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Despite a snowy morning, the Soyuz TMA-22 launches successfully  (Source: msnbc.msn.com)
The Soyuz TMA-22 launch also marks the first flight of a NASA astronaut since the retirement of the 30-year space shuttle program, which ended in July

A Russian Soyuz capsule launched successfully into orbit Monday on a mission to the International Space Station.

The Soyuz TMA-22 is carrying a three-man crew, consisting of Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin as well as NASA astronaut Dan Burbank.

The successful launch from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was a relief after a recent failure had postponed the launch for two months. On August 24, an unmanned Progress cargo ship crashed on its way to the International Space Station. The failed rocket was the same type used on the Soyuz, and it forced the Russians to take another look at the safety of the Soyuz rocket model used for manned missions.

Russia's space agency determined that the Soyuz rocket failure was an isolated incident and not a major problem with the model. According to the space agency, a fuel pipe blockage caused the crash.

But that isn't the only space-related failure Russia has had to deal with lately. On November 8, the $165 million Phobos-Grunt probe, which launched from Baikonur and was to make its way to the Martian moon Phobos, got stuck in Earth's orbit. It is expected to burn up by November 26 unless it can be reactivated.

Despite these above-mentioned troubles and snowy weather conditions, the Soyuz TMA-22 made a successful launch. It is expected to with the International Space Station on November 16. The three current ISS crewmembers, which include station commander Mike Fossum of NASA, Russia's Sergei Volkov, and Japan's Satoshi Furukawa, will return home on another Soyuz craft on November 22.

The Soyuz TMA-22 launch also marks the first flight of a NASA astronaut since the retirement of the 30-year space shuttle program, which ended in July. This has left Russia in charge of ferrying crews to the International Space Station. But NASA is looking to obtain $850 million to help private companies create new spacecraft before the end of 2016.

While Russia may have a monopoly on the ferrying of astronauts for now, The Guardian has said that the country's space program is "struggling" and that the combination of obsolete technology and equipment purchased from other countries is the source of the problem.

Sources: The Guardian, MSNBC



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In Former Soviet Russia...
By solarrocker on 11/14/11, Rating: 0
RE: In Former Soviet Russia...
By Amiga500 on 11/14/2011 11:27:50 AM , Rating: 2
I'd say every other country in the world wishes they'd such "obsolete" technology.

The Soyuz has by far the best record of any manned space vehicle used in significant quantities.

I'd be more inclined to believe the Guardian article... written by an unnamed author and referring to unnamed analysts is full of crap.

While the Russian manned program may be using old designs, they work and work well. Hardly worthy of being termed "struggling".


RE: In Former Soviet Russia...
By solarrocker on 11/14/2011 11:35:21 AM , Rating: 2
I do agree, their technology usually worked really well, be it a bit bulky and usually large (More looking at WW2 technology right now.) Still i wonder what they mean with obsolete equipment from other countries as they must have plenty left themselves after the fall off the soviet union?


RE: In Former Soviet Russia...
By TerranMagistrate on 11/14/2011 11:55:54 AM , Rating: 2
Indeed. Mechanically, Russian rocket engine technology in general is ingenious due to its relative simplicity.

Although I never understood why, during the Soviet era, they were never able to create rocket engines comparable to the the gigantic F-1s on the Saturn V to avoid the doomed N-1 approach. Perhaps it was a lack of funding?


RE: In Former Soviet Russia...
By maven81 on 11/14/2011 1:39:50 PM , Rating: 2
It seems to have been an ego problem amongst other things. The story goes that the engine designer Glushko told Korolev he could build such an engine but that it would not run on kerosene but use much more toxic propellants, like the Proton rocket does. It seems Korolev was adamant that the manned space program would have to rely on the relatively safer kerosene instead.
This is the interesting thing about the soviet space program... The US wound up with one giant centrally run operation in NASA, while the soviets had several design bureaus, headed by people with very big egos, each one saying that their way was the best way, and all of them having to fight for funding from both the military and the academy of sciences. That's pretty much the opposite of what you'd think would happen!

