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ISS Space Science

Progress Spacecraft Launch Successful 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the that-went-better dept.
Zothecula writes "The future of the International Space Station (ISS) became more secure on Sunday, October 30, 2011 when the Russian space agency Rosocosmos carried out a successful launch of an unmanned Progress spacecraft. The 15,718 lb (7,130 kg) cargo ship carried its three tons of supplies into orbit and successfully deployed its solar arrays without incident. This launch confirms that the Soyuz-U launch vehicle is once again safe to carry the manned spacecraft needed to ferry crews to the ISS."
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Progress Spacecraft Launch Successful

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  • What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by residieu (577863) on Monday October 31, 2011 @12:58PM (#37896762)
    Sure, I should read the article, but the summary makes no sense. Why does the successful launch of one spacecraft prove that it's safe to launch manned spacecraft again? One successful launch doesn't prove anything.
    • by residieu (577863)
      Ok, read the article, and yup that's basically what it says. We think we found the problem, and this launch didn't blow up. Now we're safe again!
    • The Soyuz booster "blowed up real good" on the last launch. The booster itself has been in use for years and years. This launch merely confirms that they know (and have fixed) what went wrong last time.
      • by vlm (69642)

        The Soyuz booster "blowed up real good" on the last launch. The booster itself has been in use for years and years. This launch merely confirms that they know (and have fixed) what went wrong last time.

        What is all this "blow up" stuff in the comments? Are you guys talking about Progress M-12M from the end of this summer aka the "constipation incident"? Intestinal blockage would have been a better analogy, but we're stuck with the nickname I heard about it, I guess. Or is there another recent Soyuz launch that failed, or confusing another nations launcher failure with the Soyuz or ? Soyuz has a ridiculous good safety record, like two incidents in the last four decades or something like that, so if ther

      • by khallow (566160)

        This launch merely confirms that they know (and have fixed) what went wrong last time.

        No, it doesn't. First, as vlm pointed out [slashdot.org], the current launch is a different setup which might not be subject to the flaws of that previous launch. Second, the failure mode may be intermittent, that is, not happen all the time. In which case, it is possible not just for the failure mode to still exist, but be even worse than before!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sure, I should read the article, but the summary makes no sense. Why does the successful launch of one spacecraft prove that it's safe to launch manned spacecraft again? One successful launch doesn't prove anything.

      Technically you may be accurate but there is a couple of other factors here that the article doesn't mention. First the original problem was due to contamination of the engine during manufacturing. They inspected the other engines and found them clean. Second the Soyuz-U design is the oldest rocket design still in operation. And the first stage is what launched Sputnik!. So they have a LOT of operational experience with this rocket. So the situation is more like an airplane engine failure where they found

    • by vlm (69642)

      Why does the successful launch of one spacecraft prove that it's safe to launch manned spacecraft again? One successful launch doesn't prove anything.

      Sure it can... The failure mode of Progress M-12M was a fuel duct was blocked so the computer felt like shutting down early which dumped the thing back in the atmosphere.

      Its no great stretch of the imagination that a change in the software makes it not shut down early if flow rate drops a bit... If its going to be a total loss anyway, may as well keep burning.

      Also no great stretch of the imagination to graph the pressure and flow rate thru the duct during the launch and see that the slightly modified design

      • by tibit (1762298)

        Its no great stretch of the imagination that a change in the software makes it not shut down early if flow rate drops a bit... If its going to be a total loss anyway, may as well keep burning.

        It's a great stretch of imagination for anyone who has ever heard of basics of combustion. If you starve an engine for fuel, it'll run lean. Lean running engines, whether ICUs or rocket nozzles, run much hotter than they were designed for. You can easily burn through a combustion chamber and nozzle (as in melting through it) by burning lean mixture. I've seen a diesel locomotive's exhaust getting nearby stuff on fire because a fuel pump was malfunctioning and the engine was running lean. The exhaust glowed

      • by strack (1051390)
        its definitely a argument for a design being able to sustain a engine failure at any point in the mission and still get to orbit with the remaining engines. much like the falcon 9, or the saturn V. both of which have perfect records of mission success. in fact, is there any rocket with engine out capability that dosent have a perfect record?
    • return to space station. There were two failed launches and the proposed fix, which seems to work. The International Space Station shuts down in three weeks if a fresh crop of astronauts doesnt make it there by then.
      • by vlm (69642)

        There were two failed launches

        Hmm lets check the chronology

        M-10M and earlier were this spring or earlier. I can't remember the last Progress failure. They do collide with the station on a regular basis.
        M-11M worked fine in June
        M-12M shut down early and burned up in the atmosphere in august, more or less
        M-13M is this one, successful.

