"You can be sure Soyuz launches will be grounded indefinitely. Commercial Crew has to conduct a successful uncrewed launch next year before flying astronauts to the ISS (and no - they will not 'fast track' anything that involves crew safety)."
I wonder what it’s like for the astronauts. One moment you’re sitting in a rocket ready to spend the next six months in space, you’ve said your goodbyes, you’re thinking about what it will be like, what sorts of pictures you want to take, what you’ll say when you make that first phone call home from space... and then ten minutes later you stumble out into the Kazakh wilderness and start scanning the sky for rescue helicopters.
"Months of boredom punctuated by moments of terror."
I imagine you are happily doing 3, maybe 4 G's, then an alarm sounds and suddenly the escape system (or mission control, your the commander) decides you are not going to space after all, adds 10 G's or so to what you are already doing for a couple seconds, then a couple seconds of free fall until the parachutes open, then the final kick when you are about to land.
They had a very bad day.
At least it's not a very long time inside a Soyuz. I don't think I fit inside one.
Jep, the escape system is definitely not a walk in the park. As far as I know, the Soyuz escape system is the only one that was deployed with people inside, in the Soyuz T-10a accident. Suffice to say, the cosmonauts didn't like it very much. They got between 14g-17g for 5 seconds, which removed them 4km downwards from the exploding launch vehicle.
After landing safely (and being badly bruised), they asked for cigarettes and were given shots of Vodka. 
Yea, wonder if they felt disappointed or relieved. Regardless, they are part of a very small club of "astronaut's whose rocket broke during launch and are still alive". I wonder who else is in that club?
The other Soyuz incident in 1983 was Soyuz 7K-ST No.16L, sometimes known as Soyuz T-10a or T-10-1.
Found below from wiki.
It was an unsuccessful Soyuz mission intended to visit the Salyut 7 space station, which was occupied by the Soyuz T-9 crew. However, it never finished its launch countdown; the launch vehicle was destroyed on the launch pad by fire on September 26, 1983. The launch escape system of the Soyuz spacecraft fired two seconds before the launch vehicle exploded, saving the crew. It is the first case in which a launch escape system has been fired with a crew aboard.
In early US space program, in one of the test flights before Apollo program, a 2 stage rocket failed mid flight. The rocket escape system attached on top of the capsule fired and successfully saved the capsule. But there was no crew in the capsule.
The best part about that Apollo test flight is that it was intended to be a test of the escape system, but it was not intended to involve the rocket exploding underneath the capsule. It ended up being an even better test of the escape system than was planed.
There have been some other, less consequential manned launch failures.
Apollo 12 was struck by lightning during ascent, and only some quick thinking saved the mission.
Apollo 13 suffered extreme vibration in the second stage center engine that nearly tore the rocket apart. (This is unrelated to the more famous problem Apollo 13 experienced later in the mission.) Fortunately the vibrations messed with sensors which caused the engine to shut down, and the launch continued on the remaining four.
STS-51-F lost an engine a few minutes after launch. It was still able to make orbit on the remaining engines, but ended up in a lower orbit than planned.
Aborted takeoffs and go arounds are generally routine in avaiation right? Surely using an abort mechanism is preferable to killing the passengers and crew. I see nothing wrong with adding some names to the list of people who survived.
I did not mean to come across as saying I want escape systems to not work.
With space launch systems, any use of escape system is dangerous and best to avoid. I think it will be a long time before aborting/escaping from botched space launch and recovery will be as routine as aborted takeoffs and go arounds.
Just to compare the two a bit more: NASA’s requirements for the Commercial Crew program (where Boeing and SpaceX are building capsules to visit ISS) is for a loss of crew probability of 1 in 270. Note that this isn’t an abort probability, it’s the probability that everyone dies despite the abort system’s best efforts.
The probability for commercial airliners is something around 1 in 100 million.
The reason astronauts are trained so much is so that they know what to do in case of equipment malfunction. So, yes, they all go into launches hoping that everything will work, but being ready when it doesn't.
The spaceship wasn't on a launch which involved failure, since 1983. Soyuz rocket fails once every few years. Just the crewed launched were lucky (and also crewed rockets are checked better + in many cases, older, lower performance, but better tested AND downrated for increased reliability, mods were used).
For example, Progress ship (very close in design to Soyuz ship, unmanned ship to deliver supplies, not recoverable) failed less than 2 years ago due to launcher failure.
Crewed rockets are Soyuz-FG, other rockets used to be Soyuz-U, then Soyuz-2, variations Soyuz-2.1a and Soyuz-2.1b . Those are slightly different rockets - mainly engines of first stage (four booster parts) are different (if I'm not mistaken) and 3rd stage is different.
The Challenger and the Columbia both had catastrophic failures during launch and re-entry respectively. Of course those were shuttles and not rockets, but still as far as space flight goes, the statistics were against them.
The Challenger crew is thought to have to survived the initial explosion, though how long they would have remained conscious is questioned. The collision with the ocean is what killed them, not the explosion.
Worth noting: launch escape tower was jettisoned nominally moments before the failure. Escape was via the capsule separation mechanism followed by ballistic then parachute descent. If the booster had exploded, the crew would have been in extreme danger.
