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Russian Cargo Spacehip Declared Lost 108

schwit1 writes: The Russians have declared lost the Progress freighter that had been launched to the ISS yesterday. They never could regain control of the craft, plus it was in an incorrect orbit. Moreover, the U.S. Air Force has detected debris nearby, suggesting a significant failure of some kind. The Russians are now considering delaying the next manned launch, scheduled for May 26, while they investigate this failure. Both Soyuz and Progress use some of the same systems, including the radar system that failed on Progress, and they want to make sure the problem won't pop up on the manned mission. At the same time, they are also considering advancing the launch date of the next Progress to ISS from August 6. Based on these reports, I think they might swap the launch dates for the two flights. A Dragon is scheduled to go to ISS in between these missions, though that schedule could be changed as well to accommodate the Russian plans.
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Russian Cargo Spacehip Declared Lost

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  • Well... (Score:1, Flamebait)

    So much for the superiority of Russian rockets
    Maybe they can make nice with Ukraine and get them to build some for them

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      But 7 astronauts didn't die due to the snafu; only their dinner.

      • Re:Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by garyisabusyguy ( 732330 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @05:11PM (#49580643)

        Yeah, I'll give you that one. Of course it would not have been an issue for us either if we were still using 1960's technology
        Just imagine how much mass we could have launched into orbit by now if we sunk all of the Shuttle money into Saturn V's

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          That's an interesting idea. Could we have used all the shuttle money to have launched enough stuff to have a huge space station in orbit by now, possibly with a large interplanetary ship we assembled in space?

          Or does stuff in space kind of rot away into unusableness and what we'd really have is a huge floating derelict that wouldn't be fixable?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            NASA drew up all sorts of plans for Space Stations, NERVA based space craft, etc all based on the idea that they would have an impressive ability to launch material into orbit.

            The break-even point for cost and materials between the Shuttle and Saturn V was one Shuttle launch a week, a number that we never came close to attaining.

            I remember the Skylab, which was a school-bus sized space station that could go up with a single Saturn V launch that stayed in orbit for six years even though we only occupied it f

            • Saturn V is the ride to orbit, not the vehicle for the astronauts. You can't just count the cost of Saturn V against the shuttle, you need to count the cost of one or more vehicles that were never built, because the Apollo would not have been sufficient to the task.

          • That's an interesting idea. Could we have used all the shuttle money to have launched enough stuff to have a huge space station in orbit by now, possibly with a large interplanetary ship we assembled in space?

            Actually, we could have taken the orbiter main tanks to orbit, they had enough fuel lying around in them when we were done with them to do that. There was a proposal to do it and everything.

      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @05:17PM (#49580687) Homepage Journal

        Soyuz has killed its own astronauts. Progress is an unmanned Soyuz.

        Crew Dragon and Falcon will kill astronauts too. Much as I cheer for SpaceX and hope for a wonderful future, this really is rocket science and people will die. That is the price we pay.

        • Re:Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @06:06PM (#49580999)

          Which is why China may well become a future leading nation in manned space research. When America loses a few astronauts, they shut down the program for the best part of a decade and spend hundreds of millions in investigation and refinement. When China loses someone, they'll carry on with the next launch while investigating quietly, then hold a ceremony to remember the patriotic sacrifice and remind the people what those lives were risked for.

          • Then that will be a lot of dead taikonauts. Corruption and deceit run deep in Chinese industries. Material failure isn't an option, nor should orbiting coffins.

            • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

              Corruption and deceit run deep in Chinese industries.

              They also don't hesitate to shoot people, especially when something public and embarrassing happens. I'd think that there wouldn't be all that much dishonesty in the space program as opposed to say, dog food for export.

              • The Apple Watch just suffered a massive setback. There's a component failure that's traced to China. Japanese side seems just fine.

                Ok, so lives weren't directly on the line, but the livelyhood of the employees were. When you fuckup with Apple, there are no second chances. In fact, this has to anger CCP officials very much.

