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back to article Ex-Soviet space gunboats to be FOUND ON MOON

Isle of Man based space tourism firm Excalibur Almaz has said that it will be ready to rocket the rich to the Moon by 2015. The company told a space tourism conference that it was planning the first test flight of its fleet of second-hand ex Soviet capsules and space stations in 2014 and would be ready to send a well-off …

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Stop

Are they also selling bridges ?

And if so, would *you* buy one ?

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WTF?

Re: Are they also selling bridges ?

I'm sure that if they did, what you'd actually get would be an old crane lying on its side, with the word "Bridgge" hastily sprayed on it and some planking glued on top.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Are they also selling bridges ?

WHICH MOON ARE THEY TALKING ABOUT THE ONE THATS CALLED THE MOON OR ONE OF THE OTHERS

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Joke

Sir

Where did they buy their massive electro-magnetic field generator to protect from solar flares?

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Happy

Wow.

Im sure you didn't, but that whole story reads like a 7 year old just made it up.

Unbelievable what some people will do to get their name in print.

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Re: Wow.

That's nothing compared with this

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Re: Wow.

Re Big Brother TV show in space: could work, if you choose which cretin goes out of the airlock, especially if they did that Total Recall style eye-bulging asphyxiation routine.

I once heard someone suggest putting a mission to Mars on pay-per-view, making it self-financing. Anyone car to throw some back-of-a-beer-mat figures at it?

300 million subscribers, at $50 dollars a head, = £15 billion... is that the right ball park?

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Soviet-era space vehicles?

That can only end well...

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Re: Soviet-era space vehicles?

I seem to remember that they were just as reliable - if not more so - than the NASA equivalent. Are we forgetting the Apollo fires, two destroyed space shuttles and a certain Tom Hanks movie?

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@Greg J Preece: Reliability: Re: Soviet-era space vehicles?

Errrr, the Soviets hid their failures. No live broadcast of Soviet launches, for example, whereas the US did have press coverage and/or live coverage of the early launchers which often ended catastrophically. For example, the Apollo 1 fire had an exact counterpart in a Soviet space program accident which killed one of their cosmonauts and the cause was the same: using a mixture too rich in oxygen. If the Soviets had not hidden this accident, it is entirely possible that the Soviet accident would have served as a lesson to the NASA and a less oxygen-rich mixture would have been used. (NASA was not, then, what is seems to be now.)

At any rate, your perception of the reliability of US vs USSR space hardware would seem to be highly impacted by Soviet secrecy.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_space_program#Incidents_and_setbacks for a very cursory overview or see what James Oberg has been writing on the subject, especially after the advent of glasnost' and then the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

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Big Brother

Re: Soviet-era space vehicles?

I seem to remember that the Soviets weren't that forthcoming about any explosions/aborted missions/deaths in their space program ( "Moon Mission? We weren't going to land a man on the moon") - So maybe its just the one's we actually heard about were reliable - all the other ones simply didn't "happen"

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Re: @Greg J Preece: Reliability: Soviet-era space vehicles?

>>Errrr, the Soviets hid their failures.

Yes, they DID, but we know about them now, and the ratio of casualties is about 3:1 (one Russian died for every three Americans), which considering that USSR/Russia actually had more manned launches, did more things first and spent longer in space is actually a pretty good record.

>>the Apollo 1 fire had an exact counterpart in a Soviet space program accident

Errrrrmm... exact? one was a hyperbaric chamber/living quarters (Rus) and one was on the launchpad of an actual spacecraft (USA), one was attributed to poor organisation when the incident occurred (Rus) and the other was attributed to a large number of design and construction flaws (USA), one was in a variety of pressure and O2 mix levels (Rus), not less than 50% during the incident, the other was a high pressure pure oxygen environment (USA).

>>the Soviet accident would have served as a lesson to the NASA and a less oxygen-rich mixture would have been used

Is this a back-handed way of both criticising the Russians for their accident and blaming them for Apollo 1? Seriously? do you think that the Apollo1 scientists, after the accident suddenly went "I've just realised, things burn really well in 100% O2 atmospheres, well that was a bit of a surprise."

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reliability and reality

Can you please remind all of us, whose vehicles now carry people to ISS and back?

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Re: reliability and reality

@eulampios,

Elon musk's?

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Re: @Greg J Preece: Reliability: Soviet-era space vehicles?

">>Errrr, the Soviets hid their failures.

"Yes, they DID, but we know about them now, and the ratio of casualties is about 3:1 (one Russian died for every three Americans), which considering that USSR/Russia actually had more manned launches, did more things first and spent longer in space is actually a pretty good record."

