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ISS Space

Space Junk Forced Astronauts Into ISS Escape Capsules 87

Posted by timothy
from the april-fools! dept.
According to a story from CNN, "A piece of a debris from a Russian Cosmos satellite passed close enough to the International Space Station on Saturday that its crew was ordered into escape capsules as a precaution, NASA said. The six crew members were told to take shelter late Friday in their Soyuz capsules after it was determined there was a small possibility the debris could hit the station, the U.S. space agency said in a statement." This isn't the first time it's happened, either. The escape capsules (actually, they're Soyuz spacecraft) must be nice to have on hand, but I'd hate to have to test their efficacy.
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Space Junk Forced Astronauts Into ISS Escape Capsules

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  • ISS, open the Soyuz escape capsule doors.
    • by pecosdave (536896) *

      On out of date IBM (yes IBM, not Lenovo) Think Pads? I think not.

      (I think there may be a couple of Lenovos up there now, but still not the bulk)

      • by jhoegl (638955) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @10:25PM (#39464065)
        Havent you learned anything from Movies yet?
        Macintosh saves the world.
        • Grand slam!

        • Macintosh saves the world.

          ...despite his mouse being abused as a microphone.

      • by sqrt(2) (786011)

        I love IBM era Thinkpads (and *nix loves them, too, which makes them all the more useful to me). Such amazing machines in form and function. I'm an Apple fan now, through and through, but those are the only laptops on the PC side of the great divide that I'd ever consider using. The Lenovo stuff is pretty junky, but when IBM still had their mark on them they were sublime.

        For their purpose, they'll probably still be useful for another 10 years. Space programs use a surprisingly little amount of CPU power.

        • by pecosdave (536896) * on Sunday March 25, 2012 @01:24AM (#39464543) Homepage Journal

          We actually have custom built Think Pads that are soldered to/the equivalent to IPC Level 3 cert, they aren't off the shelf even though they're quite similar to off the shelf ones - more like "extra carefully manufactured" versions. For training in the simulators they have IPC Level 2 cert laptops (basically off the shelf versions) with stickers on them that say they are only for training and not for orbital use.

          What's really interesting is our custom built printers, they look a lot like off the shelf models but with a unique color variant and twist lock USB cables that are built to the same standard as the rest of the hermetically sealed round connectors on the station. Even though I haven't really messed with the printers too much (I'm usually ops side but recently cross trained over at the simulation facility) I'm sure there's something in there to make sure the ink droplets don't float off. I recently had to make a bunch of custom VGA cables that used the same connectors for the simulator.

          Sit back, think of the basics of how most everything works in the computer industry, then replace nearly every cable with a round hermetically sealed twist lock version then you've got an idea of how the station operates. (thankfully not Ethernet cables)

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            They have thinkpads? For maximum safety they should have just got behind one of them.

          • Even though I haven't really messed with the printers too much (I'm usually ops side but recently cross trained over at the simulation facility) I'm sure there's something in there to make sure the ink droplets don't float off. I recently had to make a bunch of custom VGA cables that used the same connectors for the simulator.

            I officially want to switch employers now. Sounds like an uber cool job, man!

          • by tirerim (1108567)
            Wait, they have printers in space? Can you explain why? It seems like the cost of hauling both paper and printers into orbit would make a really strong case for keeping everything electronic.
            • by pecosdave (536896) *

              I don't know much about it. I do know they very rarely use the one in the simulator and I think the use the real one about as much, but I'm not really certain.

          • by wernst (536414)

            Hey! I can answer a bit about this.

            My last job was at Epson, and around 1998, we made a special Epson Stylus Color 800 inkjet printer for use on the Shuttle. It went up on STS-95, which was the same mission John Glenn went up in. It (or perhaps a clone of it) now sits in the Epson America HQ lobby.

            Anyway, I can confirm that other than a special black plastic case, which included plastic "cages" for both feeding paper in and taking paper out (it kept the sheets from floating away), a special latch for the US

      • by arth1 (260657)

        The simpler the technology, the less it breaks.

