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  [Discuss] Loss of Soyuz-U with Progress M-12M (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] Loss of Soyuz-U with Progress M-12M
Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-24-2011 11:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Editor's note: In an effort to keep the topic Progress M-12M (44P) ISS resupply craft focused on status updates, reader's feedback and opinions are directed to this thread.

Please use this topic to discuss the loss of Russia's Soyuz-U rocket with the Progress M-12M resupply craft for the International Space Station.

issman1
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posted 08-24-2011 12:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've always been struck by the near-flawless performance of Progress and Soyuz launches since the days of Mir, so it's disappointing to learn about this mishap.

But I'm wondering would this malfunction be survivable for a crew? And is there any chance of re-docking the 43 Progress?

Fezman92
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posted 08-24-2011 12:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to the news conference, the ISS has about four months of supplies with them.

dom
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posted 08-24-2011 01:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
...would this malfunction be survivable for a crew?
Well, a 33-year unbroken chain of successful flights for the Progress craft had to come to an end one day...

I would guess the same failure on a manned Soyuz would result in a heavy G-load for the unfortunate crew and a touchdown near the Chinese border - just like what happened during a launch abort in 1975.

Philip
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posted 08-24-2011 02:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A set back to the manned space program, luckily the ISS crew has a life supplies stock for 120 days.

BMckay
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posted 08-24-2011 02:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BMckay   Click Here to Email BMckay     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is better to be safe then sorry. I am still planning on attending the Soyuz TMA-22 launch and a month or two downtime to be safe is okay with me.

fredtrav
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posted 08-24-2011 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fredtrav   Click Here to Email fredtrav     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is a surprise given the reliability of the Progress. If it was the Proton it certainly would not be a shock.

Cozmosis22
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posted 08-24-2011 04:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Consider this a fateful reminder of the ill-conceived decision to ground the U.S. space shuttle fleet.

SpaceAngel
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posted 08-24-2011 05:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAngel   Click Here to Email SpaceAngel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has a Progress vehicle ever been lost during the launch phase before?

music_space
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posted 08-24-2011 05:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Cozmosis22:
Consider this a fateful reminder of the ill-conceived decision to ground the U.S. space shuttle fleet.
...in the other hand, this should give more impetus towards funding and achieving cargo-to-orbit American capacity.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-24-2011 07:34 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 Cozmosis22:
Consider this a fateful reminder of the ill-conceived decision to ground the U.S. space shuttle fleet.
ISS program manager Michael Suffredini said today that even if he had a space shuttle ready to fly, this loss wouldn't have caused him to request its use.

With the first of the U.S. commercial cargo craft slated to fly to the ISS this winter, and both European and Japanese resupply craft scheduled for the first half of 2012, the ISS can be well stocked even without the immediate availability of a Progress.

(And space shuttle or no space shuttle, crew rotation on the ISS relies on the Soyuz as a lifeboat.)

Cozmosis22
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posted 08-24-2011 08:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
ISS program manager Michael Suffredini said today that even if he had a space shuttle ready to fly, this loss wouldn't have caused him to request its use.
Indeed the ISS folks were well stocked with supplies during the STS-135 flight.

328KF
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posted 08-25-2011 12:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Cozmosis22:
Indeed the ISS folks were well stocked with supplies during the STS-135 flight.

I think this is a great vindication of the decision to fly 135. Who would have ever thought that a Progress launch would fail? Certainly not me...they run rocket launches like a railroad on a sunny summer day.

Program managers hedged their bets based upon a general lack of confidence that the commercial providers would have a failure or might otherwise be slow getting up to speed. But here we are now basically in an indefinite hold on operations of one of only three operationally proven upmass systems.

Not a good position to be in, but one in which good advance planning now gives us an ability to absorb the failure, albeit for a finite period of time.

issman1
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posted 08-25-2011 05:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This crisis reminds me of the time when Progress M-34 crashed into Mir back in 1997. The recriminations could be equally serious.

Roscosmos must now regret saying that an era of reliability began on the very day America's shuttle programme ended.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-25-2011 11:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interfax, citing a source, reports that the launch of Soyuz TMA-22 is likely to be postponed until the second half of October.
No manned launches will be allowed until a special investigating commission completes its work, which may take a month or more, the source said.

"The commission needs to check the manufacturing of the rocket's third stage at a plant in Samara [TSKB Progress] and the pre-launch preparations at Baikonur. It is also necessary to recover fragments of the third stage from the taiga and hand them over to specialists for subsequent analysis," he said.

The commission is only just being formed, and "no quick results should be expected," the source said.

"When all groups of experts sort the reasons of the breakdown and come to a unanimous conclusion, they will sign an ultimate report, and only after that Soyuz-U launches may resume," he said.

