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All systems run like Russia's Soyuz strives to erase space mistakes

Image copyrightNASA / Roscosmos CaptionDestination ISS: The Soyuz capsule will leave Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for space station on Monday…

 The International Space Station (ISS) was photographed by Expedition 56 crew members from a Soyuz spacecraft after accident, October 4, 2018

Image copyright
NASA / Roscosmos

Caption

Destination ISS: The Soyuz capsule will leave Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for space station on Monday

Soyuz starting number 1

38 should be as routine as it is for spacecraft. The next crew is due to lift on Monday’s way to the International Space Station (ISS) from the same launcher Yury Gagarin, which was used in 1967 on its historic first in-orbit flight.

Two months ago, an accident on the last Soyuz launch sent the Russian and American astronauts to the ground.

Shortly before, the crew of ISS had discovered a mysterious hole – after the air pressure at the station began to release and successfully connected.

Both incidents have raised questions about Russia’s space industry – once the Superpower’s high pride – and the future of cosmic cooperation with the United States.

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Mediaskrift Booster error was revealed about 90 seconds in October flight [19659012] Investigators have been blamed for the failed launch on an incorrect Soyuz sensor.

The head of Roscosmos, the Russian space organization, told the BBC that it was damaged when assembled when “two cranes collided”. “Our task is to take action to ensure that it does not happen again,” said Dmitry Rogozin.

He and his Nasa counterparts say they are convinced of the upcoming mission.

David Saint-Jacques (L), 48, Canadian Engineer, Astrophysician and Family Doctor

  • Oleg Kononenko (C), 54, Russian; three space flights on the ISS in 2008, 2011-12 and 2015, a total of 534 days including three space walks
  • Anne McClain (R), 39, American; experienced pilot who studied as a doctoral student at the University of Bath and Bristol in the UK

Some here warn that Russia’s problems are going deeper.

Who’s going to blame on space?

“[The failed launch] is a terrible blow to Russia’s space industry and to the authorities,” explains space expert Pavel Luzin.

“Two short-term emergencies mean something goes wrong.”

Astronauts fly malfunctional rocket

Luzin says Moscow ranks its space program next to its nuclear arena and is sitting in the UN Security Council as things giving Vladimir Putin’s Russia the “great power” status it longs for.

Caption

Pavel Luzin believes that future international cooperation in space may not go

But the accident, and the inexplicable gap on the ISS, included reports of low wages and minimal motivation in the country’s space sector, which is still fully financed and funded.

“There is a big gap between managers’ wages and general engineers, which does not help to ensure conscientious work,” points out Ivan Moiseyev, head of the Space Policy Institute in Moscow.

The Roscosmos boss called it an “open question” about the damage to Soyuz during the assembly was a tampering act.

“It probably was not,” said Rogozin. “But we have to check.”

He raised similar questions about the two millimeter wide hole found on the ISS, which Russia stopped drilling by a “shaking hand”.

In a sign of the tense political climate space chief argued that “deliberate involvement in space” could not be ruled out.

A newspaper reported that Roscosmos actually blamed the American astronauts on the ISS to make the hole behind closed doors.

Will US-Russia relations survive in space?

Publicly, both sides have been positive.

“We fully trust each other. This is the only way we can send our guys and gals in circulation,” told Roscomo’s BBC director at an event marking 20 years of ISS.

“Thank you, the political winds do not touch us,” added Dmitry Rogozin.

Reuters

Caption

Roscosmoso boss (C) greeted Russian Alexey Ovchinin (L) and American Nick Haag when their Soyuz made an emergency landing in October

“The outer environment that I do not believe can understand … that there is confidence in this ocean of other sounds,” Nasa’s William Gerstenmaier echoed him.

Skepsis is certainly strong here.

Relations between the US and Russia heavily strained by accusations of elections and the crisis in Ukraine, industry observers say that the professions of friendship and trust are largely “polite diplomacy”.

Space Station is a powerful and increasingly rare symbol of cooperation. But it is set to end the business in 2024.

  • What is it like staying at ISS?
  • Russian prosecution dramatically interrupted Soyuz flights

“Politics does not affect work on ISS, but future projects are highly unlikely on the same scale,” Ivan Moiseyev believes.

A role for Russia on Nasas Lunar Gateway is still under discussion: Moscow is not happy to take a bit in the US led project to run the moon.

“For researchers, it’s best to keep ISS going on for as long as possible, but it’s the politicians who give the money and they are having the problems,” said Moiseyev.

Pictograms

Monitors show the three Soyuz crews in flight simulators preparing for Monday launch

Russia still speaks as a space magazine.

Dmitry Rogozin insists on his heavy rocket Angara will start, even though the date has now slipped to 2028; with that, Russia has great plans to colonize the moon.

One thing that Moscow can boast with: Soyuz spacecraft is currently the only way to start crew in circulation, because the US ended its Shuttle 2011 program.

“We are convinced of this vehicle, they quickly calculated what happened and why and how to prevent it again,” told Nasas Anne McClain of a journalist. She then climbed into a Soyuz simulator for a final skill test before her virgin flight.

However, as ISS, cooperation with Moscow is appropriate.

Nasa expects crew test flights of the two US commercial spacecraft under development next year.

“Why should Americans and Europeans need to cooperate with Russia then?” Pavel Luzin asks.

“They do not want to depend on Russia. It is the political challenge for us.”

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