Thursday, August 25, 2011

ROSCOSMOS Providing Plot Points for Bond Movie

After grandly announcing the "Year of the Cosmonaut" to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first flight of Uri Gagarin and becoming (if only by default) the sole ride for astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) since the wind down of the US space shuttle program, the Russian Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS) seems to have picked a bad time to give up smoking.

As recently as last month,  news reports spoke in glowing terms of Russian rockets, designed in the 1960's, which just kept going and going by utilizing the "relatively less sophisticated, but durable" Russian technology.

But all that has now changed.

According to the August 25th, 2011 post on the Space Daily website titled "Russia grounds Soyuz rockets after space cargo craft crash," the agency "has grounded its Soyuz rockets after a space ship carrying tonnes of cargo for the International Space Station (ISS) crashed into Siberia shortly after blast-off." According to the article, the ROSCOSMOS website has removed all reference to future missions, leaving only "an ominous-looking black space" where the listing is usually found.

As outlined in my August 23rd, 2011 post "Political Passing, Antarctic Mapping, Grounded Russians, JWST Increases and exactEarth Launches" the Russians have also temporarily grounded Proton-M rocket launches after a string of mishaps culminating in the August 18th launching of an Express-AM4 telecommunications satellite into the wrong orbit.

ROSCOSMOS Director Vladimir Popovkin.
The Proton-M mishap follows close on the heels of other botched launches, including three poorly insured orbiters which crashed into the Pacific Ocean earlier this year costing £97million and setting back Kremlin plans for a global positioning system to rival the US made GPS, according to the August 19th, 2011 Daily Mail Online article "Russia loses contact with just-launched £160m satellite in latest setback for its space industry."

Even worse, according to the August 23rd, 2011 AFP International article "Russia grounds rockets after launch failure," the missing craft was first reported by observers at NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), the bi-national US and Canadian command that was the Soviets' main rival during the Cold War."

Just like what normally happens at the beginning of a James Bond movie.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, the elected representative for California's 46th congressional district, Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) has issued a press statement indicating that the only reasonable solution to the ROSCOSMOS dilemma is for the US to throw money at someone, at least according to the August 24th, 2011 article "Rohrabacher Reacts to Russian Soyuz Launch Failure; Calls for Emergency Funding of Commercial Crew Systems."
Anna Vedischeva.

But the Russians remain silent.

Even ROSCOSMOS press secretary Anna Vedischeva (a 26 year old ex-model appointed by ROSCOSMOS General Director Vladimir Popovkin despite Vedishcheva's public admission that she knows nothing about either space or public relations) isn't returning phone calls.

Perhaps she does know something?

The only real hope seems to be a young man with a funny British (or maybe South African and Canadian) accent who, with very little money (at least, when compared to the US government), has managed to create the first viable production electric car of the modern era (the Tesla Roadster), design a private successor to the Space Shuttle (the F9/Dragon) and create the world's largest internet payment system (Paypal), seemingly in his spare time.

Or maybe this is just the summer silly season. After all, pretty much every rocket fails sometimes and the Russian rockets have had a better track record than most.

But on the off chance that I'm wrong and there is something sinister or Earthshaking going on here, perhaps we should cue the John Barry music...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Support our Patreon Page