Boosters don't really "explode". When ruptured they burn really fast, but (assuming engine shutdown and non-malfunctioning capsule separation) at such high altitude there is not that much danger from simple conflagration.
Sure, in _very_ rare case engines might not shut down or something else might get broken, but "If the booster had exploded, the crew would have been in extreme danger." seems too over the top. Launch escape tower is jettisoned for a reason ...
Normal the tower is used for launch pad abort and for a very short window afterwards.
The Soyuz launch abort system is actually quite robust probably the best launch abort system that has been implemented for manned flight so far with the Orion and Crew Dragon only marginally improving on it and even that is still not clear given those haven’t been flown yet alone actually used in practice yet.
Yes, but there is a difference between being tested and being used. On paper the Crew Dragon launch abort system is slightly better since it doesn't rely on an escape tower for launch pad abort but in reality it's not clear how much better and safer for the crew the whole thing would be.
I'm not sure if having eight high-pressure hydrazine engines (which must work in perfect sync) inches apart from the crew is safer than a classic launch escape tower with a single solid booster on top.
The original plan for Crew Dragon was to have it land with rockets like a rocket should, instead of with parachutes. They also wanted to have a design that could also land on Mars. Safety first NASA didn't allow that plan. Not sure if rockets are still powerful enough to do a powered landing coming from orbit. I hope so and that tourists will have the option of returning that way even if NASA astronauts don't.
They will not develop powered landing. SuperDraco or not, one of the main obstacles was the difficulty and risk of putting legs through the heatshield.
Smaller Dracos are used for in-orbit maneuvering. SuperDracos are now solely for launch abort. They could conceivably be used for an orbital maneuver requiring more delta-v than the fine-tuning the Dracos do, but at this point the only likely destination for Dragon is the ISS.
One advantage is that you avoid having to jettison the escape tower which would add some complexity and risk.
Also, the engines are designed for use in space during a normal mission and to be recovered. So in that configuration the crew would still need to be located close to a hydrazine thruster as a part of a normal flight.
There are 8 independent engines, IIRC, mounted two by two. I think they are controlled in pairs, one on each side of the craft so as to avoid an engine on one side not knowing its counterpart on the other side failed and forcing the capsule to spin instead of fly away from the faulty booster.
Regardless it's a video recording of a video being projected onto a wall. The cellphone quality is the least important part of my comment and has improved dramatically in quality on the average smart over 8yrs (iPhone tends to be leading edge and that phone was brand new at the time which not everyone has).
It's so bizarre that in NASA-speak the word nominal means not the value that a parameter should have ("in name") but the fact that the parameter is within a specified tolerance of that value. It's like a contraction of "<value> is what it should be, according to its formal definition". https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/184876/how-did-n...
Commercial Crew might be moved forward a bit. SpaceX claims to have hardware ready and be prepared for a December launch, but that was pushed to January due to conflicting visiting vehicles. Obviously the visiting vehicle schedule will be reworked during the investigation, so that might open up a window for them to launch in December.
The ISS isn't capable of being ran unmanned for any significant length of time. Yes they could escape in an emergency, but they're not going to be leaving "normally" until their replacements can arrive. And that won't be for a while, because as Chris explains in the video, there are no other launch vehicles ready to go beside the Soyuz, and it might be a while before the defect is identified and fixed.
They can't outstay the orbital lifespan of the capsule currently docked. They'll be leaving when it's time to leave (unless a new (empty) Soyuz is launched to replace it (something that has happened once before)).
They might be willing to stretch it a little (but probably not much). The limiting factor is decomposition of the hydrogen peroxide used as propellant for the descent module. They can technically get down without it, but it would be a rougher (and riskier) ride.
The current deadline for their return is the on-orbit lifespan of their return capsule. It's possible that grounding "crewed" flights doesn't mean grounding all flights. An uncrewed capsule could be sent up (they dock autonomously), and the missions of the on-station crews could be extended. Something similar has been done in the past due to a suspected fault in the on-orbit capsule.
One of the ways you can land a Soyuz is basically an uncontrolled crash land. It is so dependable compared to any other spaceship that I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes an emergency return capsule, after it stops being the main spaceship used to reach the ISS.
It's like the space equivalent of fielding a fleet of shitboxes as your daily driver(s).
One Soyoz has a hole. The other Soyuzes won't run because safety. You scrapped the shuttle a few years ago. You haven't finished assembling your SpaceX project car yet. Little Jimmy is going to have to hold the flashlight for daddy while he fixes a shitbox so mommy can get to work in the morning (metaphorically speaking of course, because space).
> Soyuz is a proven reliable spacecraft, it’s not a shitbox.
I was going to say... It might not be flashy and shiny and new but what else is really important when you are doing space travel? Personally I'd rather have the indestructable, boxy, non-aerodynamic 1995 Jeep Cherokee and its inline V6 engine than some brand new "2.4L Tigershark® MultiAir® 2 I4 Engine with Electronic Stop/Start (ESS) Technology".
