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back to article Russian rocket flub threatens to empty ISS

NASA has announced that there's a good chance that, come November, the International Space Station will be uninhabited for the first time in a decade, but the US space agency says not to worry. Much. "We know how to do this," NASA's ISS manager Mike Suffredini said at a Monday press conference, according to Space.com. "Assuming …

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Anonymous Coward

Has anyone else noticed that the Progress is piloted by Kermit?

Look on the lower left of the craft. He is blanched white by the experience of the launch.

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What goes UP

Must come down , if its Russian make that times 10 very fast or as they say Chyort voz'mi! its right above us ( Damn it!, Oh shit! ) how big is that Polnyi pizdets space vokzal again

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Big Brother

Considering....

...that the US senate has recently gone out of its way to moon the Russians concerning the two breakaway Georgian republics and demanded that something-or-other happen about which the US has no authority (except in McCain's fever dreams), one can only hope that the Bear does not accidentally another whole rocket or start demanding cold, hard cash (and not in the form of greenbacks or T-bills) for successful launches, as it is wont to do.

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So, err...

Are Atlantis & Endeavour still space-worthy? Hopefully they've not been stripped down much yet...

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Boffin

@Ryan 7

The head of the programme claimed they could launch a Shuttle within 18 months.

However given the final round of redundancies completed last week and NASA's tendency for shall we say optimistic schedules call it 21/2 to 4 years.

The ISS larder is well stocked, but not *that* well stocked.

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Orbiters probably still fixable

But there are no spare ETs or SRBs.

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Trollface

Alternatively...

... "there are enough supplies on the ISS to last six people for three months."

Hmm, how about a real-life Lifeboat Debate...!

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Facepalm

Isn't it fortunate...

... that the US has its own independent space lift capabili...

... oh, sorry, I forgot, it doesn't any more...

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Mushroom

Sell it to the Chinese

Sell it to the Chinese goverment, like we do everything else... Oh wait, they will just waltz aboard the abandoned ship and steal it.

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

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Joke

Chinese

Don't the Chinese already own the American segment of the ISS? (Together with large patches of America...)

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Chinese ownership

I think you're right. You can imagine the discussion "We'll get our banks to forget a few trillion dollars debt in return for complete rights to every bit of American hardware we find in space from now on."

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the ISS

...such a wasted 70's dream... yawn

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And the retreat from space continues as civilisation collapses

I could see this coming back when they grounded Concorde several years ago. No more commercial supersonic flight. Then the shuttle was retired. America's space program comes to an end. Now even the Russians, famed for their quality engineering, are struggling to maintain a space presence. Once the last astronauts return from the ISS, that will be it - they will be the last human beings in space.

Just as in the fall of the Roman Empire, greed, decadence, hedonism, and self-righteousness have reached levels under which civilisation cannot endure. As more and more people "look out for number one" the glue of altruism that sustained civilisation in the past will come unstuck, and, assisted by the spread of religion and superstition, we will descend into a new Dark Age. In keeping with the principle that the higher you go, the further you fall, we have a long way to fall this time; so it's entirely possible that recovery could take thousands of years, if indeed it ever happens.

Even if we did recover eventually, in this cycle we have depleted the Earth's resources, so the next Renaissance in 5000 AD or whenever will have nothing left to build on. We had this one shot, and we blew it. Perhaps Nature will decide that intelligence and sentience were evolutionary mistakes, and our distant descendants will consequently be indistinguishable from baboons.

I for one have always looked forward to seeing the end of the world, albeit that I wished such an ending was not in reality slow and messy and may take few generations - nothing like the cataclysmic apocalypses envisioned by the SF set, such as I had hoped to witness. But then, as T.S. Eliot rightly wrote, the world will end not with a bang, but with a whimper.

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Been reading Stephen Baxter, eh?

Is it just me, or has the past 12 years or so been straight out of a Stephen Baxter novel? A couple come to mind: Titan (obviously, but we won't get the last-chance Shuttle-to-Titan), Evolution, Coalescent (the story of the Fall of the Roman Empire through Regina's eyes is spooky).

