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Russian Cargo Ship Docks At ISS On Second Try 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-free-after-thirty-minutes dept.
FleaPlus writes "Following up on a story from a few days ago about an unmanned Russian cargo ship's initial aborted attempt at docking with the International Space Station, Space.com reports that the vehicle made a second pass on July 4, which succeeded. Russian engineers believe the initial abort was triggered when the (normally reliable) Progress spacecraft detected interference between a remote control system on the ISS and Progress's camera. It successfully docked on the second try by using the autonomous system instead."
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Russian Cargo Ship Docks At ISS On Second Try

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  • On Sat night, I was looking up at the sky at dusk and I saw a bright object crossing the sky. I thought it was a plane, but it was not blinking like a plane does, and it was moving pretty fast. There was a dimmer object following by a couple cenitmeters (from my perspective), that I guessed was the russian capsule.
    • by sznupi (719324)

      Couple centimeters when talking about radial distance is not a good choice. But BTW, you can quite easily estimate the distance - look at time passing between crossing the same spot for two objects, and remember they are moving at ~7.7 km/s.

      I saw them certainly that night, too; Progress being ~20 km (OK, I had the benefit of star background) in front.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:05PM (#32803208) Journal

    It successfully docked on the second try by using the autonomous system instead.

    Why didn't they use the automated system in the first place? As a programmer I'd be a little pissed if I spent a lot of time working on a system as complicated as docking a shuttle, only to find out its second string to human piloting. Maybe it should be if the automated system fails, THEN try it with human interaction.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by adolf (21054)

      Why didn't they use the automated system in the first place? As a programmer I'd be a little pissed if I spent a lot of time working on a system as complicated as docking a shuttle, only to find out its second string to human piloting. Maybe it should be if the automated system fails, THEN try it with human interaction.

      Why should they use the automated system in the first place? As an astronaut I'd be a little pissed if I spent my entire life working toward living on the space station and learning the intr

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        As an astronaught I'd be a little grateful I made it into space in the first place, spending my entire life working towards living on the space station perhaps doing the stuff that a human is NEEDED for rather than the stuff technology is designed for. I mean the astronaughts themselves didn't do the calculations for the launch pattern, someone else did and trained them.

        When it comes to math, computers have consistently shown to be faster and more accurate.

        And this was just a perfect example on how the auto

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:52PM (#32803484)

        Why should they use the automated system in the first place? As an astronaut I'd be a little pissed if I spent my entire life working toward living on the space station and learning the intricacies of operating these sorts of crafts, only to find that my life's work is second string to a fucking computer. Maybe if human piloting fails, THEN try it with the automated systems.

        Why should they use some ego driven head case in the first place? As a taxpayer I'd be a little pissed if I spent my entire life supporting the organization that created the space station and hoping for advanced knowledge to make my child's life better, only to find that my life's work is second string to a fucking pilot who needs his ego stroked even though the mathematicians and programmers on the ground already solved the problem. Maybe automated systems fail, THEN try it with the dickhead.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by epp_b (944299)
          My meme sense is tingling...
        • by youn (1516637)

          I think they used the automated pilot because the human pilot had still not completely fully recovered from his hangover ,)

      • by Sloppy (14984)

        Regards to Captain Dunsel.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        Nobody's there to see your uber piloting skillz anyway. You're there do other things than mucking a day or two (including preparations / refreshing training) with something that can just as well be done automatically.

      • Why should F-16s use fly-by wire systems in the first place? AS a pilot I'd be pissed if I was presented with a plane that was unflyable except through computer aid.
      • Maybe it should be if the automated system fails, THEN try it with human interaction.

        Maybe if human piloting fails, THEN try it with the automated systems.

        IF there are any humans or automated systems still intact. Some things you can't screw up. It would be a catastrophic failure if it occurred on landing. If it fails the first time, the backup probably won't be of much use.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:14PM (#32803268)

      If you read the first article you'd know that they tried the automated system the first time but it couldn't hold a targeting lock on the ISS and they decided to abort the attempt.

      READING: It Teaches you Stuff!

      • However, if you read the second article, it suggests that it was being brought in via remote control and the automated system on the Progress drone detected a problem transmitting the camera data and decided to break off.

        From the second article (my emphasis):

        Russian engineers suspect it was interference between the Progress vehicle remote control system on the International Space Station and a TV camera on the space freighter that forced the incoming spacecraft to abort its first approach on Friday.

        Futhermore:

        For Sunday's docking, Russian flight controllers opted to forgo any use of the remote control system, called the Telerobotically Operated Rendezvous Unit (TORU). Instead, they checked and rechecked the Progress 38's autonomous Kurs navigation system, as well as its backup system, to make sure the spacecraft was completely ready to dock itself at the space station.