The nearest manned space launch is likely to be shifted to the second half of October, the source said.

dogcrew5369
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posted 08-25-2011 03:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dogcrew5369   Click Here to Email dogcrew5369     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
Roscosmos must now regret saying that an era of reliability began on the very day America's shuttle programme ended.
And they said the Titanic could never sink. Open mouth, insert foot Roscosmos.

328KF
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posted 08-27-2011 11:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This could get a whole lot worse. ISS Program Manager Michael Suffredini is now talking about de-manning the station by mid-November if Soyuz is not flying again.
Space station control centers in Houston and Moscow are equipped to monitor and operate the $100 billion laboratory from the ground, but retreating from the outpost would halt promising medical research and break a string of almost 11 years of continuous manned operations.

"I suspect that if we get close to Nov. 16 and we haven't flown a Soyuz yet, and by then we will have stepped down to three crew, we'll probably de-man the ISS and go to unmanned operations," Suffredini said.

Talk about a gap...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-28-2011 03:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a press conference scheduled for Monday morning when Suffrendini will explain this in more detail but as the article cited above mentions, he does not believe de-manning the ISS will be necessary. Instead, he expects Russia will resolve the issue, fly two unmanned flights (a commercial satellite launch and then another Progress) using the same type of Soyuz U upper stage that failed to verify the problem was addressed and then launch Soyuz TMA-22 in early November.
"I fully expect our Russian colleagues will resolve this anomaly in a timely fashion, and I expect them to do it in a safe fashion. Having the data they have on the anomaly is just fantastic," Suffredini said. "I would expect you would hear us say something along the lines we'll fly this commercial flight, we'll fly the Progress with the hopes maybe of flying a Soyuz by the November timeframe if everything works out."

issman1
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posted 08-28-2011 04:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While I appreciate that this is speculation it does, however, annoy me how the world space agencies got into such a predicament whereby the ISS could be abandoned.

So much for the decades-old NASA philosophy of always having a back-up plan. China has a space capsule which should have been added to the inventory, but temporal geopolitics superseded that logic.

I sincerely hope US politicians now prioritize development of commercial vehicles, because there may be no space station for them to dock with.

Delta7
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posted 08-28-2011 12:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Being that the Law of Averages dictates that a failure like this is going to happen sooner or later, better it should happen on an unmanned flight. Find out what went wrong, fix it, learn from it and move on.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-29-2011 10:41 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 issman1:
So much for the decades-old NASA philosophy of always having a back-up plan.
De-manning the space station and operating it autonomously from the ground is the back-up plan. A lack of a back-up plan would have resulted in losing use of the ISS altogether.

SpaceAholic
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posted 08-29-2011 10:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The inability to execute a reboost and maintain attitude may become an issue. Pretty embarrassing position for the U.S. to be in.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-29-2011 01:09 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 SpaceAholic:
The inability to execute a reboost and maintain attitude may become an issue.
Not according to ISS program manager Michael Suffredini, who addressed this at this morning's press briefing.
"Everything we need to do we can do by commanding on the ground. We can resupply prop, we can do debris avoidance maneuvers. We can lose a couple of gyros before we start to get too worried, especially when we are in an unmanned configuration flying the attitude which is best for stability. So we have some margin in those systems as well."

SpaceAholic
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posted 08-29-2011 01:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has ISS robotic refueling actually been operationally tested?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-29-2011 01:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Suffredini was referring to resupplying prop from Zarya's reserve tanks to the Zvezda service module's two main engines, an action controlled from the ground. Zvesda's engines were previously used to reboost the station in 2007.

SpaceAngel
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posted 08-29-2011 07:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAngel   Click Here to Email SpaceAngel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Won't JAXA and ESA step up and launch their cargo spacecrafts to ISS?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-29-2011 07:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There isn't a pressing need for another cargo delivery right now. Based on logistics alone, the ISS can support a crew through next June.

ESA and JAXA will launch cargo craft as scheduled in early 2012.

Jay Chladek
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posted 08-29-2011 07:46 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 issman1:
So much for the decades-old NASA philosophy of always having a back-up plan.
If by having shuttle flying as a "backup plan" as some of you guys might be using as the basis for a discussion on this matter, it really never was a viable plan to begin with. Reason being is you can't use shuttle to necessarily put a crew on the ISS without Soyuz or Progress support since they would not have a Soyuz lifeboat if the R-7 is grounded. It has been this way since the ISS began accepting crews in 2000. Plus, concerning resupply, shuttle to my knowledge was unable to offload propellant since the docking ports on the US side aren't set up that way. As such, only Progress and Soyuz can offload propellant once docked.

Sure, in the early days they did crew rotations with the shuttle, but there was always one Soyuz on hand for each three person crew. The role of the Soyuz became clear on Expedition 6 when the loss of STS-107 meant that no shuttle would be bringing them home. So they had to come home on a Soyuz after their replacement crew came onboard.