                Taking action after the fact means squat; especially if it's a habitual cultural attitude against excellence and quality.

          • Re:Well... (Score:5, Informative)

            by thrich81 ( 1357561 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @06:54PM (#49581339)

            Modded up by somebody but contradicted by the facts. []. After the loss of Challenger there was a gap of 2 years 8 months until the next Shuttle launch. After the loss of Columbia there was a gap of 2 years 6 months until the next Shuttle launch. Neither of which qualifies as "the best part of a decade". Prudent amounts of time to do the investigation of failure of such a complex and expensive system and implement changes to reasonably reduce risk of another loss going forward. Even during the space race days of Apollo when greater risks were accepted, the gap between the planned launch of Apollo 1 and the actual flight of Apollo 7 was 1 year 8 months. Anyone who tries to go quicker or tries to cheap out on the investigation after a loss is likely to lose another crew shortly thereafter which will really shut a program down.

          • Yeah, yeah. I've been hearing this crap for a while. Putting China's ability to not give a crap about its people on a pedestal as something to be revered and voted as insightful no less. The U.S. space program has accomplished more than all other countries combined with respect to space exploration. We've even become so good at it that companies are now solely taking over many of the near earth tasks that used to be solely in the realm of NASA and its cost+ contracts. We'll have vacationers on Mars before C

            • by dbIII ( 701233 )
              So you are comparing 50+ years of work kickstarted by even earlier stuff (Von Braun's body is a moulderin' in the ground so we aint got the moon no more) with something that started relatively recently?
              Blind patriotism is good for parades, but for this not so much, because the Chinese are going to use Russian, European and American stuff to get the job done just like Americans are using Russian stuff now.
              • China's space program is several decades old, kickstarted by missile programs in the 50s, and drawing significantly on Soviet help and designs. Their first human in orbit was 12 years ago (note that NASA sent people to the moon in less time after its first person in orbit). For all that time and help, it's not very impressive. They're behind India in unmanned flight and not showing any apparent progress in manned flight. Occasionally publishing ambitious papers saying they want to go to the moon/mars doesn'

                • by dbIII ( 701233 )

                  note that NASA sent people to the moon in less time

                  WTF? Do you really know so little about modern history that you do not know why? If you do, it's pretty fucking insulting to assume I do not and pull a fast one just so you can blow some patriotic bugle or similar shit.
                  It's all a flimsy excuse to compare apples to aardvarks anyway. It's funny how you are comparing it to NASA in the 1960s and not the modern, much smaller, internationally spread NASA of today.

          • It's said that making a mistake in manufacturing work on equipment for the Russian space program could have consequences a lot worse than just being fired.

            It's true that we place more value on lives of famous astronauts lost than we place on all of those people inconveniently freezing to death because they have nowhere to sleep but our city sidewalks, etc. Nobody's holding a years-long investigation about them.

            And I am totally, totally pissed off at all of the news coverage that goes to a few westerners kil

          • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

            When America loses a few astronauts, they shut down the program...

            Actually that may be a good thing. Robot probes are far better science for the buck. Let other nations do the costly and risky "tests" on humans in space.

            With the same money, we could have soon* had robotic probes visiting nearby stars and their planets by now traveling in nuclear powered rockets going 15% the speed of light.

            And a boat probe on a Titan lake, a submarine bot in Europa, rock samples from Mars and Venus, etc. etc. etc.

            We'll be w

            • You do know that science isn't the only reason to go to space, don't you?

              There is the issue of continuing the existence of the Human race, and whatever other life we choose to bring with us.

              Planets and suns aren't sure things, you know. We sort of take ours for granted, but there is the evidence of the sky around us. And the ominous silence of a galaxy that should be filled with intelligent life...

              • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

                Planets and suns aren't sure things, you know. We sort of take ours for granted, but there is the evidence of the sky around us. And the ominous silence of a galaxy that should be filled with intelligent life...

