Russia has concerns for SpaceX safety for docking to ISS

Apr 26, 2011 By Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today
A concept drawing of the Dragon spacecraft approaching the ISS. Credit: SpaceX

While a test of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft docking capabilities with the International Space Station is tentatively scheduled for December, 2011, Russia has said it will not allow a SpaceX vehicle to dock with the ISS unless its safety is fully tested. “We will not issue docking permission unless the necessary level of reliability and safety is proven,” said Alexei Krasov, head of the human spaceflight department of Roscosmos. “So far we have no proof that those spacecraft duly comply with the accepted norms of spaceflight safety.”

NASA has not yet commented on the statement by Krasov, which was reported by the Russian media.

has requested NASA to authorize the in December after another test flight of the Dragon sometime this summer. As it stands now, approximately twelve cargo resupply flights are planned by SpaceX through 2015, and SpaceX CEO has said he would like to start crewed flights by 2016.

Some critics are viewing Russia’s objections as having little to do with safety and more to do with the monopoly it will have for access to the ISS once the shuttle program concludes later this summer. Russia has raised its going rates for ferrying US astronauts to the space station on the Soyuz space craft and for bringing cargo with the Progress craft resupply ship.

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User comments : 21

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jscroft
2.8 / 5 (4) Apr 26, 2011
So far we have no proof that those spacecraft duly comply with the accepted norms of spaceflight safety.


Blow it out the hawsepipe, Russkies. Do you suppose any stupid statist bureaucrats are going to prevent Dragon from docking with Sundancer? (www.bigelowaerosp...cer.php)

State-sponsored space exploration is a rapidly losing proposition.
epsi00
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 26, 2011
State-sponsored space exploration is a rapidly losing proposition.


Right. Now is the time to privatize space exploration. The taxpayers have been funding it for a long long time and now that they got it to work to almost perfection, let's give it ( or sell it cheaply ) to some private corporations so that they can benefit from that long term investment by taxpayers.
fmfbrestel
3 / 5 (2) Apr 26, 2011
So far we have no proof that those spacecraft duly comply with the accepted norms of spaceflight safety.

Duh? That is why NASA is (rightly) making them jump through a million hoops. Russia just wants to assert some authority, but by the time NASA certifies Dragon, Russia will too.
fmfbrestel
4 / 5 (4) Apr 26, 2011
So far we have no proof that those spacecraft duly comply with the accepted norms of spaceflight safety.

Yeah, and neither does NASA right now. Which is why they are putting Dragon through a million tests right now, and wont stop until they are dully satisfied. Dragon wont get the green light to dock until they have done approaches and aborts on orbit, just like progress, just like ATV, just like H-II. By the time NASA certifies Dragon to dock, Russia will fall in line.
fmfbrestel
5 / 5 (1) Apr 26, 2011
damn site is buggy. I posted the first response, and got nothing but a screen of HTML, and assumed it failed. Sorry for the (sorta) double post.
navair
4 / 5 (5) Apr 26, 2011
Great, Russia telling us that SpaceX's system is unqualified...Does anyone remember TORU? It was a manual backup system for docking the Progress Resupply Spacecraft to the MIR Space Station, and the control input time delays it exhibited during final approach, along with poor video surveillance quality, caused Progress M-34 to strike the Spektr module, which began to depressurize and had to be sealed off permanently. Russian Technical Expertise!
joefarah
4 / 5 (4) Apr 26, 2011
The docking is actually performed by the Canadarm2 by taking the spacecraft and inching it into the docking mechanism. Safety docking/seal-checks will be performed in tests prior to flight. If there is bureaucratic rejection of sufficient real-deal seal testing, the ISS should seal off (internally) the US portion of the spacecraft to which the Dragon will dock in order to unload cargo after performing leak checks.

The Russians should be rightly concerned about safety. However, they had better make their specific concerns known clearly up front, rather than trying to de-certify on a whim. They are right to be concerned that SpaceX will deliver cargo and personnel to the ISS at a far lower price than Progress/Soyuz. However, there is room for them to be competitive and lower their prices too. After all, they were willing to ferry tourists for $20M.
Husky
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 26, 2011
the russians are concerned that it will actually work well as planned
LKD
3 / 5 (4) Apr 26, 2011
Duh? That is why NASA is (rightly) making them jump through a million hoops. Russia just wants to assert some authority, but by the time NASA certifies Dragon, Russia will too.