I remember having the same feeling of dread when the Concorde was grounded, especially as the 'faults' everyone crowed about were only due to a slack-arsed yokel contractor doing a near-enough-is-good-enough job on a completely different plane, and the different airline did the 'lalalala it wasn't US it was our third-party contractors, your honour' dance.

If humanity couldn't be arsed to get something as downright simple as a conventional airliner working properly, let alone an SST (yes, looking at you A380, B787) there seems to be little hope for space.

Yes, religion & superstition are back. Hedonism is cool. Violence now seems to be everywhere - not the fault of video games / comics / the latest moral panic - but the fault of lack of education, ignorance and just plain arseholism. Oh, with a good bit of my god is better than yours biffo thrown in.

Playing Fallout 3 seems more and more like practice rather than entertainment; Stephen Baxter reads like a prophet rather than entertaining fiction.

I've been reading Iain Banks lately, so I was sort of hoping The Culture might drop by; my guess is that T.S. Eliot's 'bang / whimper' is going to be a long, drawn-out wail.

FAIL - because homo sapiens sapiens has become homo baka moroniens

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I stopped reading at this string:

"the Russians, famed for their quality engineering"

for the simple reason that you are obviously clueless. The Russians were famed for their spying on other countries engineering. Their home-grown engineering is ham-handed, at best.

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FAIL

Nonsense

The Russians were *well* ahead of the USA during the space race much to the consternation of flag waving morons such as yourself who couldn't fathom the concept that people other than Americans could achieve such engineering feats. This "grave" situation eventually prompted JFK, in a fit of desperation, to make his "Americans will stand on the moon before the end of the decade!" speech.

This came as something of a surprise to NASA apparently who were then forced to play catch up to the Russians until the alleged moon landings in July 1969.

It's nice to see that there are still plenty of Americans out there who believe that Uncle Sam has some sort of god given engineering pedigree that couldn't possibly be matched by dirty foreigners.

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Yag

Concorde...

Concorde was grounded only for the duration of the enquiry, then the service resumed.

Of course, they were retired a few years later because all those planes are freaking-40 years old model... Do you still see a lot of DC-10 around those days?

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Ever read hothouse?

See title.

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DC-10

Yup, there's still a few DC-10s in the air. There's more than a few DC-3s still flying, for that matter.

Odd you should mention the DC-10, since it's alleged that a hunk of metal from one of them did in N13067.

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Mushroom

Spying on whom?

The Russians were first to put a satellite and then a man into orbit. Who exactly were they spying on?

The origins of the US space program were hardly "home-grown", based as it was on the work of a Mid-20th century German regime...

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"Alleged moon landings"

You were actually making a little sense until that point.

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40 years old model...

The difference, my friend, is that DC10s were replaced by something newer.

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Holmes

Yes, alleged.

I haven't seen any evidence that they landed on the moon any more than I have seen evidence that everything happened just like they say it did in the Bible.

Until that happens I will reserve judgement.

You OTOH can carry on believing whatever helps you make it through the night, it makes no difference to me what you believe.

Why does my belief system concern you?

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But ...

... their rockets were original.

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Boffin

Re: Nonsense

"The Russians were *well* ahead of the USA during the space race much to the consternation of flag waving morons such as yourself who couldn't fathom the concept that people other than Americans could achieve such engineering feats."

The Soviets (remember that substantial parts of the Soviet space programme involved the Ukraine) got off to a good start, apparently having had access to expertise in precisely the kinds of technologies that would be required for orbital rocketry even before WW2, which is why the US didn't have the kind of head-start that V2-fetishists would have had everyone expecting.

But it was the move to larger payloads that derailed the Soviet lunar efforts, partially through lack of funding, but quite possibly also through a lack of more general technological expertise (similar issues plagued the Tu-144's development) and the huge organisational challenges, plagued of course by Soviet shark tank politics (there were at least two competing proposals for lunar missions). Once things settled down, the Soviets did manage to deploy the necessary hardware, but by then the Soviet economy really couldn't afford to keep such a programme going.

Oh, and the "alleged moon landings" statement is simply puerile.

