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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wild ride.

It's kind of odd when we're getting less spin from the Russians than our own people.

Sure, the Russians are also kind of downplaying the downsides, but they are at least admitting that the recent Soyuz landing had such various problems as:
  • --At the wrong angle of descent.

  • --Begun upside down.

  • --Without communications for 20 minutes because the top was burnt, damaging the antenna.

  • --Filled with smoke.

  • --Filled with high heat and pressure because the relief valve was burnt up.

  • --Unable to be located by transponder, requiring US Defense tracking data to find.

  • --280 miles off course.

  • --Required local yokels to act as flight stewardesses to assist in two of the three astro/kosmonaut's disembarking.

  • --They don't know what caused the problem.

  • --Three space travelers are going to need some new pressure suits, because their old ones have probably been, uh, soiled.

"The NASA official emphasized how reliable Soyuz ships have been."


And I like that we've got the the whole concept of "space travel is dangerous, and that's not going to stop us, by golly." But downplaying smoke in the cabin as "maybe not smoke, but actually the smell of burning materials" is pretty damned disingenuous of NASA. Look, if the Russian cosmonauts were so stupid that they were going to misidentify smoke, then maybe we don't need to be putting them behind the wheel of the bus we're sending our astronauts up and down in.


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8 Comments:

At Wednesday, April 23, 2008 9:58:00 PM, Blogger Don Gwinn said...

How could you smell the burning materials if small particles of burnt material* were not wafting on the air, entering your nose and making contact with your olfactory sensors?

*Smoke.

 
At Thursday, April 24, 2008 1:36:00 AM, Blogger kvegas911 said...

Tag...you're it!

 
At Thursday, April 24, 2008 7:09:00 AM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Matt- 'Smoke' is a nebulous term in aviation. Is it visible, or an odor (as Don said), or is it light shining through a porthole on dust, etc...

Bottom line, MAJOR screw-ups and they are lucky to have survived.

Russia has always low-keyed any problems, they killed more than a few Cosmonauts over the years that never made the press.

Aviation and space travel is inherently dangerous- people forget that until the bodies start raining down...

 
At Thursday, April 24, 2008 8:40:00 AM, Anonymous Edwin said...

Okay, I'm going to be difficult here...

It COULD BE that they smelled hot components, and not components on fire.

Working with electronics like I do, I know that hot devices put out a characteristic odor... outgassing as the temp goes up, until they reach a failure point, and then the magic smoke is released and they stop working.

So, smoke from combustion or destruction, or outgassing of "hot smells" as it approaches destruction?

Either way, I wouldn't want to be in a small room on the verge of melting.

 
At Thursday, April 24, 2008 9:05:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

I understand what you're saying, Edwin, but we're not talking about Aunt Maude turning on the heater for the first time this year in October-- we're talking about an experienced cosmonaut.

But you said the magic words: "outgassing as the temp goes up, until they reach a failure point, and then the magic smoke is released and they stop working."

When you're in a sealed environment, anything oxidizing is pretty frickin' terrifying.

The quote says "Malenchenko 'detected some smoke in the cabin,' Gerstenmaier said." For all we know, he may have seen it, too.

 
At Thursday, April 24, 2008 10:08:00 AM, Anonymous Kristopher said...

The Shuttle ain't exactly safe either.

We really need to get Ares I off the ground ASAP ... at least then we would have a reliable earth to orbit transport.

 
At Thursday, April 24, 2008 2:47:00 PM, Blogger DMP said...

You have to give them a little credit. If something goes wrong on the shuttle it just blows up.

 
At Tuesday, April 29, 2008 8:36:00 AM, Anonymous Chris in SE TX said...

That's a good point, DMP. If I understood the article correctly, the capsule re-entered the atmosphere backwards and things got hot because the heat shield wasn't there to protect them. A FEW tiles fall off the Shuttle, and we're picking up pieces all over Texas.....

 

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