Total casualties is not a good metric. Using this metric, seven Soviet flights each manned by one cosmonaut who was killed during reentry or landing for a total of seven fatalities, would be equivalent to seven Space Shuttle launches having six uneventful flights plus one fatal incident with seven dead. And that is not a good way of looking at it. One would want the rate of launches with fatalities (irrespective of the number of fatalities in any given launch), although there are other ways of looking at the matter, depending on what one was interested in. Then of course the matter could be examined as fatal incidents per launch for specific classes of vehicles, too. Or changes in the incident rate per class of vehicle over time - well there are many conceivable ways of working with the numbers to develop a metric. But at any rate, simply comparing total fatalities is not an overly meaningful metric.

Also, it is important to know what accidents you are including. Obviously the Challenger and Columbia Disasters would be included in your number, but what about Bondarenko? That did not occur during actual space flight. The same would be true of the Apollo 1 fire. Or the Nedelin Catastrophe, with at least 125 people dead?

For actual space flight, I see either

1) 14 dead on two space shuttles and 4 dead on two Soviet craft, OR

2) two American incidents with fatalities as opposed to 2 Soviet incidents with fatalities - and the American fatalities were in a class of vehicles for which the Soviets never had an operational equivalent.

">>the Apollo 1 fire had an exact counterpart in a Soviet space program accident<<

"Errrrrmm... exact? one was a hyperbaric chamber/living quarters (Rus) and one was on the launchpad of an actual spacecraft (USA), one was attributed to poor organisation when the incident occurred (Rus) and the other was attributed to a large number of design and construction flaws (USA), one was in a variety of pressure and O2 mix levels (Rus), not less than 50% during the incident, the other was a high pressure pure oxygen environment (USA)."

Well, if you want to quibble with the word "exact" you can do so, but in both incidents a necessary condition for the fatalities was a mixture unnecessarily rich in oxygen, the result of which in both cases that the amount of oxygen was lowered to less potentially catastrophic levels. *I* consider the incidents to be be exact counterparts for that reason. If you want to use a different adjective to replace "exact", you may do so.

">>the Soviet accident would have served as a lesson to the NASA and a less oxygen-rich mixture would have been used<<

"Is this a back-handed way of both criticising the Soviets for their accident and blaming them for Apollo 1? Seriously? do you think that the Apollo1 scientists, after the accident suddenly went "I've just realised, things burn really well in 100% O2 atmospheres, well that was a bit of a surprise."

Yes, I am criticizing the Soviets for the Bondarenko accident because engineers are supposed to foresee these kinds of possibilities, and these engineers were good ones. And that's what engineers do.

However, I also criticize the American engineers for the Apollo 1 fire, because they too were engineers, and very good ones too, and they too are supposed to foresee potentially lethal situations. It's their job to foresee and provide against accidents. Because that is what engineers do, irrespective of being Soviet, or American.

Why you seem to need to ridicule the American engineers for not realizing that "things burn really well in an 100% oxygen atmosphere" but not the Soviet engineers for not realizing that "things burn really well in an [50%] oxygen atmosphere" is not clear. *I* don't consider the difference to be terribly meaningful, although you, for whatever reasons, do.

And yes, I *do* give the Soviets partial responsibility for the Apollo 1 fire. Both the Soviets and Americans engineers made what seems, after the fact, to be a fairly elementary error. And after each accident, each respective group of engineers - after official investigations, no doubt - changed their practices. That's what engineers also do, right? Do you think that it is in somewhat far-fetched to think that, if the American engineers had known that accident that lead to Bondarenko's death was predicated on a too oxygen rich mixture, that the American would not have taken a lesson from it? That, having learned that Bondarenko died in a fire in a 50% oxygen atmosphere, that maybe, just maybe, a 100% oxygen atmosphere was even *more* dangerous?

That researchers, engineers, doctors, etc etc are capable of learning from the experience of others is the very reason why there are professional conventions and conferences, scholarly journals, investigative committees, and so forth: people can learn from other people's experience.

If you don't think that the American engineers would have learned something from the Bondarenko accident, had they known about it, I would like to know why.

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Re: @Greg J Preece: Reliability: Soviet-era space vehicles?

>>Total casualties is not a good metric.

Because it doesn't fit your purpose? you have to remember that Russia successfully has the first 1 man space mission, first 2 man, first 3 man (and first woman of course), doing something first is always going to be more risky, despite this, the USSR/Russia have a "good" record. By all means cut the statistics however you want to suit your purpose, include or exclude whatever you want to meet your needs, I offered a very simplistic metric.