        In the Apollo program, they had slide rules. Which continue to work even if the cabin is depressurized.
        And Voyager 1 and 2 are still alive, not despite their simplicity, but because of it.

        If I were to design a space craft where my life or welfare depended on the operation of the computers, I sure as hell wouldn't choose anything on the shelves today. Not only would I want components that meets the 883 standard and can withstand radiation bursts, and a fab pro

        • by NevarMore (248971)

          The simpler the technology, the less it breaks.

          In the Apollo program, they had slide rules. Which continue to work even if the cabin is depressurized and the crew has not depressurized

        • by pecosdave (536896) *

          The old socket 8 Pentium Pro has got to be the most hearty processor built in the past 15 years or so. Setup correctly those things didn't crash for anything. I actually had an ultra rare Socket 8 Pentium II that was meant to upgrade those systems. All the stability only the blazing fast 333 Mhz speed!

          Actually I'm impressed with modern stability.

          The best things to happen to computers in a long time is the reduction in chipset offerings. No longer do we have to decide between a dozen concurrent chip sets

  • "The debris was predicted to pass about 23 kilometers (14.2 miles) from the space station, NASA said."

    Sooo, 14 miles and CDR Riker yells "red alert!"

  • I'm always glad to hear our almost forgotten friends come out of danger without a scratch. So bad ass.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Even so, if you'd pay attention, you'd notice outside the Soyuz there's a Space Indian looking at the debris and shedding a single tear. Littering has got stop.

  • Test the efficacy? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Brett Buck (811747) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @10:13PM (#39464023)

    You are kidding right? They ARE going to test their efficacy, that's how they get back down.
       

    • Thank you! I was going to post it if noone else had. Soyuz are the only way to get up to ISS and back down right now.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Are we swapping them out between missions though? If the Soyuz has been sitting up there since construction began (at least for one of the emergency capsules) I might be a bit wary of it myself - unlike something thoroughly vetted a month or so ago at most its been up in space for a significant period of time at this point.

    • by timothy (36799) * Works for Slashdot

      Heh, I meant "as escape vehicles per se," to leave a wounded ISS. That would be ... stressful.

      timothy

  • by sribe (304414) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @10:15PM (#39464025)

    The escape capsules (actually, they're Soyuz spacecraft) must be nice to have on hand, but I'd hate to have to test their efficacy.

    You mean you don't want to come home at the end of the mission?

    • by caseih (160668) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @10:33PM (#39464093)

      Indeed. You'd think a slashdot editor would be up on his ISS knowledge! :) The escape capsules are definitely tested and found efficacious every few months or so when the crew is rotated. In fact they cannot stay at the space station for more than 6 months or so. That was the whole reason they were thinking of abandoning the station back when Soyuz was grounded last year. That and the fact they didn't want to land the soyuz escape capsules in the dead of winter.

    • by Mr2cents (323101)

      Indeed, one of the bigger facepalm moments of /..

    • by Wovel (964431)

      Maybe they like it up there.

      -- Your signature is not the place to complain about the quality of moderation on /.

  • Good thing it's not Klingon-built.

  • And what if .... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by realitycheckplease (2487810) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @10:20PM (#39464047)
    The debris hits the Soyuz and not the main station?
  • Need the dragon (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @10:36PM (#39464103) Journal
    Seriously, one of the hidden issues on the ISS is that the crews are split. Lets assume that SOMETHING happens in the middle of the station. That would seperate the western group from the souyz. Once the dragon is rated for cargo, it would actually be good if it got enough of a life support and seats put into place to launch a dragon up there and dock it there. According to SpaceX, it has a life of 1 year. Once dragon or any other western craft is human rated, then stop the life boats.
    • by SgtAaron (181674)

      Seriously, one of the hidden issues on the ISS is that the crews are split

      '
      Good info. I don't believe this would stop the crew up there from investigating, trying to
      find and investigating again some way to save the other half. I'm guessing, but if I were up
      there, saving these friends of mine would be a priority. Up there, I suppose, my wishes
      might be like dust.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The thinking is if something catastrophic happened in the middle of the station that prevented the crew from moving over to the Soyuz, it would be enough to doom the whole station.