All of those adjectives / descriptors after the "2.4L" look and sound nice but beside looking fancy is there any merit to them being added? Most people in and around the Jeep car scene / motor heads / people with decent car knowledge KNOW that Jeep's Inline V6 was nearly indestructible. They lasted forever when properly maintained (regular oil changes, fluid changes, and tune ups) and could take loads of abuse. Most other things in and on the car would wear out and/or burn out (things like electronics) before the engine and transmission would even become an issue at all.
That said, in 2018, there are lots of reasons a 1995 Jeep Cherokee isn't the ideal car. Namely gas mileage, lack of aerodynamics, weight and weight distribution (materials and generally being overweight), and so on. Even knowing all of that I'm sure if paying for gas wasn't a major issue lots of people who had Jeep Cherokees in the past would love to have a properly running one again for one simple reason:
Reliability and dependability. What else really matters? I'd definitely trade in the offset in cost at purchase time for a gas guzzler if the cost winds up the same or the scale even tilts toward the Jeep if you consider all of the upkeep and maintenance costs included, after purchase, for another vehicle.
The Soyuz, if nothing else, is extremely reliable. If I were an astronaut that's the main thing I'd be worried about and if I had any say it'd be the one thing I absolutely required -- for obvious reasons.
It might; at least part of them. I presume they have contingency plans for exactly this situation. Probably leave a skeleton crew up there until either a new crew can be launched or the station has to be abandoned (supply missions are probably not a problem, but the Soyuz return capsules have a limited ”shelf life”).
They have a single return capsule there. They can't leave anyone without a return/rescue boat, so they all have to return together and leave the station empty. And as you said they can't extend stay for a year because Soyuz has limited life.
Given that it's currently mid-October, moving up a month from January to December represents a pretty substantial chunk of the remaining time (I'm not suggesting NASA or SpaceX are willing, able, or interested in doing this, but it's not impossible)
Presumably this will push up the schedule for the live abort tests for the SpaceX and Boeing systems. That would appear to be the "nut" in the schedule before those systems become operational.
Of course there is still a Soyuz attached to the Space Station and it can return the crew, but that that would leave the station unmanned. Not something it is really designed for as I understand it. And even before that drastic call is made we can still send supplies up so it isn't like they would be in danger of running out of stuff.
Personally I'm very impressed with the reliability of the Soyuz system. Still I would love to have Boeing and SpaceX get certified sooner rather than later.
>Personally I'm very impressed with the reliability of the Soyuz system.
I was surprised to learn that the abort was performed manually by the Cosmonaut and that it happened after the escape tower had been jettison. They apparently used the "RUS" system that is using thrusters on the fairing.
In another thread I read the Soyuz is designed to stay in orbit for 200 days, which is in December for the one currently attached to ISS. So unless we can get a spaceship up to ISS by December, the crew has to return in December and the ISS will be left unmanned.
Can the Soyuz capsule be launched and docked while un-manned? If all doesn't go well with the investigation, they could do an un-manned launch to get an empty capsule up there to replace the currently docked capsule.
Rescheduling the SpaceX in-flight abort test would be tricky; they were planning to reuse the Dragon capsule from the uncrewed test flight, which also hasn't happened yet. (Boeing does not have an in-flight abort test scheduled at all, but they have a ground abort test pending, in addition to their uncrewed test flight -- and they otherwise seem to be further behind than SpaceX.)
It could go either way actually, depending on how people feel about potential outcomes. Things could be pushed up a bit to try to accelerate getting new crew rotation capabilities in place. Or things could be pushed back to avoid extra workload and pressure on a short-staffed station.
I love that fact that there are "usual procedures" when it comes to humans going back and forth to our 20-year-old SPACE STATION!
Maybe we don't have the space program of our dreams. But we've certainly accomplished the goal of having "routine" operations in space over a long period of time. How much have humans learned in that time!
Without heroes the public will turn against it and not give a damn about robots and computers. I think we need manned space programs to keep the momentum going. Otherwise everyone will be like "why are we in space when the homeless don't have homes". I know it's stupid logic but that the way the masses think quite often.
Most people I know were, and still are, pretty excited about Spirit and Opportunity. Those were exciting robots at the time. Especially the fact that they worked for so long! 14 YEARS. The design is validated, let's have an assembly line cranking them out and tweaking them.
Nothing in space in usual or "safe". There is always a relatively large chance that you can end up in a fireball relative to say getting on an airplane or driving to work. I wouldn't ever take space for granted at this point.
Also I believe the seats are all custom shaped for each astronaut's body. I'm sure in dire circumstances they could use a capsule that wasn't designed for them, but it's very much a case of each astronaut having a very specific seat designated for the ride home, rather than "do we have enough seats".
The custom seats mean you cannot use someone else's. You wouldnt fit (if too big) and would obstruct things. I may be possible, but would never be part of any plan. There are also weight/balance issues to consider.
I want to remind everybody that Soyuz spacecraft - including the one with the famous drilled hole in the orbital module - is manufactured in Energiya, Korolev - about an hour drive from Moscow. The Soyuz-FG rocket - the one used and malfunctioned in today's launch - is manufactured by Progress in Samara, a major industrial center on Volga river, about 17 hours by rail from Moscow. Rocket design is traced back to Energiya historically, but Progress was making them last 40+ years.
