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Space Government Politics

US Senate Allows NASA To Buy Soyuz Vehicles 298

Posted by Zonk
from the maintenance-in-spaaaaace dept.
arc.light writes "According to a report at Space.com, the US Senate voted to allow NASA to buy Russian Soyuz vehicles for the purpose of servicing the International Space Station. Because Russia continues to assist Iran with its nuclear energy and ballistic missile programs, NASA would otherwise not be allowed to buy Russian hardware by the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000. The US House of Representatives still needs to give its approval before NASA can make such a purchase."
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US Senate Allows NASA To Buy Soyuz Vehicles

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  • by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768@comcast. n e t> on Saturday September 24, 2005 @06:58PM (#13640697) Journal
    anyone else see this as the sad state our national space program is in when we are buying old Russian space capsules because our burecrates in NASA cant get their collective heads out of their asses and build a better spacecraft.

    I mean why dont we just take Apollo back up there while we are at it, they where both built around the same time and seem to be better off than the shuttle is now :/

    There HAS to be a better solution than these old 60s relics that doesnt cost a are and a leg like the flying deathtrap the shuttles are.

    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <<richardprice> <at> <gmail.com>> on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:05PM (#13640738)
      Old Russian space capsules? You mean the ones that have been supplying the ISS for the past 2 and a half years? Oh those ones eh? Just because they have the same name doesnt mean they use the same technology, the current generation of Soyuz, the TM, first flew in 1986 and has had several updates since then. These are far from 1960s relics.
      • Tell the parent that these [Soyuz] vehicles have had a near perfect record during their operation - better than anything the US has ever developed. When a Soyuz is launched, there is near 100% certainty that they will reach their intended destination and return without problems. Now, contrast that with the so called latest and most advanced US technology.
        • Depends on how you look at it, 1 more has died on a Soyuz than on a Apollo, but the Soyuz has been around longer in actually space use. but that doesnt make it less costly than other systems that can be developed as everything is tossed in the end.

          There has to be a better solution that is reusable but actually saves money.

          • What I know... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bogaboga (793279)
            ...is that when a shuttle is to be launched, NASA at that time cannot be 100% sure everything will go as intended. That's a fact. The Russians on the other hand, are always certain and are always seen assuring skeptical American minds that everything will be OK. And indeed everything normally goes fine.

            When a shuttle is launched or is to return to earth, there is a lot of fanfare...as if to suggest that there was a sizable chance that things could go all wrong. No wonder we are now looking to Russians for

            • bull there is always fanfair because its still not a everyday thing. The russians where notorious for the amount of deaths they have on their head in space, a LOT more russians have died in space than Americans even if the Soyuz is safer, most where covered up though because of the cold war, and information about who died is still iffy since many where reported as dying in training accidents and or military accidents, not space accidents which the evidence points to.

              No one, not even the Russians can EVER

              • ...something Americans do because often the causes are wrong in American minds. Really? I don't see any huge public movement for NASA to cancel space flight which would the case if your statement was correct. Most of the public is IGNORANT of the risks, they just like the "gee whiz" effect. And for sure they are not competent to judge the risks. Those of us who ARE competent to judge the risks and the chances those risk may come to pass are not highly thought of at NASA. We just give off too many "negativ

            • When a shuttle is launched or is to return to earth, there is a lot of fanfare...as if to suggest that there was a sizable chance that things could go all wrong.

              NASA launches and re-entries are media events, so there are always hundreds of millions of critical eyes watching. When Russia launches, it's just a normal event unencumbered by commercial interests and they don't really care about who is watching.
        • [Soyuz] vehicles have had a near perfect record during their operation

          In terms of the number of fatal accidents per flight, Soyuz has about the same level of safety as Shuttle.

          The difference is that Soyuz continutes to improve, so that recent flights are safer than earlier flights. Shuttle safety is at best remaining the same over time, and I think the reason is complacency on the part of NASA.