This reminds me of the claim that Americans (the Wright brothers) "invented the aeroplane", despite the fact that people flew before and after, but Americans insist that the exact combination of powered flight, unassisted takeoff, specific controls that the Wright brothers had is the requirement for "first flight", the fact that the undercarrage detached (was left behind) is considered "irrelevant" - yes set the goalposts to match where you happen kick the ball and then shout "goal", well done!

>>And yes, I *do* give the Soviets partial responsibility for the Apollo 1 fire.

You're an idiot then.

What you fail to realise is that the Russian fire was in a habitat, the fire was caused by throwing alcohol soaked cotton wool on to a (hot) hotplate, totally different environment (can't imagine what use a hotplate woul dbe in a zero gravity environment), the only thing in common (perhaps) would be how difficult it is to control a fire in such an environment, whereas the US failings were multiple systems. Besides, the US shared no information with the Russians, and explicitly had programs to keep it that way, the whole (shameful) Paperclip program was put in place to specifically deny the Russians rocket technology, why on earth would Russia turn over everything they have learned in their own development? hell! it would tantamount to espionage to divulge findings.

>>If you don't think that the American engineers would have learned something from the Bondarenko accident, had they known about it, I would like to know why.

They obviously would have learned something, and perhaps if Russia also shared their studies on plasticising effects on rubber under extereme cold then the US wouldn't have lost a space shuttle, but if anyone is to blame it's America, they called the moon a "space race", despite being beaten to every other goal, they needed to "beat those darn Ruskies", any working togther has been constantly undermined, either by the US government demanding full disclosure (but not offering it), or by US politicians voting it down as it's a threat to US jobs.

In summary, the Russian space program has been more successful and safer than the US one, the US failings are down to the US.

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Do they have any Nazi space zepplins?

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No, the space spitfires got them all

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Anonymous Coward

Iron Sky and Dr Who

Dr Who fan replies to Iron Sky fan, must say the space spitfires was one of the most ludicrous Dr Who episodes I've ever seen and that's saying a lot!!

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Rob
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Go

Someone is clearly sleepwalking through life

With everything that is currently happening with the economy, the strap line being "bad investments don't work", at what point has some idiot thought, "this sounds like a sound business plan, I shall invest in it!".

I'm not going to address the fact that they think they convince a rich numpty to give up a year of their life to go on a space trip where they have to drive the vehicle themselves.

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Re: Someone is clearly sleepwalking through life

To be fair, it's not like they're expecting the rich numpty to get out and push it all the way to the moon.

Come to think of it, maybe they are - it would fit right in with the rest of the 'project planning'.

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What "tourist" might mean: Re: Someone is clearly sleepwalking through life

"I'm not going to address the fact that they think they convince a rich numpty to give up a year of their life to go on a space trip where they have to drive the vehicle themselves."

I would think that the term "tourist" in the case could be understood to include an academic or corporate researcher who is sent by his institution to undergo the training and make the flight, for the purpose of doing whatever research is felt necessary to do. It could be understood to mean a government scientist from a country that does not have its own space program, too.

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Re: What "tourist" might mean: Someone is clearly sleepwalking through life

If the humans aren't landing on the moon, I can't see an institution sending a scientist- what can he/she do that a robot can't?

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Re: Someone is clearly sleepwalking through life

I don't know they could be onto something. It can't be any worse than buying Facebook shares.

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Great idea...

"We want to have the same kind of tradition that Britain had in the 16th and 17th centuries when its explorers went to the ends of the Earth..."

Yeah, and lets hope that like so many of these early explorers, that the people going to the moon don't come back. The kind of people that could afford a trip to the moon are the kind of people the world could do without.

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Re: Great idea...

I would have thought he meant more 18th and 19th centuries

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Barrows-Boys-Fergus-Fleming/dp/1862075026

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Killing-Dragons-The-Conquest-Alps/dp/1862074534/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_4

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Re: Great idea...

I probably just missed the 'hate the rich' memo, but really? People who've managed to earn and retain millions are evil nasty people who deserve to die?

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Boffin

It is lethal anyway

"The kind of people that could afford a trip to the moon are the kind of people the world could do without."

Given the very slow journey described in the article, anyone foolish enough to embark will probably be killed by radiation, either en route or soon afterwards, unless the spacecraft are seriously upgraded with shielding. I seem to recall from a Scientific American article a calculation that to have a change of surviving a solar flare in space (except in low Earth orbit, where the magnetosphere protects you), you needs something like a 2 meter layer of water or other hydrogen-rich material as a shield.

It is not needed all the time. Many hard-Sci-Fi stories envision ships as having a refuge shielded this way, and assume the crew gets enough warning about solar events (and use problems with this as plot devices). But retrofitting even a small shelter to Soviet capsules would clearly be economically infeasible.

