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  ISS 16: End of expedition and landing (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   ISS 16: End of expedition and landing
Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-17-2008 03:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson officially handed over command of the International Space Station to Expedition 17 Commander Sergei Volkov on Thursday, during a ceremony held inside the U.S. Harmony Node.

"Well, today is the handover ceremony," began Whitson, beginning the now customary presentation. "I'm officially handing over the International Space Station to Sergei Volkov. I'm very happy to do so."

"Expedition 16 has consisted of a lot of crew members, some who are here, some who are not — Clay Anderson, Dan Tani, Leo Eyharts, Yuri and Garrett and myself. We've had a really great privilege and honor to be here on the station when so much has changed. We feel like we have handed over a very beautiful station to you guys and look forward to your work."

"I know you are going to be a great commander, Sergei, and so I just wanted to hand it over to you," said Whitson.

"Thank you very much," replied commander Sergei Volkov, "and Expedition 17 take the station under our control. Thank you very much for such a precious station and a beautiful station. We wish you have a safe trip back home. Good luck!"

"As parting gifts, we have a couple for you. The first is... Garrett!" Whitson announced while laughing. Volkov proceeded to accept his new flight engineer, Garrett Reisman, who had tucked himself into a ball.

"He's your first gift and I know he's going to be a great addition to your crew."

"And the second gift, which is almost as important as Garrett, is the leftover sauce!" Whitson said while unveiling a small bouquet of food condiments.

"Thank you, thank you very much!" exclaimed Volkov.

"Yeah, you're in control now. You have the sauce," joked Whitson. "It's great to have you guys on-board and I am looking forward to watching you with great pleasure."

Whitson and Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko will return to Earth with South Korean spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi. They will undock from the station aboard Soyuz TMA-11 just after midnight CDT to land on the steppes of Kazakhstan at 3:30 a.m. CDT on Saturday.

NavySpaceFan
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posted 04-17-2008 04:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NavySpaceFan   Click Here to Email NavySpaceFan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Something tells me that "You have the sauce!" will be the new "I stand relieved!" for ISS changes of command .

Mr Meek
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posted 04-17-2008 06:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr Meek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I watched the replay online, and I was struck by how much better that SM58 sounds than the mics I've seen in other videos. Very present, and you could clearly hear the other people in the room...er...Node.

Man, if Shure needed any more endorsements for their SM58, that would definitely be one. "Use the mic the astronauts use!"

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-18-2008 09:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

The hatch separating Soyuz TMA-11 and the International Space Station was closed at 9:09 p.m. CDT, with ISS Expedition 16 crewmembers Peggy Whitson and Yuri Malenchenko, as well as South Korean spaceflight participant Soyeon Yi on-board the Russian spacecraft.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-19-2008 12:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Soyuz TMA-11 undocked from the International Space Station at 12:06 a.m. CDT on Saturday.

"Here we go," said Peggy Whitson.

"We're seeing separation," added Yuri Malenchenko.

The Soyuz will will perform a deorbit burn at about 2:40 a.m. to begin the re-entry through the Earth's atmosphere. Landing is set for about 3:30 a.m. on the steppes of Kazakhstan.

jimsz
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posted 04-19-2008 04:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to Fox News, Soyuz has landed 260 miles off course.
quote:
A Soyuz capsule carrying South Korea's first astronaut landed in northern Kazakhstan Saturday, several hundred kilometers off-target, Russian space officials said.

Mission Control spokesman Valery Lyndin said the condition of the crew — South Korean bioengineer Yi So-yeon, American astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian flight engineer Yuri Malenchenko — was satisfactory, though the three had been subjected to severe G-forces during the re-entry.

The Russian TMA-11 craft touched down around 0830 GMT some 260 miles off target, Lyndin said — a highly unusual distance given how precisely engineers plan for such landings. It was also around 20 minutes later than scheduled.

Officials said the craft followed a so-called "ballistic re-entry" — a very steep trajectory that subjects the crew to extreme physical force.


Whoops!

cspg
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posted 04-19-2008 04:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The capsule fell short of its planned landing zone, following a ballistic trajectory (backup systems took over?).

