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Communications ISS Space Science

Soyuz Lifts Off Again, Delivers Globalstar Satellites 40

Posted by timothy
from the russian-to-space dept.
First time accepted submitter ZoCool writes "No doubt to the deep relief of the Russian and Arianespace engineers, and the investors buying their services, Anatoly Zac's RussianSpaceWeb reports that on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011, at 21:09 Moscow Time (17:09 GMT) a Soyuz-2-1a launch vehicle carrying the third tranche of the 2nd Generation Globalstar network, in the form of 6 satellites, was delivered successfully to orbit. This launch from Baikonur's Site 31, pad 6, has broken the recent unusual string of malfunctions that has bugged this usually rock solid workhorse. I imagine that the troops in the space station might be breathing a little more easily too, as the Soyuz is the backbone of the world's space missions these days, when it comes to medium lift."
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Soyuz Lifts Off Again, Delivers Globalstar Satellites

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  • Space X (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Less than 40days to the final COTS demo flight for Dragon. Let's hope the February 7, 2012 launch and docking to ISS goes smoothly!

    • Less than 40days to the final COTS demo flight for Dragon. Let's hope the February 7, 2012 launch and docking to ISS goes smoothly!

      It looks like it's the Russians, Chinese and Indians owning space now. U.S. government cannot even get into space without commercial companies anymore.

      • Actually the U.S. government can, but chooses not to.

        • Re:Space X (Score:4, Funny)

          by InterestingFella (2537066) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @04:35AM (#38546770)
          Yes. I could be a billionaire too, but I choose not to.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Fluffeh (1273756)

          Why spend so much money on development within a badly managed and cash bleeding branch - when you can pay a company a fraction, and get them to do all the management. While I find it sad that the shuttles have stopped, I certainly know that what costs a government a million dollars, a private company can do for a few hundred thousand at most.

          Perhaps this is actually better for the US space program to be able to have private rockets that can fly up and down rather than having to maintain its own fleet.

          If you

          • Re:Space X (Score:5, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 31, 2011 @05:07AM (#38546830)

            Famous last words: "built by the lowest bidder"

            • by Fluffeh (1273756)

              Famous last words: "built by the lowest bidder"

              I find that statement to be utterly true if the product is being developed to a tender. However, if someone is selling you their own product that happens to suit your needs, then the lowest bidder may be a good thing.

              • by equex (747231)
                Yeah it depends on wether it's an already mature standard product already that is sold at large and most kinks has been ironed out. Unfortunately, in the space industry like many other industries, it's all custom built *every time* and someone gets to lower his own production costs by choosing inferior materials to work with. Without telling anyone and hoping for the best.
                • by equex (747231)
                  remove one 'already' from the first sentence. What about one of these fancy new edit-buttons that ive heard so much about?
                • by Plunky (929104)

                  Unfortunately, in the space industry like many other industries, it's all custom built *every time*

                  Is this not at least part of the aim of the SpaceX mission, to make building blocks that can be put together in standard configurations? When they get what they want working, they can set up a production line and offer off the shelf parts..

          • Is that ever true? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by F69631 (2421974) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @08:04AM (#38547298)

            I certainly know that what costs a government a million dollars, a private company can do for a few hundred thousand at most.

            I've worked both in private sector and public sector. I've seen quite a few decisions to pay private company for something that used to be done by the government until that point. I have yet to see a single instance where the total costs would have gone down for equal or better service! Whether it's large government institution outsourcing the IT support or a state paying for private company to take care of public health care, the total costs seem to consistently be higher and the level of the service usually doesn't go up.

            It's true that government has a lot of inefficiency due to internal power struggles, people who are unproductive but difficult to fire, etc... But then again, the private sector also has a lot of overhead (Usually higher wages, large marketing/lobbying/PR overhead depending on the industry, internal power struggles between departments, dividends, CEO bonuses, unproductive people, etc.), not to mention that at every single step the private companies have all the motivation to charge as much money as they can, they either enjoy a monopoly or can't get economics of scale to work out as well as one massive buyer could, etc. etc...

            The very few times I've heard about private industry being more efficient in something have been cases where the public sector has been systematically sabotaged first (Ideological decision to buy from private sector even if it's more expensive --> Private sector gets to pay higher wages --> Competent people quit government jobs and enter private industry --> Private industry can say "Look, your workers are incompetent, we are much more efficient than you are now (though we might not be more efficient than you used to be)"). So, I'd appreciate it if you could quote some real examples (preferably within the last two decades) where decisions like this have ended up saving money.

            Disclaimer: I'm not a socialist. I think that private sector is necessary to keep the society producing what people want, not what bureaucrats or politicians think they should want. I also agree that private sector is a good way to increase individual freedom and the threat of private sector forces public sector to stay more efficient... But I lean left in my home country (North-European welfare state) which probably puts me far left on the left-right axis of USA. From what I've personally seen, it's just really difficult to argue that private sector is more efficient, even if it is necessary.

            • by Kjella (173770)

              The very few times I've heard about private industry being more efficient in something have been cases where the public sector has been systematically sabotaged first

              Unfortunately large parts of the public sector is sabotaged by itself. You give a public institution a mandate and some funding. Now no matter how inefficient and poorly thought out their process and systems are, the ill effects are shifted onto the receivers and the blame put on lack of funding. Why didn't this poor disabled old lady get her disability benefit? Why because she's stuck in the bureaucracy and there's a backlog because there's no funding. Why wasn't this child followed up and taken into care?

            • by khallow (566160)

              I've worked both in private sector and public sector. I've seen quite a few decisions to pay private company for something that used to be done by the government until that point. I have yet to see a single instance where the total costs would have gone down for equal or better service!