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Space Race

The Americans pulled decisively ahead of the USSR during the Gemini missions when the Soviet programme was effectively grounded. Their Voskhod manned capsules were death traps and the Soyuz programme was well behind schedule and of very poor quality - let's not forget Soyuz 1 killed its pilot.

Gemini on the other hand showed the Americans could manoeuvre freely in space, conduct long duration missions and repeatedly perform rendezvous - something the Soviets did not master until much later. At the same time the Americans had perfected large rocket engines and were able to get their bigger, heavier Saturn V off the pad with just five engines compared to the N1's 30 - which unsurprisingly, didn't work well.

Where the Soviets did score was that when they finally debugged their simple designs they proved exceptionally reliable - it's not poverty that's kept them using the Soyuz and Proton boosters - it's because they've had an epic success with them. And the Soviets did perhaps produce the best main engine ever designed for the N1 - used individually or in pairs it's been a huge success on the Atlas V.

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Meh

not so sure

I think the failure was all political - concordski and whatever their shuttle was called (paperdartski?) - politically driven efforts to shore up a clearly morally,economically and idealogically bankrupt system.

but some of their kit is pretty good - mig (insert number here dependent on your age) was ALWAYS something that caused brown trousers to an opponent (assuming russian aircrew)

AK47 anyone? may not be the best gun around but fuck me theres a lot of em, and that must be for a reason.

and lets not forget that pretty much the only space based race they lost was the one to the moon - admittedly a biggie.

That mahoosive ground effect thing with a dozen engines traveling 600and odd mph at 20 feet!

loads of good kit.

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WTF?

No Evidence, are you serious?

I have seen plenty of evidence that they went, can you please direct me to some that shows they did not?

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"Collapsing Civilisation?"

The comment is heavily Western-centric. The USA, Russia and Europe aren't the only civilisations on this planet. There's no need to think that just because the western economy collapses that other parts of the world won't continue to develop and surpass the 'old' empires.

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Angel

Alleged?

Having met, had dinner with and spent a not inconsiderable amount of time debating tech with Charlie Duke I have to say, you sir, are talking out of your bottom on the conspiricy theory.

Going to the moon changed the way Charlie (and the others) look at the world and civilisation in quite a major way, I somehow dont think that would happen in a Studio.

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> Soyuz 1 killed its pilot

But to be fair Apollo 1 killed three of them without even getting off the ground.

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Unhappy

That's the last straw, Mr Roper.

I'm not letting you man the phones for Samaritans ever again. And I'm not going to the pub with you, either...

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Boffin

re: not so sure

You're right to be not so sure,

There is a common theme to a lot of Russian aviation technology, their inability to make a big powerful and efficient engine.

The N1 used 30 main engines against the Saturn Vs 5, the complexity of the plumbing to feed 30 engines with both fuel and oxidiser along with the complex vibration modes of 30 engines is what probably caused the failure of the N1.

It is the same with a lot of Russian aircraft as well, the reason the Tupolev Tu-95 Bear has turboprop engines is that at the time of its development the Russians did not have a jet/turbojet engine that would give required intercontinental performance. Similarly the MIG 25 Foxbat outperformed most western aircraft of its era, but it’s combat radius was only 186 miles, making it a little more than a point interceptor.

This in turn may have led to the Russian interest in ekranoplans or ground effect vehicles, since they offer good fuel efficiency despite numerous other disadvantages. Personally I wouldn’t care to me travelling in a 500 ton flying machine at 350 miles an hour at 40 feet above the ground, especially when that flying machine wasn’t able to climb much higher than 60 feet and at that height the horizion is only 13 miles or 2 minutes flying time away. Bad news if the 209 foot tall MV Freedom of the Seas is just below the horizon.

Incidentally one of the big names the ground effect was Alexander Lippisch, designer of the German WWII Me163 Komet rocket fighter, and ground effect aircraft were flown before WWII, so no prizes to the Russians for innovation there either.

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When in Rome...

"Just as in the fall of the Roman Empire, greed, decadence, hedonism, and self-righteousness have reached levels under which civilisation cannot endure. As more and more people "look out for number one" the glue of altruism that sustained civilisation in the past will come unstuck, and, assisted by the spread of religion and superstition, we will descend into a new Dark Age."