        So, what mission was the other failure?

        • The Russians had a Proton M/Briz M fail less than a week before the Soyuz/Progress (M-12M) failure. Both failures, IIRC, were for similar reasons.
      • In the hands of the Russians then, see how they get on. Because the USA doesn't have any other options and they might have to go along with what the Russians decide. Though I am sure the ISS management has contingency plans for putting the station into dormant mode in case of emergency.

    • by mobby_6kl (668092)

      Carrier has arrived.

  • Rosocosmos seems like a name someone would come up with if there were making a parody of the Russian space program. Even so, at least some countries still take there space programs seriously.
    • Rosocosmos seems like a name someone would come up with if there were making a parody of the Russian space program.

      I would have suggested "Ruskienauts."

    • Rosocosmos seems like a name someone would come up with if there were making a parody of the Russian space program. Even so, at least some countries still take there space programs seriously.

      Ha fucking ha. Let's laugh at all these funny foreign names.

      Get used to it, buddy. Your country has been hijacked by people who think that the only things worth spending money on are unprovoked foreign wars, locking up everyone caught with a joint, fences in the desert to keep people out of the nation of immigrants, and the biggest military toy collection in the world. Meanwhile America's dominance in the space industry is over. You're going to see a lot more foreign names up there, so you can laugh all you

      • Ha fucking ha. Let's laugh at all these funny foreign names.

        The problem isn't with the name itself, so much so as the fact that it's spelled wrong. It's "Roscosmos" (ros + cosmos), not "Rosocosmos".

      • Wow, a bit over caffeinated and apparently you didn't read the second part the comment. I completely agree, the direction of America's program is fucked and I look forward to the day when space exploration is a multinational endeavor (more so than it is now).
    • by mirix (1649853)

      I really like these sorts of names, no ambiguity.

      Maybe if NASA was called Aerospacadmin they'd still have a working launch vehicle.

  • One safe launch doesn't mean that a launch vehicle is safe.

    The failure to have one safe launch *does* mean that a launch vehicle is unsafe, so there's that.

    • Re:uh, no. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Strider- (39683) on Monday October 31, 2011 @01:49PM (#37897474)

      The failure to have one safe launch *does* mean that a launch vehicle is unsafe, so there's that.

      Pretty much any launch vehicle is unsafe, by definition. You're sitting on top of (literally) tons of highly flammable fuel, along with similarly large amounts of liquid oxygen. There is nothing about this that is "safe" by conventional standards. Even after you've safely survived the combustion of all that fuel, you are then in one of the most hostile environments known to man. Elevated radiation levels, lack of gravity causing your bones and muscles to waste away, and a hard vacuum on the other side of a rather thin piece of aluminum and/or glass. In short, human spaceflight is inherently dangerous, yet we still do it, and quite rightly so.

      Of the existing launch vehicles, the Soyuz design is the single most successful and reliable launcher ever designed and operated. Since 1973, there have been 745 launches of the Soyuz-U design with 724 successful launches (with most of the failures in the early days). The soviets, and subsequently the russians, have made continuous improvements and refinements to the design of this rocket, leading to the closest thing we have to a routine launch system. As one astronaut I've worked with said, "You can take a Soyuz, pick it up in the middle with a crane, shake it, then stick it on the pad and launch it in the middle of a blizzard, and it will still make it to orbit."

      Given the choice of Shuttle, Soyuz, Falcon 9, or some other launch system, I would always take the Soyuz.

      • Of the existing launch vehicles, the Soyuz design is the single most successful and reliable launcher ever designed and operated. Since 1973, there have been 745 launches of the Soyuz-U design with 724 successful launches (with most of the failures in the early days).

        Hmm...

        724 out of 745 is 97.2% success rate.

        Shuttle did 133 successful out of 135 launches, a 98.5% success rate.

        Looks to me like Soyuz isn't quite as reliable or safe as Shuttle, frankly.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Monday October 31, 2011 @01:02PM (#37896840) Homepage Journal

    Until further notice.

    Face it, we're still in the early doors of manned spaceflight, like the early decades of avaition - filled with uncertainty, peril and loss. Perhaps a few decades time will bring safe, reliable travel into space and back, but it's still got a pretty high failure rate.

    • by Arlet (29997)

      It's more likely these are last decades. A few more years, and people will decide the ISS is a useless money drain, which they can no longer afford.

      • Re:Safe again .. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ackthpt (218170) on Monday October 31, 2011 @01:23PM (#37897098) Homepage Journal

        It's more likely these are last decades. A few more years, and people will decide the ISS is a useless money drain, which they can no longer afford.

        Yeah, but with China jumping into space, the US may again feel the need to put the first beach house on the Moon.