        Reading the latest articles can teach you even more stuff!

    • The DID use the autonomous system in the first try! It got interference from some other equipment and bombed out. They turned it off and tried again.

           

      • by kav2k (1545689)
        Well, Russian TV news said that the reason for the first failure was an unidentified interference with manual control system, which probably overrided the auto system. On the second try, they disabled the manual system, and the auto system worked great. The procedure is always to try auto system first and switch to manual override only if it has problems.
    • The cockpit crew on the next generation shuttle will consist of a pilot and a German Shepherd. The dog's purpose is to bite the pilot's hand off if he reaches for the controls.

  • Humans in the loop (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903)

    Progress spacecraft detected interference between a remote control system on the ISS and Progress's camera. It successfully docked on the second try by using the autonomous system instead.

    So the autonomous system beats having humans in the loop. Explain to me why we need people in space again.

    • by Reapman (740286)

      Using your logic, I suppose when unmanned vehicles (such as some failed mars lander attempts) crash and burn, that proves we should not have robots in space?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bennomatic (691188)
      Two words: space poo.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Explain to me why we need people in space again.

      Seriously? Maybe we don't need people in space, but there are people who want to go.

      What are you going to say? Sure you can parachute out of planes, dive to the bottom of the ocean, climb Mt. Everest, but you can't go into space because it's too dangerous?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ceejayoz (567949)

      Explain to me why we need people in space again.

      It amazes me that people ask this during the current oil spill, where remotely controlled robots have done fuck-all. Sometimes, if you can get a human's hands on the problem, it's dramatically useful.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Aren't those Robots remote controlled? Also, the Robots in Russia have unanimously agreed that nuking the oil pipe is the best option.
      • Two things:

        Remotely controlled and Automated are different things. Automated processes do not require humans, remotely controlled systems do. The robots in the oil spill are remotely controlled.

        Since it requires human hands on it, what have Deep Sea Divers done that has helped the oil spill recently?

        • by espiesp (1251084)

          Well, probably because human hands are pretty worthless at 5000 feet under water...

        • by ceejayoz (567949)

          Since it requires human hands on it, what have Deep Sea Divers done that has helped the oil spill recently?

          Diving suits don't work down there. Space suits work fine on Mars, the Moon, etc.

    • So the autonomous system beats having humans in the loop. Explain to me why we need people in space again.

      Because in the future we won't be mere tourists.

    • by Nemilar (173603)

      Because as a child, didn't you want to be an astronaut?

      OK, so you didn't actually become one. But didn't it help to spark your interest in science and technology?

    • "No Buck Rogers, no bucks."

      I think that answers your question.
    • So the autonomous system beats having humans in the loop.

      In Soviet Russia, control systems pilot you!

    • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Monday July 05, 2010 @05:16PM (#32803722) Homepage Journal

      wow.. shame no-one actually answered your question..

      Short answer:

      http://quantumg.blogspot.com/2010/07/jeff-greason-answers-why-humans-in.html [blogspot.com]

      Longer answer:

      http://quantumg.blogspot.com/2010/06/why-space.html [blogspot.com]

      • by epp_b (944299)
        It's a greater shame that I've already commented on this story and cannot use my mod points to bump your comment up as insightful.
    • by selven (1556643) on Monday July 05, 2010 @05:24PM (#32803780)

      Explain to me why we need people in space again.

      Because there are 6.7 billion people on a planet which can only sustain 4-5 billion, and we need to be practicing now if we want to be prepared for when we have to expand to new real estate.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        That's mostly a bad fantasy. For a long, long time the most efficient way will be just to keep this planet fine; with space efforts useful, but in a different way - satellites for Earth science or to guard off against impactors.

        Other than that - we've been in space for half a century and, essentially, none of the Space Age dreams have become a reality. With good reasons, we don't have the required technology, required energy.

        Now, if we would have them - we still wouldn't need to go into space in any large n

        • by mikael_j (106439)

          That's mostly a bad fantasy. For a long, long time the most efficient way will be just to keep this planet fine; with space efforts useful, but in a different way - satellites for Earth science or to guard off against impactors.

          Some of us like to dream of going somewhere else, exploring, not just sitting around waiting to get taken out by the first large asteroid or rogue black hole that wanders our way.

          Also, I'd rather aim for the stars and end up on Mars than aim for LEO and end up in yet another political debate over the latest religious squabble...

          Other than that - we've been in space for half a century and, essentially, none of the Space Age dreams have become a reality. With good reasons, we don't have the required technology, required energy.

          Well, it would probably have been easier to get something done if NASA and ESA had proper funding, but they don't, really.

