Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oхуел Russian Rockets, Telesat Sale Nyet, Quebec Astronaut Finds NEMO and NASA Tabarnac!

Here's a short listing of international and Canadian focused events and activities currently being tracked in the Commercial Space blog:
    Power-point of proposed Russian nuclear rocket.
  • The only Canadian connection for our first story is a September 9th, 2011 tweet by astronaut Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) showing a slide from a power-point presentation, but the real genesis of the proposed Russian nuclear powered spacecraft goes back farther than most casual readers would ever suspect. According to the October 30th, 2009 Daily Mail Online article "Russian space agency plan to build NUCLEAR space rocket" ex-Russian astronaut AnatolyPerminov, who was then the head of the Russian Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS), told the Russian government in 2009 that the preliminary design could be ready by 2012, would take nine years to complete and should cost £363million to build. According to Perminov, "The implementation of this project will allow us to reach a new technological level surpassing foreign developments." It will be interesting to see what ROSCOSMOS comes up with, how the project compares to the US projects recently funded as per the September 13th, 2011 NASA press release "NASA Selects Companies To Study Solar Electric Propulsion Spacecraft" and whether the Russian project ever receives full funding. The bulk of the design work is expected to be done through the RKK Energiya corporation.

    David Saint-Jacques.

    • Of course, the above is assuming that the US based National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) gets it's funding in order and finishes up its "dance of death" with the US Congress, the Senate and quite the variety of other domestic and international organizations over jobs for existing NASA contractors, budgeting and future priorities.The battle is still ongoing across numerous fronts with the September 18th, 2011 Universe Today article "SpaceX to Dock With ISS on Next Flight: NASA Maybe – Russia Nyet" suggesting that Space Exploration Technologies (Space-X) doesn't yet have permission to dock the Dragon spacecraft later this year at the ISS as officially planned and the September 17th Florida Today article "NASA alters commercial spacecraft partnering" indicating that NASA has decided to "abandon the type of agreements that have guided the low-cost development of vehicles to deliver cargo to the station next year, as well as the first two rounds of funding for crew taxis" as only the two most recent examples to contemplate. Both stories suggest that Canadian astronauts waiting for NASA rides into orbit might not want to hold their breath in anticipation of their launch dates being announced. The ISS crew compliment was recently reduced from six to three and will remain that way until at least November 2011.

      For those who've listened to the video above and want a more realistic appraisal of the proposed NASA space launch system and how it connects and  impacts upon the much lower cost but directly competitive Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program (at least in the eyes of the US lawmakers), its worth checking out the comments of the September 16th, 2011 Space Politics post "Details on the Senate’s NASA budget."

      In the words of several of my illustrious and esteemed Quebec colleagues, "Tabarnac!"

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