          Of course it doesn't help that the Shuttle is a huge monolithic vehicle, where changing one component requires c

        • Tell the parent that these [Soyuz] vehicles have had a near perfect record during their operation - better than anything the US has ever developed.

          Which Soyuz? Not the one flown in this reality.

          In 93 flights, Soyuz has had two LOCV accidents, at least 8 LOM incidents, and more close calls and near accidents than one can shake a stick at.

          When a Soyuz is launched, there is near 100% certainty that they will reach their intended destination and return without problems. Now, contrast that with the so called

          • How many Shuttles have failed on launch? (None.)

            And this statement right here makes you look like a fool. Are you forgetting Challenger? It exploded fairly early into launch.

            As for your critique of Soyuz.....all Soyuz are not created equal. There have been many varients of what is called "Soyuz." Are you claiming the track record of the earlier, far less advanced Soyuz should be counted against more modern versions? They are, basically, very different craft with the same name.

          • "How many Shuttles have landed off course and threatened the lives of their crews?" I believe the landing of Columbia was a bit non-precise... Besides what you're describing about Soyuz is just rubbish really...those are either things that happened to early versions or, in case of landing hazards, not related to Soyuz itself at all, beeing just fairly probable outcome of choosing such landing place as central Asia... Check your stats with what is really Soyuz now/recently: TMA/TM
            • Besides what you're describing about Soyuz is just rubbish really

              No, it's stone cold facts.

              those are either things that happened to early versions

              No, it's things that have happened pretty regularly across the entire history of the program. The last significant landing incident was TMA-1 in 2002. The last significant docking problem was TMA-3 in 2003. TMA-5 had a pyro fire accidentally during pre-launch processing in 2004.

              or, in case of landing hazards, not related to Soyuz itself at all, beeing just

      • the current generation of Soyuz, the TM, first flew in 1986 and has had several updates since then.
        The latest mark of Soyuz is the TMA, which first flew in 2002. There have been significant incidents on 3 of the 6 launch campaigns/flights to date.
        These are far from 1960s relics.
        No, they aren't 1960's relics - but you couldn't tell that from their reliability numbers.
    • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:08PM (#13640750) Journal
      So....
      IT is outsourced to India
      Manufacturing is outsourced to China
      High tech going to Russia
      U.S. will supply the world's managers?
      • Exactly. In fact, I hear one manager, a Michael Brown, is looking for a job managing something. He'll take anything, even if he knows nothing about it.
      • The really interesting question is to whom will they outsource lawenforcement and national defense?
      • Before supplying the rest of the world with top class managers, you'll have to break them out of jail first...
      • The USA will populate the B ark. I have my ticket already, can't wait to go!
      • Not likely (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WindBourne (631190)
        It is the USA managers and CEO that have placed america where it is today. I seriously doubt that any none american company wants that. Here is a HINT of how our leaders are doing:

        who is the top CEO that ran up a large deficit at the only company that ran, and had to be bailed out by Saudia Arabia, and now has THE top post and is again running up the world's and historical largest deficit? That is where managers are leading us today. Also check out United, US Airways, Delta, Northwest, The steel industry,
    • by Amiga Trombone (592952) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:22PM (#13640818)
      There HAS to be a better solution than these old 60s relics that doesnt cost a are and a leg like the flying deathtrap the shuttles are.

      Well, we have the CEV in development, but that won't be ready until 2012. Why not buy from the Russians? They have an interim solution to our needs now, and truthfully, why waste the money to develop a spacecraft that's going to be performing what are now fairly routine missions? Our next generation is on the drawing board. Actually, it's refreshing that NASA is going to be taking the path of least resistance rather than reinventing the wheel because of a case of NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome.
    • Yes, it is a sad day for our space program, but maybe the sense of pride this will give to the Russian people will help continue to heal the wounds of the cold war, which are many and festering.
      • will help continue to heal the wounds of the cold war, which are many and festering

        With all those Cold Warriors in power, tirelessly giving the fowl to the world on a daily basis? You must be joking.