              Why don't you give us some examples and we'll see where the problem lies. I haven't experienced efficient government service myself, but I grant it might be out there.

            • by khallow (566160)

              I've seen quite a few decisions to pay private company for something that used to be done by the government until that point.

              I missed this one. If government pays a private firm to be inefficient, then they'll be better at it than the government equivalent. Doesn't strike me as an effective denunciation of private enterprise.

            • by eionmac (949755)

              Sometimes a 'combination' suits best. E.g. public as in UK National Health Service (NHS), at least gets majority of care to most folk (no one out of the net as in USA) while private health care is available for those who are money rich/time poor to get quicker service or major cosmetic health not in NHS. The balance is very difficult to strike (all UK governments left or right leaning have problems withh balance, and 'idealist socialists have problems with private element), but it avoids the non-availabili

        • by Froggels (1724218)
          [i]Actually the U.S. government can, but chooses not to.[/i]

          Perhaps it will reconsider once American astronauts are killed being launched into space on a Russian rocket? It's a grim thought, that that may be what it takes to give congress the wakeup call it needs.
          • And why would you think Russians are any less capable of building space vehicles than Americans?
            • by Froggels (1724218)
              And why would you think Russians are any less capable of building space vehicles than Americans?

              I was not implying that they are less capable (In spite of a recent string of bad luck) but the media frenzy that would follow such an unfortunate event would presumably have such an effect and force congress to react to angry demands that they should "do something about it" and it may even lead to "serious" studies as to why America may be starting to fall behind in such endeavors. "If 'merican astronauts
      • Re:Space X (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday December 31, 2011 @05:50AM (#38546928) Journal

        And whose fault would that be? why that would be YOU who voted in Congressman Kickbackus and Senator Porkman who promised to "bring home the bacon!" and had the shuttle, which frankly was a bad joke from the Nixon administration which failed ALL of the goals it had set out for, to be spread like a shotgun blast all over the country and thanks to all that pork made it damned near impossible to kill.

        I'm sorry but there is a damned good reason why private industry has to do space now, and that is because BOTH parties don't even pretend to give a fuck about anything but their own pockets anymore. Just look at how you can get funding for any crazy military weapon system but our soldiers are paid so damned shitty their families are on food stamps, why? Kinda hard to get kickbacks and bring home the bacon with soldier pay, damned easy with a multibillion dollar weapon system.

        We simply can't build good systems with government involvement anymore because the corruption is just too deep. nobody thinks about the good of the people or the country, just the good of the party and their own wallets. We should have shitcanned the shuttle in the 80s and man-rated either Atlas or Delta but since those systems were already established that would have meant Porkman and Kickbackus couldn't have shotgunned the build all over the country and got to feed at the trough so here we are, having to depend on private industry because the piggies can't quit feeding long enough to think about the country as a whole.

        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          Just look at how you can get funding for any crazy military weapon system but our soldiers are paid so damned shitty their families are on food stamps, why?

          Because our government is a bunch of cunts.

          That said, has there ever been a time in any country ever that a soldier wasn't paid a mediocre wage? A US Army soldier got paid roughly $700 a month (adjusted for inflation) in WW2. A paratrooper got paid twice that. A manager at McDonald's can end up making $1400+ a month - that's honestly depressing.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        the apollo program was largely built using private companies.

        anyhow, if USA gets to the stage where you can order a space lift from some private corporations, then that's a much, much, much better situation to be in than if it's just a governmental operation. that's a more advanced stage in the game than just government funded and ran space development.

        • Actually, other than some of their satellites (via JPL), all of NASA's space program is BUILT by private companies. The shuttle, Constellation, SLS are just examples of private space building launch systems (or not in 2 of those cases).
      • Re:Space X (Score:4, Interesting)

        by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @07:07AM (#38547116) Journal
        Sadly, we have member of congress pushing to have USA do lift via SLS. Horrible mistake.
        But considering that launch is fairly routine, it makes sense for NASA to leave it to private space.
        Instead, if we can have multiple companies such as SpaceX, StratoLaunch, ULA with Dream Chaser/CST-100, and Blue Origin, along with Bigelow and/or IDC Dover for doing space stations, it leaves NASA free to focus on going to Mars and other locations.
        And no doubt private space will be all over the moon assuming that CONgress does block them from moving forward.
      • As it takes less fuel to get to space then it does from the usa for satellites and satellites can only hold so much fuel and more fuel they have = more time in space as they need fuel to keep them in there orbit.

        • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @11:13AM (#38548490) Homepage

          As it takes less fuel to get to space then it does from the usa for satellites and satellites can only hold so much fuel and more fuel they have = more time in space as they need fuel to keep them in there orbit.

          Here, have some physics [wired.com].

          tl;dr - The earth spins, the spin imparts energy, you get the most boost from spin at the equator. That's why everybody else's launch pads are in the tropics. Baikonur [wikipedia.org], the Russian launch site is most useful for Pole to Pole orbits but that's a different topic.

      • by khallow (566160)

        U.S. government cannot even get into space without commercial companies anymore.

        Some of these arguments have been hashed better in other replies, but I just want to summarize what's wrong with this particular statement.

        The US has always relied on commercial contractors to get into space. "Owning space" clearly isn't a priority of the US government (for example, the proposed development of the Space Launch System (SLS)), so IMHO the US should be looking elsewhere, such as to its private side, for any "owning" of space. Finally, private companies do things that governments can't do su

  • Completely different rocket. Like comparing the Apollo- and the Orion-series.

  • Launch enough and sooner or later one won't crash...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nU2y6ztlMAQ [youtube.com]

  • Soyuz-2-1a The "a" is important, it was Soyuz-2-1b 3rd stage engines that failed.

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