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ISS Space Science

Progress Spacecraft Launch Successful 83

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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  • Re:What? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2011 @01:07PM (#37896918)

    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 it was due to the faulty maintenance rather than a design issue.

  • 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.

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