                Well unless you're planning to live underground and powering your colony by magic, there's nowhere even near hospitable in this solar system. And you can forget traveling to any other star system. So yeah, we sort of ARE stuck here.

                • there's nowhere even near hospitable in this solar system

                  Thats why you build it and launch it into space.

                  One day billions of human beings will live on millions of space stations, each its own island in the void between your limited only-gravity-wells imagination.

                • Actually I was thinking nuclear power rather than magic.

                  I agree with the other commenter, there will be lots of people living in space if they can only get there. Mars is a good start.

              • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

                We are far from ready to colonize space. It's my opinion we need to wait for technology to catch up to make it practical. We are prematurely blowing our wad.

                • I am not confident that the world will remain a hospitable place for life until we are ready by your standard.

                  Getting the resources and people there is very close to being within our technical capability. The task ourselves, if we perform it, will take care of the remaining gaps.

                  Creating a self-sustaining colony outside of the Earth's environment is going to need a lot of work, but it is not work that can ever be achieved on this earth. We have to actually put people in space to achieve this. Our best exper

                  • The Earth is going to remain by far the most hospitable place in the Solar system for hundreds of millions of years, no matter what we do to the planet. Until the Sun gets a lot hotter, it's going to be much easier to live on Earth than on Mars.

                    • With some optimism that might only be thousands of years rather than hundreds of Millions.

                      But it's only necessary for Earth to be uninhabitable for a short time to end the Human race. And that can happen due to man or nature, today. If people aren't somewhere else during that process, that's the end.

                    • So, what could we do to make the Earth less habitable than, say, Mars? Driving the temperature to something like -50C won't do it. Blasting 90% of the atmosphere wouldn't. Unleashing large amounts of radiation wouldn't do it. I'm really having a hard time thinking of what would.

                    • I am having an equally hard time thinking of how Earth is more habitable than Mars while atomic bombs are going off or impactors are impacting. If you wait a while, sure it's more habitable than Mars. But for that moment, no.

            • Robot probes are far better science for the buck

              The Apollo manned missions returned 2200 moon rocks, soil, and core samples weighing 382 kilograms. Soviet lunar probes returned 2 samples of soil weighing 0.362 kilograms. The Apollo program cost $20 billion. The Luna program's estimated cost was $4.5 billion.

              So we spent 4.5x the money and got 1000x the samples. Whether the "science" was better because of this is debatable, but at least by one measure, your theory doesn't necessarily pan out.

              To me, the advantage of probes is that, individually, they ar

            • A probe with 1970s technology would be about as intelligent as a snail.

            • How do you propose to get an interstellar probe up to 15% of C? Particularly with 1970s technology? The Project Orion designs at the time called for over a century to get to Alpha Centauri. The upper limit would be something like 10% C, which means that by pushing the technology and not having any failures we'd still not have that probe launched in 1975 do its flyby of Alpha C, passing through in a few days with 1975-era remote sensors. (Providing the ability to slow down at the end would be incredibly

          • You are right. It didn't even slow them down when they killed about 500 people due to crappy range safety.


            • The long-run difference is that China does not give up on technology after a failure occurs. They learn by it and press on. Lately, we have been giving up even when the failure is totally imaginary (No GMOs because Jenny McCarthy!). That's why they have a functioning network of bullet trains while we don't.

          • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

            Astronauts are expensive. They have highly valuable skills and training is costly.
            Even if you neglect the value of human life, it is still a huge loss. And you'd better make sure it doesn't happen again.

        • In fact, as musk says that if we do not lose somebody, it means we are not pushing enough.
      • But 7 astronauts didn't die due to the snafu

        Not yet. They don't seem to know where it is, so who knows what it could bump into.

        I'm a bitt worried, because I'm posting right now from from the IS$. '@Ã: m:;,:
        no carrier

    • by Anonymous Coward

      All of these recent failues (including the U.S. ones) give some insight
      into the Apollo program's amazing success (except for 13) in the U.S.

