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NASA Space Science

Russia's Unmanned Capsule Misses Space Station 224

Posted by timothy
from the head-'em-off-at-the-next-pass dept.
mikesd81 writes "Russia's unmanned cargo ship Progress 38 missed docking with the ISS and sailed right on by it instead of docking on autopilot. A telemetry lock between the Russian-made Progress module and the space station was lost and the module flew past at a safe distance. NASA said the crew was never in danger and that the supplies are not critical and will not affect station operations. There will be no other attempts at docking today, and the orbit of the module raises questions of any other attempts again. Packed aboard the spacecraft are 1,918 pounds of propellant for the station, 110 pounds of oxygen, 220 pounds of water and 2,667 pounds of dry cargo — which includes spare parts, science equipment and other supplies."
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Russia's Unmanned Capsule Misses Space Station

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  • by logjon (1411219) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:01PM (#32781654)
    The fuck?
  • Right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ironchew (1069966) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:05PM (#32781682)

    the supplies are not critical

    In other words, it had everything worth living for in it. You don't *need* tasty food or new videos to survive.

  • by mollog (841386) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:05PM (#32781684)
    Is there no vehicle for the people on the space station to use so that they can nip out and catch the errant missile? Jeepers, that would have been the first thing that I would deliver. Surely, they had anticipated this happening and considered what to do about it.

    It's not clear to me why we're doing this whole space station thing in such a half-assed manner. Why not think in terms of a permanent space station, and all that entails?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:10PM (#32781726)

    It's not clear to me why we're doing this whole space station thing in such a half-assed manner. Why not think in terms of a permanent space station, and all that entails?

    Because every four years we switch between leaders who refuse to do anything that won't make their supporters rich and leaders who refuse to do anything that won't make their supporters rich.

  • So what happens when the space shuttles are all retired and we only have apollo-era capsules that we can send up with a breath-taking-fall-back-to-earth? Not dissing you, but the U.S. really bit the bag on this one. The shuttles are one of the best assets the U.S. has. Literally, no one else on earth has *anything* close to it. What a shame.
  • Even Hollywood... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anachragnome (1008495) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:26PM (#32781906)

    Even Hollywood had this one figured out.

    Manual override.

    Why didn't they have some sort of override for the Astronauts/Cosmonauts on board the station to correct trajectory in the last few moments? After all, they are the only ones that actually have a real eye on the situation and can react the fastest.

    That must have been frustrating watching Mom's chocolate chip cookies and the latest issue of "High Times" go sailing past and not be able to do anything about it.

  • by Kilrah_il (1692978) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:28PM (#32781918)

    Although the space program had (has) it's share of fuck-ups, I would be hesitant to jump up and yell aloud: "Everyone is stupid, I just had a great idea no one else thought of before". I mean, what you say sounds reasonable, but if hundreds of scientist didn't provide for some sort of space tug, they probably had some reason, other than plain stupidity. Some possible reasons I can think of from the top of my head (at 3:00AM; disclaimer - IANAS*):
    1) The frequency of such missed dockings is too low to justify the cost.
    2) It is cheaper to send another probe than to have a space tug ready at all times - Remember that mass is money in space, and also you have maintenance to consider.
    3) The technology for the space tug is not safe enough - it could be unpleasant if one of the astronauts gets marooned on the space tug.
    Please don't try to refute the above points. I am not saying this are the reasons, those were just examples.

    You may be right and nobody thought about some sort of contingency plan for such a scenario, but I would check it before marching around and talking about "half-assed manner".

    * IANAS - I am not a scientist.

  • by NNKK (218503) <nknight@runawaynet.com> on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:36PM (#32781978) Homepage

    It's called being prepared. The ISS is kept well-stocked and the loss of a single resupply run is expensive but not operationally critical.

  • Because no one else on Earth _wants_ anything close to it. They cost way too much for the marginal benefits they provide.

  • Lesson: (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:45PM (#32782070)

    Never send a robot to do a man's job.

  • I don't know about it proving "marginal benefits." It was the first vehicle to produce a viable "lab in space" that was unable to be done before. It was versatile enough to do whatever you needed it to do. It has a giant robotic arm from Canada. Yes, CANADA! The place where the South Park creators are from!

    Now, the whole thing about it being safe is probably the problem. Well, was the problem. Back when the challenger had issues it really cut the program down. Unfortunately, it was a known problem (even then). I haven't kept up with the booster rocket technology at-all since then, but I assume they're much safer now! The only issue now would be re-entry. They have to develop and mature some better-stronger-lighter-cheaper materials that can take it and we'll be off of those soft-crushable panels that can be flaked off because they're hand applied!

