The Ruskies are usually very good at this kind of 'rocket science'. First, it's Mars satellite (phobos-grunt, or whatever it's name was) goes tits-up, then this...
Siberian salt mines are gonna be crowded at this rate...
Russian space agency Roscosmos has suspended use of its Proton-M rocket carriers with Briz-M boosters after one of them failed to put two satellites into orbit late yesterday. Proton-M blasts off with Telkom-3 and Express MD2 onboard The Proton rocket was launched successfully from Baikonur, but the secondary engine burn …
"NASA will surely be getting antsy with all the recent hiccups at Roscosmos. I wouldn't be surprised if they throw more money at SpaceX to accelerate the return of US space capability."
I'm pretty sure NASA simply doesn't negotiate the launch contracts as aggressively, because you get what you pay for. The Russian's can do a top rate launch, if you pay for it.
Less than 24 hours after NASA's successful landing of Curiosity.
That's just all kinds of Ouch for the Russian space industry. At least for the unmanned side.
We'll ignore the manned side for just now.
Mine's the one with the old touristy Johnson Space Center stuff in the pocket.
"Yes, best you ignore the manned side... They still have one!"
For some reason, it is not common knowledge, but NASA can order up a Saturn V type rocket, with the latest tech anytime they want. It is how the Mars rover was launched. I think NASA doesn't make a big deal about this, as they would prefer their international partners handle more of the ISS freight.
In fact, dumping the Shuttles was a good way to reduce NASA's involvement in the ISS, which is doing only ho-hum science these days. The only thing that the ISS can do for NASA, is study the long term effect of humans in space. Though they did most of that with Skylab, years earlier. And the impacts of the hard cosmic radiation on the human body, and protection against such radiation are hard to study from a low earth orbit which is still somewhat shielded by the earth's magnetic field. They'd prefer to have Russia use the Soyez rocket to supply the ISS.
Not to mention, the US also has Titan IV Heavy, which launches the worlds largest satellites. The Titan IV is exclusive to the Air Force now, and not rated for human flight, but someone has surely thought about how to make it rated for human flight.
I think it is good idea that NASA focus on the science and "never been done before" stuff, rather than operate a fleet of space trucks. NASA leaned as much as they could from the shuttles and not much more "never been done before" R&D can be done on launch rockets. It is a just a thrust vs. weight vs. cost formula now, and ratio can't be changed.
What are you smoking?
"NASA can order up a Saturn V type rocket, with the latest tech anytime they want"
NASA don't even have the blueprints for the Saturn V anymore. Anyway why upgrade 1960's technology instead of creating something more efficient and cheaper. Saturn V was impressive, but it was brute force technology. Effective but expensive. The mars rover was launched on a Atlas V which has no relationship with the Saturn V. In fact the main engine is the RD-180 which is Russian designed and built.
The ISS is still doing great science and space science has come a long way from the Skylab days. Understanding how to combat the long term effects of space travel is our ticket off this rock pile. But there is a lot of fundamental science being done there as well which could only be achieved in a manned lab.
I am sure NASA would like there manned launch system, but the truth is NASA and congress dropped the ball on this one. It was not by choice or design.
As for making the Titan IV heavy human rated. This is a little bit more difficult than ticking some boxes. If it had been that easy ISS astronauts would not be riding on Soyuz rockets these days. It is also not being made anymore.
Whichever way you cut it, NASA and America blew there lead in manned space flight and no amount of sticking your head in the sand and shouting" well we never wanted to do it anyway" hides that fact.
The blueprints and other Saturn V plans are available on microfilm at the Marshall Space Flight Center, they are emphatically not lost. What is gone I believe is the tooling, and I imagine that some of the electronics might be rather difficult to source in 2012, for example I don't believe they make core memory anymore.
"The ISS is still doing great science and space science has come a long way from the Skylab days. Understanding how to combat the long term effects of space travel is our ticket off this rock pile. But there is a lot of fundamental science being done there as well which could only be achieved in a manned lab."
Really? That's not what New Scientist was saying last month. Check it out.
I haven't checked it out but I'm willing to bet that it is the debate about the cost effectiveness of manned space station versus earth based or automated low orbit platforms.
It is a valid discussion, however even if you ignore the benefits of having a large configurable platform with plenty of power for doing space science that you couldn't place economically on a satellite, there is a more fundamental question as to what the long term goal of space exploration is.
As impressive as Curiosity is, at the end of the day it is no more relevant to the human experience than the early moon rovers sent by Russia in the 60's. Far more inspiration was achieved by physically sending men to the moon, however difficult that was, than a million robotic probes. For me it was one of my first memories and inspired me to go into science.
If you, as I, believe that manned exploration must be the end goal of any space program then we need a manned laboratory to develop technologies that make the long term habitation in space feasible. Not only in terms of human physiology, but the equipment and tools for long term exploration.
At the end of the day this only be achieved by having a viable manned orbiting laboratory such as the ISS.
If you subscribe to the Kessler Syndrome all it would take is the right one or two satellites to break up in orbit and the resulting debris would destroy all of them...and keep us effectively out of space for the rest of our lifetimes.
Thanks China for demonstrating how to pulverize a satellite in space...and thus creating 2,300 new bits of junk.
Probably not up there for very long - the transfer orbit they're stuck in is 165 * 3,118 miles.
It'll be interesting to see why the engine failed, its a hydrazine-fueled number which has almost no moving parts and doesn't need an igniter, so it should be very reliable. Apparently it had to make five firings, it failed on the third.
They're still shielded from most radiation by virtue of zipping around under the van Allen belts, through the top wispy bits of our atmosphere - the drag from that is why it needs a boost from time to time. Without the boost it'd do a Skylab and come down fairly quickly.
If they were orbiting outside the magnetosphere it'd be a real study of long term space exposure.
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