        Even if we have to borrow the money from China to fund it!

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          I've been thinking about this lately and the US has got itself into a bad situation regarding military and space funding. The cold war is history but the US still wants to be militarily active so has to spend vast amounts on what is jokingly referred to as defence. China doesn't do that so can focus spending on high tech long range weapons and smaller numbers of ships and aircraft that don't get used in any real wars.

          If you guys could just let go of the idea that you have to have a massively expensive and

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        It's more likely these are last decades. A few more years, and people will decide the ISS is a useless money drain, which they can no longer afford.

        By then Bigelow will probably have his space hotel operating with SpaceX flying tourists there on a regular basis. Maybe NASA will buy one.

        • by Arlet (29997)

          Possibly, yes. A few filthy rich tourists could make it into low earth orbit, and a few years later, we'll run out of filthy rich tourists.

          • by 0123456 (636235)

            Possibly, yes. A few filthy rich tourists could make it into low earth orbit, and a few years later, we'll run out of filthy rich tourists.

            I believe China alone has enough millionaires to keep a hotel fully booked for quite a few years.

          • by ackthpt (218170)

            Possibly, yes. A few filthy rich tourists could make it into low earth orbit, and a few years later, we'll run out of filthy rich tourists.

            Where there are filthy rich tourists, there's a need for telephone sanitizers. ;)

        • by Strider- (39683)

          By then Bigelow will probably have his space hotel operating with SpaceX flying tourists there on a regular basis. Maybe NASA will buy one.

          Given the choice, I'd ride a Soyuz before a Falcon9. Soyuz has 724 (725 with the one out o Korou) successful launches out of a total of 745 attempts. It's a solid, proven design. At this point, falcon 9 has 2 launches.

          • by tibit (1762298)

            But they were both successful, and that means that they probably understand their design pretty darn well. Most programs have plenty of early failures, and those usually mean that the engineering view of things doesn't mesh with reality just yet :)

        • by whatme (997566)

          It's more likely these are last decades. A few more years, and people will decide the ISS is a useless money drain, which they can no longer afford.

          By then Bigelow will probably have his space hotel operating with SpaceX flying tourists there on a regular basis. Maybe NASA will buy one.

          Nope. We all know where the money lies. SpaceX and Virgin Galactic will "merge" to form Virgin SpaceXXX. They will open up low-G sex tourism hotels in lunar orbit and on the moon safely out of jurisdictional oversight of all. Then they will fire up the sex tourism industry (along with revenue generating internet pron feed). It'll be like printing money.

  • Is not safe. Is space ship.
  • rocket only blows up half of the time!
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday October 31, 2011 @01:29PM (#37897166) Journal
    Now, hopefully, we can see SpaceX get their approval to combine COTS 2/3 and then launch in Jan. We need to get multiple cargo going.

    Of course, the next big issue is to get CONgress to do the right thing and increase funding to private space. We need multiple launchers and multiple destinations. Hence private space need to use some money on getting Bigelow going (and ideally IDC Dover).
  • Supposedly the success rate for Russian launchs between 1980-1999 is around 94% while the success rate for american launches is around 86%. Russians are more experience having launched 2589 times with 181 losses while Americans launched 1152 times with 164 losses. Now that the shuttles have been retired I'm going to assume the Russians will be really far ahead but maybe it's better that way with globalization right? As much as I like spaceX I find their newer untested technology not really viable for manne
    • Hmmm. So, NASA says that they can be trusted. They will have 7 or more flights of F9 before a human flight. Likewise, Dragon will also have flown 7 or more times. So, what do you know that NASA does not?
      • by jwilso91 (1920940)

        Hmmm. So, NASA says that they can be trusted. They will have 7 or more flights of F9 before a human flight. Likewise, Dragon will also have flown 7 or more times. So, what do you know that NASA does not?

        That Congress will inevitably shank NASA's budget well before their choice of booster (Son of Shuttle) ever leaves the ground.

        • I agree with your assesment, but TXP made a bold claim that SpaceX is not safe. The only way that the Senate Launch System will be stopped is if FH is working, and F9 is flying cargo successfully. The F9 has had MINOR issues, but all rockets have issues when first starting. But what TXP said had nothing backing it up. He is just another backer of monster waste while wanting to stop us from having multiple launch vehicles.
  • I sure hope the linked article is just bad journalism, rather than a reflection of what anyone connected to the program actually said. A successful launch does not demonstrate that the vehicle is safe, any more than winning at roulette shows it to be a wise investment.

    The program may be, and probably is, safe - but the proof is in the details of the quality program, not the mere fact that the rocket didn't blow up this time.

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