back to article Russian rocket goes BOOM again – this time with a crew on it

The post-Space Shuttle era of reliability spearheaded by Russian space agency Roskosmos came to an abrupt end this morning as the booster carrying the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft to the International Space Station failed a few minutes after launch. The countdown proceeded normally and the venerable booster lifted off at 0840 UTC ( …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Alien

    Oops.

    Just when we were beginning to think space travel was getting boring.

    Very glad to hear that the crew survived ok.

    1. Semtex451 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Oops.

      Agreed, sadly their trajectory matched the curve of Putin's credibility rating.

      1. Persona Bronze badge

        Re: Oops.

        "sadly their trajectory matched the curve of Putin's credibility rating"

        ..... you do know that their trajectory after separation was ballistic????

        1. Semtex451 Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Oops.

          .....Up to the point the parachutes deployed, yes.

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Oops.

        Agreed, sadly their trajectory matched the curve of Putin's credibility rating.

        ...as retold by Western Media.

        1. Old Coot

          Re: Oops.

          At least the Russkys can build something that mostly works.

          So the West, with all its tech marvels, has to rely on the Russians? How is this not a disgrace for the US, EU, Japan, etc.?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "So the West, with all its tech marvels, has to rely on the Russians? "

            Ask George W. Bush - he spent so much money on wars that he couldn't finish, he killed the Shuttle program before anything was available to save money and avoid to raise the taxes to his rich frieds. But Cheney and Rumsfeld probably got the "gifts" the weapon industry promised them.

            Russians meanwhile killed any advanced program (Energia, Buran) and falled back to their old designs - after all that's the country who kept making the Lada-Vaz Žiguli (a licensed copy of Fiat 124) from 1970 to 2012, and the same cameras with the same equipment looted from Germany in 1945 well into the 1980s... I wouldn't be surprise if pieces of the Sojuz are still made with equipment got that way...

            If US kept the Saturn IB/Apollo combo alive for LEO, they would have had a proven design available as well. When work was shifted to the Shuttle, NASA kept on selling it as a "launcher" - while it was really an "orbital workshop", and should have been used only as such, keeping less expensive launchers around.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "So the West, with all its tech marvels, has to rely on the Russians? "

              All of us are human beings: it really doesn't matter which country or combination of countries gets us into space, as long as it happens safely, and, yes, ideally, working together in cooperation (comradeship, even).

              As ever, Star Trek has much to inspire us with.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oops.

      Very glad to hear that the crew survived ok.

      Which for me is the real headline here. Rockets are big, dangerous fireworks that frequently fail (compared to the standards of reliability in lower energy forms of aerospace), so this one going pop is neither here nor there. But to recover the crew safely - we hope - that's news.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Oops.

        yeah it DOES reflect well on the Russian safety record so far. The crew returned safely.

        Unfortunately not-so-good for a couple of our shuttles... [but we did over a hundred shuttle missions, so what's the accident rate?]

        I checked HERE and found a few interesting statistics:

        a) the last shuttle mission was STS-130 in 2010

        b) 788 people were sent into orbit on the shuttle (that includes repeat flights, not just the number of astronauts)

        c) 14 died on the 2 shuttles that were destroyed. this is 1 in 56

        d) at the time the article was written, Soyuz had launched 250 people

        e) that the time, there had been 4 fatalities and a couple of abort/returns [that were not counted in the statistics]. This is about 1 in 63, slightly better than the shuttle.

        but it DOES suggest that the safety numbers are somewhat comporable. I think if the shuttle program had continued, safety improvements would have bent the statistics in a more favorable direction. We'll never know, of course. The shuttle is history.

        That being said, space is risky and of course astronauts sometimes die. But I think Soyuz has been pretty good with their safety record, and I'd like to see Boeing and SpaceX maintain at LEAST that good of a record in the future.

        We should keep the ISS. In fact, maybe we should build a hotel there... (it would be easier to extend it than to have another ginormous orbiting thing that might transit across the same orbit as the existing ISS from time to time, and I'd really rather have them all in one spot than to spread out the risk on that one)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oops.

          Hey Bob, please stop thinking that praise of one of Russias so called enemies is an attack on America that you need to defend. That right-wing paranoia and insecurity gets you nowhere!

  2. Spazturtle Silver badge

    The current crew could be extended for another 6 months until the next crewed Soyuz launches post-investigation or extended 11 months until the first US launch.

    1. Vulch

      Only if they do without a reliable return capsule. The Soyuz is only rated for 6 months (some sources say 200 days) life on orbit, so having launched on June 6th MS-09 needs to come back in early December.

      The limit is apparently seals and washers in the manoeuvering systems, the propellant used makes them start to degrade.

      1. Spazturtle Silver badge

        They could send another Soyuz capsule up unmanned. Or one of the commercial crew capsules could be sent up, I believe the capsules have been approved it is just the rockets that are still awaiting final certification for crewed launched. Both SpaceX and Boeing have to send unmanned capsules up to the ISS anyway to prove they work, before they will be allowed to launch a crew in them.

        I'm sure there are lots of people at NASA and Roskosmos canceling their weekend plans as we speak.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "Both SpaceX and Boeing have to send unmanned capsules up to the ISS anyway to prove they work, before they will be allowed to launch a crew in them."

          ...and likely have to come back unmanned to, to prove that bit works. Probably a couple of times at least.

        2. ATeal

          You can't just be like "it's a lovely morning time to...

          launch a rocket and put people up in the ISS"

          You have to wait for them to be able to meet essentially - you fire this thing off in a direction, make it tilt a bit, then that spirals into the way of the ISS and with a bit of manoeuvring they line up.

          Remember you're not trying to intersect with the ISS - you want to move in so your direction and the ISS line up.

          You can do this anyway, but you really want that big-ass rocket you discard to do MOST of the work, and the remaining propellant (fuck all, few drops - compared to rocket) to give you a nudge towards it so you do align. This is what corrects the rocket's error in where it went.

          As a slight ... brag (I really want to show people who are not students who are automatically in awe of everything) I've been working on like "KSP for adults" (without ever playing KSP) because I was annoyed by the number of students thinking this made them experts (I don't hate students, I hate some of them, especially the ones who are given a grain of knowledge and suddenly know everything - but I'll suppress that rant)

          I recently tested it with moon landing (naturally) and Hayabusa 2 - it's going well (this mission mostly worked, I got it to the right place at the right time for a lot of things, bit of a language barrier - but with their mass and propulsion capabilities everything worked! Looking to get more accurate "what they did when" but they keep good English updates so I can infer a lot, like checking remaining reserves line up ect).