Chris.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-19-2008 08:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Expedition 16 Soyuz Lands Safely in Kazakhstan

quote:
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, the first female commander of the International Space Station, returned to Earth at approximately 4:30 a.m. EDT Saturday, ending a mission during which she conducted five spacewalks and set a new record in American spaceflight.

Whitson and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, members of the 16th crew to live and work aboard the station, safely landed their Soyuz spacecraft in the steppes of Kazakhstan. Spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi also returned to Earth aboard the Soyuz. The landing was approximately 295 miles from the expected landing site, delaying the recovery forces’ arrival to the spacecraft by approximately 45 minutes.

Whitson, 48, has accumulated more time in space than any U.S. astronaut in history. She and Malenchenko, who launched to the station on Oct. 10, 2007, spent 192 days in space. This was Whitson’s second flight to the station. She served almost 185 days as a flight engineer on the Expedition 5 crew, which launched June 5, 2002, and returned to Earth Dec. 7, 2002. Whitson has totaled 377 days in space during two missions. On April 16, she surpassed the 374-day record set by astronaut Mike Foale during his six flights.

Malenchenko, 46, a Russian Air Force colonel, completed his third long-duration spaceflight. He spent 126 days aboard the Russian space station Mir in 1994, and commanded Expedition 7, spending 185 days in space in 2006. He also was a member of the STS-106 crew of shuttle Atlantis on a 12-day mission to the station in 2000. He has accumulated 515 days in space during his four flights. That is the ninth highest total of cumulative time.

The Expedition 16 crew worked with experiments across a wide variety of fields, including human life sciences, physical sciences and Earth observation. Many of the experiments are designed to gather information about the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body, which will help with planning future exploration missions to the moon and Mars.

The Expedition 16 crew members undocked their Soyuz spacecraft from the station at 1:06 a.m. The deorbit burn to slow the Soyuz and begin its descent toward the Earth began at 3:40 a.m.

Before undocking, Whitson and Malenchenko bid farewell to the new station crew, Expedition 17 Commander Sergei Volkov and Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko and Garrett Reisman. Volkov and Konenko launched to the station April 8. They were accompanied by Yi who flew under a commercial contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency. Reisman came to the station aboard shuttle Endeavour on the STS-123 mission, which launched March 11.


SRB
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posted 04-19-2008 12:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The crew is safely back but it landed far off course. CNN reports today:
quote:
The Russian Soyuz space capsule carrying a three-member crew including South Korea's first astronaut landed Saturday in Kazakhstan, about 420 kilometers from the planned landing area, Russia's Interfax news agency said.

Interfax reported the spacecraft's landing was rough. Earlier, Sergei Puzanov, the NASA representative at Russian Space Mission Control, said all the crewmembers were fine.


This seems to be their biggest miss in many years. I wonder what went wrong? Fortunately, not so wrong that the crew was injured or didn't survive.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-19-2008 12:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SRB:
This seems to be their biggest miss in many years. I wonder what went wrong?
The previous Soyuz to return, TMA-10, also landed short of its target but in today's case, according to Roscosmos, the recovery team that was assigned to cover a ballistic reentry were deployed too late to reach the site before landing. As such, it took about 45 minutes for them to reach the capsule.

This was the third ballistic reentry in ISS history. The first was Soyuz TMA-1 in 2003.

Tom
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posted 04-19-2008 01:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tom   Click Here to Email Tom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While this is the second consecutive Soyuz ballistic re-entry and third total from ISS, was this quite common during MIR and Salyut returns?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-19-2008 01:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tom:
...was this quite common during MIR and Salyut returns?
Prior to Soyuz TMA-1, there were only two ballistic entries in the course of the entire Soyuz (T, TM) history. (Source: ESA)

ASCAN1984
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posted 04-19-2008 03:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bravo Expedition 16. Fantastic job.

issman1
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posted 04-19-2008 04:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Soyuz TMA will soon be the only transportation system for ISS crews to and from the Station. This was the third ballistic re-entry in 5 years. Is it a problem exclusive to the TMA series? In which case, it must now be a serious flight safety risk despite Russian statements to the contrary.

dom
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posted 04-19-2008 05:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Can anyone explain to me why ballistic re-entries take place sometimes with the Soyuz capsule?

