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Space Science

Russian Firm Plans Commercial Space Station 133

astroengine writes "Buoyed by plans for commercial space taxis, a Russian company plans to build and launch a privately owned outpost in orbit for tourists, scientists and other paying visitors. RSC Energia, which designed and built the Russian modules of the International Space Station, is partnering with Russian commercial space startup Orbital Technologies to manufacture the new hub, currently known as Commercial Space Station."
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Russian Firm Plans Commercial Space Station

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2010 @02:14PM (#33750296)

    against prostitution in space.

    Oh yeah, Zero-G Porn!

  • Or will the Russians have the first Spaceport in SPAAAAACE?

  • Tessier-Ashpool (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's beginning.

  • by syntap ( 242090 ) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @02:15PM (#33750316)

    I am glad some portion of the Earth population wants to try moving into space commercially. Tourism will be where the money is so it is a good way to start. Eventually the tourists will want to move to the moon and beyond.

  • What I'd like to see (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oldspewey ( 1303305 ) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @02:19PM (#33750380)
    I'd like to see a graph showing the total volume of pressurized, human-habitable "tin can" in orbit over time ... because I bet that graph is about to go hockey stick over the next few decades.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by blair1q ( 305137 )

      tin can is mostly space. easy to launch. can even pack them inside each other. very efficient.

      human being is bag of water. effing heavy and inefficient to launch. and need other effing heavy but otherwise pointless systems to get them there safe. plus several replacement weights in food to keep them there. bloody expensive.

      send up a few humans to take pictures, show them in IMAX to the rest of us down here, and i'm good.

      beyond that, it's a game of how much would you pay to make the other country look s

      • by Nyeerrmm ( 940927 ) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @03:14PM (#33751148)

        You're missing the point. The most important thing we can do in space is to live there. Slowly but surely we need to learn how to live away from and independent of the Earth.

        At least thats what those of us who fight to do these things think. Its not about nationalism or even science -- you may disagree, but then you're making the wrong argument.

        • by blair1q ( 305137 )

          I'm just being realistic.

          learn how to live away from and independent of the Earth

          We evolved here. Here is where we function optimally. To function even close to optimally anywhere else, we need somewhere that is nearly like here. Where we can interact with the environment as we do here. Take our food, water, air, and shelter from it and give our waste and growth to it. The similarity we need is very, very, rare, to the point we haven't found anything even close, yet, and still consider living on planets that are no better than empty space.

          But to live in emp

          • by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @03:37PM (#33751494) Journal

            We evolved here. Here is where we function optimally.

            We evolved in Africa. As the climate changed we decided it might be a good idea to spread out a little and try to adapt to living in a different environment. Result? We're still here after all this time. I'd like to think that we won't spend the rest of our existence with all our eggs in the single basket of Earth. Until we become a space faring race, we're one asteroid away from extinction. The sooner we diversify, the better off we're going to be.

            • Until we become a space faring race, we're one asteroid away from extinction. The sooner we diversify, the better off we're going to be.

              Just to be clear, it's going to be a long, long time until the human race could survive without earth, and a major, major impact to make earth less hospitable to life than anywhere else in the known universe. Actually trying to "put eggs in another basket" and create a sustainable off world colony today would be premature and foolhardy.

              On the other hand, the journey of a t

            • by blair1q ( 305137 )

              That sort of thing implies eugenics to force evolutionary adaptations.

              That's not what we do any more.

              Because now if we do it it's intentional, and considered barbaric. (That's irony, Alanis).

              If we take the "we have to leave" option, then we all have to leave, no matter how unfit and inadaptable we now are.

              Because if we don't, we have a population of left-behinds marooned on a dying planet, going extinct in the painful way and not the intelligent way.

              • If there was a suitable number of humans on the planet that didn't rape resources right and left, the planet would probably sustain human life until an asteroid of sufficient size or the red giant expansion of the sun. Getting a good portion of us off the rock might help in that.

          • Now you're making the right argument. Its not a debate about whether robots and such are better at exploration than humans, which is what your first statement sounded like.

            Since other reasons for manned exploration are not really sustainable, the debate over HSF should be whether or not its a worthwhile and feasible goal to learn to live off world.

            • by blair1q ( 305137 )

              Oh. Well, yes. I agree that robots are much better at exploration than humans.