        • What can I say ... you're right! It is a sad state of affairs when a KGB guy is head of Russia, and the son of a CIA/Cold-War-VP/Pres is head of the US.

          I guess I just wanted to say, it should give the Russian people pride to see us buying their spacecraft.
             
      • I don't know how close you've been monitoring Russian politics recently, but there has been something you might call a setback it the last few years. The government is increasingly authoritarian, and the all-too-familiar tunes of "Western intelligence agencies attempting to destabilise the country" are quite fashionable again. Civil right advocates and other such people are generally accused that they live on money of Western organisations, with connotation that it makes them disloyal or even borderline tr
    • Where did you find that Soyuz TMA is a 60s relic?
  • Is it really worth the cost to purchase a spacecraft which, by Russian admissions, are outdated and slated to be replaced? Unless NASA believes it has something to learn from the nature of the spacecraft, this is a stupid purchase. The funds would be better vested in performing research on MODERN technology.
    • by HillBilly (120575) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:01PM (#13640723)
      Both countries have old and due to be replaced space crafts. Difference is Russia's crafts have provened to be more realiable and cheaper.
    • The reason Soyuz is being replaced is not because its outdated, far from it its proved to be a good airframe thats adaptable to new advances time after time, but its because the contract to build them runs out soon and due to political issues it cant be renewed or extended anymore. So they get to build the Klipper.
    • It is a short term solution to a specific transportation problem. i.e. Get people and small loads back and forth to the ISS. It is not a Shuttle replacement, it is not a permanent solution.

      It's akin to buying a clunker when your primary SUV breaks. Either you can limp along with something old and small, or you can walk to work while you save up for a new car.

    • it is worth it? in one word, Yes. In fact, Hell Yes

      By buying these capsules, we can quickly get the solid candlesticks working and start carrying 3 men into space within 2 years (maybe 1). From there, We can do shuttle-C, and then move on to doing the CEV and the true heavy lifter.
  • Choice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kevin_conaway (585204) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @06:59PM (#13640707) Homepage
    So it seems that after Russia sends the last obligatory shuttle to the space station, we are left the with the options of a.) buying Russian gear to send our own folks or b.) paying the Russians to do it for us?

    Whatever, if it saves money, I'm sure the government will do it. I'm pretty sure they can use extra cash wherever they can find it now.
  • by CyricZ (887944) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:00PM (#13640711)
    Often it is a very good idea to buy the highest quality technology. Indeed, that is what NASA needs to do right now considering their extremely awful image in the eyes of the public (following the Challenger and Columbia disasters). Any more disasters and NASA is fucked. At least by purchasing this former Soviet equipment they can blame the Russians for any problems. Faulty manufacturing and engineering done by the Russians, and not by NASA, for instance. Considering NASA's current position, they have very little option but to prevent further incident, even if it means resorting to Soviet technology.

  • What? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bogaboga (793279) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:04PM (#13640730)
    I remember one NASA official saying to the effect that the Soyuz being decades old technology, is no good for any serious American use, despite its very good performance record! We now are about to buy this hardware? Give me a break...! Oh wait...the Soyuz has had a near 100% perfect operation since inception; better than any US hardware.

    I remember one US plane that had to be transported from China in a Russian Antonov-124. The US did not have any aircraft that was up to the task! How long shall we have to rely on so called "third world economies" to achieve our goals?

    Why doesn't this [Bush] administration pay Americans to build these Soyuz like crafts instead of simply buying?

    • Re:What? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by banzaimonkey (917475)

      I remember one US plane that had to be transported from China in a Russian Antonov-124. The US did not have any aircraft that was up to the task! How long shall we have to rely on so called "third world economies" to achieve our goals?