What's going wrong and is it something that Orion designers will have to worry about now?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-19-2008 05:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
Is it a problem exclusive to the TMA series?
As noted earlier, it has happened twice before the Soyuz TMA was flying.
quote:
In which case, it must now be a serious flight safety risk despite Russian statements to the contrary.
To quote ESA, "the ballistic mode is one of four nominal re-entry modes that the Soyuz T, TM and TMA capsules could employ under different conditions. The others are the automatic and manual control modes, and a back-up ballistic mode."

It a mode for which the crew trains pre-flight and therefore, while obviously not preferable, it is also not considered a safety risk (as evidenced by the crew being in good shape after landing).

Delta7
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posted 04-19-2008 05:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dom:
Can anyone explain to me why ballistic re-entries take place sometimes with the Soyuz capsule?
In the case of the Expedition 6 return, I think it was due to a programming input error, but I could be wrong on that.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-19-2008 06:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dom:
Can anyone explain to me why ballistic re-entries take place sometimes with the Soyuz capsule?
The ballistic reentry during Soyuz TMA-1's (Expedition 6) return was due:
quote:
...to a failure in the BUSP-M guidance system, which is necessary in order to carry out a controlled re-entry. This guidance system reads gyroscopes and accelerometers and sends appropriate commands to attitude control thrusters.

The yaw control channel, a sub-unit of the BUSP-M produced 'undefined' readings, indicating a malfunction. This caused higher control functions to take the BUSP-M system out of the control loop and convert to the ballistic re-entry mode.


The ballistic re-entry during Soyuz TMA-10's return was caused by damage to a cable in the spacecraft's control panel, which connected the panel with the Soyuz descent equipment.

It has not yet been released what caused the ballistic reentry during Soyuz TMA-11's return this morning.

quote:
...is it something that Orion designers will have to worry about now?
Mercury and Vostok returned from space along ballistic reentries. Soyuz, Gemini and Apollo have/had ballistic modes as a back-up to their nominal lifting profile descent. Orion, by the nature of being a blunt body spacecraft will also have a ballistic mode of reentry, though like the latter capsules, will use it only as a contingency.

ejectr
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posted 04-19-2008 07:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That ballistic re-entry must have felt pretty bad on a body that's been weightless for 6 months.

Jay Chladek
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posted 04-20-2008 05:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I asked Petit about his experience of a ballistic reentry after about six months of weightlessness and he said there wasn't really that much to it due to how well the form fitting couches on the Soyuz capsules conformed to the bodies and how well the pressure suits worked. Reading about the experience as documented in "Too Far From Home" seemed a bit on the harrowing side though, more akin to something from the Mercury program. Thankfully the time period at peak G forces is mercifully short, although it probably didn't feel that way to the crewmembers at the time.

Waiting for fourty five minutes at the landing site though when you can barely stand (let alone walk) I imagine was a bit more difficult. Although I figure Yi was probably in the best shape of the three to help out at landing since she hadn't been in space all that long and probably got her land legs back in rather quick fashion.

Tonyq
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posted 04-20-2008 01:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tonyq   Click Here to Email Tonyq     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I spoke to Soyeon this morning (Sunday AM in Moscow). She is in good shape, a little sore and stiff from the impact of landing, but in very high spirits.

I asked about the landing, among many other things, and she made quite light of the re-entry itself, as they had trained for it and done the ballistic profile in the centrifuge. She suggested the most alarming part of the experience was realising they were so far off target and had no comms. Malenchenko opened the hatch and exited to use the phone, and she followed him. The implication was that Peggy did not. There were some local farmers there who had come to help in any way they could. All told, it was about a hour until the rescue forces arrived and took control of the site.

Incidentally, she had a fantastic experience overall and is ready to go back, anytime.

issman1
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posted 04-21-2008 08:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I still maintain a ballistic re-entry is a disaster waiting to happen. Soyuz could easily have landed on a hillside, mountaintop, in a river, on a motorway, a railway track or been confronted by bandits!