      Space ain't easy, completely unforgiving, and rude!

      • by tsqr ( 808554 )

        All of these recent failues (including the U.S. ones) give some insight into the Apollo program's amazing success (except for 13) in the U.S.

        If you're looking for Apollo failures, Apollo 1 was rather more significant as failures go than Apollo 13. At least in 13, nobody died.

      • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @06:56PM (#49581357)

        All of these recent failues (including the U.S. ones) give some insight into the Apollo program's amazing success (except for 13) in the U.S.

        Umm, Apollo had two failures (1 & 13). Out of 17 Apollos (not all of which carried crew). So a failure rate of 11% or so....

        As opposed to Shuttle's failure rate (two shuttles of 133 flights) of 1.5%.

        Admittedly, Soyuz also had two failures, of 117 flights (as I recall - could be off by a few), which amounted to a failure rate of 1.7% or so.

        Oh, look! Shuttle had a lower failure rate than either Apollo or Soyuz! How is that possible?!

        • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

          So a failure rate of 11% or so....

          Ahh numbers. Yeah, as far as the crew of Apollo 1 is concerned, the failure rate was 100%.

          • I'm not sure I'd count Apollo 1 as a flight incident, there wasn't even fuel in the rest of the rocket. It was a training/simulation accident, more of a systems integration failure than a flight accident. So in my view Apollo only suffered ONE serious in flight failure and even though we nearly lost the crew, this failure only really cost the mission. As a system it's record is pretty darned good, considering how far out on the bleeding edge of technology it was in it's day.
    • We could send up a shuttle to retrieve it ... oh ... mothballs.

    • What for? Ukrainian plumbing is probably responsible for the Antares failure last year. Besides, I don't think Ukraine can build this kind of hi tech anymore since they've sold everything they have inherited from the USSR in the past 25 years. Yuzhmash - the one who built Zenit you've mentioned - might close soon, for years they have been earning more money with repairing and building trolley buses than with rockets. I was in Ukraine last week (know some people there and am interested in the aerospace as an

    • Yeah like NASA has such a great success rate (Apollo 1, Challenger, Columbia). Bearing in mind the Soyuz and Progress are pretty much based on 1960's designs actually they’ve got a fantastic success record one which NASA should be envious. Not that the Soviets have never lost anyone but let’s face it they haven’t stopped sending people into space since Gagarin whereas NASA has a lot of big Gaps.
  • by hort_wort ( 1401963 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @05:01PM (#49580575)

    I've lost so many Kerbals and I only played one afternoon. Rocket science is hard.

    • by MacTO ( 1161105 )

      As the investigation reveals that someone in mission control loaded KSP onto the Progress computers to make piloting the craft for a bit of fun ...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is laughing all the way to the bank!

    • When is Dragon gonna be human rated?

      • Re:Elon Musk (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @05:36PM (#49580795) Homepage Journal

        The first big test is next week. They will do a crew escape test from a scaffold, rather than a rocket, with the Crew Dragon getting away from an assumed "exploding rocket" on its Super Draco thrusters, and landing safely for the presumed crew. I doubt the capsule is reusable for much other than drop tests after an escape, and soft ground landings for the capsule are not scheduled to be a feature until well after the start of its manned use.

        There will be a full escape test after this, perhaps later this year, in which the rocket is launched and the capsule escapes at Max-Q. Something like the "Little Joe II" test for the Saturn 5 when I was a kid.

        • Make that "Little Joe II test for the Apollo capsule". The Saturn V sat that one out :-)

        • The maxq test is supposed to be June 7th.
          • Is anyone still taking June 7 seriously? And where is it supposed to happen now? Cape Caneveral instead of Vandenberg? I would certiainly drive down if they held it at Vandenberg. I was there for the first try on DISCOVR.

            The first test was supposed to come off much earlier than May. There are both commercial launches and government ones in the way, and there was the Helium pressurization issue which put some things off schedule.