They like getting American dollars to fly our astronauts into space. I am sure this statement is all political and economic with a hint of safety.

Sigh, when did I turn so cynical?
Javinator
4 / 5 (4) Apr 26, 2011
How could eyebrows not raise about motives when Russia is suddenly raising safety concerns?
J-n
5 / 5 (1) Apr 26, 2011
i suspect there was heavy gov investment in their space program when the usa announced that the shuttle's life was over. Now, realizing the plan all along was to get private companies to take over the shuttling tasks the Russians are doing their best to protect their investments.

There may actually be safety concerns. I am not sure how they would be different than the concerns over any other craft docking to the space station though.
Silver_the_Fox
2 / 5 (4) Apr 26, 2011
Okay, normally, I'd be on all on your sides, I am, but Dissing Ruskies and pointing fingers at them is kinda rubbing me the wrong way... Just saying, that aside, If we privatize anything Russia, or anyone for that matter, has a monopoly (or close to) in, they are going to freak out over it.

For example: You are the onl gas station for 2 counties, suddenly the govt wants to build one that only they control right next door to you for cheaper, not to mention a bigger station than yours. Would you freak out over that? (impossible as the scenario may seem due to anti-monopoly laws, commerce laws, etc.) Answer Yes or No.
Justsayin
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 26, 2011
articles.baltimoresun.com/1997-06-26/news/1997177014_1_station-mir-aboard-mir-mir-crew

sound familiar? Talking about calling the kettle black.
Beard
5 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2011
@Silver
An old rusting gas station with dirty bathrooms can overcharge us for gas because they are the only ones in town.

A new sleek gas station is built nearby and charges half the price because they are more efficient and have a better design.

I would be pretty pissed if I was the owner of the old station, and would probably try and scare people by saying the new guys are inexperienced and unsafe, but I am only one person in a town of thousands, all of whom now benefit.
frajo
not rated yet Apr 27, 2011
A new sleek gas station is built nearby and charges half the price because they are more efficient and have a better design.
That's what the owner tells the villagers and nearly everyone trusts the nice guy.
Only a few old people remember the owner's not-so-trustworthy background and are afraid of a new Potemkin trick.
Silver_the_Fox
1 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2011
All I did was put forth a scenario which mirror images the situation above. So why'd I get a bad vote on it?

Actually Questioning for once...
Silver out.
panorama
not rated yet Apr 27, 2011
All I did was put forth a scenario which mirror images the situation above.

To say your "scenario" was a "mirror image" of the one above is reaching at best. The phrase false analogy comes to mind. Also, your question relies heavily on a very subjective term, "freak out". What does "Freak Out" mean, besides being one of the best albums of the 20th century?
J-n
5 / 5 (1) Apr 27, 2011
ahhhhhwwwwwwwww Freak Out!
fmfbrestel
5 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2011
Probably because it's a bad analogy? But who knows, its the interwebs, no matter what you say someone somewhere will take offense. I dont pay attention to comment ranks.

But no really, its a bad analogy. They once ran a ship into mir and nearly destroyed the whole thing, and they dont want to see something like that happen again. They invested a lot in ISS.

Speaking of bad analogies, here's one for you: Lets say you have a child, but are divorced. The other parent buys the kid a used car. Are you going to want to kick the tires a few times yourself, and order up the carfax? Probably.

They have every right to make sure Dragon is a safe vehicle, and NASA will consult with them before certifying it for docking. This was just some Russian official stating the obvious in a press conference.
Silver_the_Fox
1 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2011
But, by also doing so, they are trying to but bad press on SpaceX. They want a monopoly, and they have one, they want to keep it. So they are going to REACT NEGATIVELY (happy now?) to a new competitor in space exploration. In their opinion, Russia will always be the dominent force in space exploration, they always have been, and they want us to believe that. Is it true? Maybe not, maybe so, it's all an opinion now.

Any Questions?
Silver out.
And Furries FTW pan...
RETT
5 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2011
The Russians allowed the very first ATV to dock with the ISS, so this objection shows up as purely self serving. The ATV is so expensive that the ESA will only launch one every couple of years, whereas the Dragon will launch at least 4 per year to the ISS, and at a price that neither the Russians nor the ESA can even come close to matching. Who are they kidding.