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Space United States Politics

Russia Bans US Use of Its Rocket Engines For Military Launches 522

Posted by Soulskill
from the escalating-the-situation-by-not-allowing-escalation dept.
schwit1 sends word that Russia will now ban U.S. military satellite launches using Russian-made rockets. According to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, this is retaliation for U.S. sanctions on high-tech items, put in place because of the dispute in the Ukraine. Rogozin also threatened to block U.S. plans to keep using the International Space Station beyond its 2020 mission end date. That's not all: 'Rogozin also said Russia will suspend the operation of GPS satellite navigation system sites in Russia from June and seek talks with Washington on opening similar sites in the United States for Russia's own system, Glonass. He threatened the permanent closure of the GPS sites in Russia if that is not agreed by September.'
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Russia Bans US Use of Its Rocket Engines For Military Launches

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  • Re:suspend GPS? (Score:5, Informative)

    by bigpat (158134) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @12:09PM (#46991063)
    I believe they are talking about ground stations that are physically located in Russia. My understanding is that since they are fixed points on the earth that they can be used to calibrate the GPS signals/clocks to be more accurate when they are passing over that area of the world.
  • Re:suspend GPS? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dmgxmichael (1219692) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @12:26PM (#46991299) Homepage

    GPS is normally only accurate to within a few yards, and when the system was opened up to civilian use in the late 90's the military put in a discrepancy to the civilian signals so that they'd be off by a few dozen yards.

    Then someone hit upon the idea of checking GPS against a known good reading.

    GPS base stations do this. They know where they are, exactly. They listen to the GPS satellites report of where the satellites think they are, then broadcast the margin of error out to nearby GPS receivers. As a result, the accuracy of the readings can be gotten exact down to a few feet.

    So successful was this that the military eventually discarded the idea of putting in an intentional margin of error for civilian signals.

  • by Wookact (2804191) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @12:58PM (#46991633)
    Your quick note left out quite a bit of information that is relevant. Mainly that the russian speaking ukranians were imported to Ukraine, and the originally ethnic groups were cleared out.

    Sure the majority of the people in eastern Ukraine might want to belong to Russia, but those people have only lived there since the 40s through the 70s for the most part. In which case I propose they just move back to Russia, and leave Ukraine to the ethnic groups that were cleared out.

    See : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R... [wikipedia.org]

    See Also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R... [wikipedia.org]

    In fact the Russians that moved in were hell bent on stamping out Ukranian cultrue.

    The first wave of purges between 1929 and 1934 targeted the revolutionary generation of the party that in Ukraine included many supporters of Ukrainization. Soviet authorities specifically targeted the commissar of education in Ukraine, Mykola Skrypnyk, for promoting Ukrainian language reforms that were seen as dangerous and counterrevolutionary; Skrypnyk committed suicide in 1933. The next 1936–1938 wave of political purges eliminated much of the new political generation that replaced those who perished in the first wave. Being accused of using the "Skrypnyk alphabet" – in other words, using Ukrainian Cyrillic letters instead of Russian ones – could lead to arrest or death

  • Re:Duck and cover (Score:5, Informative)

    by TWX (665546) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @12:58PM (#46991639)
    I used to make fun of duck-and-cover too. Then I looked at what it's actually designed to accomplish.

    You don't duck-and-cover to survive being within the atomic fireball, that would be stupid. You duck and cover because you may be close enough to the blast that debris may hit you. Obviously if the roof caves in then you're probably dead, but if the ceiling breaks free from the structural roof or the structural floor above you, having a physical barrier between you and the ceiling grid, or the light fixtures, or the sheetrock panels, or other building infrastructure may well save your life or reduce the injury that you'd sustain. Same logic holds true for blown-in glass from windows, blown-in nonstructural building facades, and anything else thrown by a blast. Look at the videos from that asteroid strike in Russia, where thousands of people were hurt by flying debris. Same principle would have applied. Also holds true for earthquake mitigation, put something solid and relatively unyielding between you and the loose stuff that will rain down on you.

    If you try to explain to the average person that there's a difference between ducking-and-covering right at ground-zero for a nuclear blast and five miles out, you're going to get no practical improvement in what people do. Just tell everyone to do it, and those that happen to be far enough to not be incinerated or irradiated might survive.
  • Re:suspend GPS? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @01:08PM (#46991743)

    A GNSS primer:

    GPS will still function fine. It's a cold war technology: it was designed with the understanding that Russia would try to thwart it, not maintain it. There is zero danger that it will "degrade and fail" without Russian support. Ground stations are useful because they are known positions which should be very constant moment-to-moment (though there can be inches of movement in the long term). That makes it good for calibrating out error. The sort of errors it's good for calibrating out are pretty much only notable at the cm level, if you are actually in Russia. Russians with GPS systems won't notice.

    GLONASS is the Russian program. It pretty much JUST covers Russia. It covers it well, making it good enough for civilian use. But then again, so is GPS, even without Russian ground stations. The notion of adding GLONASS ground sites in the U.S. is kind of meaningless. They could put up satellites that actually provide good coverage of the U.S., but I can't imagine any real tactical or economic advantage. It's saber-rattling aimed at people who don't know what they're talking about.

    Meanwhile GPS is long in the tooth. Planned errors are inserted into the signal to degrade performance if you don't have the "key" to correct for them... but any government who cared to have military-grade GPS has it, either through the black market in Israel, or basic reverse engineering and intelligence. As such, the U.S. actually offered the proverbial keys to it's allies (read: everyone, especially Europe), but Europeans decided that they could not stand to ride the U.S.'s coat tails. They want an independent, European-controlled GNSS system. (This is not imprudent, as the current NSA- and Ukraine-related tensions show.) This is when they started pouring more money into Galileo. This was originally envisaged as a 50/50 joint public/private venture, but no companies actually stepped up to take part in the expensive R&D effort of re-building something that already exists. It is now a (very underfunded and behind schedule) 80% public venture.

    Meanwhile, governments that may become unfriendly in the future -- like China, which always speaks of "when we invade Taiwan", never "IF we invade Taiwan" -- can't trust anything that the U.S. might shut off. Hence, they are building out their own system, BeiDou. The main focus of their "limited" version of the system was obviously South China Sea, but they supposedly plan a global build-out.

  • Re:suspend GPS? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7&cornell,edu> on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @01:20PM (#46991893) Homepage

    Except that basically all phones on the market have been dual-constellation (or more, some support Galileo too) since early 2012 or so.

    Russia put MASSIVE import taxes on navigation devices that didn't support GLONASS, so all phone manufacturers switched to dual-constellation chips as it was FAR cheaper than the tax penalty.

  • by benjfowler (239527) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @01:25PM (#46991945)

    Last thing I read about this, the secret sauce in these engines, is the metallurgy -- the Russians have developed alloys that allow them to run them oxidiser-rich without everything getting destroyed by the extremely corrosive preburner exhaust. You can build as many engines as you want, if you don't have the recipe and process, you're literally going to go nowhere.

  • Re:Duck and cover (Score:5, Informative)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @01:28PM (#46991981)

    I think we'd better learn the words to Waltzing Matilda and maybe keep the cyanide pills handy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @01:30PM (#46992001)

    Putin isn't stopping at Crimea. He is taking East Ukraine now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @01:31PM (#46992017)

    Tell that to Iraq which was a war over oil. Indeed, America only got involved in Libya because they have oil.

  • Re:suspend GPS? (Score:5, Informative)

    by JohnnyComeLately (725958) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @01:37PM (#46992107) Homepage Journal
    As one of about 3 operators who turned it off in early 1990s, your information is a bit dated. The signal isn't degraded, but the mathmatical solution WAS. However, after the Russians shot down a civilian airliner (aren't Russians AWESOME!) President Reagan made the decision to turn it off, and it was implmented a few years later. We sent the "SA/AS = 0" (or turned it off) and "Bias=0" (or turned any bias amount to zero) commands around 1993. SA is Selective Availability. AS is Anti-Spoofing. Spoofing is the process where someone pretends to be GPS to throw your solution off, or they might jam to just outright deny usage. Your keys comment might also confuse as we (the US) can also encrypt GPS signals. Meaning AS turns on keys, SA turns on bias. They are mutually exclusive, as AS denies usage (aka, encryption) and SA denies precision (aka, dilution of precision).
  • Re:suspend GPS? (Score:3, Informative)

    by nogginthenog (582552) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @02:19PM (#46992577)

    GLONASS is the Russian program. It pretty much JUST covers Russia

    My Nexus 4 in the UK regularly picks up Glonass GPS satellites. I guess I'm not that far from Russia...

  • by professionalfurryele (877225) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @02:55PM (#46992975)

    You do realise that the Pax Americana is typically held to have started in 1945 right, with a few (but not many) historians arguing for 1918. And it isn't a statement about freedom but about the comparative absence of violence.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @04:47PM (#46993979)

    Thankyou for mentioning those countries.

    We had been shat on by the US for decades. Then they went away to the ME and China, and things here began to improve.

  • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @05:58PM (#46994489) Homepage

    Pax Americana as a theory might hold water, if it weren't for the fact that the USA has spent most of the latter half of the 20th century fighting wars that it started itself. How many active wars did the USA decisively stop by itself? None? Bosnia might have been an example, except that would be better described as being ended by NATO, in fact Operation Deliberate Force had 15 nations take part. It would probably have worked out the same even if the USA did not take part.

    It's deeply unclear that the USA is single handedly responsible for a net drop in state-on-state violence. Certainly just looking at surface facts would suggest it's the opposite: the world would have been even more peaceful if the USA had a less aggressive foreign policy.

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