          Love to share it, it's really coming together.

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: You can't just be like "it's a lovely morning time to...

            "KSP for adults"

            You mean Orbiter?

            Not that KSP isn't for adults of course.

            1. ATeal

              Re: You can't just be like "it's a lovely morning time to...

              I'll be honest, I didn't bother checking first. You know the rules of thumb like "don't do your own X" - but programs doing X exist, the rule exists as a sort of check, if you don't know why the rule is, you're not ready to break it.

              I trust myself to do it, I don't know how to convey that without just splurting some words like "numerical methods", "proper understanding of floating points" (which really go hand in hand) ect ect.

              But what's wrong with another one right? ;)

              Thanks for the link though, looking at the screenshots that's like flightsim style (you have a console and instruments, bottom right screenshot). This isn't quite that, but I wont go into it here, I look forward to checking it out though!

              I must confess I've also started playing around with railguns (firing 2 at the same time opposite sides of the centre of mass so you don't start spinning), "realistic joints" (so much effort went into these) so they snap properly. I'm not too happy with collisions (which is a huge subject) but they exist. I've also left the foundations in for special relativity (not in terms of graphics - but I could with great effort, that's an "instant rendering") but in terms of delay and signal forms - right now none of that's implemented but I can add it without having to rewrite everything.

              Sorry for the textwall, My intent is to make sure this is worth my time writing, so there are many things you can turn on or off (or are currently off but one day - maybe - time permitting you can turn on!), for example right now the "rail gun" is pretty much hard coded with some equations I worked out on paper, one day - maybe you design it "proper".

              I've made some good plotting features so you can generate plots of variables against any other (and these can come from simulations). So I've really got some good room to develop stuff and see the relationships in play.

              Tl;DR sorry.

              Thanks for the link again!

            2. Dave Bell

              Re: You can't just be like "it's a lovely morning time to...

              Some things Kerbal Space Program does very well, but it has simplifications that build up errors. You learn the basics of changing orbit and rendezvous, the stuff that Buzz Aldrin wrote the book on, but I'd still rather have him at the controls.

      2. Nigel Campbell

        > The limit is apparently seals and washers in the manoeuvering systems, the propellant used makes them start to degrade.

        Gotta love Hydrazine - Corrosive, highly toxic, carginogenic, explosive at a wide variety of vapour concentrations and hypergolic with a wide variety of industrial and domestic materials.

        When you see folks talking about green propellants, what they really mean is 'anything but f-ing Hydrazine.'

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          > Gotta love Hydrazine

          Yeah, but if you read "Ignition!", you'll realize any chemicals with the energy to combine violently enough to propel people to orbit will be nasty stuff.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Not necessarily nasty

            "any chemicals with the energy to combine violently enough to propel people to orbit will be nasty stuff."

            Looked at one way, yes you have a point. But looked at another way: hydrogen and oxygen aren't dreadfully bad and are commonly used as lower stage rocket propellants (and more, in the Apollo programme at least). Kerosene (aka paraffin) is another favourite first stage fuel, although not so much these days. When I was a lad, paraffin (wax) gauze was a standard medical wound dressing which goes some way to illustrating how toxic the stuff is. Okay, okay, paraffin/kerosene comes in many different forms and all that, but I've used paraffin powered camping stoves and lamps quite a lot from childhood and the only health warning anyone gave me is "this stuff works as a laxative if you take too much of it".

            The thing about stuff like hydrazine, nitric acid, and related compounds used as rocket propellants is that they're rather more easily stored than liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. And they can be combined in hypogolic pairs so you don't need an ignitor, thus improving reliability. So they're dead good in some ways - but if you left it up to me, they'd not be used inside our atmosphere.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          hydrazine

          hydrazine is kinda what nitro looks like without all of that carbon and oxygen (and I think it's just a bit more stable. yeah, when NOT in the presence of the right catalyst to make it go 'foom')

          nitrogen bonds typically break with a great deal of released energy. Hence, with that nitrogen double-bond, it makes GREAT rocket fuel! (I read up on it on wikipedia just for grins, always fun stuff). Nitro would, too, except for the whole 'shock instability' thing.

        3. MonsieurTM

          Uuum: wrong, again. The hypergolic propellants used mean that ignition in space is 100% reliable. This is vital. Hypergolic propellants have been used in all space-based chemical engines. The ones designed by Isaev's design bureau were the only ones to be 100% reliable. (The current hypergolic engines in the Soyuz, Progress and Russian-segment of the ISS are all direct descendants of that superb engine design.) The fact that they are corrosive is an issue. But one has to live with that with chemical engines in space. Space probes use hypergolic propellants. The Shuttle did. It is NOT a "nasty Russian rubbish design" thing.

      3. Martin J Hooper

        Read on other sites that its the propellant for the thrusters that degrades to water in 200 days. I forget what the scientific name is for the propellant. Could be the seals and washers as well of course.

    2. cbars

      postpone 11 months!? If they've been up there 3 months already, they'll develop serious health problems if they're up there that long. I wouldn't like that decision being made for me - and I assume their families would be non-plussed. What are the downsides to abandoning the ISS aside from a gap in the science data?

      1. iron Silver badge

        "What are the downsides to abandoning the ISS aside from a gap in the science data?"

        The end of the ISS.

        The ISS has a low orbit that skims the atmosphere reducing its speed and thus the height of its orbit, without constant station keeping it will literally fall out of the sky. It also requires constant maintenance to keep it functioning. Abandoning it for several months would mean abandoning it permanently.

        Fourteen months is doable. Valeri Polyakov spent 437 days and 18 hours on board Mir in the mid 90s.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          It MIGHT be able to survive the gap if it's boosted to as high as it can be allowed before turning off the lights and locking the door IF SpaceX or Boeing can get their crewed Dragon up there and man-rated in time. If there's no-one on board they can switch off a lot of the complex life-support, ventilation and cooling systems. Bringing it back online after a gap like that is a daunting prospect though. I'm very sure a lot of people will be very nervous right now. It'll be a while before they have to make the decision to abandon it, but it'll be a hard blow either way.

          Having to bring all the crew home WILL however no doubt mean an end to the research of a lot of scientists as experiments will have to be abandoned.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Gone to the dogs...