And what is Anatoly Perminov, the head of Roskosmos, thinking? He wants TMA-13 re-designated and cited other superstitious claptrap that the historic presence of two women aboard TMA-11 may have contributed to the ballistic mode(!)

dom
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posted 04-21-2008 04:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Veteran spaceflight commentator James Oberg - a man not known to keep quiet when it comes to the bad side of any Russian space effort - is blaming higher Soyuz production rates for the failure.

Quality control apparently...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-21-2008 09:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Oberg's article (linked above):
quote:
Why did alarming details of the landing — including the ignition of a brush fire that set the collapsed parachute ablaze and filled the landed spacecraft with smoke — take so long to reach the public?
The scale of the grass fire was at first deceiving given the aerial imagery. Tonight, while looking at NASA's high resolution photos, it suddenly became clear how large an area was scorched as a result of TMA-11's landing.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-21-2008 10:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Per an e-mail from Oberg:
There is a growing murmur of reports that the entry was far, FAR more "off nominal" than even an 'ordinary' ballistic descent. So far, in fact, that the crew may be lucky to be alive. Let's see what the next few hours reveal...

cspg
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posted 04-22-2008 12:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dom:
Quality control apparently...
Much like the Proton rocket and its upper stages?

And Oberg is also "relying" on a Russian tabloid journalist to make such claim... And from the article mentioned above, I like the idea of having Russian workforce "dying" on the production line...

I certainly wouldn't want to bring up the "bias" issue again... And I'm not suggesting everything's fine on the Russian's side but weren't Russia's problems in a way triggered by the US quitting the shuttle and ISS programs?

Chris.

Jay Chladek
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posted 04-22-2008 02:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will say this about Oberg, he does tend to know his subject and he probably has cultivated some contacts on the Russian side that no other journalist has. As such, I think we should wait and see what he can come up with. Regardless of whether or not the TMA-11 ballistic reentry was related to the problems with TMA-10 or not, two back to back ballistic entries worry me a bit.

If Roskosmos gets on the stick to nip this problem in the bud, I would say they should consider really inspecting the next capsule intended for flight bigtime to clear it of faults. If it comes through with a clean bill of health, send it up to the ISS unmanned in place of a Progress and let Expedition 17 use it as their egress capsule. Then TMA-12 can be brought back unmanned to see if it encounters a problem that brings it back ballistically. This is probably how things would have been done in the Soviet system during the days of Salyut. It could be a win win PR situation for them if this works as they would show the world that the Russians pay attention to spaceflight safety and are willing to fix a problem. Plus, they could fly TMA-13 unmanned and follow the tradition of Russian ships numbered "13" being rescue craft and a "lucky" capsule as opposed to an unlucky one.

issman1
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posted 04-22-2008 06:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am more inclined to believe Mr Oberg than any official statement of either NASA or Roskosmos on this matter.

It was predictable how Perminov initially blamed the TMA-11 crew (reminiscent of Tsibliyev and Lazutkin in '97)!

But as I wrote earlier Soyuz will soon be the only ride to the ISS. Isn't it time the partners swallowed their pride and invited China until Orion comes on-line?

It should be no problem to modify Shenzhou with either a Russian or US docking adapter.

It is far better to have redundancy in the system than put your eggs in one basket...

blacklion1
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posted 04-22-2008 08:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for blacklion1   Click Here to Email blacklion1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone have any updated reports on the status of Peggy Whitson? I've seen NASA TV coverage of the crews arrival at Star City, but she was noticeably absent for the traditional welcoming ceremonies immediately after landing.

PowerCat
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posted 04-22-2008 08:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for PowerCat   Click Here to Email PowerCat     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I shared your concerns as well. I did see the first video that included Peggy Whitson last night on the NASA channel. She was getting off a bus with her two crewmates. She appeared to be ok, but a bit wobbly.