Soyuz-FG is planned to be replaced with modified version of the rocket, Soyuz-2. Soyuz-2 is already used for launches of unmanned supply ship, Progress. Yes, I know, a lot of similar names makes things confusing.
Seems like madness to me. The Soyuz is very well proven at this point. I'd happily hop straight on board the next one even after this incident, which is more than I can say for SpaceX - don't get me wrong, I have every faith in them and am personally a big fan, but the numbers are heavily in Soyuz' favour.
Even if the design is well-tested, there may be a new process issue in the rocket's construction that is undiagnosed.
Maybe there is a new person on the assembly line that doesn't know not to pinch o-rings when assembling fuel tubing? Maybe a swaging tool has worn out to the point that it is causing leaks? Maybe the vendor who supplies body panel rivets got a bad batch of aluminum? There are so may possible situations that it is not worth risking launches or lives over until a root cause has been found.
First let me agree that spaceflight is hard, even the billions that NASA spends has led to so many disasters.
The problem there is with manufacturing and quality control. They've had endless problems with other recent rockets and it's natural to think their qualty problems hit this time. Spaceflight is one of the few area where the us and Russia are cooperating and I hope this isn't the end. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2013/07/10/200775748...
I would agree for the most part. I also would want to see a successful DM1 flight before hopping aboard a crewed SpaceX flight.
But with recent events around Soyuz I'd be slightly hesitant there as well. A year ago I would have fully agreed with you, but the infamous drilled hole, now this - I'd at least wait for the investigation to return a reason of failure to be able to determine whether I'd feel safe. If it's again human error during construction, I probably wouldn't get on board.
You have to realize that USSR and early Russia launches and now are two different animals. Soviet era specialists either died or retired or are old and about to retire the new gen. are not even remotely comparable plus all corroding corruption is running rampant.
The latest messaging was actually exactly this - that they had a milestone of readiness for DM-1 set for December, but that launch couldn't happen until January because of ISS docking schedule availability. It's not a big difference, but it could shave off a few weeks on the margins.
Thats fair! I just keep seeing a lot of comments whenever something happens about how "SpaceX might get to launch sooner", and it kinda annoys me because there's a pretty well set schedule and they aren't going to cut corners just because an opportunity arose.
You are right though that scheduling might let this move up a bit.
The Chinese are excluded from the ISS. Their Tianzhou spacecraft is a direct Soyuz descendant, so it might be possible to dock it to the ISS, but this was not a part of the plan so it hasn't been designed for it, much less tested.
Plus I also don't see the Trump administration asking China for help anytime soon...
The US would collaborate with China on this if it would make financial sense. It could even be an opportunity to straight things out a bit.
That being said, I agree that it's not going to happen. First, Tianzhou is currently cargo-only, for which there are enough alternatives. Second, the US is close to getting back their own human access to space (through Boeing and SpaceX), and that would probably be ready before sufficient restructuring & testing on Tianzhou is completed.
Edit: Shenzhou is the human rated version of Tianzhou, so the main question would be whether it can dock with the ISS. (There's not just the dock itself that has to fit, but there's additional limitation on what kind of maneuverability system can be used close to the ISS). Also, the next Shenzhou flight was originally scheduled for 2018 and got delayed to 2020 - so this is highly unlikely going to be an option (No Mark-Watney-style rescue is required unless the docked Soyuz modules are 'grounded' as well)
It's sad to see them so disappointed! They were lucky as fuck considering that the incident happened approximately when the escape tower gets jettisoned (i.e. it wouldn't have been an option even if the booster RUDs), but I'd probably disappointed as well when I'm planning on getting the most amazing views possible for months, but get a short high-force roller coaster ride instead.
On one hand, it's indeed odd to hear that shit's on fire whilst the screen shows an all happy scenario; On the other hand, it's the cheaper way of doing things - instead of having to live-render the spacecraft and all telemetry that you need to get from a probably isolated system, just play a video. Trajectory and events are predetermined, so unless something goes wrong, the video is fully sufficient.
I'm reminded a bit of the moment when I learned that the action movie heroes are just actors.
I do agree on the cheap and pragmatic approach, yet they could display actual telemetry over the 3d render. Speeds do not match reality in graphs. It is not a movie but Science to me here.
I'd love to hear from a SpaceX engineer if their webcasts indeed shows live telemetry (speed / altitude) or not. Also SpaceX's webcasts illustrations looks like they run in a game engine which is both cheap and highly customizable with input data.
Yes, SpaceX puts a lot more effort into the webcasts. I don't know if their telemetry is live or precomputed (though it is likely live, see below) - but the fact that they show live feed of the rocket rather than a simulation (except for Stage 2 coasting periods where they render the spacecrafts' orbit) already gives the entire display a different feel. (At this point it's also important to note that this live feed got them into trouble once ).
I also agree with your sentiment that the movie removes a bit of the scientific aspect.
