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ISS Space Science

Russian Resupply Crash Could Mean Leaving ISS Empty 291

Posted by timothy
from the needs-a-good-cat-sitter dept.
astroengine writes "In the wake of the Russian Progress vehicle crash shortly after launch on Aug. 24, a chain of events has been set into motion that could result in the decision not to fly astronauts into orbit. If this happens, the ISS will be temporarily mothballed before the end of the year to avoid landing astronauts during the harsh Kazakh winter."
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Russian Resupply Crash Could Mean Leaving ISS Empty

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  • Re:Is that bad? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gcnaddict (841664) on Sunday August 28, 2011 @09:40AM (#37233650)
    So basically, you're saying that spreading away from a ball on which humanity would otherwise forever be trapped is a total waste of money?

    Ensuring the continuity of life on Earth is a waste of money?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 28, 2011 @09:48AM (#37233702)

    And the era of human spacetravel came to an end. Not from discovery or war or any disaster. But simple greed. Greed that says using our resources to take what others have or wasting those resources for entertainment are more important than the spread of the species.

    Trapping us all on this tiny blue planet until the inevitable end comes.

    So we wait for the next global disaster to wipe us all out in one swipe. Be it a germ, comet, meteor, pole shift, solar flare, gamma burst, supervolcano or the unwise use of technology itself.

    Perhaps if another species arises on this planet it will be a little more intelligent and not keep all their stuff in one place.

    It's ok tho. It seems to be a common mistake given the emptiness of the universe. So don't sweat it too much. Go have a beer and some fast food, sit down and watch tv. That's whats important after all.

  • Re:Oh if only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday August 28, 2011 @09:59AM (#37233764) Journal
    At this point, it would take about 2 years to restart the shuttle program. When W killed it, much of the production lines were shut down. So, at this point, it would costs BILLIONS to restart the problem.

    However, private space is about to have 2 different cargo systems ready shortly. In addition, it is possible that either ATV or HTV can be speed up. However, my gut feeling says that Russia will launch within a month, successfully. Issues solved for this issue.

    What is needed is not the cargo, but human launchers ASAP. Now, a number of neo-cons have been pushing to give 10's of billion MORE Than the 20 billion that it appears that it will take. They claim that it would then be done quicker. HOWEVER, the current timeline for the 70 tonne rocket says that it will be ready in 2022. Adding the 10 billion MAY shave a couple of years off that. Hey, being optimistic, you might get it out the door in 2018. IOW, this is a typical neo-cons scenario of pump/dump money into a project that can not be afforded but they want for a jobs bill for themselves.

    OTH, CCDev is expected to have 3-4 crafts by 2015 (starting in late 2013/early 2014). Of course, that assume the 3/4 billion from the next CCDev bid. However the same ppl from above are working hard to block this. HOWEVER, it is possible that jumping the amount from .75 to say 2 billion, MIGHT get the first system ready by early 2013, perhaps late 2012. But getting the neo-cons to allocate, well, that is a different matter.
  • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Sunday August 28, 2011 @10:21AM (#37233880) Homepage

    So we wait for the next global disaster to wipe us all out in one swipe.

    The problem with that logic is that space isn't salvation, it's the worst kind of global disaster 24/7 all year long with no air to breath and temperatures that will kill you in a matter of minutes.

    If you somehow find a way to survive in space, you can just apply those same technologies to earth and will be save for any disaster imaginable.

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater&gmail,com> on Sunday August 28, 2011 @10:28AM (#37233920) Homepage

    So we wait for the next global disaster to wipe us all out in one swipe. Be it a germ, comet, meteor, pole shift, solar flare, gamma burst, supervolcano or the unwise use of technology itself.

    You're deluding yourself if you think a few months or a few years delay in manned spaceflight would make one whit of difference. We're at least a century, if not more, from being able to create a 'colony' off planet that could survive (let alone prosper) prosper absent massive and ongoing support from Earth.

  • Re:Is that bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GospelHead821 (466923) on Sunday August 28, 2011 @10:33AM (#37233954)

    Your comment and others like it remind me of some wisdom gleaned from xkcd:
    "The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space--each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision."