              Because, honestly, 99.9% of the stuff we want to explore in space isn't accessible to humans at all. I mean, you can't touch an asteroid in its native environment. Might as well send a robot to grab a chunk (or a few nanogranules) and bring it back so we can touch it in ours, and do a whole university's worth of tests on it, instead of what we could stuff into a science-storage bin next to the toilet paper closet of the waste p

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Teancum ( 67324 )

                A robot might be useful, but having a skilled technician on site who doesn't have to deal with time delays as a result of distances and can grab another sample immediately after forming a reasoned hypothesis is something that a robot can't do.

                By no less than the authority of the Mars Rover program himself has suggested that he would take an astronaut over robotics any day. Robots are useful for initial surveys and to head into situations that are dangerous, but having somebody there or at least quite close

                • by blair1q ( 305137 )

                  If that's his attitude, then his robots suck because he failed to specify them properly.

                  With a robot, he's got time to make decisions about what things to do with the things the survey discovers.

                  With a human, he's got a much shorter window of opportunity.

                  And the human won't be making any decisions. Astronauts follow the protocol and the direction of the controllers. They're basically robots made of meat and inefficiency.

                  Actually, I didn't need this evidence. I already know that the mars robots suck. The

          • by FrozenFOXX ( 1048276 ) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @03:58PM (#33751828)
            No, I think you're still missing what the GP is talking about as it's all-encompassing with respect to your argument.

            Yes, it's hard to do. Exactly when has that ever stopped us before? You seriously cannot look five feet from you and not see something that just a thousand years ago (and really short period of time) wasn't completely and totally impossible in every sense of the word. The only constant in our knowledge is that what we know today will someday be replaced by a greater understanding. To quote the oft-quoted line, "Imagine what you'll 'know' tomorrow."

            As far as it being pointless to survive I not-so-humbly disagree. Part of the point OF being mortal is that we are supposed to survive. It's what we do. It's what we've done for centuries, millennium, and will continue to do until past the point where it would seem impossible to continue to (as we have before). We're wired that way and damned proud of it for better or for worse. The birthright of living things is to rage against the all-encompassing void. No creature and especially humans have ever achieved anything of value by sitting around and making ourselves comfortable and waiting for death. If you'd like to be the first I don't think anyone else will mind; we'll be too busy trying to make some sort of a difference for future generations, enjoy our current generation, and honor past generations.

            But to summarize, yes, these things are hard. Moving off-world is a seemingly impossible task. But we were born to do impossible things. We have done impossible things. We like doing impossible things.
            • by blair1q ( 305137 )

              But we were born to do impossible things.

              Says the fuck who?

              We were born to eat, sleep, shit, get laid, and then die. Preferably downwind.

              The rest of this stuff is just something to do, because in the process of not-dying before we could get laid, we somehow developed more intellectual capacity than we'd ever need just to survive what this planet was throwing at us.

            • Part of the point OF being mortal is that we are supposed to survive. It's what we do

              Actually, the important part of being mortal is that we die. It's incredibly important that we die, or evolution doesn't work. There is no selective pressure. Genetic evolution is random or non-existent. The first form of such life that arose, would simply continue on forever, reproducing and being just as boring in one generation as in the previous. Mortality is absolutely the most important reason we even exist.

            • Amen to that, brother. If had mod points right now, you'd get +1 insightful.
          • Why do we believe that [...] the line of our race, must be eternal?

            Any species doesn't care about, and refuses to fight against, extinction deserves to die out and be replaced by one that does.

            • by blair1q ( 305137 )


              There's nobody to make that judgment. The universe certainly doesn't care either way. As evidence, I can use the same judgment in complete opposition to your use of it:

              Any species that chooses to stoke the fire and drive its children into it, instead of controlling how many children it has and how hot the fire burns, to the point that it doesn't burn anyone, deserves to die out and be replaced by nothingness.

              • Implied teleology aside, there's no reason both ideas can't be true. You'll note that I never disagreed with you on controlling exponential population growth and resource usage. Self-destruction is a bad way to avoid extinction. What I disagree with is your apparent belief that eventual extinction is preferable to attempting to ensure survival by getting off the planet. It just seems, to me, to be a position as ridiculous as killing ourselves with overpopulation.
        • In the long term, yes, I'd agree wholeheartedly. It's perhaps the most important thing that humanity will ever do. Maybe even for all life on Earth. But it ain't gonna happen any time soon. You're talking about sustainable, independent, life. You need to create an ecosystem for that. We had problems making that happen ON Earth []. So, for this decade, we aren't going to have moon colonies. Hope and dream all you want, it just ain't happening. What we can do is explore space, learn more about the universe, and
          • Well, how can we learn if we don't start sometime? Now seems as good a time as any.