      I like to think of the United States being the world's R&D department. We come up with the ideas, bungle them, and then someone else picks it up and does it properly. There's the occasional successful project in the US, such as FedEx, the iPod, etc. I suppose those ar

    • Re:What? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Your "near 100% perfect operation since inception" includes two missions that ended in the deaths of their crews. Out of 97 manned Soyuz missions, that's pretty darned close to the same record as the shuttle (two lost out of 114 flights).
      • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bogaboga (793279)
        Well, you are right on those numbers, but when unmanned Soyuz missions are added up, the statistics reveal something very impressive for the Soyuz.The ability to be operated remotely is very telling of the Russians ability to deliver.

        The other difference is that as Americans, we celebrate every shuttle launch and landing with lots of fanfare, The Russians do nothing of the like; to me, this suggests that we are probably not sure the shuttles will perform, right?

        • Well, you are right on those numbers, but when unmanned Soyuz missions are added up, the statistics reveal something very impressive for the Soyuz.

          Yes, it reveals the vivid imagination of fanboys - because the total number of unmanned Soyuz flights is *zero*. The Progress spacecraft has flown unmanned - but Progress is not Soyuz. (And Progress does not re-enter, which historically is where the Soyuz has performed worst.)

          The other difference is that as Americans, we celebrate every shuttle launch and la

      • Interestinglty enough, there can be no unmanned shuttle flight, so, they are risking human lives (and taking additional weight) even when all that's needed is a cargo lift.

        If you factor in the unmanned cargo flights, Soyuz and Soyuz-derived vehicles have a much better success ratio. Of course the unmanned Progress ships burn in the atmosphere, so we may well count that as somewhat less important successes, but it is possible because their systems allow them to function without humans.
      • Your "near 100% perfect operation since inception" includes two missions that ended in the deaths of their crews. Out of 97 manned Soyuz missions, that's pretty darned close to the same record as the shuttle (two lost out of 114 flights).

        Don't forget that the two fatal accidents were near the begining of the Soyuz program, several decades ago. Meanwhile the latest Shuttle accident was about two and a half years ago. Another way to put this, there hasn't been a fatality since the 11th mission (giving alm

      • Re:What? (Score:3, Informative)

        by timeOday (582209)

        Your "near 100% perfect operation since inception" includes two missions that ended in the deaths of their crews.

        Are you joking? The last Soviet space fatilities were in 1971 - that's right, 10 years before the first Shuttle launch. In other words, for the period when both existed, the Shuttle has had 14 fatalities while the Soyuz has had 0.

        Now for a real shock, let's compare how many times each has flown. The total is 850 for Soyuz and 113 for Shuttle, but that's going back before the Shuttle existe

    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tftp (111690) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:56PM (#13641043) Homepage
      Why doesn't this [Bush] administration pay Americans to build these Soyuz like crafts instead of simply buying?

      If only you were involved in hiring of techies, as I am, you'd know the answer already. United States does not produce [enough of] good engineers. You can't hire anyone competent, or nearly competent. And one out of a hundred who knows his trade wants $200K/yr and benefits and stock, and your firstborn too if he is hungry.

      So you can't hire fools because they are useless, and you can't hire that rare skilled guy because he will bankrupt you. So what do you do? Good question. Many businesses just hire a few mediocre performers and hope for the best.

    • Mod Parent Idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

      by william_w_bush (817571) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @08:26PM (#13641200)
      Yeah ok, I'll just get my 4 guys together, pull the parts list off the internet and roll out a few FUCKING SPACESHIPS!

      How complicated to build and design do you think these things are? How much money do you think we have?

      No we don't have an An-124, it's the largest plane currently flying, built by the russians partly as an expression of national pride, and it cost shitloads. Only flies a few times a year btw, not a lot of people need that much lifting power.

      We don't (always at least) blow money on giant phallic symbols of economic domination, it takes money away from real economic domination, and apparently you are too much of an idiot with regards to finance to understand that.