            • Bruce, it is at vandenberg. The launch vehicle is already there, and has been tanked 1 already.
              In addition, it is only using 3 engines, not all 9. As such, it is thought that it was a converted grasshopper.

              The launch pad abort was supposed to have happened long ago, and then I had heard Feb, and then april and now a NET of May 5th.

              As to the delays, yeah, most, if not all, was caused by spaceX focusing on getting their launch rate way up, along with the 2 failed landings. But, in light of NASA's dickin
              • Obviously I am missing something, then. Please fill me in on your better information sources. Email to bruce at perens dot com if you don't want to put them on Slashdot.

                It's time to start planning another trip to Lompoc. The Motel 6 was sort of yukky last time. Maybe I'll try something else. There was an official visitor observation site that I found and got into last time, but that was for the Delta, and it was on Pad 4 if I remember correctly. This one is all the way on the other side of the base on Pad 7

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Russians are putting hips into space now?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Spacehip" sounds like something 'Buzz' Aldrin had replaced....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @05:16PM (#49580685)
    If the rocket is heading towards an extinct volcano, I suspect Blofeld [].
  • hey, y'all, watch this!
  • Nobody? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @05:31PM (#49580771)

    Nobody's going to say it? Oh, ok then, I'll do it.

    That's progress for you!

  • by turp182 ( 1020263 ) on Wednesday April 29, 2015 @05:56PM (#49580925) Journal

    Since all that was lost was supplies (while critical, there are future shipments and I'm sure they have emergency procedures to send up supplies if needed), it's not crass to say "Go Space-X".

    There are multiple players in the game of space, and Space-X is the one I root for, they get me excited and are very ambitious.

    I watched a few space shuttle launches live while telecommuting, and watching Space-X attempt a rocket recovery is just as exciting. Maybe even more so since it is something that has never been tried. They didn't fail by much last time, and there were explosions!!!

    Anyway, I wish the crew of the ISS health and no need for good luck (planning, prep, and execution, but please no need for luck).

  • Sucks for Russia, Nasa, and the ISS. For the loss, that's a lot of cash and cargo.

    But this is great news for SpaceX and all other private space industry companies! They seemingly have a better record so far!

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

      For the loss, that's a lot of cash and cargo.

      Every ounce of it insured. Sucks for the insurance company but hey, they'll adjust the premiums accordingly.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Reality is space is a harsh place and with out an atmosphere to burn up large number of veyr high velocity bits of rock, anything you put into space unless it is heavily armoured, stands a pretty good chance of being struck. Now I have heard absolute volumes of crap about how good private enterprises is (even in the face of history and the millions of private enterprises that have gone bankrupt, the core principle of private enterprise the losers must be destroyed otherwise you can not have winners) but so

  • In this article [] about the lost supply craft, there's a picture of the inside of the ISS. In the article's picture, look at all of the exposed cables! I guess that's why the astronauts are sort of locking their arms in front of themselves - so they don't accidentally pull out a cable.

    In the movie [] The Reluctant Astronaut, Don Knotts accidentally kicked a computer tape, as he was floating around in the capsule. Then he got peanut butter all over the tape, as he was putting it back onto its reel. Heh.

  • The Dragon launch may be rescheduled... to avoid space debris. the orbit the craft was in ended up too high; that junks going to be up there a loooooong time.

    • Not that long. Depending on what the solar cycle does, Earth's atmosphere expands out far enough to drag this stuff down within weeks/months. Not years/decades.

      Even at 250 miles above sea level (which is around the orbital altitude of the ISS), you have to regularly boost your orbit or get dragged down for reentry.
  • Debris field detected..

    "the U.S. Air Force has detected debris nearby, suggesting a significant failure of some kind..."

    Equip Tinfoil Hats!

    A conspiracy is afoot!

  • He wanted to sell me a bunch of dehydrated powdered food (slightly scorched).

When I left you, I was but the pupil. Now, I am the master. - Darth Vader