            "It MIGHT be able to survive the gap if it's boosted to as high as it can be allowed before turning off the lights and locking the door"

            When I was a lad we used to be able to leave the doors unlocked in our low earth orbit...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Gone to the dogs...

              "When I was a lad we used to be able to leave the doors unlocked in our low earth orbit..."

              Oh yeah, but how long ago was that? These days you never know who's prowling around the neighbourhood, trying door handles ...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Station keeping

          Does the ISS need to be manned for station keeping? I'm sure there are plenty of maintenance tasks onboard that require staffing and that going unmanned would have a detrimental effect on a lot of what goes on inside the station. It seems like the stationkeeping part could be managed from the ground.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Station keeping

            Mir really suffered from being abandoned - and never fully recovered. The ISS is more modern, but it's not designed to be operated without a crew. And things break regularly - which a crew can fix.

            I suspect the answer is that it might be possible to work round some problems - but the longer you leave the station unmanned, the larger the risk that bad things might happen. You've got to keep it at the right altitude, and you've also got to maintain control of orientation of antennae and the solar panels. Once they lost that on Mir, they were always fighting communications and power problems - and I don't know how much better the ISS would be at that.

            Plus abandoning ship would destroy loads of long-term experiments.

            1. MonsieurTM

              Re: Station keeping

              The Russian segment is designed to be run either automatically independently, under ground-control or via cosmonauts on board. The multiple redundancy was designed in on purpose. The Soviets & Russians have great experience with de-staffing and re-staffing space stations: e.g. Salyut (commonly unmanned), Mir. Mir did not suffer permanent issues with de-staffing. It did suffer from the collapse of the Russian economy after the break up of the Soviet Union meaning that the items that previously came from the Ukraine now cost a lot of money that Roscosmos (of the time) simply could not afford.

          2. MonsieurTM

            Re: Station keeping

            You are correct, the automated Progress resupply ships & the Zvezda module in the Russian segment are both designed (one as a back-up for the other) to keep the ISS at station. Either automatically or under control from the MKS is Moscow (again redundant backup).

        3. MonsieurTM

          Incorrect: the Progress automated resupply ships can refuel the ISS. The Russian segment has the re-boost rockets on it that can be refuelled - this is the normal operation (NOT the international section). All of these can be remotely operated from the MKS in Moscow.

      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        I dream of pizza

        I wouldn't like that decision being made for me.

        Even though as a kid, I dreamed of being an astronaut.. I wouldn't like to be strapped onto a giant firework and shot in the general direction of space. They're the right kind of nuts, which I guess explains why many had previous careers as test pilots. Will this fly? Let's find out!

        The good news is the crew survived. Not so good news for the ISS crew. Curious if we could send an unmanned Soyuz capsule to de-risk their return if their current return module is questionable.

      3. phuzz Silver badge

        postpone 11 months!? If they've been up there 3 months already, they'll develop serious health problems if they're up there that long.

        Valeri Polyakov spent fourteen months on Mir with no major health effects (he walked out of the Soyuz after it landed), so postponing for a little while won't be too serious. I'm sure their families will miss them, but it's all part of the job.

        As for re-boosting the ISS up to a higher orbit, they usually use the unmanned Progress craft to do that, although the Zvezda module has it's own engines as well.

        Moving into the realm of complete conjecture, I think that the Russians will do their best to re-certify Soyuz as quickly as possible (even if that involves finding another 'saboteur'). Whether that will mollify NASA or ESA enough to allow their own astronauts to fly on it again is another matter.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          I can imagine the Russians being willing to quickly whitewash a report and risk cosmonauts, which is a way of saving the ISS - even if nobody else will send anyone.

          But then it could all get political and weird. With say the Russians refusing to go without anyone else. Or mocking everyone else, and then other space agencies feeling pressured into relaxing their safety rules, or other grumpiness.

          Of course it could be a genuinely easy mistake to diagnose. Most of their other problems seem to have been with the Freigat upper stage, which isn't used on manned Soyuz launches. But equally that could just be luck, as quality control has clearly been suffering of late.

          1. John Jennings

            FFS its the first one to go bang since 1975.....

            In both cases, they survived.

            I cant recall anoyone dieing from a soyuz takeoff (landing is a different matter)

            Its bloody reliable, compared to US performance in the same period!

            1. MonsieurTM

              Thank you: well said. The last people to die in a Soyuz was on landing from Salyut 1. A total of 4 people have died, sadly. The first was Komarov. Those last 3: Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev in 1971. One must not forget Valentin Bondarenko.For a total of 1+1+3=5. So how many died in the US space program? 3+7+7. (Apologies for not naming them all.)

              Read that again 5 vs. 17.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                How many Americans went into space? And they made far riskier flights - as going to the Moon and back.

          2. MonsieurTM

            What a load of tripe: the Soviets & Russians have been far less cavalier about the survivability of their systems than the Americans. You need to read your history more carefully. The Soyuz has always been developed to be survivable in all stages of use, unlike the Shuttle or Apollo, etc. Moreover the ability of the Soyuz to operate fully automatically or under remote control, without crew intervention permits an incapacitated crew to potentially survive. Unlike the Shuttle.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "unlike the Shuttle or Apollo"

              Are you comparing something that can work only in LEO with something that went to the Moon and back, and a ball of iron with little space even for three astronauts for a short time, with a full spaceplane able to carry heavy payloads and with two weeks operating capabilities?

              It was impossible to ensure full survivability around the Moon - but with weights even the Saturn V couldn't lift. Within LEO, the Apollo had the same emergency mechanism.

              Anyway, as other pointed out, if the rocket under the Sojuz blows unexpectedly, or the capsule itself fails or is damaged (as it did when a valve failed, killing the crew), there's no way to survive. Sure, the simpler and less capable a system is, less things can fail. A cannon ball has very few failure modes.

      4. vtcodger Silver badge

        "What are the downsides to abandoning the ISS aside from a gap in the science data?"

        Probably no or minimal downsides. Those with long memories may recall that Skylab in the 1970s was a manned orbiting station that was occupied for short periods to perform experiments, but was left unmanned much of the time. No particular reason -- other than the fact that a permanent crew is presumably assumed in planning -- that the ISS couldn't operate in the same mode. Temporary destaffing is probably -- like most things involving humans in space -- a political decision that may not involve a lot of logic.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "Temporary destaffing is probably -- like most things involving humans in space -- a political decision that may not involve a lot of logic."