      Global free-market economics is based on specialization, ie. everybody doesn't do everything, but everyone finds something to be good at, and if someone else needs to do it too you pay that guy to help you. It's why we make most of the movies in the world and kashmir makes all the nice knit sweaters, and columbia makes all the cocaine, specialization has oppurtunity cost.

      Even if we decided today to make a cheaper soyuz-type launch vehicle, expect one ready to fly in about 8-10 years, counting design, validation, testing, certification, etc. That is unless you want a bunch of astronauts to jump into a tin-can, strap a giant rocket to their ass and hold their breath.

      The shuttle took nearly 2 decades to become flight ready, and cost ... a real fucking lot, and still didn't fill half of it's original mission profile. Originally it was supposed to be a single piece to orbit vehicle, no boosters or external fuel tank or nothin'.

      Unlike most things, this is rocket science, and logistics, and economics, and like 900 other things, and is much harder than throwing together a toaster.

      Btw, Russia has had about 3 space stations in orbit during the 70's, 80's and 90's, including mir which was a surprising success. They are much MUCH better and more experienced at space than we are, which is why we had them help us with the ISS, just like we ripped off all of germany's experience when we started nasa and wanted icbm's. America is not the holy god of all everything, superior to all other countries in every way, though we do generally run the tables in most things. A lot of the time our experience and success comes from finding other countries that are very skilled at various fields, and ripping off their scientists and techologies, ie stealing britain's machinery expertise in the 19th century to build our own industrial revolution, or getting einstein, niels bohr (they had to call him nick during ww2 because niels was "too german"), werner van braun (warner brown), and everyone else from germany to build our atomic techonology, and space technology, and everything else.

      Calling Russia a third-world economy is insulting and arrogant, and shows your ignorance/youth.
      • Global free-market economics is based on specialization, ie. everybody doesn't do everything, but everyone finds something to be good at, and if someone else needs to do it too you pay that guy to help you. It's why we make most of the movies in the world and kashmir makes all the nice knit sweaters, and columbia makes all the cocaine, specialization has oppurtunity[sic] cost.
        Actually most of the movies in the world are made in India (Mumbai/"Bollywood" [wikipedia.org]). Hollywood may have higher gross revenues, but the In
      • We don't (always at least) blow money on giant phallic symbols of economic domination,

        If you pull the military portion of the budget out of the stack and roll it up lengthwise, it's sort of phallic. I'm just saying...
    • Third world??? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HermanAB (661181) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @08:28PM (#13641211)
      Uhh - last I checked, Russia has a trade surplus, while the USA has been running a trade deficit for longer than anyone can remember. Large parts of the USA is extremely backward and large parts of US cities are decaying (or now, covered in mud and water). Don't believe everything you see on CNN regarding other countries. CNN is not even reality television, it is more like show wrestling...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Somehow I'd expect NASA would be much too arrogant to consider purchasing Russian equipment. If this idea is not rejected for stupid political 'national pride' reasons, I think it speaks pretty well for NASA ...
    • But they don't have any choice. Either they purchase this equipment, or they become irrelevant. This purchase is necessary for their very survival, even if it bruises a few egos.

      Sometimes one is forced to choose between a shitty choice or death. In this case they're chosen the shitty situation which may allow for their survival.

    • Harder to be arrogant when your shuttle breaks up into millions of bite-sized pieces over scenic texas.

      But yeah, actually nasa wanted to pay the russians to use their soyuz to supply and man the iss before, the soyuz has about 1/10 to 1/20 the operational cost of the shuttle, and can be launched, like whenever, but congress would never allow it. I'm guessing the threat of "No Space 4 J00!" due to the shuttles' grounding has nudged them to be more flexible.