PowerCat

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-22-2008 08:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by blacklion1:
Does anyone have any updated reports on the status of Peggy Whitson?
Whitson participated in a press conference with her crewmates on Monday morning, during which she said:
"I'm feeling much better and every day it's getting better, so I'll be all right. I feel a little bit weaker, in the sense of muscle weakness. Last time I felt very strong after landing and this time, a little weaker. But again, that's a part of the process of rehabilitation, so I'm confident I'll be able to recover that as well."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-22-2008 10:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Spaceflight Now: Possible Soyuz separation problem under scrutiny
quote:
The Russian Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft that carried two space station crew members and a South Korean guest cosmonaut back to Earth apparently suffered a failure, possibly involving explosive bolts, that prevented one of two sections connected to the central crew capsule from separating properly before re-entry, sources say.

The capsule apparently entered the discernible atmosphere in an unusual orientation and was subjected to relatively violent buffeting until the attached section finally broke away, as planned in such scenarios, allowing the descent module to settle into a normal heat-shield-down orientation. The failure of the lower propulsion module to cleanly separate is believed to have forced the craft into a steep, so-called ballistic re-entry.

...

What happened Saturday is not yet clear. Sources say the propulsion module apparently did not immediately separate from the descent module just prior to entry, possibly because an explosive bolt failed to fire. As a result, the crew cabin apparently did not enter the atmosphere in the proper orientation. The attached module broke free at some point, allowing the crew cabin to right itself and continue the descent in the proper orientation. Sources said smoke was present in the crew cabin during or just after the descent, but it's not clear what might have caused it or when it occurred.


As the article goes on to say, if the separation failure occurred as sources are claiming, then it brings to mind the 1969 reentry of Boris Volynov on Soyuz 5.

There is a NASA telecon scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Tuesday to brief the media.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-22-2008 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to "a source close to an ad hoc commission investigating the incident" who spoke to Interfax:
"As a result of great heating impact, the hatch burned quite significantly and the transmitter's array melted down, which severed contact with the spacecraft. Part of the pressure equalization valve, which is located on the outside, burned off."

Jay Chladek
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posted 04-22-2008 02:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh boy...

tegwilym
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posted 04-22-2008 03:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yikes! This is scary stuff.

Just like the old days when the Soyuz first flew. I remember reading they had a few flights where the same type of separation thing happened.

dom
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posted 04-22-2008 03:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Surely we are all missing the main point here?

A Soyuz suffered its "worst case" scenario - two modules still attached during a re-entry - and the crew lived to tell the (admittedly scary) tale. It's a rough ship!

The two recent events are probably random chance 'rolls of the dice' - just bad luck - after many years of good landings.

Has everyone forgotten the 1970s when every second Soviet mission seemed to get into trouble at the end...landing in lakes etc.

Jay Chladek
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posted 04-22-2008 04:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dom:
It's a rough ship!
Yeah, it is a rough ship (rather a "robust" ship). However it is a bit concerning to have two ballistic reentries on successive flights caused by a separation issue. They should serve as warning signs that something needs to be checked over and soon. One doesn't often get second chances in this business.

Prior STS-107, there were at least a couple of flights that suffered significant TPS damage from foam loss (one on the shuttle RCC). Just as there were a couple of flights prior to STS-51L that showed the O-Rings in the SRBs weren't doing the job of sealing in the exhaust gasses very well. We all know the results of those flights.

As such, yes the Soyuz did its job in a backup capacity. But you really don't want to get that close to the ragged edge since if something else happens to render the backup ineffective, then there is no backup for it and the crew is potentially in BIG trouble. Soyuz 5 got pretty deep into the atmosphere on its reentry before the propulsion module broke away. It was so perilous that Volynov reported seeing the front wall of the Soyuz begin to distort its shape from the aero forces being built up on it. If the modules hadn't separated, I can only imagine how much time it would have taken before the descent module finally ruptured. Plus the parachutes are up there as well and so are the final touchdown rockets. Granted in the case of Soyuz 5 the chutes did work, but the retro rockets didn't and Volynov got a very rude awakening on landing. So what would happen if the heat loads had affected the parachutes? Not a pleasant thought.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-22-2008 04:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA associate administrator for space operations Bill Gerstenmaier briefed the media on Tuesday afternoon as to what was known — and what was not known yet — about the ballistic reentry of Soyuz TMA-11.