Actually, it was altruistic motives that are bringing about our demise. Every decent person wants to take care of people, but the very act just makes people more dependent on you. The notion of "Tough Love" is a hard pill to swallow, but until we toss people out of their taxpayer funded nest and make them live on their own merits the problem is going to continue to grow.

When you start paying people to do nothing with their lives, then nothing is exactly what people will do.

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Anonymous Coward

Blah Blah Blah Blah

And I'm sure neo-capitalism / tea partyism aka Ultra Thatcherism will save us all </sarcasm>

The biggest problem is nit wits, who decided that the mighty pound/dollar/currency profit was worth more than than retaining skills, keeping people in good skilled employment rather than stacking shelves, flipping burgers or washing cars on the minimum wage.

We are going backwards as muppets like the "Taxpayers Alliance" think private industry should do everything, but they want to pay for none of it, until for example a huge sinkhole opens up in their road, then they scream for someone to come sort it out at no cost to themselves....There is a word for people like that "Selfish"

Shame CMD and Chancellor Gideon think private industry is a solution to everything, including ship salvage, I'm sure an oil slick with the potential to cause billions of pounds of damage and kill thousands of birds, fish and other animals, will hang around without moving for 4 weeks while the ship operators search for the lowest bidder, and await their arrival weeks later, likely from SE Asia....yeah right. Common sense is to retain the coastguard tugs and pass the bill onto the ship operators, no debates, no arguments, sail in our waters, take account of the chance you might need towed and budget accordingly. However that would upset CMD's mates and reduce their chance to make a "profit"

Same thing applies to the NHS...more fiddling with the strings rather than focusing on how to make it work.

Biggest problem this world has is the large % of idiots of all flavours right wing loons like CMD and UKIP, ultra right loons like the BNP and NF (and the other knuckle draggers), middle England curtain twitchers, religious fruit loops, moomies who can't parent to save themselves and grotty left wing pillocks like the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, who think its perfectly acceptable to grope yourself and then smear your grotty hands on someone else's property under the banner of "political protest" (Google Paul Donnachie St Andrews University)

There are times I think we need a far centre dictatorship, with the mandate to find out what *most* people deem acceptable (membership of any religious or puritanical group bars you from commenting under the heading of insanity) and from then on make no significant changes, sticking to small alterations to keep things current. Also any offence should pass the "common sense" and "would I do this" test, if it sounds stupid and the "average" person would do it (either sober or after x shandies)....its struck off the list (ie format shifting, skinny dipping etc)

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Holmes

Errm ,you want me to prove a negative?

Logic doesn't work that way. You say you have seen evidence, how about you help me out and tell me all about it.

Before you do however, grainy, easily faked film of guys in astronaut suits being shown on TV does not constitute evidence of moon landings any more than footage of the Death Star sitting in the middle of a bunch of rubble is evidence that Alderan was destroyed by the galactic empire.

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No, the liberals will save us all!

"And I'm sure neo-capitalism / tea partyism aka Ultra Thatcherism will save us all </sarcasm>

The biggest problem is nit wits, who decided that the mighty pound/dollar/currency profit was worth more than than retaining skills, keeping people in good skilled employment rather than stacking shelves, flipping burgers or washing cars on the minimum wage."

Because waste, inefficiency, and free handouts has been doing a bang-up job so far. Are you REALLY suggesting that it's better to keep an unneeded job (or 10, or a thousand) than to save the rest of the jobs in the company by cutting someone loose?

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Yag

@JimC

Indeed, I'm also quite disappointed by the lack of Concorde Mk2.

But my point was only to clarify the fact that the retirement was not due to the crash, but simply due to the age limit of those splendid birds...

<Insert "Sadfrog" picture with a "Concorde's gone for good - Too later for Mach 2 travels" caption>

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Save us MuskMan!!!

SpaceX is looking PRETTY good right now, eh?

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Happy

@SpaceX & our future in space.

