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Star City and the Baikonur Cosmodrome 66

First time accepted submitter zyborg writes "Here's 44 photographs of the Baikonour Cosmodrome used by the ISS program. The pictures range from training, launch vehicle transport and assembly, launch, touchdown, pictures from space, etc. From the article 'Earlier today, a Soyuz-FG rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying an International Space Station (ISS) crew into orbit. Baikonur, Russia's primary space launch facility since the 1950s, is the largest in the world, and supports multiple launches of both manned and unmanned rockets every year. With the U.S. manned space program currently on hold, Baikonur is now the sole launching point for trips to the ISS. Gathered here is a look at the facility, some of the cosmonaut training programs in Star City outside of Moscow, and a few recent launches and landings — plus a bonus: 3 spectacular long-exposure images of Earth from the ISS.'"
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Star City and the Baikonur Cosmodrome

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  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @04:28PM (#40021281)
    I've seen various tours offered in Europe and from American science institutions. Here is an upcoming one. [dmns.org] They let you get closer to the vehicles and the launch than does NASA.
  • Cold War (Score:2, Interesting)

    I'm still incredible impressed that Russia continues to support any type of Space industry, with infrastructure that looks like it hasn't changed much since the Cold War. I wonder how they afford it, and what their budget is for these projects...
    • And with a much better safety record than NASA, no less.

      • little bureaucracy?
        Wouldn't have thought I'd ever say that about Russia.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        The safety record is arguable and controversial. Many mistakes were made in both space programs and many spacemen died in accidents. Let's not start any mudslinging and just enjoy the fact that both space programs are still being funded and functioning.

        • Yes, but IIRC the Russian mistakes were mostly farther in the past. Remember, the Soyuz has been flying since, what?, 1970? For a relatively simple craft (compared to the Shuttle), that's a long time to work out all the bugs. And no, both space programs are NOT being funded and functioning, only the Russian manned program is still functioning. The Americans have thrown in the towel on theirs because they'd rather spend money on wars in the middle east and handouts to mismanaged corporations. The Americ

          • Re:Cold War (Score:4, Informative)

            by k6mfw ( 1182893 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @06:05PM (#40022309)

            Remember, the Soyuz has been flying since, what?, 1970?

            1967 was first flight which ended in a fatality, Komarov flew Soyuz 1 almost got stuck in orbit but managed to deorbit but parachute malfunctioned. It is still hotly discussed as that flight was pushed ahead by Politburo, basically management wanted to go ahead while the engineers wanted more preparation time. Then a later flight (1970?) after highly successful space station visit, three cosmonauts died when Soyuz accidently depressurized during re-entry (or seperation from the Saylut), they were not wearing pressure suits. Bad start in its early days but Soyuz has done quite well in spite of couple launch vehicle aborts and a few ballistic entries. All things considered Soyuz outlived Apollo, Shuttle, and probably Orion as well.

          • The Americans have thrown in the towel on theirs because they'd rather spend money on wars in the middle east and handouts to mismanaged corporations.

            You must have missed the "Let's not start any mudslinging" portion of the parent post.

            • No, I chose to ignore that because America deserves all the mudslinging it can get when it comes to the space program (and just about everything else in the way it's conducting itself these days).

              • I'm sure your anger and ranting has been a tremendous political boon to wherever it is you live. It seems to be working just as well over here.

                • Yes, because keeping quiet and going with the flow works so well in effecting change.

                  • They work equally well, but only one of them extends your life and reduces your stress level.

                    • by rs79 ( 71822 )

                      Oh good, somebody's in charge of other peoples stress levels. These shoes are killing me. Perhaps you can offer an opinion?

              • This has to be the daftest post I have ever read on Slashdot.

                What NASA does with its data is mind-boggling. I can't even get a weather forecast from my country until it is an hour out of date.

                In contrast what is available from the Yanks is stupendous. Archives on almost everything and acres of images presented to all for free

                There is so much data available that it would have needed the Internet to be invented if it wasn't already just to show a small proportion of it.

                I am as surprised as any that the fu

                • You're right, your post here is quite daft. You complain about NASA being slow, and then you praise "the Yanks", which presumably is NASA. What are you talking about?

                  We have something reliable and cheap: it's called "Soyuz". No, it's not as cheap as we'd like, but it's the cheapest we have, and it's quite reliable. You're probably more likely to be killed driving to work on your morning commute than you are on a Soyuz (esp. if you ignore the first few years of its history when they were still working th

            • The Americans have thrown in the towel on theirs because they'd rather spend money on wars in the middle east and handouts to mismanaged corporations.

              You must have missed the "Let's not start any mudslinging" portion of the parent post.

              And who put him in charge today?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by tverbeek ( 457094 )

        The Soviet/Russian space program's safety record isn't all that great either. They've also had two in-flight accidents that resulted in the loss of all hands (but with crews of only 1 and 3, so a smaller body count). Taken as a percentage of launches, this gives them about the same failure rate as NASA.