          All assuming that only the USA doesn't accept the Russian finding on the "anomaly" whilst others do and are still prepared to go up. It is, after all, the International Space Station :-)

      5. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "If they've been up there 3 months already, they'll develop serious health problems if they're up there that long."

        They're perfectly fine up there. The health problems start happening on the ground if you spend too long in zero-G

      6. MonsieurTM

        The Russians & International crews have had people up there for well over a year: consider the Mars 500 series of long-stays. There will be health risks, but nothing irrecoverable.

  3. Craig 2 Silver badge

    Conspiracy theories incoming...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Hamish is rightly questioning the initial comments by the Russians that the hole had been made by someone on orbit and not on the ground. By autopsy I presume he means the accident investigation. And you have to wonder, if they are willing to make such dubious claims about the hole drilled in the orbital module of one Soyuz, are they willing to publish the mistakes found in the investigation of THIS incident.

        1. AndyS

          @imanidiot, I see I misread his comment, so apologies for my tone. He wasn't creating conspiracy theories but rather questioning the official line, which looks very like a conspiracy... Since he's deleted his comment, I've removed mine too.

          As an aside, it's worth looking up the pictures of the hole in the previous incident. I hadn't seen them before - it is clearly a drilled hole, not a micro-comet. Likely nothing to do with the current issue, but still more worrying than a hit from in-orbit debris.

  4. adam payne Silver badge

    Good that the crew survived but not so good for Roskosmos.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Maybe a bit more mixed for Roscosmos. Their booster suffered a failure of some sort - but their crewed capsule safely aborted as designed.

      So it depends how bad the problem is.

      It's potentially very bad for the ISS though. We're going to have to scramble to keep it manned, until either Soyuz gets declared good to go, or SpaceX / Boeing are able to get off the ground.

      Do China have the available capacity to help out, and would they be willing to?

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Do China have the available capacity to help out, and would they be willing to?"

        Even if they do, China's been fairly explicitly shut out of ISS by the USA from the beginning (which is why they have their own space stations) and undoing that is a big ball of string to deal with.

      2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
  5. spold Bronze badge

    Performed as expected...

    At least it seems to have had a viable and tested emergency system rather than something rather hopeful...

    Soviet era emergency system I guess - may look uglier than a peasant in a pigsty but sturdier than a brick shit-house.

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge

      Re: Performed as expected...

      Yes, 4 failures in over 50 years and nothing fatal in 47 years but the actual crewed mission count is similar to that for the shuttle so the raw metrics are pretty similar.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Performed as expected...

        the actual crewed mission count is similar to that for the shuttle so the raw metrics are pretty similar

        Maybe a similar failure rate, but the presence of a viable escape process for the Soyuz makes the outcomes very different.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "viable and tested emergency system"

      It's much easier when you have to bring away only a small, non-reusable ball at the top of the rocket.

      That's why military planes have ejection seats, while commercial planes don't.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: "viable and tested emergency system"

        And just what would the passengers in 1st class do if the pilots ejected from a 787?

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Devil

          Re: "viable and tested emergency system"

          And just what would the passengers in 1st class do if the pilots ejected from a 787?

          Plummet obviously. Same as if the pilots stayed.

          However if ejector seats were fitted for pilots, I'm sure that 1st class would get them too. And on Ryanair there would probably be an auction held amongst the remaining passengers for a limited number of parachutes - minimum bid £10,000.

        2. Korev Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: "viable and tested emergency system"

          >And just what would the passengers in 1st class do if the pilots ejected from a 787?

          Swim probably. The Vulcan bombers didn't have ejector seats for all crew (there was an escape route though), I remember reading that once one was in trouble and the other "passengers" disabled his ejector seat as an "incentive" to save the aircraft.

          The other reason why Vulcan crashes were bad -->

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "viable and tested emergency system"

            I remember reading that once one was in trouble and the other "passengers" disabled his ejector seat as an "incentive" to save the aircraft.

            I remember reading that the Moon landings were faked and filmed in a Hollywood studio, too, but that was also a steaming pile of BS.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "viable and tested emergency system"

              'I remember reading that the Moon landings were faked and filmed in a Hollywood studio, too, but that was also a steaming pile of BS.'

              Of course that's BS!, any fule kno that they were filmed at Area 51..

            2. Martijn Otto
              Joke

              Re: "viable and tested emergency system"

              Oh the moon landings are definitely real. On the video you can clearly see the curvature of the moon. Were it filmed on earth you wouldn't have seen it as the earth is flat.

              Don't believe this round-earth nonsense people!

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Performed as expected...

      At least it seems to have had a viable and tested emergency system rather than something rather hopeful...

      The two lost Shuttles were destroyed by:

      1. An SRB explosion causing immediate structural failure of the craft due to excessive g-forces - something I can't see Soyuz surviving either. After all, Shuttle had emergency SRB separation available, if there'd been time.

      2. A failure of the heat shield. Which there's no escape from in Soyuz either. Although admittedly the Soyuz heat shield is hiding during lauch, protected by the fairing and service module - so isn't at the same risk of debris damage.

      The Shuttle was inherently more dangerous - as it was more complex, and worse used solid rocket boosters (which can't be throttled down, only ejected). Being bigger it was more capable, but also saddled with a much more vulnerable heat shield. It also couldn't have an escape tower - so in a launchpad explosion there'd be nowhere to go.

      Both systems had a similar number of crewed missions - both losing two crews.

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: Performed as expected...

        1. An SRB explosion causing immediate structural failure of the craft due to excessive g-forces - something I can't see Soyuz surviving either. After all, Shuttle had emergency SRB separation available, if there'd been time.

        Hmm... IIRC There was no SRB explosion. The fuel tank was breached by a dislodged SRB, which pierced it after a burn through... The fuel tank then burst and the fuel burned but there wasn't an explosion as such. The aerodynamic load tore the vehicle apart, yes, but the thing is that the Shuttle's crew cabin survived the structural failure and, if there was an escape system, the crew would have survived too instead of being smashed to pieces when the cockpit section fell into the sea.

        1. hugo tyson
          Alert

          Re: Performed as expected... SRB abort

          The Shuttle SRBs nearly had a "become safe after lighting" feature which involved explosive detachment of the top cap of both SRBs, so they both became like one of those new wanky double-ended lightsabers. With no net thrust, was the idea.