      It's not so much pride btw, nasa and the us governme
    • "Somehow I'd expect NASA would be much too arrogant to consider purchasing Russian equipment. "

      They are too arrogant. PRoblem is they dont have a choice. The last shuttle flight proved it. They did everything to ensure a safe flight before the shuttle took off ... they spent a shitloads of money and what they got is a flight that turned out to be almost safe. That is there was too weeks of worrying, discussions about tiles, spacewalks, in space repairs, etc and then in the end we got lucky and there was no
  • Good News (Score:2, Funny)

    by sd_diamond (839492)

    This is just in the nick of time, because Crazy Ivan's Space Capsule Clearance House announced a sale for next week.

  • by MachDelta (704883) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:25PM (#13640832)
    "Components. American components, Russian Components, ALL MADE IN TAIWAN!"
  • yay (Score:4, Insightful)

    by william_w_bush (817571) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:28PM (#13640857)
    wrote a while back during the last shuttle scare that this would be a good idea to keep america in space till they get a new launch vehicle sorted out, glad they finally did it.

    Soyuz is one of the safest and most reliable space vehicles in existence, and considering the shuttles are grounded for god knows how long, we need a system to service and supply the iss.

    Yeah I know it has limited cargo capacity, but it costs roughly 1/10 the cost of the shuttle to launch, if that, can be launched far more often, and its cargo capacity can be augmented by elv's like the delta or titan.

    Plus side, we are less likely to lose astronauts, and can actually keep the iss supplied enough to do science beyond plugging the leaks with their fingers, and hopefully launch astronauts twice as often if it scales up well.

    win/win from my pov.

    ps. my "confirm i'm not a script" word is cannabis. Cool.
    • Soyuz is one of the safest and most reliable space vehicles in existence,

      ROTFLMAO. No matter what metric you choose - the differences in safety and reliability numbers generally favor the Shuttle. (Not by much mind, .1% here or .5% there.) For instance, the Soyuz has aborted 4 missions and landed without docking with the station thet were going to - with none of the missions reflown. OTOH, the Shuttle has aborted two missions, and both were eventually reflown.

      Plus side, we are less likely to lose ast

      • The difference is in the trends. Both Soyuz accidents happened early in the life cycle and were addressed. They havent had an accident in how many years? That's a very valid metric that is completely in Soyuz favor. There are other factors that leave the ball in the Soyuz court as well. Cost is a huge one.

        -everphilski-
        • The difference is in the trends. Both Soyuz accidents happened early in the life cycle and were addressed.

          Both Soyuz accidents? I can think of over ten right off the top of my head - all of them pretty evenly scattered across the life of the program to date.

          Oh, right - like most uninformed people you seem to think that accidents are only important if you kill people. That's an emotional arguement, not an engineering one.

          They havent had an accident in how many years?

          It's been three years since the fa

          • Re:The Difference (Score:3, Informative)

            by everphilski (877346)
            I define "accident" as a catastrophic failure, not as missing a/some mission objective(s). You can have a successful mission even if you miss a/some mission objective(s). It's not the one you wanted, but that's why space is still considered "a frontier".

            One huge factor is reentry stability. The soyuz capsule is inherantly stable. Once it performs a retro burn it is set to go. Natural aerodynamic stability (just like Mercury/Gemini/Apollo, and hopefully the CEV). The shuttle has no such thing. If it loses
  • by Pop69 (700500) <billy@@@benarty...co...uk> on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:48PM (#13640995) Homepage
    the old saying "If it's not broken, don't fix it"

    Soyuz has been successfully sending stuff into space for an awful long time and as far as we know has a very impressive safety record.

    The space shuttle was a compromise design built by the lowest bidder.
    • Soyuz has been successfully sending stuff into space for an awful long time and as far as we know has a very impressive safety record.

      Maybe so far as the fanboy knows that's true. But to those who have actually studied the issue - the Soyuz's safety record is stunningly *unimpressive*. It's killed two crews, it's had two launch aborts, 4 mission aborts, and something like 20+ reentry/landing accidents or incidents. (And over half of those 20 missed killing a crew only by the grace of $DIETY.) It's acc

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by SeaFox (739806) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @07:54PM (#13641034)
    In Soviet Russia...