Insert here a good 30 minutes spent on watching launch footage and writing down numbers
Ok, at this point I'm deep in looking at launch footage, and I'm more disappointed by the Soyuz launch footage. Whilst it's possible that they followed the exact same launch trajectory (on paper and reality), it's unlikely: MS-08  and MS-09  had the exact same speed, altitude and downrange distance throughout the time telemetry was visible. In contrast, SpaceX showed very different telemetry during launches to the ISS (, , ). Also, it doesn't seem pre-computed: The telemetry during the CRS-7 webcast  at least doesn't just continue when the rocket explodes, indicating that it doesn't just display pre-computed numbers.
In Soyuz' defense: They probably have a different (older?) system to get telemetry, and it might bear additional challenges to feed them into a publicly accessible live-stream.
Here's a screenshot of their lowres public telemetry stream dated back to 2009 (Eutelsat W7, if I remember correctly).  Unfortunately I don't have any screenshots or recordings of the by-request one, but it had tons of info, down to the bus voltages. The L2 section of nasaspaceflight.com might have something available, but I'm not sure.
They seem to have closed it somewhere around 2014 or 2015, possibly to avoid bad publicity or speculations.
I noticed that too; My best guess is that the display just sticks to what it last knew if it doesn't get any updates, and the leaking LOX from the 2nd stage caused enough damage or interference to interrupt communication. It's at least my assumption, since the 1st stage continued to fire (i.e. accelerate) until some 8 seconds later, according to the NASA report  (Page 3)
I remember one of the live ISRO launches I was watching some 10 years ago on television, and the white blinking spot went off the parabolic curve after few seconds. I was like, "is everything OK?". Audio went into data-only dictation, no dictation and such... and than suddenly rocket exploded. I was in tears.
It amazes me how calm and collected those cosmonauts seem to be as the literal rocket they’re riding is falling apart. They’re reading out the time and levels and they’re careening back to Earth; “weightlessness in our sensations”
They have trained extensively for all kinds of events and outcomes, including this one. As Chris Hadfield noted, emotions would most likely be frustration about not being able to do the work they've trained for for months, but not panic about the launch vehicle failing.
For what it’s worth, control chart sensitivity rules are selected based on economic considerations. So the decision to use five points is influenced by both statics and how affordable it is to investigate why the control chart alerted. Sensitivity rules can be adjusted, applied, or ignored based on the specific situation and the analysts tolerance for false positives/negatives.
A single data point doesn't establish any direction or trend at all.
With two data points you can establish a trend and make a prediction about the next data point. However, any two data points form a line, so any two results can be used to make a trend, however wrong it may be.
Only when more points are used can you confirm the trend and reduce the probability of being (un)lucky.
If the worry is about the manufacturer rather than the design, then we have more than two data points. The Soyuz-2 launch vehicle, which is replacing Soyuz-FG, has about a 10% failure rate (including an ISS resupply mission in 2015). This was as far as I know the second-to-last -FG flight planned, as manufacturing has been discontinued and the -2 is the main production line now.
That's because most people don't really want a "random" playlist. They want a random shuffle: A set of songs played in random order with no repeats until all have been played. That's not the same as making independent random picks from a list, but that's what most people want when they "randomize" their playlist.
Even with three failures I would not consider it a trend unless they are related in nature. For the current trend of "basically no failures" to go to "some failures" you'd need a couple dozen failures at minimum.
That Soyuz rockets have been grounded pending investigation is also a fact, and a natural course of action for any responsible space agency. Other rockets have also been grounded after accidents. The implications for the ISS crew if future Soyuz flights do not resume on schedule are a question that many are asking, so it's hardly unusual to address it.
Given that everyone knew the astronauts were safe and nobody died, the idea that people shouldn't discuss the causes and consequences of an incident when it's still fresh in people's minds makes even less sense than usual.
The article went up in less than an hour after the accident. At that time it was only known that the crew landed and not much else. They updated the story later on with details on the crew condition, but the title you see is the original one.
The article was published 1 hour 46 minutes after the failed launch, not "less than an hour", and as reported the crew's survival was confirmed 20 minutes after the incident:
> After about 20 minutes of uncertainty, Russian officials confirmed the crew were OK, and had landed about 20km east of Dzhezkazgan, a city in central Kazakhstan. As rescue crews arrived, Hague and Ovchinin were reported in "good condition" and found out of the capsule.
The launch took place at 8:40 UTC. The article's timestamp indicates it was published at 10:26 UTC (3:26 AM PDT). That lines up with the cached copy above from 10:45 UTC, and a snapshot of Ars Technica's homepage at 10:05 UTC in which the Soyuz story had not yet appeared (with the next snapshot at 11:02 UTC showing the article, as expected): https://web.archive.org/web/20181011100529/https://arstechni...
The fact that the headline says the crew made an "emergency landing" and not a "crash" should have been a tip-off.
I saw some articles that were blaming someone on the station for making the hole. Basically blaming an American in an attempted sabotage.
I don't know if it was just sensationalist headlines or an official government stance.
While that sounds wild, there is really an article in an Russian newspaper that tells, that allegedly Roskosmos was investigating whether an American astronaut could drill the hole to return home his ill collegue sooner.