          This was in case only one of them ignited, to prevent making a catherine wheel out of the whole affair... it wasn't implemented; possibly the top-end flame thrower would have killed everyone anyway, and they got SRB ignition reliable enough that they always lit both, or neither.

          1. Rupert Fiennes Silver badge

            Re: Performed as expected... SRB abort

            Apparently they could never figure out how to safely jettison the SRB's while they were firing, so effectively the Shuttle was a prisoner of the SRB's until they burned out at 160K ft and Mach 4. By which time, bailout was impossible, even if you had ejection seats.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Performed as expected...

        "The two lost Shuttles were destroyed by:"

        A shitty design, necessitated by conflicting demands that made it big and ugly (a camel) and so dangerous that the USAF (whose demands drove the increase in size that forced it to be mounted to the tanks instead of riding on top of the stack) walked away from it very quickly.

        Incident 1 wouldn't have been fatal if the orbiter was on top and incident 2 wouldn't have even happened.

        The primary reason Buran only made one flight was because the Soviet space engineers refused point blank to allow humans to fly in it. They built it to prove they could and to understand its purposes (something capable of bringing large items down has immense military tactical value - it can be used to attack satellites) but having done that they wanted nothing further to do with it (The Buran designers wanted to put the thing on top of the stack, but were overruled because it would take too long to develop - after the first flight it was decided that the cost of redesigning to put it on top so it could safely carry humans was too high for any possible benefit inherent in having a "shuttleski")

  6. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Someone please hand those astronauts/kosmonauts a clean pair of underwear.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      I wouldn't be surprised if they were wearing 'space nappies' already.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        'space nappies' which needed to be binned immediately after landing! Definate brown pants moment.

        I sincerely hope the plucky astro/cosmonauts have already been furnished with several well-deserved beers.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Happy

          This is Russia. It'll be vodka.

          But astronauts are a different breed. They probably said "wheeeee! Can we go again?"

          1. usbac

            "But astronauts are a different breed. They probably said "wheeeee! Can we go again?"

            I remember during my flight training the day we went out for spin recovery training. After our first deliberate spin and subsequent recovery, my comment was "that was fun, can we do it again?" followed by a cold stare from my instructor. I was young then. It's amazing how we change when we get older...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              " "that was fun, can we do it again?"

              Spins (in a proper plane cleared for them, and in the right conditions) are predictable, as the recovery manoeuvre- made knowingly at the right altitude, like other aerobatics stuff, are pretty safe. The problem are sudden spins caused by the wrong manoeuvre at the wrong altitude - and lack of preparation to recover.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I read a book by one of the Space Shuttle astronauts which speaks of the same thing. Apparently every single one of them would have gladly cut off a leg to go to space, even if the odds were just 50-50 of surviving. Only the most fanatically driven even get to the point of being considered for the job!

            They are still on the bell curve to be sure, but it's way out there.

            1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

              What people will do to get into space

              I was sruck by Chris Hadfield's TED talk about what he had to do. It wasn't the physical training alone that impressed me, but the learning Russian and the years and years of commitment.

              https://www.ted.com/talks/chris_hadfield_what_i_learned_from_going_blind_in_space?language=en

              1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                Re: What people will do to get into space

                I think Chris Hadfield's a great communicator, and inspirational. I hadn't seen that talk before and what struck me was the challenge of tears in space. Not really thought about the challenges of not being able to clear them, but luckily it seems NASA had. I guess it's a variation of the 5P rule, and preventing panic.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Endurance by Scott Kelly.

          3. stiine Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            re: wheeeee!

            They're now members of an even more exclusive club than that of astronauts/cosmonauts, and members of the more exclusive club of 'astronauts/cosmonauts who've been to space'.. The club for those who's spaceflight aborted during ascent......and didn't kill them.

      2. The Nazz Silver badge

        Hard to believe this was 45 years ago ...

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iab9YKocUcw

  7. Alien8n Silver badge

    Space Shuttle

    Part of the problem with the Space Shuttle was a double whammy, on the one hand it had no emergency capabilities in the event the shuttle itself was compromised. This is what caused the Columbia disaster as . On the other hand is the US procurement guidelines for large military/space projects that required the jobs building the shuttle to be spread out around the US. As a result the boosters had to be built in stages and put together later, rather than in one singular unit. It was this that then resulted in the Challenger disaster as the connecting ring to the booster rocket segments was compromised by the unusually low temperatures the night before launch. The worst bit about the Challenger disaster though was the fact that the dangers of the booster construction had actually been known since 1971 and not addressed until after the disaster.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Space Shuttle

      Even with Columbia, the issue of foam debris hitting the wings at liftoff was known, but downplayed - that happens when you let beancounters running the shop, instead of true technicians. I don't know if also saving the weight and cost of the white painting over the central tank made the foam more prone to detach.

      There were also preliminary drawings of the Shuttle being launched atop a rocket (IIRC reusing some Saturn technology), but it was deemed too complex and expensive. It could have avoided both the Challenger and Columbia disaster - but probably better mission management would have avoided them too.

      Anyway, a failure at the worst re-entry time is hard to manage with emergency systems - Russian cosmonauts too were killed by a defective valve.

      1. Rupert Fiennes Silver badge

        Re: Space Shuttle

        AC, be aware they stopped painting the external tank after the first Columbia test flight, partly to save weight, partly because the crew noticed lots of paint flakes coming off the tank during launch.

        The Shuttle sold itself as "cheaper than expendable boosters". Once the idea of a winged carrier vehicle to bring the orbiter half way to orbit was binned, there's no way it could have been both safe and cheaper. Blaming beancounters may be easy, but there was plenty of shading the truth from the engineers and scientists too :-(

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Space Shuttle

        "Even with Columbia, the issue of foam debris hitting the wings at liftoff was known, but downplayed - that happens when you let beancounters running the shop, instead of true technicians"

        Not quite true.

        Both fatal issues were known about prior to the Challenger & Columbia losses, but poor technical analysis by NASA led management to believe that the risks were within acceptable limits.

        Poor statistical analysis of mean air temperature at launch & SRB O-ring failures meant that the link between cold early morning launches and O-ring burn through due to loss of elasticity was not established until after Challenger's loss. Had the analysis been done correctly, the risk factor would have been deemed unacceptable and launch would have been delayed till warmer launch conditions, saving the crew.