    We fly the Americans to space.
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Saturday September 24, 2005 @08:30PM (#13641225) Homepage Journal
    How could NASA be purchasing a space system developed by the system of communism which is a proven failure?

    As I said when I was young and more prone to believe the system might work [google.com]:

    The Soviet government's effectiveness in space activities can, in general, be attributed to the fact that while our private sector is more effective than the Soviet public sector, our public sector is LESS effective than the Soviet public sector. Why this is so becomes obvious when you consider that the Soviet public sector has no private sector to tax -- any costs are born by itself, directly, whereas in the US (and other relatively free market economies) the governments have the luxury of becoming fat and lazy at the expense of the private sector.

    It is a simple matter of accountability, the US private sector is most accountable for its costs, the Soviet system is next most accountable for its costs and the US government is least accountable for its costs.

    • I disagree. Ever try to vote a communist premier out of office?

      The Soviet public sector has an ENORMOUS economic base. In terms of actual resources, you have to realize that it's budget was roughly equal to the public and private budget of the united states combined, so putting 10% of that into a space program would be similar to putting 2-5x the total american federal budget into the space program. Also, the scientists have more "incentive" to succeed, when a failure means poverty, bread-lines, and possibl
      • Also, the scientists have more "incentive" to succeed, when a failure means poverty, bread-lines, and possible execution.

        There was no poverty in USSR. There were no bread lines since... 1920's, I think, or the World War II. There were lines at all times, but only for luxury goods. Nobody was frivolously executed since Stalin died in 1950's; Stalin haven't even lived to see the Sputnik. Stalin's successors, Khruschev and Brezhnev, turned the country into society of law, not any different from other cou

    • To sum it up: for large-scale scientific projects with low to no short-term ROI, planned economy fares better than free market. No surprises here. That's why the USSR was able to maintain its space development on roughly the same level as the U.S. during the cold war, while its economy was largely lagging behind elsewhere.
  • I didnt imagine the US and NASA have it in them to be humble enough to admit it has failed to produce a usable space vehicle. The NASA had really good tech but abandoned it for the cooler looking but useless space shuttle. Looking back the space shuttle must be the stupidest decision ever made in human space exploration history. Hopefully this meens no more dead americans and perhaps NASA can shape up and make rockets instead of flying PR machines.
  • Moon by 2018 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by biraneto2 (910162)
    Looks like NASA is giving another step further to achieve the moon by 2018. :) Wouldn't it be a veeery big irony going to the moon by the means of russian technology?
  • by kulakovich (580584) <slashdot AT bonfireproductions DOT com> on Saturday September 24, 2005 @09:17PM (#13641505)
    Geez. Will some of you take up reading already? 1,600 successful launches makes the Soyuz the sturdiest vehicle Homo Sapiens has going. We'll have Klipper, and the CEV up soon. Until then Soyuz is a perfect choice. Quit yer bitchin'.

    kulakovich
  • by gelfling (6534) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @09:29PM (#13641580) Homepage Journal
    See in the end what we were good at was high profile single purpose missions because we convinced ourselves we could spend and do whatever it took to get there. But now we see that the Amerikanskis are rather bad at the utilitarian aspects of space engineering.
  • Good idea! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lonesome phreak (142354) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @09:48PM (#13641694) Journal
    The new design of NASA's next (or second-next) manned program is going back to more of a capsule design anyway...so really why not use Soyuz vehicles until our own capsules are ready to go? NASA has already basically admitted the capsule idea is safer and cheaper anyway for our level of tech.

    Personally, I would much rather be sent to the ISS in a Soyuz than go up in a Shuttle. The ride might not be as comfortable and roomy, but my chances of surviving are far higher. It might be a bit cramped, but that's far better than flying apart on re-enrty due to having a too-complex system.