    As far as I know, there would be no ISS if it wasn't for the SS. So it's thee vehicle to have. Rockets are cool, but shuttles are better. And just like the yankees or lakers, if you wanna win, you gotta pay$
  • by sznupi (719324) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:12PM (#32782272) Homepage

    Kilogram is a unit of mass...

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:14PM (#32782294)

    Oxygen fuel and water aren't critical?

    The fuck?

    Meaning they still have plenty.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:18PM (#32782316) Homepage

    Not nearly so as you think it to be. 1000 kg is a mass of 1000 liters of water; that's a cube 1 meter on its side. Meter is derived from the size of the Earth (ancient Greeks could do it).

    Yes, those are no longer definitions; but they give something very close from, as far as humanity is currently concerned, readily accesible (by unsophisticated means) constants around us.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:29PM (#32782400)

    Human feet vary far more than the mass of water in a given location.

  • by Draek (916851) on Friday July 02, 2010 @10:32PM (#32782768)

    it's no more mumbo jumbo then the metric system

    It is. It freaking switches whole *numeric bases* every couple units, for God's sake! it makes an even bigger mess than computational units, and without the mathematical reasons to do so.

    The only 'Imperial' unit I know worth preserving is the Fahrenheit/Rankine, I still prefer Celsius/Kelvin but it's not bad either. But yards, pounds and all that crap need to die a quick and very painful death, they deserve nothing else.

  • by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk&gmail,com> on Friday July 02, 2010 @11:18PM (#32782976)

    What the fuck are you talking about? Pounds is debatable but kilograms always means mass. Things have mass in space.

    If you are smart enough to think that you know the difference between mass and weight, then you sure as shit should be smart enough to know that kilograms is a measure of mass.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 03, 2010 @12:11AM (#32783192)
    OK, so you need to cover a 5.4864 meter by 10.9728 meter area with 5.08cm tiles. Compute! Do you need paper?
  • by NNKK (218503) <nknight@runawaynet.com> on Saturday July 03, 2010 @01:25AM (#32783486) Homepage

    I keep hearing nonsense like this, and it's really stupid. You're stuck in a Cold War mentality (which was absurd even during the Cold War).

    Who the hell cares if there's no Shuttle replacement ready? Manned space exploration is about science, and there is no scientific need so urgent as to justify the continuation of the 30-year-old disaster that is the Space Shuttle.

    SpaceX will be up to speed in a few years. Boeing and/or Lockheed Martin can man-rate a rocket and capsule in a similar amount of time if needed.

    There is absolutely no reason to continue the massively overpriced and unnecessarily dangerous shuttle program just to prevent a 2-5 year gap in manned exploration.

    With our current three-Shuttle fleet, you could only reasonably expect to run 4-6 missions a year at most anyway, and I promise you that the termination of the program would not come when the new vehicle is ready, but when you are suddenly left with *two* Shuttles and seven fewer astronauts.

  • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @02:27AM (#32783682) Journal

    Agreed. Now can your Atlas V do this while also supporting 7 astronauts? And can it bring that payload back home? That's what I mean about it being a jack-of-all-trades. If you need to do something in space (at least in Low Earth Orbit), the Shuttle can probably do it.

    Don't get me wrong, though. Using a Shuttle to lift a satellite into orbit is a waste of money. NASA's plan for the Shuttle was to basically undercut private industry because they were spending money to send people into space no matter what. If Lockheed wanted to charge $20,000,000 to put your satellite into orbit, NASA would charge $15,000,000. What the hell, they're going anyway, and any money they can make taking a satellite with them makes human space-flight "cheaper." It's a stupid accounting trick--nothing more.

    Though if you want to compare the launch capabilities of the Atlas V, I'd also point out that the Atlas V has been around since 2002. The Space Shuttle is 20 years older. So you could say that it took private industry 20 years to catch up with the Space Shuttle vis-á-vis payload capability. Now part of the reason for this, of course, is what I mentioned above. Why develop a rocket if NASA is always going to undercut you--they can operate at a loss all they want.

    I don't have a problem with another NASA heavy-lift vehicle. But I think it's a better idea to detach lifting human beings off the planet from lifting cargo off the planet. NASA's accounting trick to reduce the cost of space-flight wasn't the way to go.

    Don't compete with private industry. Instead, do things that private industry has no interest in doing.

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