I think this issue is enough to sink the idea of using "Almaz" for moon trips. Even the stupider rich dudes will have better educated advisers who will point out that it will be essentially a one-way trip...

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Can I please book a seat for Julian Assange? Guess on the moon he'll be safe from extradition...

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Black Helicopters

Don't you know the true purpose of the X37-B?

Rendition from low earth orbit.

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Re: "Can I please book a seat for Julian Assange?"

"Can I please book a seat for Julian Assange?"

And a seat for a pliant and not overly-fastidious woman to go along with....

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Re: "Can I please book a seat for Julian Assange?"

@Turte: Ann Widdecombe springs to mind...

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Happy

Why go to the moon, when you can go to mars?

What a coincidence, I only recently received this email from Nigeria...

Dear Sir

I am happy to offer you an exclusive return trips to Mars. We have recently obtained a fleet of secret North Korean spacecraft fitted with a FTL drive personally designed by the dear leader himself.

A deposit of $100 million will guarantee a place on the priority short list for the first launch in 2030

Please send the money to P.O Box Lagos 124567

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Coat

Re: Why go to the moon, when you can go to mars?

That's got to be for real. The grammar and spelling is too good for it to be a scam!

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Re: Why go to the moon, when you can go to mars?

Or there's this option for Mars:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18506033

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Re: Why go to the moon, when you can go to mars?

[hammarbtyp]: Amazing. I got one from an old friend who was actually already *on* Mars.

It seems that right after he got there he was mugged and had all his money stolen, stranding him and his family in the foothills of Mons Olympus, "tears streaming down his cheeks". He begged me for a first-class return airfare for each of his family, which I would have sent but, you know, no postal service to Mars yet.

Small world, eh?

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Facepalm

Let's see.

Flying to the moon in an antique designed as an orbital station, with some engines cobbled onto it.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

I take it that they want all the cash for your ticket up front.......?

I can't help thinking that their target market, of incredibly gullible people who have somehow managed to accumulate 150 million quid, is a rather small one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Gullible and rich?

I heard there are these creatures that run around on a green rectangle chasing a pig's bladder, what was it they were called, something like "footballists"?

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Facepalm

Space Cowboys

Damn - it wasn't until I read EA's press release that I realised the Almaz spy platforms they were going to use weren't actually the old ones in orbit!

I thought they were going to send up Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland and co. to refit them, and wondered what surprises would be in-store when they got there!

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FAIL

Levitation?

From the Almaz website 'EA owns four RRV (Reusable Reentry Vehicle) capsules and two large Salyut-Class Spacecraft. The reusable reentry capsules can carry three passengers to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).' So no actual rockets then!!

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slightly OT

I'm intrigued by the fact that the craft had a working gun, which was test fired. In a low-/no-gravity environment, wouldn't Newton's 3rd Law have the craft flying backwards when the weapon fired?

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Re: slightly OT

Not a gun - it's for doing handbrake turns

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Re: flying backwards

Depends where you point the cannon. Gravity doesn't have any effect on the reaction force.

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Boffin

Re: flying backwards

If you shoot it roughly* perpendicular to where the spacecraft's movement vector, it should not affect the orbital velocity (although it will change the vector direction slightly, depending on the mass / velocity of the shell and the spacecraft). Like this:

Pre -shot

movement in this direction

|

O---> shot

Post-shot:

\ movement in this direction

O

*roughly - using conservation of mometum, you can calculate an angle (slightly less than 90 deg) that will result in the same orbital velocity

Or, of course, have two guns on the thing and shoot both at once in opposite directions...

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Anonymous Coward

... have two guns on the thing and shoot both at once in opposite directions...

Just so long as I can be sure of hitting a Virgin spaceship - eat Nudelman, Mr Branson!

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Ryan Space

Would you have to pay extra for food on the trip?

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Ryan Space

Just wait til they find they have to pay for the toilets!

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Headmaster

Flight?

Never understood why the call it space 'flight'. In my mind you don't 'fly' anywhere, 'to fly' is a verb, something you do.

In space you're at the mercy of trajectory so for most of the time you're not doing anything at all, just waiting ages for things to get nearer so you can press a button that fires a rocket for a short period of time so you can then start waiting again.

Maybe they should call it spacewait?

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Re: Flight?

It not all glamour, you're right. When first in orbit, you are likely to find yourself with your trousers around your ankles whilst vomitting, being injected with anti-nausea drugs in the buttocks. Nice.

In space you are moving, your trajectory influenced by gravitational forces - just like an object in ballistic motion. By your argument, birds, planes and wasps fly, trebuchet-launched pianos don't.

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Re: Flight?

So what? In space no one can smell your vomit.

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