    I watched some C-SPAN where NASA was talking about the new safety measures they implemented with all the cameras and such. Honestly, it's cause people to freak out more than it does to pacify due to the ability to see all the little problems that occure during lift-off that normally aren't seen. NASA had to explain a dozen times that "that's normal wear-and-tear, people" because the press was worried about all the little problems no one have ever really looked at before because of the new camera system. The good news is that most of the manuevers they did to fix it all are brand-new and never before done, and has given NASA much needed experience in dealing with space-based repair.
  • I guess this really does define who has won the space race. When you have to go buy the other guy's space ships to keep flying, you really are conceding defeat. Not really any different to buying Japanese cars or Chinese cordless drills. They do it better, cheaper and more reliably. Not meant to be a troll, just a statement of (sad) fact.
  • Welllllll...... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jpellino (202698) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @10:49PM (#13642009)
    The Soyuz record is "Near 100%", true. But that's not 100%. Neither record is 100%.

    We had Apollo 1 on the pad (3 dead) - they had R-16 on the pad (over 90 dead).
    We had Challenger and Columbia, both fatal flights (14 dead), they had Souyz 1 and 11 - both fatal flights (4 dead).
    We had a near miss on Apollo 13, they had one on Soyuz 5.
    We each tossed a space station into the drink, arguably prematurely on both accounts.
    Both have a full compliment of Charlie Foxtrot flight moments, and ground crew / training fatalities.

    The usual rhetoric includes references here on /. such as "nasa's core competencies whish seem to be killing astroanuts in groups of seven" is glib and gratuitously derisive.

    • When was the last fatality with the soyuz? How many decades ago do you say? Many a /.er wasn't even born yet?

      The entire space race is more about propaganda and carefully chosen facts then about real accomplisments.

      I see it very simple, US has the money, USSR got the tech. The cold war is over so why no cooperate for once. When the two worked together before they succesfully killed a lot of germans. Maybe the new US operated soyuz will be a commercial sucess. Or maybe it will crash on germany. Either way t

  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Saturday September 24, 2005 @11:50PM (#13642290) Journal
    It's worth noting that NASA has also previously announced that they will be offering commercial contracts to US companies for transportation of cargo and eventually crew to the ISS. These would be fixed-cost contracts for services rendered, rather than the more traditional cost-plus contracts which reward inefficiency and waste. Unfortunately, none of the US companies are where they need to be yet, although it's looking like SpaceX should be there in a few years.

    From this article [space.com]:

    NASA will soon solicit offers from firms interested in delivering cargo and crew to the international space station (ISS), but NASA Administrator Mike Griffin said he wants to buy services, not dole out development contracts to newcomers who were shut out of the competition to build the space shuttle's replacement. ...

    Griffin said he also would like to see a robust commercial space transportation industry take root and thrive, and said the best way for NASA to help is "to utilize the market that is offered by the international space station's requirement to supply crew and cargo as the years unfold." ...

    Griffin promised that NASA would give priority to non-government services should they become available, although he cautioned that deliberately "under utilizing" a NASA-owned and -operated system could encounter resistance from lawmakers intent on protecting government jobs. ...

    Another difference between a traditional government contract and the deals Griffin hopes to make is that they would emphasize "performance rather than process." While NASA would insist on "certain standards," Griffin said "It's not up to me as the procurer of that service to determine how the engineers working for you, the provider, provide that service." ...

    Charles Miller, president of Constellation Services International, said he was "enthusiastically looking forward" to NASA's crew and cargo solicitation. Constellation Services Internationals, Woodland Hills, Calif., is developing what it calls the LEO (low Earth orbit) Express standardized cargo container, which could launch atop virtually any rocket, as an affordable, near-term solution to NASA's space station re-supply needs.

    Elon Musk, president of Space Exploration Technologies [spacex.com], said he was "definitely encouraged" by Griffin's remarks. "This is a market SpaceX has been interested in for a long time," Musk said. ...

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