Forgot to mention last entry that along with the New York Times article “The Long Countdown”, there was a Soyuz interactive diagram, so below are all the screenshots from the Flash-animated diagram (I hate Flash as individual images can’t be linked to!).
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Soyuz TMA-13 launched on 12/10 at 7:01:33 UTC and docked on 14/10 to the Zarya module at 8:26. TMA-12 is due to land on 24/10; its main issue is whether there will be another ballistic landing or not! Depending upon what counting method is used, this is the 100th Soyuz flight (What is the Number of Soyuz TMA-13 Mission to be Launched Soon?, Roskosmos site; also a CollectSPACE article).
Information about Soyuz space missions (for all Soyuz modifications).
Soyuz – the following vehicles bearing this name flew into space:
- Soyuz: 40 vehicles (Soyuz-1 – 23/4/1967, Soyuz-40 – 14/5/1981). Among these vehicles, Soyuz-2 (25/10/1968), Soyuz-20 (17/11/1975) and Soyuz-34 (06/6/1979) were launched unmanned. Though Soyuz-34 returned cosmonauts V. Lyakhov and V. Ryumin, who were launched in Soyuz-32, which returned to the Earth unmanned. In addition, one Soyuz launch – 5/4/1975 – failed; this vehicle followed suborbital trajectory during its mission (numbered Soyuz-18-1).
- Soyuz Т: 15 vehicles (Soyuz Т-1 – 16/12/1979, Soyuz Т-15 – 13/3/1986). In this row, Soyuz Т-1 (16/12/1979) was unmanned. A launcher exploded during prelaunch processing of one Soyuz Т-type vehicle (26/9/1983), and the cosmonauts escaped due to proper triggering of the launch escape system (numbered Soyuz Т-10А).
- Soyuz ТМ: 34 vehicles (Soyuz ТМ-1 – 21/5/1986, Soyuz ТМ-34 – 25/4/2002). Soyuz ТМ-1 (21/5/1986) was launched unmanned.
- Soyuz ТМА: 12 vehicles (Soyuz ТМА-1 – 30/10/2002, Soyuz ТМА-12 – 8/4/2008).
Totally, 101 Soyuzes were orbited from 1967 up to now. Out of this number, 97 vehicles were manned, (95 – up and down, 1 – only up, 1 – only down).
In addition to official Soyuzes, Kosmos vehicles (unmanned) were also launched.
If Kosmos vehicles are taken into account, we have even more Soyuz missions. Soyuz mission 100 can result from the count if we include:
- 37 vehicles of Soyuz type (1, from 3 to 19, from 21 to 33, from 35 to 40)- launched manned
- + 1 vehicle of Soyuz type (34) – returned manned
- + 1 vehicle of Soyuz type – which made suborbital mission
- + 14 vehicles of Soyuz Т type – launched manned
- + 1 vehicle of Soyuz Т type (in which LES was triggered during a blow-up at the launch pad)
- + 33 vehicles of Soyuz ТМ type – launched manned
- + 12 vehicles of Soyuz ТМА type – launched manned.
Total: 99. In other words, Soyuz ТМА-13 can be considered the 100th mission in this case. However such estimation looks doubtful, and such procedure/method has never been used. I do not recommend to use this counting method, since it would be difficult to explain the way to obtain this number (100). Moreover, this number is not reasonable.
(Following the request from Roscosmos site, Mr. Aleksander Zheleznyakov prepared this answer.)
Somewhat alarmingly, the ISS toilet broke down again (same gas-separator issue), but was apparently fixed.
“Space Crew Conflicts Not Expected”, Aviation Week, 6/10. Sergei Krikalyov’s opinions on crew interactions during long space missions. He was in Scotland for the 59th International Astronautical Congress. Best quote:
Asked about disagreements in which one astronaut might consider another’s approach to a problem “stupid,” Krikalev drew applause from the audience when he said “the way we do it in Russian space program, U.S. space program, the European program, we don’t have stupid people in our programs.”
“What Will Flight To Mars Reveal”, RIAN/Space Daily, 13/10. The main challenge for interplanetary missions is creating a sustainable Life Support System (LSS); the ones on the ISS are still dependent upon regular supplies from Earth.
“The Long Countdown”, New York Times, 14/10. Quite a good article about NASA/Americans’ experiences in Star City. International relations there have much improved since the tense and uncertain 1990s.
Those who work side by side with their Russian counterparts say that strong relationships and mutual respect have resulted from the many years of collaboration. And they say that whatever the broader geopolitical concerns about relying on Russia for space transportation during the five years when the United States cannot get to the space station on its own rockets, they believe that the multinational partnership that built the station will hold.
But the shuttle will soon be out of the picture. Those who are most familiar with the nations’ joint efforts in space say that the controversial pause between American flights can go smoothly, if the politicians would only stay out of the way.
The American workers at Star City say that on a personal level, geopolitics simply do not matter. Mr. Thiessen said that when such issues came up in conversation with his Russian counterparts, they would say: “That’s politics. Let the government worry about the government. We’re engineers. Let’s solve this problem.”
And this anecdote is rather funny:
Those early days were also marked by wariness and distrust, and the first Americans had a strong impression they were being watched. Mark Bowman, an early contract employee in Russia who is now back in Moscow as deputy director of NASA’s human space flight program in Russia, recalled a weekly teleconference with his boss in Houston. “Thirty minutes into the call the line would go dead,” Mr. Bowman said. “And that would happen every 30 minutes.”
One day during the teleconference, Mr. Bowman warned 28 minutes in that the line was about to go dead and said testily, “I sure wish these damned KGB guys would get longer tapes.”
“The next telecon we had,” Mr. Bowman recalled, “I swear to you, it went 45 minutes and then it went dead.” Apparently, he said, his hosts had upgraded to 90-minute cassettes.
Thursday, 2 October 2008
China’s third manned spaceflight and first spacewalk last weekend were successful.
- Space Daily: “First Chinese EVA Goes Off Smoothly”, 27/9; “China astronauts return as heroes after historic spacewalk”, 28/9; “Good Grades For Shenzhou 7”, 29/9
- Spacefacts: Shenzhou VII page
“Now, NASA and Russians need each other”, MSNBC.com, 1/10. A new James Oberg opinion piece on the contentious NASA deal with Russia to fly NASA astronauts during the period where the Shuttle is retired and whenever Orion makes its first flight.
“Magnetic Hunger Could Drive Space Travelers Insane”, RIAN/Space Daily, 2/10. Rat experiments have shown that the absence of Earth’s magnetic field has deleterious effects on the brain, which has implications for long spaceflights to Mars.