"We really need to get the capsule back to understand what occurred, to see what happened," said Gerstenmaier, who returned from Russia on Monday evening. "The data recorder on-board will provide critical information. A detailed inspection of the capsule needs to be done."

Gerstenmaier offered his confidence in the Russians' investigation, especially in light of this being the second Soyuz in a row to return from the space station on a ballistic trajectory.

"At first appearances, it looks like some of the same events occurred on this Soyuz vehicle [as did on the one before], and because of that potential similarity, they have kind of kicked the gain up on this investigation to make sure they get answers as soon as they can."

Gerstenmaier revealed that Soyuz TMA-10, which landed in October 2007, not only experienced a ballistic return (which was caused by a faulty cable), but had also encountered a "separation issue" between its descent and propulsion modules. A cable running between the two sections — different from the one that triggered the ballistic mode — had continued to relay thruster data even after the explosive bolts holding the modules together had fired, indicating that the two were still connected.

A similar failed separation led to the nearly-fatal reentry of Boris Volynov aboard Soyuz 5 in January 1969. In both cases, the modules finally separated due to the aerodynamic stresses pushing against them.

"The other event on the last Soyuz was the separation event where we believe one of the pyro bolts that attached the instrumentation section, the pyro section, failed to separate properly. That kept the instrumentation section and the propulsion section attached to the spacecraft for a longer period of time than desired," he explained.

"Those interfaces are designed such that even if the pyros don't separate the bolt, eventually the heating and aerodynamic forces will cause that interface to break and separate. We believe that is what happened on the last Soyuz."

"The Russians know that from the fact that there is a cable interface that runs between the descent capsule and the instrumentation - propulsion section. Commands were able to go across that cable and actually fire thrusters on the propulsion section of the other module on the last flight, so therefore we know that the interface was not broken as it should have been at the separation command and that's how we have the data from the previous flight that that occurred."

Sources cited by Russian news reports have suggested that the failed separation of the two Soyuz sections caused the vehicle to enter the Earth's atmosphere nose- or hatch-down, leading to severe heating damage and a loss of communications with the ground.

Gerstenmaier confirmed the radio cut-off but said they did not yet know its cause. He attributed the separation reports to speculation by crew members Peggy Whitson and Yuri Malenchenko, who reported seeing and feeling "off-nominal" motion in the capsule.

"They felt some anomalous motion in the spacecraft," described Gerstenmaier, in response to a question from collectSPACE.com. "They felt some kind of bumping around — a movement forward in their seats, a movement aft in their seats, a movement to the right, a movement to the left."

"So, they felt a general kind of jostling in their seats that they had not felt before and that was prior to the initiation of the ballistic mode on the spacecraft and after the separation command. During that period of time, they experienced some off-nominal motion. They physically felt some off-nominal motion in the spacecraft."

Gerstenmaier said it might take several months before the Russians could report what had transpired. In the interim, he warned against making guesses as to the cause. "I don't want us to speculate, as I think that drives the discussion or drives the concern maybe in a direction that isn't appropriate for us at this time," he said.

"I don't see this as a major problem," he commented, "but it is clearly something that should not have occurred."

KSCartist
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Posts: 2488
From: Titusville, FL USA
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 04-22-2008 06:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KSCartist   Click Here to Email KSCartist     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert-

Maybe the next time you speak with Jim Oberg you ask him to make sure the graphics folks at NBC correct there depiction of the re-entry.

Tonight on the Evening News with Brian Williams, they showed the crew compartment as the service module and the orbital module as the crew compartment entering the atmosphere. It was disappointing to see them get it so wrong.

Tim

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-22-2008 06:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KSCartist:
Tonight on the Evening News with Brian Williams, they showed the crew compartment as the service module and the orbital module as the crew compartment entering the atmosphere.
Indeed, they got it wrong:

Via Oberg, here is a Japanese artist's representation (source: "Newton" magazine) of Soyuz 5, offering a better depiction of the proper configuration.


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