    Right now, our grasp of space exploration is still quite limited. In my opinion, the state of space exploration today is to its potential as alchemy was to modern chemistry. Nonetheless, alchemy represented the first baby steps toward real chemistry. I think that a lot of people recognize this and look at space exploration with the same disdain that they would an institute of alchemy. They key difference is that we don't do alchemy anymore because we outgrew it as it evolved into modern chemistry. Space exploration hasn't evolved into something useful and profitable yet but if we don't keep at it, it never will. (Note, I'm NOT equating space exploration with the ability to merely put things into orbit.)

  • Re:Oh if only (Score:3, Insightful)

    by trout007 (975317) on Sunday August 28, 2011 @11:17AM (#37234286)

    Since I have been working at KSC during this whole mess I'll give my perspectIve. Bush did set the end date for the last shuttle launch. He then outlined the VSE and Griffen came up with the Constellation program. The problem is Bush's lack of leadership in getting the funding to get it done. It would have taken maybe 5 billion more a year which we would rather spend in Mideast wars.

    When Obama came in he had a choice. Get more funding to get constellation going, restart the shuttle components production to eliminate a gap, or trash everything and wait for commercial space to come up to speed. He chose the third option.

    So while Bush started the cancellation of the shuttle program Obama could have easily reversed it.

  • Re:Oh if only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by strack (1051390) on Sunday August 28, 2011 @11:59AM (#37234580)
    the shuttle was a bad design. it needed to die a merciful death. as did the frankenshuttle derived constellation program.
  • Re:Oh if only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday August 28, 2011 @12:15PM (#37234692)

    Since I have been working at KSC during this whole mess I'll give my perspectIve. Bush did set the end date for the last shuttle launch. He then outlined the VSE and Griffen came up with the Constellation program. The problem is Bush's lack of leadership in getting the funding to get it done.

    Uh, no.

    The problem is that NASA designed a program that would cost far more than the government was willing to give them.

    If they'd built a Dragon-style capsule and put it on top of an Atlas or Delta, they'd probably have it in operation by now. Instead they wanted to build a capsule the size of a hotel and two new launchers of their own to launch it. Since the Apollo era NASA has often acted as though they have an infinite budget and then whined when their expensive plans get cancelled because there's no money for them.

  • Re:Oh if only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Sunday August 28, 2011 @12:39PM (#37234848) Homepage Journal
    But I think the relevant question is, should Obama have reversed the cancellation of the shuttle program? Considering that program was such an epic money sink for getting nowhere past LEO, and the fact that most of the technology being used had not improved since the late 1970's, I would assert that saving the shuttle program would have actually been a poort choice. That is just my teo cents as an launch vehicle engineer working outside of the shuttle program, though.
  • by multipartmixed (163409) on Sunday August 28, 2011 @01:01PM (#37235020) Homepage

    The shuttle accidents did not occur in space - the shuttles were still in the air, and thus aircraft. So, no American space craft have had accidents, and I believe the American aircraft safety record is actually quite good compared to the Soviets.

  • by khallow (566160) on Sunday August 28, 2011 @08:23PM (#37237936)
    These are good points. I will point out that there currently exists high value and/or profitable unmanned activity, namely, the launching of a variety of satellites for such things as communication, national defense, imaging, and weather. A person just is a very flexible machine with some overhead from habitation requirements. The ISS among other things helps develop technologies for living and working in space. I think it's vastly overpriced for the value it delivers, but there is some value there.

    There's also the crude observation that previous large-scale expansions of the environments into which humans can live or significant, new ways to travel have resulted in economic growth and some degree of scientific progress.

    Space activities are also interesting because they potentially can disengage economic activity from Earth-side resources. That would greatly increase the resources available to human civilization as well as employ people and generate wealth.

    Even now, we have things that are of some value such as various precious and platinum group metals which could be mined in space or solar power generation. So there is a path to becoming "worth it", namely, driving down the cost of space access to the point where the stuff that we already know has value can be done.

    Despite the hideously inefficient nature of the ISS, it does explore some risks of space activities (not just manned) and useful technologies, hence, is helping to reduce the cost of future access to space.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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