Are they also selling bridges ?
And if so, would *you* buy one ?
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 …
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?
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.
>>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."
">>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.
>>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.
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"
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.
"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.
"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.
"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...
What a coincidence, I only recently received this email from Nigeria...
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
[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?
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.
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!
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:
movement in this direction
\ movement in this direction
*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...
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?
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.
Bah. I guess I'll be hanging onto my $150 mil, then.
When I heard these cranks were proposing circumlunar tourist flights aboard an old retrofitted Almaz station, my first thought was how cool it'd be to climb into the gunner's seat and squeeze off a few bursts.
PULL! BWADADADADADADA DOWWWW!!
The Salyuts were only shielded for LEO orbits (beneath the protection of the Van Allen belts). The changes needed for lunar trajectories (particularly ones of several weeks) brings a LOT of new-work to these early80s technology rafts.
Seems like the rich would have better things to do with their money/time. They certainly could have quite a bit of both available, though...
Yeah, those were great. 3/4 of the crew died in horrible conditions. The rest usually died once they arrived or soon after coming back. Most ships simply vanished never to be heard of again. Yeah, those were the days of the 16th century explorers.
There's no need for a steely eyed astronaut capable of making split second decision.
That's the one that really made me laugh. Yeah, we don't even have a lawnmower that can do the job properly itself and you're telling the gullible that your 40 years old junk ductaped with more stuff, unproperly guarded against solar flares, will make the gullible have a great time? Really? With zero-G where the blood is rushing through your head ?
There are so many reasons why Darwin will cull the idiots who pay dearly for this!
firing the direction you are going = retrograde force on orbital speed = reduction in orbital height
firing out the back is the reverse. go higher.
firing at the earth pushes up into high orbit, but with an unstainable orbital speed, will sink again, probably oscillate up and down. until an equilibruim is reaches
sideways gun.. well knocks you sideways.
against weight of the capsule though, probably very minimal change.
...Above the descent module was a recoilless gun developed by the well known Soviet designer A E Nudelman. It was designed for shooting in a vacuum and defending the military research spacecraft from enemy satellite inspector and interceptor satellites. The gun was aimed by maneuvering the entire spacecraft. A special gunsight was installed in the descent module for aiming the gun. A difficult technical problem for the designers was how to fire the gun without putting the Zvezda into uncontrollable somersaults. To solve the problem a special dynamic stand was constructed - a platform on air bearings. In it was installed a dummy 7K-VI with an optical gunsight. Tests with the stand proved that the cosmonaut could aim the spacecraft with a minimum expenditure of fuel, keep the spacecraft pointed at the desired target, and that the firing itself would not put the spacecraft into any gyrations that the cosmonaut could not cope with using manual control...
They don't seem to mention landing at all. From what I recall, the russians did develop kit for this too, but the article doesn't mention it. It seems therefore that the lunar trip would involve being on a spacestation that orbits ever higher until it reaches the moon.
If I was paying to go to the Maldives first class, I'd be pretty miffed if the deal was that I could fly there but only look out the window of the plane.
Telegraph reports that "The company has acquired a fleet of former Soviet shuttles"
Er I call BS since there were a very, very small number of Buran shuttles and they have ALL been destroyed apart from a model which sits in Gorky Park and is going nowhere soon. I call BS on this entire article, despite the fact that its a British company (and therefore hasn't got any money) the article makes no sense for a start-up company to suddenly "acquire" a bunch of old soviet hardware.
You should have printed this one back in April.
Excalibur Almaz's advertising tag line is "Space Business Solutions." Well, yes: the $billions required to finance those 'solutions' do indeed confirm that Space Business Problems are enormous.
By contrast, my own company, Camelot Earth Inc, delivers much more cost-effective solutions. Our nifty advertising tagline:
'Earth: Lots More People Here To Buy Your Stuff Than There Are In Outer Space'
sums up our core philosophy and is derived from many years of detailed research. To date, we estimate a $198.13285927114 trillion saving for our clients, who might otherwise have over-estimated demand for washing machines and motor cars on Triton, but under-estimated the high costs of servicing that market.
* Excalibur Almaz's CEO is the literary executor of Robert E. Heinlein. There may be a clue there.
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