Russia resumes manned spaceflight after failures

Nov 13, 2011 by Stuart Williams
(L-R) US astronaut Dan Burbank and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin at a press conference at the Baikonur cosmodrome on November 12. The crew is to blast off for the ISS in a Russian-made Soyuz space craft on November 14.

Russia on Monday launches three astronauts for the International Space Station on a key mission Moscow hopes will restore faith in its space programme after an unprecedented string of failures.

Two Russians and one American will blast off on a Soyuz-FG rocket from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 0414 GMT, the first manned launch since the retirement of the US shuttle made Russia the sole nation capable of taking humans to the ISS.

It is also the first launch after an unmanned Progress supply vessel bound for the ISS crashed into Siberia shortly after takeoff from Baikonur in August, in Russia's worst mishap in years.

That catastrophe, blamed on a technical malfunction, prompted a complete rejig of the timetable for launches to the ISS and the temporary grounding of Soyuz rockets, the mainstay of the Russian space programme for decades.

Russia is hoping a smooth mission will lift a dark mood days after the November 9 launch of its Phobos-Grunt craft to Mars ended in another calamity with the probe failing to head on its course to the red planet.

American Dan Burbank and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin will head to the ISS in a Soyuz TMA-22 capsule, joining the incumbent crew of American Mike Fossum, Japan's Satoshi Furukawa and Russia's Sergei Volkov.

Their launch had originally been scheduled for September 22, but was delayed by almost two months due to the accident with the Progress , which had been carried up into space by a Soyuz-U rocket.

A Russian Orthodox priest blesses the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft at Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome on November 12. The Soyuz TMA-22 launch is scheduled for November 14.

The last manned launch from Baikonur was in June, and the problems were a major disappointment for Russia in the year marking half a century since made man's first voyage into space from the same historic cosmodrome.

As well as the Progress and possibly Phobos-Grunt, Russia has lost three , an advanced military satellite and a due to faulty launches in the past 12 months.

The RIA Novosti agency quoted an anonymous source, which it said had worked for many years in the Russian space industry, as saying the sector was in crisis.

"The great number of Russian space failures in the last years were caused by the human factor -- by errors in programming, calculations for the flight and mistakes by the constructors," the source said.

The Soyuz rocket design first flew in the late 1960s and has been the backbone of the Soviet and then Russian space programmes ever since.

Its reputation was dented by the failure of the Progress to reach orbit in August but the Soyuz system for manned space flight has a proud safety record, with Russia boasting that its simplicity has allowed it to outlive the shuttle.

Whereas NASA endured the fatal loss of the Challenger and Columbia shuttles in 1986 and 2003, Moscow has not suffered a fatality in space since the crew of Soyuz-11 died in 1971 in their capsule when returning to Earth.

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omatumr
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 13, 2011
Thanks for the interesting story of international cooperation between East and West in space exploration with a priest blessing a spacecraft . . .

While today's news reports say Russia and China oppose USA efforts to isolate Iran.

We live in interesting times!

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
http://myprofile....anuelo09

Callippo
1 / 5 (4) Nov 13, 2011
I perceive this proclamation as a rather transparent attempt of Russians to cover the negative impact of recent failures of unmanned missions. In quite human way of sense, the Russians feel guilty for their incompetence and they're trying to demonstrate their very best by now. In addition, they just want to remain in the cosmic league even after the China entered the scene. So, what the Russians can do well is to send heavy cargo at small distance to space in effective and relatively safe way and they should continue with it.
omatumr
4.3 / 5 (6) Nov 13, 2011
I perceive this proclamation as a rather transparent attempt of Russians to cover the negative impact of recent failures of unmanned missions. In quite human way of sense, the Russians feel guilty for their incompetence and they're trying to demonstrate their very best by now. In addition, they just want to remain in the cosmic league even after the China entered the scene. So, what the Russians can do well is to send heavy cargo at small distance to space in effective and relatively safe way and they should continue with it.


Perhaps it is a reminder of who has rockets to launch spacecraft.
Pirouette
not rated yet Nov 13, 2011
It's great news that an American astronaut is participating in this manned mission to the ISS. Our own shuttles also carried Russian cosmonauts, so both countries (U.S. & Russia) were, and are, at an advantage for the science and the prestige of the mission. . .if all goes well.
Somehow, I think that greater care will be taken by the Russian scientists & engineers because it is an important international mission and it certainly wouldn't do for an "accident" to happen, possibly causing a "break" in Russian and American relations. It also would be nice for the Russian space program, even if only low Earth orbit, to have some successes for a change. Their national pride is at stake.
Doug_Huffman
1 / 5 (1) Nov 13, 2011
I am enjoying N. N. Taleb's Ludic Fallacy from his Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

If a fair coin falls head up 99 times, do you bet against the coin?

Ludic? Latin 'game'. Reality has no rules demanding consistency.
omatumr
4 / 5 (1) Nov 13, 2011
"NASA Hitches a Ride on a Russian Craft and Begins a New Dependent Phase"

Today's NY Times headline for this same story:

www.nytimes.com/2...mc=tha22
axemaster
1 / 5 (1) Nov 13, 2011
A Russian Orthodox priest blesses the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft at Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome on November 12.

Jeez, they are so desperate that they're willing to resort to the most unscientific methods... I hope they realize the extent to which their belief in witchcraft is an embarrassment.
omatumr
2.5 / 5 (2) Nov 14, 2011
Did the launch occur?

It is now 5:07 am GMT on Nov 14, 2011
omatumr
4 / 5 (1) Nov 14, 2011
Did the launch occur?

It is now 5:07 am GMT on Nov 14, 2011


Yes, the launch occurred on schedule. "at 8:14 a.m. (0414 GMT) Monday from the snow-covered Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome carrying NASA astronaut Dan Burbank and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin and is set to dock at the station Wednesday."

www.khou.com/news...273.html
MarkyMark
not rated yet Nov 15, 2011
A Russian Orthodox priest blesses the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft at Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome on November 12.

Jeez, they are so desperate that they're willing to resort to the most unscientific methods... I hope they realize the extent to which their belief in witchcraft is an embarrassment.

About zero Axemaster exept of course among the Fanatics among us with an Axe to grind.