I think we have to take pioneering out of the hands of the politicians as their interest wanes and shifts too fast to be trusted with the future of the human race. Politicians cannot be relied upon. So as much the politicians would like us to believe its them who make the changes for the future, its not them, its the engineers & scientists and the companies around them that change and build the future for us all.

So in that regard I see SpaceX as one of the leaders of this new way of thinking about space as a business opportunity, rather than having to trust in very politically influenced and ultimately politically funded and therefore politically run organizations like NASA.

Also reading the comments above I'm reminded of the way pioneering progress was made by our previous generations. In particular I was thinking about the growth of the Industrial Revolution, especially around steam engines and trains and how political infighting and lack of support even back then ended up delaying and often undermined progress, yet through it all engineers drove progress on, ultimately to help transform the world to where we are now.

Engineers & Scientists change the world not politicians, so we cannot trust politicians to help us build the future of the human race.

The simply fact is we have to stop trust politicians at all, no matter what party they are in. They are all so too faced that they can't be trusted and history shows so many times how politicians have undermined progress as soon as it suits their own political power games.

Our future is too important to be trusted to the self interested politicians, regardless of which political party they are in, as none of them can be trusted and so unfortunately its better off simply not trusting any of them, rather than keep being betrayed by their self interested power games. Ironically we are better off without politicians in the way, as they ultimately don't help progress. Its the Engineers & Scientists who change the world and the companies around them. They are the key to our future.

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FAIL

Mortgagee Sale

In case you forget, the US of A is broke. There is no money left in that magic pot of yours. Your corporate's don't pay tax and you spend what you have on the military.

No money, no space planes.

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Boffin

RE: Mortgagee Sale

The quote you're looking for is "No bucks, no Buck Rogers"

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Angel

Who's up there?

We have astronauts from Japan (1), USA (2), Russia (3)

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

I wrote my representatives explaining that it would be very embarrassing if these astronauts died because we decommissioned the shuttles instead of putting them into storage in case of emergency. Maybe FEMA has a plan.

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Re:Maybe FEMA has a plan

If those poor astronauts have to rely on FEMA to get them down safely, they might as well just open the airlock and be done with it.

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Mushroom

Escape capsule

My understanding is that the astronauts on the ISS have and old Soyuz capsule that they can use to return if things get a bit sticky. So if they run out of supplies they could use that to return.

A teenager in a looted hoodie, tweeting whilst watching celebrity big brother. This is how the world ends.

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Emergencies

The ISS has always had Soyez docked for emergency evacuation. You cannot use a shuttle for that because it needs too much pre-work before undocking, and can only re-enter at certain times. The crews have no problem of needing to leave, only that it is unfortunate if it happens before the next crew arrives.

As for crew rotation, that isn't done using Shuttle because it is recognised that the Shuttle doesn't have a perfect track record (It's also very expensive). The Shuttle was only used to ferry parts that were too big to take up by other means.

I think that this is the first loss of a progress craft after a LOT of flights, so it can generally said to be OK, although the recent trend is worrying.

As for US / Nasa launches, do you forget the recent loss of the Glory satellite that occured because the shroud did not separate? And it was a repeat of the same satellite on the same rocket, with the same failure even after an investigation into the first failure, and clearance to launch again.

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Facepalm

Well, the timing COULD be worse...

Maybe NASA can still repair at least one shuttle before they all become spare parts. Those who warned against the cancellation of the shuttle program must feel sadly vindicated now... :/

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Anonymous Coward

There's a cheese certified rocket waiting in the wings.

When SpaceX launched their Dragon capsule, it contained a large wheel of Cheese. The cheese returned to earth unharmed. No excessive G force, no exposure to Vacuum, no exposure to high or low temperatures. Basically, if the cheese survived, it's a pretty fair bet a human would too.

SpaceX have a supply mission to the ISS lined up for November and could probably (I don't know the details of what's involved) swap that for a Dragon capsule to swap out a few astronauts.

Could this be the beginning of the true commercial space industry?

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And the best bit is NASA saying.

How much? oh that's a bargain.. can we have a few more flights please? we forgot a few things last time.

ttfn

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