          Now, if we would have them - we still wouldn't need to go into space in any large numbers. We would have everything on Earth, easier and more efficiently.

          It would be nice if we actually had the capability to do tod

          • by sznupi (719324)

            I addressed protecting from asteroids... (and "rogue black hole" is such a remote possibility to be really insignificant - we are quite sure how small the chances of them disrupting star systems are, there are too many old binary star systems for that to be a threat; and direct impact is whole lot of orders of magnitude lower than that)

            It's one thing to dream about it, but another thing to actually do it (or work towards some goal in a sensible way). We won't be able for a long time. OK, thousands of indivi

      • by Ksevio (865461)
        So you're suggesting we'll be sending billions of people into space instead of the birth rate declining?
      • No need. We can barely feed everyone at the moment anyway. Pretty soon we'll farm the crap out of the land so much that it'll become infertile until there's a mass shift in the balance of the nitrogen cycle, for one. Nature has a way of culling large populations very effectively: Stopping stuff from growing.

        3% of the human body is nitrogen. Might need to bury a few before we can go back to stuffing ourselves with foie gras and prime rib.
      • can only sustain 4-5 billion

        Proof?

        • by selven (1556643)

          http://dieoff.org/page112.htm [dieoff.org]

          Specifically (emphasis mine):

          Carrying capacity today. Given current technologies, levels of consumption, and socioeconomic organization, has ingenuity made today's population sustainable? The answer to this question is clearly no, by a simple standard. The current population of 5.5 billion is being maintained only through the exhaustion and dispersion of a one-time inheritance of natural capital (Ehrlich and Ehrlich 1990), including topsoil, groundwater, and biodiversity.

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Hey, that system (used also on Soyuz; and on Progress used for fresh supplies) would be useless without people!

    • by epp_b (944299)
      You first: explain to me why some Italian guy should be carting off his ship across a huge ocean in search of some new land that he'll never find. What a waste, huh?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by maxume (22995)

        He was on a spice run. And many of his contemporaries were pretty sure that he was underestimating the size of the planet.

  • Nuff said!

  • by damburger (981828) on Monday July 05, 2010 @04:33PM (#32803360)
    Progress, like any spacecraft, is a complex system. Things won't always go to plan - that said it has, like a lot of the old Russian hardware, a decent track record. This isn't the first time one has gone a but funky, but it is very far from the first time one has been sent up to a space station.

    These things have been supplying stations in LEO since 1978, but to hear the media tell it this is a flaky, experimental piece of equipment just waiting to go wrong, and the failure of just a single docking attempt might put the whole ISS program in danger.

    • These things have been supplying stations in LEO since 1978, but to hear the media tell it this is a flaky, experimental piece of equipment just waiting to go wrong, and the failure of just a single docking attempt might put the whole ISS program in danger.

      The Space Shuttle has been flying since 1982 - but according to the media it's a flaky experimental piece of equipment just waiting to go wrong.
       
      And you might ask the crew of Mir what a single docking attempt [nasa.gov] can result in.
       

      Progress, like any spacecraft, is a complex system. Things won't always go to plan - that said it has, like a lot of the old Russian hardware, a decent track record.

      It has pretty much the same track record as Soyuz and the Shuttle at about 98-99% reliable.

      • by damburger (981828)
        Yes, so its *partial* failure isn't some kind of ZOMG SKY IS FALLING NO MORE SPACEFLIGHT event. The only reason it was so with shuttle failures is because human lives were lost and thus answers were required before proceeding.
      • by Yvanhoe (564877)

        It has pretty much the same track record as Soyuz and the Shuttle at about 98-99% reliable.

        Except Soyuz made three times less casualties while transporting 6-7 times more humans.

        • by Yvanhoe (564877)
          Uh... Ok mod me down, I inverted two lines. Failure rates are similar (slightly lower for Soyuz)
        • It has pretty much the same track record as Soyuz and the Shuttle at about 98-99% reliable.

          Except Soyuz made three times less casualties while transporting 6-7 times more humans.

          ROTFLMAO, you couldn't be more wrong if you tried. Hint: Shuttle, 120 odd flights with an average crew of 5+. Soyuz, 90 odd flights with an average crew of 3. You do the math.

          On top of which, the number of people killed is roughly as relevant as the number of times someone has flown into space wearing orange underwear. (For the

          • All failed Soyuz flights have happened more than 30 years ago, due to some bad design mistakes that were corrected, and there were no human casualties since then. OTOH Shuttles still tend to blow up and take all those 5+ crews with them even in 21st century.
            • All failed Soyuz flights have happened more than 30 years ago, due to some bad design mistakes that were corrected, and there were no human casualties since then.