        Likewise, Shuttle wing damage was a known issue subject to flawed technical analysis. In experiments in which foam blocks were fired at the composites used to construct the leading edge of the wing, the risk factor was again underestimated due to the poor computer models used to select the experiment parameters. Had the modelling been correct, larger foam blocks would have been used, and the leading edge vulnerability would have been found to be an unacceptable risk. This would likely have resulted in the grounding of the entire Shuttle fleet until the issue was fixed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Not quite true"

          But why assessing risk in the wrong way? To save money. Performing complex, exhaustive tests cost money. Keeping the required skills on board costs money. Delaying a launch costs money.

          The "cold" launch was outside the required parameters - the fact they assessed "it could work anyway, as far as we know" was due to costs reasons - and when you look for a justification, you usually find one.

          The risk of detaching stuff at launch should have been examined extensively - they instead relied on luck. "If the pieces are small enough and don't hit a sensitive part, we're OK..."

          "Had the analysis been done correctly,"

          And why it wasn't? Because of costs and delays? Then, they had to pay the price of two catastrophic failures, and fourteen lives lost.

      3. dv

        Re: Space Shuttle

        >that happens when you let beancounters running the shop

        No, that happens when the typical US managerial approach "don't fix anything that isn't broken, don't improve anything that works" is applied. They will keep the designated path right until they hit a wall.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Space Shuttle

          No, that happens when the typical US managerial approach "don't fix anything that isn't broken, don't improve anything that works" is applied. They will keep the designated path right until they hit a wall.

          Or a patch of water. F-35's again. One crashed, fortunately the pilot ejected safely. But this jumped out from the BBC's report-

          In a statement, the F-35 Joint Program Office said the US and its international partners had suspended flight operations while a fleet-wide inspection of fuel tubes was conducted.

          "If suspect fuel tubes are installed, the part will be removed and replaced. If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status.

          So it may be safety related, ie getting positive confirmation of parts installed by an engineer. But I thought one of the USPs of the F-35 and reasons for cost overruns was it's fancy software that's meant to track every component and report on problems. So theoretically run off a report that lists aircraft with the suspect part and the rest carry on flying. Unless there's.. issues. In which case, reconciling what's installed vs what's listed as installed is a big job.

          But such is the cost of complexity and new things.. Which is going to be an issue for any Soyuz replacement.

      4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Space Shuttle

        >the issue of foam debris hitting the wings at liftoff was known, but downplayed

        Bayesian prior + machine learning

        Foam hit the wing, the wing didn't fall off -> foam hitting the wing is fine.

        Same reason people drive drunk - it was OK last time

        1. DougS Silver badge

          "made by lowest bidder"

          In many cases, there is only one bidder, so you don't even get the benefit of saving money!

    2. Thoguht Silver badge

      Re: Space Shuttle

      Another part of the problem, as astronaut John Glenn is once alleged to have pointed out, is that every component of every NASA vehicle is made by the lowest bidder.

    3. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: Space Shuttle

      "The worst bit about the Challenger disaster though was the fact that the dangers of the booster construction had actually been known since 1971 and not addressed until after the disaster."

      The boosters were required to be constructed in 2 separate states, which is why they consisted of multiple parts instead of being a single solid tube.

      "Even with Columbia, the issue of foam debris hitting the wings at liftoff was known, but downplayed "

      It wasn't downplayed, nobody had any clue that the CFRC panels on the edge of the wings could get damaged by the foam, in tests they had shown to be pretty indestructible. They thought the ceramic tiles were the only part that could get damaged and they had a procedure in place for detecting damage to the tiles.

      After Columbia broke up they tried to recreate the damage by firing foam blocks at the panels they thought the foam had hit and they couldn't do any damage even after repeated tests. Then one of the image analysts came back and said it might have been a different panel, they set the test up to fire the foam at that panel and the foam smashed a massive hole right though the panel on the first test.

      You have to remember that each of the space shuttles was a slightly different size and shape, and small changes to the shapes of panels can affect their ability to survive impacts significantly.

      Challenger was the fault of politicians, management and a culture of risk taking. Columbia was an inevitable part of the shuttles design.

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Space Shuttle

      Also the comparison between the Shuttle and Soyuz some people are making is a bit silly.

      If the Soyuz capsule, or its engines, failed - then the crew are as screwed as any Shuttle crew. Because they're sharing the ship with the fault.

      But if the second stage failed to fire on Soyuz, they could separate. Equally a slow failure on the Shuttle's SRBs would mean they could be jettisoned. Although the fact that they can't be shut off / throttled and are firing up til jettison does rather suggest they were unsuitable for manned fliight. Unless both fail in the same way simultaneously, it seems likely that most failures are going to result in such catastrophic g-forces, that the orbiter would also be screwed. But then that's the same for Soyuz, if the the rocket fails by cartwheeling in flight or something.

      Basically spaceflight is incredibly dangerous. The only big difference is that the Shuttle's main engines could blow up, and from that there's no escape. But otherwise your options are similar - if the craft survies you abort to a landing, or abort to orbit. It's not like you can jump out of an exploding Soyuz, any more than you could out of a Shuttle. I believe it was optional as to whether crews trained for the parachute escape system - which tells you all you need to know about how useful NASA thought it was...

      1. Deckard_C

        Re: Space Shuttle

        The Soyuz launcher has an escape rocket which can pull the crewed capsule away from the rest of the rocket for the first 160 seconds of flight included when sitting on the launch pad. This is automatically triggered when if the engines fail or the launcher departs from controlled flight and can also be triggered from the ground. After 160 seconds the crew capsule can still be seperated from the rest of the launcher as happened in this case. The US launchers before the shuttle had similar systems. That's what the shuttle lacked any escape system from launch to glide after reentry. After Challange they got parachutes which could be used if they got to the glide after rentry and for some reason couldn't land.

        Most of the inflight explosions of launchers happen when the lauchers departs from controlled flight tearing itself apart or the self destruct is triggered to aviod it leaving the cleared air space.

    5. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Space Shuttle

      The worst bit about the Challenger disaster though was the fact that the dangers of the booster construction had

      The launch was even more compromised by the politics. Many of engineers said "no fly" on launch morning because of the temperature. But there was a lot of political and PR pressure to launch no matter what as "the world was watching". Someone high up overrode the engineers' "no fly".