            I'm not saying we'll have independent moon colonies in 20 years. I'll be happy if we do in 200. Science can be done with probes, but the only way to learn how to sustain life in space is to try it.

        • Let's start with something easier first: self-sustaining colonies in Antarctica and in the ocean at least 100m down. Both those places are extremely hospitable and accessible, compared to any place in this solar system that's not real close to Earth's crust. If we have problems anywhere on the Earth's surface, the obstacles to space colonization will be insurmountable.

          • by Teancum ( 67324 )

            Going to Antarctica has one huge problem facing it: A armed stalemate between the major powers of the Earth that is only being resolved by pretending that nobody can go there. The reason Antarctica isn't being settled and colonized has nothing to do with technological issues, but entirely because of political issues that could erupt into World War III if serious exploitation and militarization starts to happen there. Keeping it a scientific playground is also something that is better for this planet for

            • by blair1q ( 305137 )

              The problem with antarctica is that there's no food there.

              It is outer space, for all environmental purposes.

              Go there, then go 100 feet down into the ocean? WTF? Where are you going to put the ten billion acres of wheat?

              • by Teancum ( 67324 )

                The south pole research station has a working garden... something that the researchers routinely head into from time to time that work there "overwinter". Growing stuff isn't that hard, but it might make life a whole bunch easier if a nuclear power plant or two was built there.

                My point is still that it isn't environmental or technical issues that are keeping us from these places, but rather political issues that are keeping us from building settlements in these places by force of the government and guns th

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Teancum ( 67324 )

        Don't let the government throw its money away if you think flying into space is a bad idea. But please just don't tell me I can't spend my own money to do that if that is something I choose to do. People throw money away to do silly things like take a submarine down to the deck of the Titanic in order to hold a wedding. If they want to do something equally silly by flying into space, why are you being such an ass by telling them or myself that I can't do that?

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          Because if they screw up, it impacts all of us.

          While it sound great to commercialize earths orbit with ventures like these, earths orbit is a finite space.

          These days I think it should be be pretty much reserved for science and communications.

          Yes we need to get off this rock, yes I love the idea of consumer space access, but look at how many satellite are there now, and look at all the debris.

          Put something on the Moon. Then if something goes wrong, it's the people that take the risk the get impacted.

          Just bec

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Teancum ( 67324 )

            Space is big. Really really big. You ought to read Douglas Adams some time to see just how mind bogglingly huge space is and noting that there is a whole universe "out there" to explore that we have only just started looking at.

            If you are worried about satellite debris, you ought to thank the U.S. federal government for much of that (along with the Russians and Chinese). Experiments that deliberately detonated nuclear bombs in space along with crazy schemes to spread flakes of metal in mid-Earth orbit to

            • by blair1q ( 305137 )

              Yes. It's big. But there's next to nothing out there.

              Literally. Do the calculations and you find the mass density of the universe to be about a third of a hydrogen atom per cubic meter.

              Most of that is collected into about 10^22 stars in about 10^11 galaxies, but, like us and our nearest-neighbor star, Proxima Centauri, and our nearest-neighbor galaxy, Andromeda, the distances between rest stops and attractions are very long.

              Good luck solving the travelling-salesman problem for that trip.

              • by Teancum ( 67324 )

                So the fact that space is really big is a reason to be worried about running into somebody else while you are "out there"? The argument given that I was responding to is that space is a finite resource that should be limited and therefore private individuals need not apply for going into space.

                I am arguing precisely the opposite, that it is an "infinite" resource by most measures and it is not something we need to worry about running out of any time soon. Even near-earth space is something where there is

        • by blair1q ( 305137 )

          I didn't say you couldn't do it.

          I said it was vain.

    • by alien9 ( 890794 )
      indeed you're gonna see the skyrocketing count of orbit debris.
    • by Teancum ( 67324 )

      I'm not so sure if you can count the Genesis modules produced by Bigelow Aerospace as "habitable volume", but the rest of the numbers are available including the Russian modules. The data with links can be found here: []

      Such a chart would be interesting to see. I'll have to see what I might be able to come up with.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 )

    "...currently known as Commercial Space Station."

    I see Russian Marketing is about as clever and ingenious as Russian humor...