The ISS could have had a second lifeboat contingency if the X-38 CRV hadn't been cancelled. But that was always intended as a backup system and to my knowledge it was never intended to launch manned, just sent up unmanned, docked with the station and activated at a time it was needed.

issman1
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posted 08-30-2011 04:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My definition of a back-up plan is to accelerate commercial crew development, not resurrect the shuttle.

DChudwin
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posted 08-30-2011 07:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I totally agree with the above post. We should not depend on Soyuz to get Americans into orbit. Now is the time to man-rate the Atlas 5 and Falcon 9 as soon as possible and to speed up development of Boeing's CST-100, SpaceX's Dragon, Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser and the Blue Origin spacecraft. These projects are all well-funded and in advanced testing.

LM-12
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posted 08-30-2011 09:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Based on logistics alone, the ISS can support a crew through next June.

Is that a crew of six or three?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-30-2011 05:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A crew of six, thanks to the logistics delivered by STS-135.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-30-2011 05:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to Anatoly Zak, writing on his website Russian Space Web, as of today (Aug. 30), the upcoming station milestones are planned as follows:
  • Sept. 16 (Sept. 15, 11:30 p.m. Houston Time): Soyuz TMA-21 (Tail No. 231; ISS mission 26S) landing;
  • Sept. 25: Soyuz-2-1B/GLONASS-M launch (return to flight for the Soyuz family of rockets);
  • Oct. 13: Progress M-10M (Tail No. 410; ISS mission 42P) undocking from the station;
  • Oct. 14: Progress M-13M (Tail No. 413; ISS mission 45P) launch (a test flight of the Soyuz-U rocket);
  • Oct. 28: Soyuz TMA-22 (Tail No. 232; ISS mission 28S) launch;
During this period, the crew of Soyuz TMA-02M would remain onboard the ISS, along with its spacecraft serving as a lifeboat. If this scenario is accomplished as planned, the station would remain manned.

PowerCat
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posted 08-31-2011 05:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for PowerCat   Click Here to Email PowerCat     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe thinking outside the box big time... but would it even be possible (or considered) to land the Soyuz in the western United States giving more daylight landing opportunities to the two crews aboard? Why not have NASA assist the Russians with crew recovery with our resources available now?

issman1
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posted 09-01-2011 10:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is no technical hinderance to a Soyuz making a landing in the USA. It's probably a matter of Russian national prestige. What is most troubling is how NASA already informed the world that ISS can fly crewless indefinitely. This then begs the question what was the point of ever sustaining a continuous/permanent human presence?

"Thinking outside the box" is what seems to be lacking in this whole episode. Abandoning the ISS really shouldn't even be an option - only in an extreme emergency. I've a bad feeling this will be one of those mistakes that compromised spaceflight.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-01-2011 10:23 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 issman1:
This then begs the question what was the point of ever sustaining a continuous/permanent human presence?
In a word: science. There is a significant difference between keeping the ISS stable in orbit and using it to perform science.

While some experiments could continue to collect data while the space station was unoccupied (e.g. the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer), most of the crew-tended science would come to a halt. And that's to say nothing of the medical studies, which by definition would come to a complete halt and are the primary reason to sustain a continuous human presence onboard.

Cozmosis22
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posted 09-01-2011 03:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
This then begs the question what was the point of ever sustaining a continuous/permanent human presence?
Perhaps humans are just a temporary need until "Robonaut" and HAL come online?

SpaceAholic
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posted 09-01-2011 06:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
I've a bad feeling this will be one of those mistakes that compromised spaceflight.

The mistake was placing ourselves in the position of being reliant on a foreign country to enable LEO access. While the challenges could have been experienced with a domestic capability, the U.S. government would be in a far better position to influence allocation of resources and priorities for a return to flight. The elephant in the room remains the possibility that at any time relations between Russia and the US will sour to the point at which Soyuz is no longer an option (in that regard the trend line over the past couple of years has been negative).

eurospace
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posted 09-02-2011 03:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
German national newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reports in yesterday's edition that:
  • the root cause of the Progress had been identified: a gas generator on the 3rd stage
  • that the launch ban on the Soyuz rocket had been lifted
  • that the next Progress mission (initially scheduled for 28 October) had been advanced to 14 October
  • that before the next manned would take off, two unmanned launches would be undertaken (aforementioned Progress launch and a Globalstar launch on a Soyuz)
  • that the next Soyuz launch - TMA-22 - would likely to take place in late October.
The paper reports those circumstances as "not officially confirmed, but not denied" either.

Fezman92
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posted 09-02-2011 08:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It appears that they have the issues just about fixed and the unmanned launches will be the return to flight will be used just to make sure. Will the unmanned ones have a Soyuz boilerplate?


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