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Russia to Build New Spacecraft by 2020 101

Posted by Zonk
from the shouldn't-we-have-ftl-by-2020 dept.
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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Russia to Build New Spacecraft by 2020

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  • Space Shuttle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cd-w (78145) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @02:51AM (#21305021) Homepage

    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.
    • 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 Japanes

      • by Cyberax (705495) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @05:45AM (#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?
        • by nospam007 (722110)
          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.
          • by Cyberax (705495)
            The problem is: it doesn't scale well.
            • 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

              • by icebrain (944107)
                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.
                • by RevHawk (855772)
                  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: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by thanasakis (225405)
                  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.
                  • most people would still want to work to have an even better life and acquire more goods.
                    Except they wouldn't see any benefit - it would go in taxes to support the unemployed.

                    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.
                    That's those who can't work; it's not the same as those who won't work.
              • by Cyberax (705495)

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


                That's why I said that it doesn't scale :(
        • perhaps a better measure (granted, still not perfect) to look at would be GDP per capita on a PPP basis
      • 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
      • by SamP2 (1097897)
        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 necess
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ColdWetDog (752185)

          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 largis

          • by alienw (585907)
            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 woul
            • 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 i

      • by temcat (873475)
        While you might have some valid points, Russians are perfectly capable to decide what they need without your preaching.
      • 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.
      • by Venik (915777)
        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?
      • 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?
    • by vbraga (228124)

      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 re

      • by Rei (128717)
        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 Klipe
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 10, 2007 @02:54AM (#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."
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Saturday November 10, 2007 @03:22AM (#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.

    • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Saturday November 10, 2007 @05:35AM (#21305467) Homepage
      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: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by hyades1 (1149581)

        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 ve

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DerekLyons (302214)

          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

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by rbanffy (584143)
          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
          • by rbanffy (584143)
            "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.
  • by iamacat (583406) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @03:37AM (#21305145)
    In which areas is Russia unintentionally competitive exactly?
  • by yoprst (944706) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @04:18AM (#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
  • Thank God for the Russians!
  • by xristo70 (1184699) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @05:04AM (#21305403) Homepage
    "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: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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.
    • by TimSSG (1068536) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @05:43AM (#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
    • by GreggBz (777373)
      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]
    • The space pen bullshit's already been refuted so many times in slashdot that it needs its own FAQ entry.
    • 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 beca

  • 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.
  • by plnrtrvlr (557800) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @08:16AM (#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.
    • by oliderid (710055)
      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
  • ...but will there be any Russians left to build them? Demographics aren't looking very positive for Mother Russia.
  • In Soviet Russia the Spacecraft builds you... omg there goes the karma :(
  • 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.
  • One wonders what happened to the Kliper [wikipedia.org]? It was touted as being practical and reliable. Russian space architecture seems confused.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tftp (111690)
      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.)

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