              That's true - but only important if you're ignorant enough to believe that a problem can be ignored until it kills someone. On the other hand, if you aren't so ignorant, you'll note that Soyuz has an ongoing pattern of failures and problems.

              OTOH Shuttles still tend to blow up and take all those 5+ crews with them even in 21st century.

              But a

    • That this even was reported on surprises me. Are we going to get a media scare every time they don't do something on the first attempt, and instead rely on their back-ups? This is nearly as bad as the JAXA scandal!

      • by identity0 (77976)

        This is nearly as bad as the JAXA scandal!

        Just curious, what scandal is that?

        • The scandal that the probe went all the way to an asteroid, landed, took off and flew all the way back, landed here (!) and may not have managed to get a sample (though more recent news hints at dust in the sample container). It did all those individually amazing things, but still had nothing to show for it.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      The American media still love to jab the Russians. It's an old, childish resentment going back to the Cold War and the space race. Even today, you'll find thousands of American-made documentaries about the space race in which the Soviets are only mentioned as an afterthought (even though they pioneered almost every space "first" from 1957-1969). I've only seen one English documentary [monstersandcritics.com] that even tried to deal seriously with the Soviet space program (and, of course, you can't buy it in the U.S., it was only re [amazon.com]
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by GooberToo (74388)

        even though they pioneered almost every space "first" from 1957-1969).

        Except they didn't. America literally had rockets and satellites placed in storage waiting for Russia to catch up. America understood the potential for intelligence gathering and desperately hoped the Russians would play into their hands. They did with the launch of Sputnik which created a precedence of allowing a foreign satellite from a foreign power to overfly another sovereign nation. Had America been first to actually execute, they feared the Russians would make a huge international incident about any

        • by elrous0 (869638) *
          Source?
          • by GooberToo (74388)

            The US government. Reams of paperwork. Von Braun. All the people working on the project. The US Air Force. [slashdot.org]

            I must admit, of all places, I expected this FACT to be much more widely known. Especially since it wasn't modded up. The only thing I messed up was the time line. They were ready to go roughly a year before sputnik - not two or more as I originally asserted.

            • by elrous0 (869638) *
              The only thing those sources point out is that Eisenhower had mothballed Von Braun's research project in the 50's. That was well known. But that's a LONG way from saying the U.S. already had superior technology throughout the space race and was just hiding it out in some secret warehouse (presumably with the aliens spaceship from Rosewell and the Lost Ark). Von Braun may have been able to put a satellite up earlier if he had adequate funding and support, or maybe not. We'll never know. All we know for sure
              • by GooberToo (74388)

                The only thing those sources point out is that Eisenhower

                No, those prove you need to learn to read. I fucking quoted a portion which is reporting on entire documentary which proves everything I said. And the quote about the show says every fucking thing I said. Holy shit! Learn to fucking read AND COMPREHEND!

                There are even videos on some of the links but I'm now sure on what they actually report.

                Holy shit! If I type slower will you be able to comprehend it?

                • by elrous0 (869638) *
                  You're a nutball. None of your those sources say any such thing (none of the credible ones anyway). Time to take off the tin-foil hat. I'm not continuing this discussion anymore, as it's pointless to try to reason with your kind.
              • by GooberToo (74388)

                I seems /. didn't like an edit I made and it decided to eat one of the links. [schoolsmatter.info]

                Basically if you can't figure out everything I said, minus the minor mistake in timeline, from the provided material, you have zero reading/learning comprehension. This isn't about reading between the lines. Its about simply reading and comprehension - or perhaps watching a video. Either way, if you don't have the same conclusion as to what I asserted, you dumb and lazy. Period.

                And since you clearly do have reading comprehension pr

        • by damburger (981828)

          LMFAO

          Super sekret plan to trick the Russians? Bullshit. Show some evidence outside your redneck survivalist conspiracy websites. The R7 derivatives kicked the arse of the Redstone and Vanguard rockets - and that is a historical fact I dare you to disprove.

  • detected interference between a remote control system on the ISS and Progress's camera

    Can''t perform on camera, huh. Wont make a very good porn star with that attitude.

  • lulz they docked on the 4th of July ;)
    and the the first try thy say was not a fail but a failsafe system functioning properly.

    You gotta give it up to both russian humour and diplomacy
  • If I remember correctly, Soyuz and Progress originally didn't have manual docking system, and used automated one to dock with Salyut and Mir. Then, probably to provide more flexibility in emergency situations, manual system was introduced on Mir, and in initial tests it was less reliable than automated one. That was a long time ago, so I guess, manual system was fixed, but automated one remained in use.

    Why was manual system involved on the first docking attempt is a mystery for me -- it would make little se

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