        • The Shuttle only stayed up for a few days, the Russians had permanent presence for year after year.

          Oh and launches? The Russians never stopped their and still going. The Americans are begging for rides.

          Steve Jobs did not have a reality distortion field, he was just an American in America.

          • The fact that NASA has discontinued manned space launches doesn't make their safety record any worse. How many people died because of it? Or were hurt? What kind of loopy argument is that? On the contrary, cancelling an entire launch system due to safety concerns (and other factors) demonstrates that they are being (perhaps overly) cautious.

            Yes, it's certainly true that the Russians have logged a lot more time in space than Americans. But do you really want to get into a comparison of all the not-quite

        • by rs79 ( 71822 )

          It's fucking space. It's gonna be hard and people are gonna die. That's why it's called "exploration" not "a vacation".

          Look on the bright side. They both have a better safety record that Star Trek.

    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      Why fix what is not broken?
      The Shuttle was a fix for something that was not broken and it took us more 20 years to ditch it.

      • Re:Cold War (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @05:14PM (#40021805)
        The shuttle as promised and the shuttle as delivered were not the same craft. The original idea was that it was a rocket-assist plane that could land and be turned around to fly again in a matter of days or weeks, and that shuttles would be constantly flying, likely more than one mission at a time.

        There have also been discussions that American military/industrial/aerospace developments weren't really because we wanted to push the boundaries of what we could do, but that we wanted to get the Russians to try to do something that they couldn't afford. If you look at the idea of defensive platforms in space, coupled with the shuttle, the aerial laser, and other ideas, you have an extremely expensive set of tech to develop. Not so expensive that the US couldn't afford to expend resources in those directions, but that possibly the Russians couldn't but would try anyway, ultimately breaking their own economy in the process. Given the way the Soviet Union broke up, it arguably worked.
        • by dbIII ( 701233 )

          Given the way the Soviet Union broke up, it arguably worked.

          That's the "tiger stone" argument. Ask a few people from the former USSR and you'll probably get the same impression I did - the place was going to fall apart on it's own no matter what was going on outside.

          • My passport says "place of birth: USSR", though I was just a kid when it was gone.

            Anyway, from what little I remember, and from what my parents told me, it didn't have to fall apart, but it did have to change. The economy was basically not working as it were, a huge centrally planned thing based on bogus data and producing bogus results. There were two ways to go from there: a gradual transformation to a market economy with broad government control to ensure that it still works in the interests of the state

            • The modern Russia seems like a legit Soviet Union after some changes (like some Warsaw Pact countries *before* their velvet revolutions in 1990). They reused practically single-party parliamentary system (United Russia in place of the CPSU), a major presence of former elites in power circles, the General Secretary directly swapped with the President (even with the strange and embarrasing duality of the President and Premier Minister as in General Secretary and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of old
              • socially oriented economy with a huge amount of government presence

                I don't see that. There's certainly a huge amount of govt presence, but it's there to make life easier for big business (which itself is the government, by and large), not to make the economy "socially oriented". On the contrary, social services are being reduced every year.

                So that's one big difference - it's state capitalism now, not state socialism as it was in the USSR.

                you should count the modern days Russia not as a failed attempt to rebuild itself from scratch as a normal democratic country (played with a liberal values but rejected them)

                But it did experiment with liberal values in the 90s and rejected them...

    • Re:Cold War (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @04:50PM (#40021553)

      I think you've already answered your own question. If you don't change your infrastructure much, there's not so much to afford, as it's already mostly paid for; you just have to pay for ongoing operational costs.

      And selling pricey tours of everything probably helps with the budget too. The Russians are proving to be much better capitalists than the Americans.

      • That is an excellent point. My knowledge of Russian industrial development is pretty much nil, but maintaining that equipment and keeping it integrated with modern systems seems like it would be a fairly major undertaking. But the groundwork is the hardest part.
    • Unlike US, Russia didn't go full in on an expensive replacement program like the Shuttle. One problem with the latter was that it made all launches that much more expensive compared to the older but simpler Soyuz.

    • by osu-neko ( 2604 )

      KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) is a principle that applies to more than just computer programming. Russian engineers understand this principle, NASA often appears not to. Hence, Russia has an affordable space program, NASA, not so much...

      • Russian engineers understand this principle, NASA often appears not to.

        Which makes perfect sense if you realize that post-Apollo NASA is really just a jobs program/money funnel for politically-connected contractors.

  • Is this the launch that carried one of the cast of Big Bang Theory into orbit??? I could swear I watched this last week.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      Yes, but he was not sent up for a telescope. He was sent up to negotiate with some hyperintelligent mice to trade the Answer for some new matter-antimatter propulsion technology to enable mankind to travel across the Eighth Dimension and retrieve the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

      Swear to god!
  • by k6mfw ( 1182893 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @05:54PM (#40022199)

    Little while ago I talked with someone who had opportunity to sit inside a Soyuz, he is a tall guy and barely fit in the entry seat. Someone else mentioned they sit in beanbags like in the 1960s as not sure orientation vehicle will hit the ground. On Dennis Tito's flight, retros fired close to ground (as they should) but capsule was more horizontal due to parachute swing (shouldn't be like that) so capsule hit ground in not so much of a soft landing (so I was told). Also heard they pack firearms (and cosmonaut training includes firearms training) as cannot guarentee they will land in a friendly country (and even in Russia there are areas of where bandits rule).