    • Even with a craft docked to every module, they probably wouldn't stop having the crew shelter in docked vessel(s) capable of crew-return.

      If you have the crew in arbitrary locations, then damage could isolate the crew from their lifeboats. If you require the crew to be adjacent to their lifeboat, damage to that module is still a large hazard, since you have to evacuate it post-failure. By sheltering in the lifeboats themselves, they become the only critical target - damage to anywhere aside from the Soyuz

  • Does anyone know if Lockheed's Orion Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle will actually replace or be a backup for Soyuz? It's wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] states

    "Features the development of a new crew exploration vehicle (CEV), the completion of the International Space Station (ISS), and an early retirement of the shuttle orbiter. Orbiter retirement would be made as soon as the ISS U.S. Core is completed (perhaps only 6 or 7 flights) and the smallest number of additional flights necessary to satisfy our international partners

    • Never mind, misread that part about the Core component of the ISS.
    • It will be several years before it is ready to launch on a TEST flight. It will cost 300 million PER COPY. To launch it will costs 200 million. It will last 200 days in orbit. It will hold 5-6 ppl.

      The dragon seats 7, has already done its test flights, in orbit of 1-2 years, and costs less than 100 million to BUILD AND LAUNCH.

      Any reason why you want a compromised craft that will not be ready until private space is actually flying regular human flights for 2-5x the costs?
      • The idea of using the Orion MPCV for ISS is just in case Commercial Crew doesn't follow through. It looks like we won't have the worry about that, and the MPCV can worry about being used in deep space missions.
    • by jamstar7 (694492)
      They're never going to finish Orion, not if Falcon/Dragon X flies. It's a few billion in pork to Lockheed that'll get cut the next time some Congresscritter needs to buy some more votes. Chopping NASA's budget is damned near the national pasttime on The Hill these days. It looks good in press releases, though, but when crunch time comes and nobody's looking, they'll kill this sucker deader than disco just like they did Ares I.
  • Give me a Soyuz capsule, or give me an eternity in this gravity well.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The "efficacy" of Soyuz vehicles, you say? Care to compare the number of astronauts killed on Space Shuttles vs. the number of cosmonauts killed on Soyuz?

    • by wjsteele (255130)
      Exactly... what's to test... they're used to board and leave the space station every single time! The Russians have been using these for decades. One of their early modules failed, but that was in the early 70's... since then they've been very reliable with only minor issues.
    • by ewanm89 (1052822)
      The shuttle can house upto 11 crew members (emergency missions), 5-8 is common, 2 is minimum to run the flight systems (first few test flights). And has had 2 failures out of 135 launches.
      There are several different Soyuz variations which have different characteristics, we are in the fourth generation which has three separate designs (two in current service, one retired), however no Soyuz ever been in service has been able to support more than 3 crew (some models had a maximum of 2). Crew in the Soyuz caps
  • In Soviet Russia, space conquers you!
  • I'm glad they're okay, of course... but I can't help but think how interesting it'd be if, for one moment in my life, I get to yell, "LOOK OUT, RUSSIAN SATELLITE FRAGMENTS ARE HEADING STRAIGHT FOR US!!" Kinda like the drummer in Jackie Chan's 'Rumble In The Bronx' getting to panic and yell, "HOVERCRAFT!!" in order to clear the area before disaster struck.

  • One could anticipate that old satellites might have enough gold and other precious metals for a new age of space scrap pirates. Pirates with privately owned retrieval craft, cleaning up abandoned craft. Freeing up the orbital space around Earth. This industry would be a scurvy one and then lead to a space scrap colony on the moon, without question.
  • The Earth our giant Soyuz capsule.

  • Mankind will collectively decide to Soccer Mom the whole project and abandon manned spaceflight forever.

  • Then I took a space arrow to the knee.

  • I freaked out, it made me sad. On the other hand, I guess me clicking through to the article got them a little revenue, so there is that.

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