US's and Russian's modules are separate, their life systems are separate. So an emergency in one module will not impact the other.
I highly doubt it happened because for sure they have camera surveillance, it's just frustratingly dumb to accuse the others in your own shortcomings.
You're playing some weird games with numbers here. "100% if we subtract the failures" isn't 100%, and something that hasn't been tested yet doesn't really have a 0% success rate, it just doesn't have a success rate at all.
I'm not saying that Commercial Crew is "better" than the Soyuz program, but I am definitely saying that after two high profile incidents within a few weeks, I am concerned about the long term viability of relying on it for human access to space.
We continued to fly the shuttle even after it killed 14 astronauts. By measure of total astronauts killed, it was the worst spacecraft design in history. Though not sure how it ranks in deaths per flight.
We've already done ground testing, launch abort tests, etc on the commercial crew vehicles plus a reference class of space vehicle first launches. So there's no cause to fall back on the Laplacian prior.
SLS will likely never service the ISS if it flies- it is designed for deep space missions and constructing the Deep Space Gateway station in cislunar orbit. Orion also is not ready for use, and even if it was it has only been flown on the Delta IV which is not human-rated.
One other option is the Boeing CST-100, however after its engine test failure this last summer it likely won't fly this year either. But like Dragon it is thought to be almost ready.
They already said they won't rush anything because that's just as dangerous as using the Soyuz again before figuring out the reason for the failure. That said this does open up a visiting vehicle slot that Dragon could use for their unmanned test flight. That'd only push it up about a month though compared to their current estimate and would require SpaceX to be ready to launch earlier than planned.
The telemetry will tell. Rockets send back heaps of data from dozens, if not hundreds of sensors. All that is stored precisely so there's no guesswork based on a ground camera and the real-time audio needed.
Good that they cut the steam I don’t understand the criticism of them doing so if this had turned to be a disaster I don’t think the family of the astronauts would want the whole world seeing the disaster as it happens live.
Reading comprehension is a lost art i see in no where was it stated that cutting a the stream was done because of the families and friends especially solely but you need to be especially thick to reason that this isn't a consideration not to mention a benefit.
In an emergency situation it's pretty common to shut down all non official communications and direct everything through the contingency execution channels as well as to clear all non essential personnel from the room and stop all non essential activities this includes activities such as streaming and posting on instagram to the dismay of millennials everywhere.
It takes a special kind of person to think that the only reason people cut the stream during emergency is because they are trying to cover their asses, these people have dedicated their life to a job that isn't glamorous, doesn't pay well even in the US yet alone russia so yes they care about their colleagues and the people who they send up to space it's not that big of a club.
And it's in no way presumptuous to think that families and friends of those who were in the capsule might not want the world to see the events as they unfold in real time in case the worst happens. I don't think you'll find many people that would say yes I would like the screams of my loved one to be broadcast live as the spacecraft they are in crashes into a mist of fire and debris on the ground.
So yes congrats for managing to create a troll account for a single purpose of telling me exactly how wrong i was.
> There is already much discussion about the current state of Russian industry and its ability to maintain the standards of yesteryear. Whatever the outcome of the inquiry, this event will only heighten those concerns and will underline to the US in particular the need to bring online new rocket systems. These vehicles, produced by the Boeing and SpaceX companies, are set to make their debut next year.
Is it just me, or is this unnecessarily hostile writing? This is literally rocket science, and the escape mechanisms seem to have worked perfectly. And at least the Russians do have (had) a working way to get stuff to iss, so I don't think these (uncited!) accusations are called for
I agree, credit to Russia for having one of only two man rated rockets in the world. But Russia’s increasing failure rates have been an industry topic for a few years now though - it’s a valid concern.
Might be a little hostile but none of it is inaccurate. American space experts have bemoaned the fact that we have had to rely on Russia to send people to Space since retiring the Shuttle, and have discussed its impact on national security, the economy, and just our plain old scientific knowledge.
Thanks. After reading up on it more, I agree. But Since BBC did not offer any follow up links, context, quotes or other sources for their claims, it sounded like unfounded accusations (to my uninformed ears)
Sir, there was nothing political about the quoted paragraph assuming that it is accurate that the industry have been discussing russian space reliability. In fact it would be you who has politicized it now.
I'm not following news about space, and was just going from what I read. he article did not provide any context or sources for these claims. Now that HN has filled in thw gaps, it does sound like Russia might have a problem with their tech. But imo BBC should have quoted either other articles or experts on the matter when making statements like this
I'm not sure how I feel about that argument, did we really just find a place where public attacks on a person are better? I would think at most people actually involved in something that relies on the person may have a valid argument for such a thing, if it sticks to a concrete subject they actually have reason to care about. Other than that, I don't see the general public getting involved in discussions of a person (as such, in general) as a good thing.
It's amazing that the escape mechanisms worked, though we have yet to see the crew's conditions. I thought these mechanisms were only put in place to put people at ease but were never actually going to work (kind of like how the seats in commercial jets serve as flotation devices but how likely are they to be used in most flights).
I think the escape towers have always been considered as workable. The Space Shuttle had a few emergency modes that were considered as very questionable. For example there was one where they would turn the Shuttle around and fly back to the launch site which was considered as very difficult to say the least.
