and general junk, can be packed into for disposal... Progress docks automatically via its Kurs docking system, and the docking apparatus is equipped with automatically connecting propellant transfer lines to pump the hypergolic propellants from the Progress's tanks below the orbital module into the space station's propellant tanks for its stabilization and reboost engines. Once these operations are completed, the hatches are sealed, Progress is commanded to undock, and maneuvers away from the station, performs a retroburn, and reenters the atmosphere to burn up.

The US has never had anything remotely even close to this... the closest thing so far is SpaceX's Dragon, but it is just a pressurized resupply module-- although with reentry capabilities, unlike Progress, but Dragon cannot act as a propellant tanker, like Progress can.

The Chinese, in developing their Shenzhou spacecraft, could have copied anybody they liked... they "copied" the Soyuz, and upscaled it and improved it... it too has an orbital module to increase the space available for space operations in orbit. Interestingly enough, GE's concept for the Apollo spacecraft was a virtual copy of the Soyuz, complete with the steep-sided "headlight shaped" (for those old enough to remember what sealed beam headlight bulbs used to look like back before halogens took over the industry) reentry module and an orbital module mounted atop it for operations in space after ascent, and discarded prior to reentry... So the Soyuz design works, and it works very well.

Later! OL JR

PS... Yeah, I've seen inside a Soyuz before... looked inside it many times in the Shuttle Training Facility on the tour at JSC, and stood directly under the one at KSC a couple times... it may be small, but it works... and unlike the shuttle, its TPS was protected in flight and never had a failure, and it's equipped with an escape tower that has saved at least one crew from death on a malfunctioning booster on the pad...

Shuttle was a WAY bigger deathtrap... NO realistic abort capabilities during the entire SRB burn... NONE. About the only realistic abort mode was abort to orbit or the transatlantic abort... RTLS was pretty much a joke-- it presupposed that the shuttle could make it to SRB sep and that would go normally, and then the shuttle would essentially do a controlled "backflip" with the ET still attached and the SSME's still firing, using the SSME thrust to slow the shuttle's forward momentum and give it enough energy and range to return to Florida for landing... after completing the flip and burning engines-forward, essentially flying through its own exhaust for long enough to kill off the forward velocity, and then starting to fall like a brick, the SSME's would be shut down and the main tank jettisoned, and the orbiter pitch up sharply to avoid recontact, fly off the tank, and then pitch nose down and hope they had enough energy to glide back to Florida. To bail out of a shuttle that's damaged beyond the capability to land, it has to be below 40,000 feet (IIRC) and travelling subsonic, and in a stable, level glide... IOW, very unlikely...

I'd rather ride Soyuz than shuttle, that's for sure!
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:44 AM
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Well Luke, as primitive as the Soyez looks, it obviously still works. I wasn't commenting on it's functionality. Just saying I wouldn't get in it. If I were to go into space--it wouldn't be curled up like a comma, inside of a cast iron bowling ball. I'm slightly clostrophobic. Guess that means I'm not going into space anytime soon. Certainly not if they don't need space monkeys any more.

As far as the ISS is concerned, I doubt it would even have been built were it not for the Shuttle. ESA has their Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which can take four times the cargo that Progress can. The ATV is also used to boost the ISS to keep it in it's proper altitude and orbit.

JAXA as well, have launched resupply vehicles--the HII Transfer Vehicle (HTV). It supposedly could be configured for a man rating. It was in the plan, but I haven't heard or read about JAXA going forward with that.
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luke strawwalker
Interestingly enough, GE's concept for the Apollo spacecraft was a virtual copy of the Soyuz, complete with the steep-sided "headlight shaped" (for those old enough to remember what sealed beam headlight bulbs used to look like back before halogens took over the industry) reentry module and an orbital module mounted atop it for operations in space after ascent, and discarded prior to reentry... So the Soyuz design works, and it works very well.



GE Apollo Design

Totally on GE's dime. Presented to NASA in 1962 and refused without even looking at it.
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