But generally speaking you're right, the military never saw any point in a lunar landing, so funding was inadequate.


RE: In Former Soviet Russia...
By delphinus100 on 11/14/2011 9:57:44 PM , Rating: 2
And yet, the F-1 burned kerosene. (hydrogen for J-2 engines were in the upper stages)


RE: In Former Soviet Russia...
By Bubbacub on 11/14/2011 4:53:56 PM , Rating: 2
i remember reading somewhere that they had huge problems in building large combustion chambers - hence the clustering of rockets has become a russian design feature.

even the energia rocket engines were essentially four small rocket engines clumped together with one huge turbopump.

i think the development of the f1 engines for saturn was pretty tricky - lots of catastrophic failures until they got it right.


It's only temporary...
By quiksilvr on 11/14/11, Rating: 0
RE: It's only temporary...
By KnightBreed on 11/14/2011 12:13:44 PM , Rating: 2
That's assuming they start turning a profit at some point. The venture capitalist's pockets will run dry sooner or later.


RE: It's only temporary...
By rudolphna on 11/14/2011 1:24:18 PM , Rating: 2
And I for one find that quite stupid. I think that NASA should be receiving far more than what it is in terms of funding. NASA and the space program is what this country needs to get back on it's feet in terms of science, and math jobs. Space development can provide almost unheard of numbers of jobs, and here we are kicking the can further down the road.


RE: It's only temporary...
By quiksilvr on 11/14/2011 3:24:38 PM , Rating: 1
Except the main problem with NASA was that their spending was getting out of control. And despite decades of space travel and research, costs for sending mass to space is still $10,000 per kg.

NASA had its chance, it spent way too much with unsatisfactory results, and took too much responsibility for the Space Station.


RE: It's only temporary...
By Bubbacub on 11/14/2011 4:58:00 PM , Rating: 1
nasa has a ridiculous amount of money. if congress could be told to stop messing around using it as way of buying votes in their own states then the money could be used towards an actual goal.

the sls needs urgent cancelling


RE: It's only temporary...
By delphinus100 on 11/14/2011 10:03:24 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Space development can provide almost unheard of numbers of jobs, and here we are kicking the can further down the road.


And true space development will be commercial.

Basic research and technology R&D is what NASA is for...


RE: It's only temporary...
By Reclaimer77 on 11/15/2011 12:18:39 AM , Rating: 3
I don't care. I never thought I would see the day where we had to pay the goddamn Russians to fly us into space. This is a dark mark on our nation and a huge step backwards. We never should have retired the Shuttle without a viable replacement, end of discussion.


To add to this...
By maven81 on 11/14/2011 10:48:37 AM , Rating: 2
It should be noted that while this is the first manned souyz launch since the mishap, there had been an unmanned flight back in October, Progress M-13M. They aren't crazy enough to launch a crew without launching a cargo ship first.

As for purchased "obsolete technology", I think they are referring specifically to electronics here. There was a story related to the phobos-grunt launch where they were basically complaining that the soviet semiconductor industry (which was never great to begin with) was left to rot in the 90s. This meant that rather then producing chips themselves they had to source them elsewhere. The US apparently wouldn't sell them as they wanted Mil-spec parts. This meant that in some cases they wound up sourcing off the shelf parts which aren't nearly as reliable. I hear they are starting to make an effort to get back into foundry manufacturing, but seems the newest process they have is 90nm.




RE: To add to this...
By Amiga500 on 11/14/2011 11:29:10 AM , Rating: 2
Didn't they buy an awful lot of AMD's old 90nm tools?


RE: To add to this...
By maven81 on 11/14/2011 11:41:40 AM , Rating: 2
I think you're right about that. But doing some digging it looks like they've been investing into some joint ventures recently that might net them 65nm as well. Looks like they've invested almost 6 billion into this, so I guess we'll see.


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