I think it was in 1983 but not the same mechanism, it was the Launch Escape System, this time (as far as I've read in the news) it was a failure of a stage that put the capsule in a ballistic trajectory instead of in orbit.
The LES is the only way the capsule can separate from a malfunctioning booster. That activation happened to be on the ground, so the ballistic trajectory was rather short and dominated by the velocity the LES itself imparted; but activate it for an in-flight failure like this one and you will be off on a more substantial suborbital trajectory.
I'm not sure about that - the NASA commentator says the LES tower was jettisoned pretty much at the time the booster appears to have failed. From her later comment, she doesn't seem to have seen that a failure happened until some time afterwards, even though the Russian's are clearly saying a failure happened, so I think she's reading from a script of what should be happening at that moment. So I would not treat her saying the LES tower jettison occurred as being certain.
I agree with your interpretation of the tape audio, but the 'ballistic trajectory' statements from Roscosmos/NASA tell us that it was not rocket-powered. Indications are that the anomaly happened at booster sep, which is a few seconds after LES jettison.
There is no ignition on Soyuz, because they couldn't find a reliable way to ignite the engine when it was designed so second stage works from the start, it is the central part of the rocket, and 4 boosters around it.
Second stage was shut down because of the problems with a booster separation.
My understanding is that "ballistic" means without any form of propulsion (except the initial one sending it on its way). In other words, like a projectile (or a ball), just subject to the forces of gravity and air resistance.
In other words: falling, yup.
(But note that one could "fall" upwards or sideways initially - not like Arthur Dent , but like a bullet (or indeed rocket) fired upwards).
 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy states: "There is an art to flying, or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. ... Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, that presents the difficulties."
I believe the Soyuz SAS has engine thrusters for the landing sequence. So ballistic may mean the thrusters were not operable and they may have landed a bit harder than normal (normal for an abort sequence at least). Meaning they were still under canopy, just falling at a higher impact velocity than intended. So maybe rather than a gentle landing at 5m/s it was more like a car crash at 20 m/s. Beats blowing up with the rocket or hitting the ground at terminal velocity, though, and presumably the reports of "good condition" mean there are at most some concussions and broken bones.
Wikipedia has some pertinent (and interesting) details:
> The Descent Module (Russian: Спуска́емый Аппара́т, tr. Spuskáyemy Apparát), also known as a reentry capsule, is used for launch and the journey back to Earth. Half of the Descent Module is covered by a heat-resistant covering to protect it during reentry; this half faces the Earth during re-entry. It is slowed initially by the atmosphere, then by a braking parachute, followed by the main parachute which slows the craft for landing. At one meter above the ground, solid-fuel braking engines mounted behind the heat shield are fired to give a soft landing. One of the design requirements for the Descent Module was for it to have the highest possible volumetric efficiency (internal volume divided by hull area). The best shape for this is a sphere — as the pioneering Vostok spacecraft's Descent Module used — but such a shape can provide no lift, which results in a purely ballistic reentry. Ballistic reentries are hard on the occupants due to high deceleration and cannot be steered beyond their initial deorbit burn. That is why it was decided to go with the "headlight" shape that the Soyuz uses—a hemispherical forward area joined by a barely angled (seven degrees) conical section to a classic spherical section heat shield. This shape allows a small amount of lift to be generated due to the unequal weight distribution.
So, maybe ballistic refers to the fact that no lift was generated? (A glider is not considered ballistic, even though it has no propulsion.)
An, and indeed, that's what Wiktionary says:
> ballistic entry: when an entry vehicle has only drag with no apparent lift. An axisymmetric entry vehicle would have no apparent lift if its angle-of-attack time averaged out to zero, e.g. sinusoid angle-of-attack centered or trimmed about zero lift.
>there are at most some concussions and broken bones.
If you're strapped into a bucket seat with your back to the impact it's gonna take a fuckton of Gs to break bones. The astronauts would not be in "good condition" if they experienced that kind of a landing. They would be calling it a crash at that point.
An interview on BBC Newshour said that a normal Soyuz landing could go as high as 6 G's, and max acceleration this time was 6.7 G's. So certainly on the rough side (6 G's is bad enough!) but not that far out of normal. Even a shock of 9 G's is expected to be survivable, although that would take a lot more recovery.
Ballistic in the Soyuz context means not using any aerodynamic lift, as oppposed to gliding reentry which is using lift, is controllable, and imposes much less Gs on the crew. Neither one uses any propulsion (expect for a specialized RCS which is used to control the roll while gliding).
It's not entirely clear to me why there's less acceleration on the gliding entry. It can't really be that the speed is bled off over a longer distance, right (in other words, I assume that the high-g phases are rather punctual than extended), and intuitively it would seem that, coming in at high speed, "gliding" (ie with lift) would lead to quicker deceleration than just "bleeding off" speed in the ballistic fall, ie higher g. Could you elaborate on the difference between the usual and ballistic mode, and when the high g-load occurs?