    Other than that, interesting collection of pictures. I was thinking they could hire some people to clean up rusty scraps of metal scattered about (or maybe they are all broke and still a miracle Russia has a space program).

    • Re:interesting pics (Score:4, Informative)

      by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @11:52PM (#40024797) Journal

      Also heard they pack firearms (and cosmonaut training includes firearms training) as cannot guarentee they will land in a friendly country (and even in Russia there are areas of where bandits rule).

      As usual, the reality is much more mundane. They pack firearms because they can land into miles and miles of wilderness, which on a lot of Russian territory means dangerous fauna such as wolves, boars and brown bears. Hence why the gun they've originally used - TP-82 [wikipedia.org] - was a typical "survival gun": double-barreled small caliber shotgun combined with a single barrel 5.45x39; a lot like the American M6 survival carbine [wikipedia.org] used by USAF for similar reasons.

      Apparently, it was introduced after the Voskhod 2 messed-up landing - they missed their projected landing point by almost 400 km, ended up in taiga in the middle of Urals, and had to wait for a day before the rescue parties have located them and managed to get helicopters through bad weather. When Leonov got back, he complained that they could really use some decent firearms onboard for situations like that.

    • by Berl ( 2637287 )
      I've sat in a Soyuz and talked to several people who have flown in them. The landing was described as "like being in a car crash", but much like NASCAR drivers, the combination of seat design and restraints keeps you safe. The seats are custom fit to each astronaut and ride on controlled crush shock/suspension system. They do have a pretty cool gun in the survival kit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TP-82). I think the intent is that it be used against wild animals such as bears or wolves, and for hunting fo
  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @06:08PM (#40022333) Homepage Journal

    There's not much that can drag my ass out of bed at 5AM on a Saturday, but the first launch of Space Age 2.0 [wired.com] rises to that level.

  • What's all that rubble in the foreground? Was that as far as a previous Soyuz made it?

  • by Elrond, Duke of URL ( 2657 ) <JetpackJohn@gmail.com> on Thursday May 17, 2012 @05:26AM (#40025843) Homepage

    My gallery on my university/work machine has a great collection of albums documenting a trip to Baikonur and the Cosmodrome. They were taken by Chuck, a friend of mine and retired engineer, during his trip there for the launch of ECHO. This was an AmSat (amateur radio) relay satellite. He took a great deal of photos covering the flights, the locations, the integration and launch of the satellite, and some other interesting places in Baikonur.

    ECHO Launch Campaign [arizona.edu]

    I also had a satellite launched from the Cosmodrome. I worked on the University of Arizona's Cubesat Project and wrote all of the onboard code controlling the satellite. In the end we built four satellites, three of which were completely functional. There was RinconSat 1 and 2, AlcatelSat, and an engineering model. The cubesats are small 10cm cubic satellites with a control/computer board, power board, radio board, an array of 24 sensors, and an array of solar panels on the outside frame.

    The hardware was quite simple, but we didn't need anything super fancy. The computer board had a PIC microcontroller and using the I2C bus could communicate with two 32 kB FRAM (ferromagnetic RAM) storage chips, a clock chip (which kept time in binary coded decimal), and the sensors. Unfortunately, at the time there were no FOSS PIC compilers so we had to use a Windows/DOS/command line compiler which was really lousy, but we managed to work around the bugs as we found them.

    I was very happy with our final results. We did a great deal of testing on the ground and did radio testing by taking the satellite up to the top of a nearby mountain and then communicating with it from our groundstation. The onboard code supported one- and two-way communication and had several modes of operation. It had a default mode in case communication could not be established, a real-time mode that would broadcast a constant stream of sensor readings for a period of time while the satellite was overhead, and a regular mode that would collect readings based on a schedule and store them in the FRAM storage which you could then later command the satellite to transmit to you.

    After many delays, we finally got a launch opportunity. We sent RinconSat 2 and AlcatelSat to CalPoly where they were integrated with other cubesats into the launch mechanism. They then sent them to the Baikonur Cosmodrome for the launch. At first, everything seemed to be going well, but we soon found out that it was far from well. The first stage of the rocket failed to separate and the rocket crashed 70 km downrange in a flaming crater, destroying all of the cubesats as well as the far more expensive primary payload (some sort of communications satellite). Sigh...

    We don't have any sort of web site, sadly, but one of these days I need to gather up all the photos, documents, source code, and other random stuff I still have access to and make a nice web page for our late satellites.

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer