August 24, 2011

Russian Cargo Launch Failure Endangers Space Station

Just seven weeks after the final space shuttle mission, the decisions to kill the shuttle program before American crew and cargo launch systems are in operation are revealed as reckless.

Today, a Russian Progress cargo rocket failed, calling into question when the next crew and cargo missions can occur.

Many times this organization and many, many others warned of the dangers of relying entirely upon others for launches. This should wake up Congress and NASA to the need to save the shuttles, and prepare them for "launch on need" in emergencies.

Due to inevitable delays while Russia investigates the accident, at today's NASA press conference, an official stated, "If we keep with a 6-person crew, we'll need a makeup flight." That they even consider chopping the crew on ISS is worrying and a predictable result of scrapping the shuttles.

Both Russia's crew and cargo launches use the same rocket, and the accident investigation will delay crew launches and returns as the accident until both Russia and the US are satisfied the cause has been found and corrected. There are two cargo and two crew launches scheduled between now and the end of the year.

NASA stated that "Progress' Soyuz-U third stage is similar to the Soyuz-FG used for crew, so the program will assess the crew rotation planned for Sept 7 and 21." 

One question which Russia should answer would be if a Soyuz manned capsule left in the same location successfully re-enter, and thus save the crew?

Earlier this year, United Space Alliance offered a serious plan to take over shuttle launches for five year, flying them commercially and supplying ISS for less money than shuttle launches had cost. This offer should be accepted now, or one more Russian failure could threaten the very survival of the space station.

No comments:

Post a Comment