Category Archives: space

Astronauts land safely after Soyuz launch fails at 20 miles up

A fault in a Soyuz rocket booster has resulted in an aborted crew mission to the International Space Station, but fortunately no loss of life. The astronauts in the capsule, Nick Hague (U.S.) and Alexey Ovchinin (Russia) successfully detached upon recognizing the fault and made a safe, if bumpy, landing nearly 250 miles east of the launch site in Kazakhstan. This high-profile failure could bolster demand for U.S.-built crewed spacecraft.

The launch proceeded normally for the first minute and a half, but at that point, when the first and second stages were meant to detach, there was an unspecified fault, possibly a failure of the first stage and its fuel tanks to detach. The astronauts recognized this issue and immediately initiated the emergency escape system.

Hague and Ovchinin in the capsule before the fault occurred.

The Soyuz capsule detached from the rocket and began a “ballistic descent” (read: falling), arrested by a parachute before landing approximately 34 minutes after the fault. Right now that’s about as much detail on the actual event as has been released by Roscosmos and NASA. Press conferences have been mainly about being thankful that the crew is okay, assuring people that they’ll get to the bottom of this and kicking the can down the road on everything else.

Although it will likely take weeks before we know exactly what happened, the repercussions for this failure are immediate. The crew on the ISS will not be reinforced, and as there are only 3 up there right now with a single Soyuz capsule with which to return to Earth, there’s a chance they’ll have to leave the ISS empty for a short time.

The current crew was scheduled to return in December, but NASA has said that the Soyuz is safe to take until January 4, so there’s a bit of leeway. That’s not to say they can necessarily put together another launch before then, but if the residents there need to stay a bit longer to safely park the station, as it were, they have a bit of extra time to do so.

The Soyuz booster and capsule have been an extremely reliable system for shuttling crew to and from the ISS, and no Soyuz fault has ever led to loss of life, although there have been a few issues recently with DOA satellites and of course the recent hole found in one just in August.

This was perhaps the closest a Soyuz has come to a life-threatening failure, and as such any Soyuz-based launches will be grounded until further notice. To be clear, this was a failure with the Soyuz-FG rocket, which is slated for replacement, not with the capsule or newer rocket of the same name.

SpaceX and Boeing have been competing to create and certify their own crew capsules, which were scheduled for testing some time next year — but while the Soyuz issues may nominally increase the demand for these U.S.-built alternatives, the testing process can’t be rushed.

That said, grounding the Soyuz (if only for crewed flights) and conducting a full-scale fault investigation is no small matter, and if we’re not flying astronauts up to the ISS in one of them, we’re not doing it at all. So there is at least an incentive to perform testing of the new crew capsules in a timely manner and keep to as short a timeframe as is reasonable.

You can watch the launch as it played out here:

SpaceX And Russia Change The Rules Of The Military Launch Market

Atlas V It’s been a tough week for United Launch Alliance (ULA). A hearing last Wednesday brought news of a potential ban on Russian made RD-180 engines which ULA requires for their Atlas V rocket. To make matters worse, the U.S. Air Force is also considering ending an $800 million-per-year contract with the company. This bad news actually works in favor for SpaceX, who is now certified to… Read More

Jeff Bezos (And Probably Others) Would Like To Send Donald Trump To Space

21597373863_f64235d640_k Trump, Trump, Trump. I know, you’re probably tired of hearing about him but he just won’t go away…and it’s not even really full-on election season yet. One of his latest Twitter barks (and there have been many) was at CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos: The @washingtonpost, which loses a fortune, is owned by @JeffBezos for purposes of keeping taxes down at his no profit… Read More

Sextronauts Want Your Help Funding The First Porno Shot In Space

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 10.10.36 AM Another day, another attempt to shoot a crowdfunded pornographic film in space for three million dollars. PornHub has created an Indiegogo page to help support their effort to film the first porn in space, the aptly titled SEXPLORATION. The plan is to send actors and, presumably, a camera crew into space where they will film the procreative act.
The plan is a perfect storm of modern tropes: Porn! Read More

Sextronauts Want Your Help Funding The First Porno Shot In Space

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 10.10.36 AM Another day, another attempt to shoot a crowdfunded pornographic film in space for three million dollars. PornHub has created an Indiegogo page to help support their effort to film the first porn in space, the aptly titled SEXPLORATION. The plan is to send actors and, presumably, a camera crew into space where they will film the procreative act.
The plan is a perfect storm of modern tropes: Porn! Read More

NASA, IBM Team For Worldwide Space App Hackathon

NASA Rocket Experiment Finds the Universe Brighter Than We Thought What happens when NASA gets together with IBM’s Bluemix cloud services and sponsors a worldwide hackathon? They hope to challenge participants to build apps that help solve issues around space exploration and earthly problems too. The ambitious event, called The Space App Challenge, is taking place this weekend simultaneously in 162 countries involving 136 cities and 10,000… Read More

NASA, IBM Team For Worldwide Space App Hackathon

NASA Rocket Experiment Finds the Universe Brighter Than We Thought What happens when NASA gets together with IBM’s Bluemix cloud services and sponsors a worldwide hackathon? They hope to challenge participants to build apps that help solve issues around space exploration and earthly problems too. The ambitious event, called The Space App Challenge, is taking place this weekend simultaneously in 162 countries involving 136 cities and 10,000… Read More

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