Fallen in a parabolic arc. They did have considerable horizontal velocity already at that point. The usual Soyuz descent involves a more shallow angle, with some aerodynamic lift generated by the capsule’s flat bottom, as well as (very) limited controllability using eight hydrazine thrusters around the capsule. But the great thing about the Soyuz is that even without control it can land safely if somewhat uncomfortably.
Space x and Boeing must have designed for failure at all points during launch, including this, does anyone have the details? It's impressive that the original design from so many years ago still works! There may be quality and manufacturing problems but I salute the designers, the engineers!
The reentry forces could definitely exceed 1g and usually do from orbital velocity. You're moving sideways however fast the rocket left you going, and you have fallen at 1g acceleration for some amount of time before hitting thicker parts of the atmosphere. Your velocity is now way higher than terminal velocity for that altitude and you experience acceleration (deceleration).
Whey you are falling in a vacuum, it's not 1g, but 0g. That's what they experience on orbit. When you are falling with atmosphere resistance, it can be anything. Consider yourself jumping into water. You feel weightless when you are falling, but what do you feel when you hit the water? That's what happens when you hit atmosphere at 8km/sec.
The difference is between acceleration and g-force. Falling towards earth in a vacuum (or orbiting earth in a vacuum) you are experiencing 1g of acceleration but zero-g of g-force because you and your spaceship are accelerating together and you aren't meeting any mechanical resistance to the acceleration.
Once you start hitting atmo the velocity you've built up from your 1g of freefall meeting the resistance of the atmosphere creates g-forces.
8g was probably from the parachutes deploying, although you do experience very slightly more than 1g acceleration while in freefall, as you encounter increasing air resistance (and significantly more in reentry).
I was just reading Phillip P. Peterson's Paradox - On the Brink of Eternity, which starts (mini spoiler alert) with an adventure with a Soyuz module, so when I read this news for a moment I though I was still dreaming after having fell asleep on the book.
The crucial difference is that (IIRC) in ballistic descent you don't angle the craft to gain altitude and prolong reentry.
Normally you'd slightly angle the craft downwards or upwards to alter the trajectory in the air, during reentry this allows you to stay longer at high altitudes and burn off more speed before you burn it at lower altitudes (literally).
The shape of the craft not being a wing is largely irrelevant, with sufficient speed even a brick can fly.
It's supposed to fall that way in that scenario. The Soyuz capsule is capable of generating lift during re-entry, which it usually does for a nominal orbital entry, but that's not always desired in every situation.
Escape on BFR will likely be similar to escape with Falcon 9/Crew Dragon: that is, BFS itself has more than enough thrust to very quickly distance itself from a failing BFB, and it would probably be able to land itself on a nearby but safely distant emergency landing pad.
Now an argument can be made that BFS needs an escape pod or two, but those would mostly be useful in circumstances other than failure during launch.
(For those unfamiliar, BFB = Big Falcon Booster, BFS = Big Falcon Ship. BFR is both working in unison)
The rocket doesn't need one. The spaceship does. But considering that the whole thing gets redesigned every two months I wouldn't worry too much. It's still years from flying, so plenty of time to change stuff.
The system with worst or no abort procedures is the Space Shuttle. Earlier versions had ejection seats, but they got rid of that. Imagine if they had Soyuz like capsule which can popped off. Both Challenger and Discovery crew would have been ok. No wonder they discontinued that program.
That's a great video. Around the 14 minute and 40 second point they discuss briefly ballistic return but they don't really put any details. A few minutes before that they do talk about the return. That's actually the best video I've ever seen about the specifics of returning from space. Thank you so much.
It means that the angle of descent of the capsule was much greater, so they encountered thicker atmosphere quicker than ideal, causing greater decelleration forces on the capsule than they would normally experience.
A Soyuz only fires thrusters twice during descent. Once to go from orbit to re-entry and once immediately before impact to provide a gentler landing. During descent it normally generates a bit of lift from positioning a weight inside the crew capsule which makes the CoM off center which makes the descent not-quite-ballistic. I imagine the phrase refers to that not happening here.
I've seen multiple reports that the crew's first indication of a problem was that they felt weightless and that objects in the cabin were floating. Maybe there was also an instrumentation-based warning for the crew or ground, but it's odd that nobody is mentioning it.
The hole in [the orbital module of] the docked Soyuz is on the part that is jettisoned before re-entry.
"The orbital module is a spherical portion of the Soyuz that allows more gear to go up with the spacecraft. Unlike the lower crew capsule, the orbital module does not survive re-entry into Earth's atmosphere."
everyone that thinks spacex will transport people soon is naive / drunk on hype. they are at least 5 years away from flying humans in space. depends on how many test flights they can do. you just can’t rush this. it is one domain where “move fast break things” is a bad idea.
TIL: every start is blessed by Orthodox Priest (what? :) ). They claim that only the capsules they didn't bless might crash. The very this capsule was blessed . So the Russian Church might have a hard time to explain how the crash happened :)
Hey, so... Orthodox priests bless literally everything. It's so common for them to bless things like rifles, tanks, parachutes, liquor, et cetera, that it's kind of an in-joke in Orthodox cultures and regions. But you go look online and you'll see them blessing I mean literally everything.