  8. Maya Posch

    Could ask the Chinese

    It's painfully ironic that just when China is making headway with its own space station program (third, permanent one to be launched soon), the ISS has found itself on the verge of being scuttled.

    Unless the ISS can be made to pull through, a few years from now it'll be the Chinese space station that welcomes European (ESA), Japanese (JAXA) and other international guests.

    Or, you know, ask the Chinese to please, pretty please help us out with a manned mission to the ISS to save it. Only a few decades too late, though.

    1. Alien8n Silver badge

      Re: Could ask the Chinese

      It's not that the ISS is going to be scuttled, just that the only escape pod available at the moment is nearing it's end of life. Not helped by the fact that it's also suspected to be in poor condition to start with. Without a second pod they'll be forced to abandon the ISS temporarily until they can recommence manned missions again.

      Then again, the main unit of the ISS is now out of date, so maybe a better option would be to scuttle it and start again. Maybe replace it with something that uses the Blue Danube as part of the docking sequence.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "scuttle it and start again"

        Good luck, now that the payload and orbital building capabilities have been lost... sending into orbit a simple cylinder is easy, assembling a complex structure needs support - not something Sojuz and Orion can really achieve.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "scuttle it and start again"

          "the payload and orbital building capabilities have been lost"

          Citation needed.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: "scuttle it and start again"

            Citation: Lack of bigger space Shuttle orbiter with robot arm and crew of 7.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: "scuttle it and start again"

          "Now that the payload and orbital building capabilities have been lost"

          Not.... entirely.

          Falcon Heavy springs to mind

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: "scuttle it and start again"

            Heavy isn't big enough.

            Plus it isn't planned to be man-rated, and the trouble with on-orbit construction is that you need on-orbit workers to assemble it.

            Automated assembly currently isn't viable, for a variety of reasons.

  9. My-Handle

    To quote Mr Manley...

    Check Yo Stagin'!

    1. imanidiot Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: To quote Mr Manley...

      More like, check your attachment points. Seems like one of the boosters might not have separated cleanly and slammed into the center core (as they always seem to do when I build a rocket in KSP). One of the core engine combustion chambers then seems to develop pogo-oscillations judging from the violent jerking seen in the video of the capsule interior (Phrasing!). Or one of the Vernier engine control systems was damaged and it was flapping about uncontrolled.

      The pressurization tanks are also at the bottom of the core stage, so if that got damaged this could lead to pressurisation problems and irregular engine feed pressures resulting in aforementioned pogo oscillations.

      (Interesting pic at wikipedia of the Soyuz construction: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1d/Soyuz_rocket_and_spaceship_V1-1.svg)

  10. Duffaboy

    Damn them pesky

    Windows 10 updates

  11. Mike Shepherd
    Meh

    How can we spin that?

    NASA blew up one bunch of astronauts because they said "Hey, we don't know why those seals are burning through, but we got away with it before...Go at throttle up!" Learning nothing, they said "Hey, those tiles always get hit by foam at supersonic speed, but we got away with it before..." (and blew up another bunch). Russia has a fault and gets the crew safely back to earth, but the BBC comments There is already much discussion about the current state of Russian industry and its ability to maintain the standards of yesteryear.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: How can we spin that?

      But, but, NASA has always maintained the standards of yesteryear. Their standards may have always been shit to start with, but hey, it is consistent! (Weirdly enough I hear that last sentence in the voice of the late and great George Carlin. Seems like something he might say)

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: How can we spin that?

      Mike Shepherd,

      There is no contradiction in your post. You criticise NASA for ignoring warning signs - or more accurately dismissing through wishful thinking - and that leading to accidents. And then complain that exactly the same point is being made about Roscosmos. They've been having an increased number of accidents on non-manned missions for over 5 years now. Their currently in orbit Soyuz has a hole in it, because someone in the factory accidentally drilled a hole in the side, and literally covered it up with expoxy.

      If that's not quality control issues, then I don't know what is!

      And now they've had a failure on a manned launch. Now it could be that their QC is better on manned missions, and they've been cutting corners elswhere. And this was just bad luck, as rocket science is hard. Or it could be that Roscosmos have got deeper problems - which to be honest seems most likely.

    3. Rupert Fiennes Silver badge

      Re: How can we spin that?

      Mike

      Look up STS27. The tile damage was spectacular, including an underside tile, which would have resulted in a burn through except there had been an antenna mount directly underneath. Even STS1 had a warped landing gear door caused by a few tiles not being completely flush to the bottom of the wing. The lesson is that a supposedly "completely reuseable" TPS cannot at present work. Hence, the likes of SpaceX going back to ablative coatings (which should allow several uses).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        ""completely reuseable" TPS cannot at present work."

        Are we sure? That was forty years old technology - it was designed and built in the 1970s. The Shuttle was tested without unmanned launches, no surprise some issue arose.

        Are we sure synthetic material technology of today can't deliver a simpler (less tiles) and easier to maintain heath shield?

        The X-37 is said having an "improved" thermal protection - what is it using?

        Ablative shields are surely cheaper, and for small capsule, not costly to replace.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ""completely reuseable" TPS cannot at present work."

          " The Shuttle was tested without unmanned launches, no surprise some issue arose."

          All hail to John Young, the shuttle test pilot.

  12. Multivac

    "With NASA highly unlikely to allow any astronauts to fly aboard the Soyuz until a full investigation is complete" Read that very carefully, it says nothing about Roscomos not flying cosmonauts up to the ISS!

    and as yet we've not heard is ESA will stop their astronauts flying.

  13. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Apollo 7

    Apollo 7 was so successful (despite a slightly poorly and stroppy crew)

    Come on, given what happened to the previous crewed trials on Apollo (the Apollo 1 fire) you have to give them serious credit for having the balls to set foot in the thing at all. I think a little slack should be cut for them there, especially given they probably also knew NASA wouldn't put their top astronauts on such a test...

    Plus is was also the first use of the Saturn 1B rocket as well of course as being the first Apollo mission to actually go into space, both just to make things even more interesting...

    1. Andrew Newstead

      Re: Apollo 7

      First flight of Saturn 1B with a crew, first flight of a 1Bwas an unmanned engineering test of a Block 1 CSM in February 1966 and there were another 2 launches before Apollo 7.

  14. Norman Nescio Silver badge

    Ballistic descent

    Ballistic descent from the point of failed a failed booster separation has happened before - in 1975:

    Soyuz 7K-T No.39 (aka Soyuz 18a).