    • by sharkey ( 16670 )
      Be more visionary. Maybe tables-based web pages are not that bad, but a space station? At least they're committing to CSS up front.
  • by joe2tiger ( 1883232 ) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @02:24PM (#33750468)
    I'm saving up money for a trip into orbit. It would be feasible for me to spend $10,000 to $20,000 dollars for space flight. I figure this will be a possibility for me in 20 years when it drops to that price, maybe sooner when we have space elevators.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      doubtful. take a spot check for commercial bulk propellants -- LH2 and O2 volume alone to push your 2000lb carcass/suit/consumables/basic life support and baggage (no food/water) to LEO in bulk costs well over $200,000.
      so with chemical rockets alone you have no hope. i dont see any reason why bulk LH2 and O2 refining/transport costs are going to come down anytime soon...there have been no significant breakthroughs in refining these for the last 100 years.
      other propellants are even more expensive than basic

      • by Teancum ( 67324 )

        Where do you possibly get these figures? For most rockets, the propellant costs are statistical noise in its development. The catering budget for the press corp at KSC during a Shuttle launch is more than the fuel costs to launch a Shuttle.... just to give a comparison here. It is not really a huge problem in terms of the fuel costs. Put it another way: The energy budget for travel to orbit is roughly the same as it is for travel from London to Sydney in a commercial jetliner... actually a bit less. I

    • by melted ( 227442 )

      By then a regular atmospheric plane flight will be $20K due to shortage of fuel. Spend that money on terrestrial travel now, while it is still cheap.

  • So, a bunch of former (are they really ever "former") commies are going to build the first commercial space station?

    Wow...I guess that's appropriate given what we've built...

    • by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @03:08PM (#33751062)

      There's nobody who appreciates capitalism quite as much as those who have lived under communism.

      • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning@netzero. n e t> on Thursday September 30, 2010 @03:43PM (#33751590) Homepage Journal

        Only a former communist would think of selling spaceflight trips to a socialist American government because that government can't pull its head out of its own behind to be able to build a working vehicle that would get its own astronauts into space. As of June 2011, the USA will be without any sort of manned spaceflight capability..... all of it will be done by flying Soyuz spacecraft out of Kazakhstan.

        Yeah, there might be some American companies who are suggesting they can fly a spacecraft of their own, but leave it to Congress to screw that up royally. A nice bi-partisan effort is making sure that only the best pork will flow to the proper congressional districts even if nothing ever actually gets built and the heck with anybody else trying.

    • by alen ( 225700 )

      they were never communist in practice. most people thought it was BS, stole from the system or did some black marketing

  • ...we'll need to build something to deconstruct the Commercial Space Station so that it doesn't pose a hazard to other orbiting items as space junk.

    We could call it "Deconstructor of the Commercial Space Station", although I guess that's kind of a long name and would take a lot of effort to say it all the time.... hmmm... maybe we can come up with a shorter name....

    • by Teancum ( 67324 )

      Why worry about something huge that everybody can see in their backyard when there are going to be a couple thousand "microsatellites" all about the size of a basketball that you can't see until after it has hit you?

      It is a nice sentiment to be worrying about orbital debris and I also agree that it is a problem, but insisting on applying a special and unique standard to just commercial space stations is insanity at its finest. If anything, something large of that nature is more likely to absorb impacts bet

  • Iz spece steshun. Iz good. You see. Khave rhokket ship []. Of course still fly, just need poosh. Oleg!
  • Another set of 'firm plans' [without visible funding and with yet another maybe this year, maybe that year schedule]?
    If the Russians ever figure out how to monetize the endless stream of plans they produce, they'll be buying China in a year or two.

  • Once a year (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brett Buck ( 811747 ) on Thursday September 30, 2010 @03:45PM (#33751620)

    The Russians announce their "plans" to build a new space station, to start a trip to Mars, create a fusion reactor, etc. periodically. It's ready to go, all the work has been done, all they need is someone to pony up money to actually finish the work. It's not a lot different from the Nigerian Scam.

  • It would have to be RKK Energia []. As the only commercial organization to have actually sent people into space, they certainly have the expertise, training facilities, engineers, and even the travel agents already lined up to be able to pull this thing off.

    Richard Branson can claim a whole bunch of things and pretend he has his own space agency, but these guys are doing it right now. They're ramping up production of the Soyuz spacecraft anyway. In fact, I swear that this company forgot that there is a glob

  • When celebrities start having extreme health problems from spending too much time doing coke in zero-g. We'll just call this ship the LiLo express...
  • They could offer to buy the ISS. I hear it's going to up for sale in the next 10 years. I'll bet they can get it on the cheap.

  • before some ultra-wealthy asshat uses this as a tax refuge?

What this country needs is a good five cent ANYTHING!