    There's another write-up here: America Space:'Creeping and Unpleasant': The Near-Space Experience of Soyuz 18A

    That hit more than 21G. The astro/cosmonauts train in a centrifuge up to 8G. I've no idea what G-force this one hit, but hopefully survivable without permanent injury preventing them from taking part in later missions.

    NN

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Ballistic descent

      The g-forces were so high in the second one because it was a pad fire, and they used the escape tower. Which has to accelerate quickly to stand a chance of getting away from the potential massive explosion.

      Abort to balistic landing, by separating from a failing rocket, is likely to be a bit less violent - assuming the separation works well.

      1. ridley

        Re: Ballistic descent

        The 21g experienced was not the one using the escape tower it was the accident in 1975 when the upper stage fired whilst still attached to the core.

        This aborted the flight but as the attitude at the time of abort was pointing earthwards the reentry was "sub optimal".

        (Not to mention the 500ft cliff the almost rolled off on landing)

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: Ballistic descent

          The human body can endure some pretty high G forces if they’re brief and evenly distributed, and don’t compress the spine. The “eyes in” direction is best. John Stapp survived 46.2g with no lasting injuries, in the “eyes out” position, although he was temporarily blinded.

  15. imanidiot Silver badge

    Seems something went wrong even before booster cut-off and staging. See 02:37 min. into this video of the launch, something can be seen detaching from the rocket and spinning around just before the internal shot where the "gravity indicator" suddenly rises and then the bouncing starts. 2 seconds later the debris cloud can be seen.

    1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Seems something went wrong even before booster cut-off and staging. See 02:37 min. into this video of the launch, something can be seen detaching from the rocket and spinning around just before the internal shot where the "gravity indicator" suddenly rises and then the bouncing starts. 2 seconds later the debris cloud can be seen.

      That might be the payload fairing coming off, as planned. You want the fairing near to sea level atmospheric pressure, as you need the aerodynamic shape: but once up high enough, the benefit from the fairing is less than the benefit from dropping it, so you do not need to spend fuel to lift it higher.

      I'm not familiar enough with the Soyuz launch timeline to know if the fairing is meant to come off before, during, or after booster separation.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        According to http://www.russianspaceweb.com/soyuz_launch.html stage 1 is at 117.8 seconds, and the payload fairing is at 157.5 seconds.

        Interestingly, the emergency escape rocket jettisons at 114 seconds. I didn't know it was that early.

        1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

          Compare with successful launch video

          >>Seems something went wrong even before booster cut-off and staging. See 02:37 min. into this video of the launch, something can be seen detaching from the rocket and spinning around just before the internal shot where the "gravity indicator" suddenly rises and then the bouncing starts. 2 seconds later the debris cloud can be seen.

          >According to http://www.russianspaceweb.com/soyuz_launch.html stage 1 is at 117.8 seconds, and the payload fairing is at 157.5 seconds.

          > Interestingly, the emergency escape rocket jettisons at 114 seconds. I didn't know it was that early.

          Hmm .02:37 min is ...120 plus 37, or pretty much 157 seconds...but before I leap to a conclusion, the video starts rolling before actual launch. Engine ignition is at approximately 0:40, lift off at approximately 0:44, which makes the object seen at about 157 less about 40 seconds after lift off (i.e. about 117 seconds after lift off) which means that it's not the fairing, but most likely the escape rocket jettison caught on camera, followed shortly after by what should be stage 1 separation.

          Compare the video with the (normal ) Soyuz Launch video for the launch that carried Tim Peake up to the ISS [ISS] Launch of Soyuz TMA-19M with British Astronaut Tim Peake - look at 2 minutes 50 onwards at quarter speed to see the escape rocket jettisoned (at 2:51) followed by Stage 1 separation (at 2:53 you see the exhaust trail change).

          If anything, to my non-specialist eye, the escape rocket jettison looks fine on the failed launch video, then we cut to an interior view of the Soyuz to see the astro/cosmonauts being buffeted around, so we don't see the Stage 1 separation, but we cut back to see the immediate aftermath of the separation, which doesn't look like the nice normal symmetrical Korolev cross.

          Many thanks for that link to the Russian Space Web Soyuz Launch timeline.

          NN

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Compare with successful launch video

            From what I can remember seeing/reading the LES tower should launch itself away from the craft, not just tumble lazily away from the craft. maybe the tower release failed or the motors didn't fire and the tower struck the boosters?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    dont look in my locker ever!

    I guess its the paranoia that keeps it staffed up 24x7 by a rainbow of nations at each others throats otherwise.

  17. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Any landing you can walk away from...

    Is a good landing.

  18. Brian Catt
    Happy

    It had a crew loose.

    What a ride!

    PS I feel sorry for the crew that will have to spend two shifts in space to fill the duty roster. Good luck guys. At least they still have the possibility to abandon the ISS and Space X can supply it. Musk funded one business that's honest and useful for humanity with the Pay Pal money.

    1. MonsieurTM

      Ever heard of the Progress resupply ships that can dock automatically and refuel it, unlike the SpaceX junk.

  19. MonsieurTM

    What about Roscosmos?

    Why is it that NASA "has to be satisfied"? Surely Roscosmos has to satisfy itself. NASA are just passengers. Why such biassed reporting? The ISS is composed of the "International" segment and the Russian segment. Note that the Soyuz is hugely safe & unlike ANYTHING NASA launched has no periods during its operation which are unsurvivable unlike the Shuttle, etc. This is ridiculous, alarmist reporting. "Abandon the ISS"?! What about the Russian crew on the Russian segment? The International team may get windy, but the Russians will satisfy themselves over their vehicle and launch as they see fit. It is NOT up to NASA - they do NOT pull the shots on the Russian segment that could detach from the rest and fly perfectly happily, attended or otherwise. With automatic resupply from the Progress ships (and refuelling for re-boosting). Again NASA nor anyone else has such automatic ships. (The Europeans had, but only 4 or so flew years ago.)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ISS birthday

    In November the ISS will be 20.

    Let's hope it makes it to 21.

  21. enigma-it
    Linux

    "The ISS itself however, according to Todd, could run unattended up until critical systems, such as the solar array rotation mechanisms start failing."

    The real question is - who's going to look after the Raspberry Pis? Or are they currently running the flight control system?

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