One of the key themes of HBO's new Chernobyl miniseries is the Soviet Union's control of information.As the television series shows, the state's warping of reality had very real consequences in terms of lives lost.The control of information has continued into the modern Russian era, as the nation's state television network is now planning its own series to recount the Chernobyl incident.Reportedly, a central theme of the series to be shown to Russian viewers is that American operatives infiltrated the nuclear facility and orchestrated the disaster.(There appears to be no credible evidence that this actually happened.)The longstanding NASA-Russian partnership in space may be unraveling
XPRIZE CEO and Prodea founder Anousheh Ansari dreamt of being an astronaut as a child growing up in Iran, but understandably most people around her were skeptical about her ambitions.Yet in 2006, she made that dream come true when she became the first woman to visit the International Space Station as a privately funded citizen (as well as the first Iranian citizen and the first Muslim woman), traveling aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket as a trained and paying guest of the Russian Space Agency.At a Creative Destruction Lab event in Toronto this week, I spoke to Ansari about what this milestone announcement means for commercial spaceinterests, and her perspective on the field and opportunity for space-focused startups in general.“Actually, I wish I had my laptop to I could show a slide from probably six, seven years ago, maybe even longer, which I used that said ‘ISS for rent.I’m telling you, I can predict the future,” Ansari joked.“So now they can generate revenue from, make good use of the space station [beyond its intended mission] so they can invest in the next generation.”
Last Thursday, the leader of Russia's state space corporation, Dmitry Rogozin, gave a wide-ranging talk at Moscow University.The speech sought to describe activities happening now at Roscosmos and what may happen in the future, including a potential lunar landing.Russian space leader issues decree against trash, “sloppy” work attitudesRogozin addressed his comments largely to students at the university, and he sought to paint a picture of a vibrant national space enterprise.Reports of low salaries, low morale, and a lack of funding to even remove trash from Roscosmos facilities has not helped this trend.Via Robinson Mitchell, Ars obtained a copy of the slide deck Rogozin used for his speech and a translation of its contents (key slides are shown above).
It's common for rocket launches to get scrubbed due to even slightly funky weather, but Russian space agency Roscosmos went ahead with a Soyuz rocket launch on Monday that attracted some serious fireworks.Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin posted video of the launch to his Twitter account and praised the teams behind the project.The footage shows a dramatic bolt of lightning striking the vehicle as it soars through the air.The Soyuz took off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northwestern Russia and safely delivered a Glonass navigation satellite into orbit.The lightning strike didn't faze it.Roscosmos shared a closer look at the initial launch to Twitter.
NASA has announced that its astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague safely arrived at the International Space Station and have since boarded the vessel.The trip took place on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft alongside Roscosmos’ Alexey Ovchinin; the vehicle launched for the ISS at 3:14PM EDT on March 14, according to NASA, which says the crew boarded the ISS late last night.The Soyuz spacecraft, which NASA has purchased seats on for the last several years, docked with the ISS’s Rassvet module at 9:01PM ET after spending six hours traveling.The spacecraft orbited four times before docking, and remained in that position until a little after 11PM, at which time the hatch was opened and the team entered the ISS.The spacecraft’s launch took place from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, marking the start of NASA’s Expedition 59 mission, which the space agency officially started the clock on when the vehicle docked with the ISS.The two astronauts and cosmonaut join NASA’s Anne McClain, Canada’s David Saint-Jacques, and Roscosmos’ Oleg Kononenko.
Sometimes, Mars looks like a familiar desert landscape.Other times, it reminds us it's an alien planet.New images from the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter show the Red Planet in all its exotic glory.One image in particular looks like a hairy creature stretching long legs across the surface on Mars.The color-composite image shows what ESA describes as a "dust devil frenzy."In actual color, the streaks would look dark red.
This morning preparations began for the launch of mission Soyuz MS-12, operator Roscosmos, headed for the International Space Station.This mission will be launched aboard a Soyuz FG rocket from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome.This is the most massive operational space launch facility, and is the location from which Sputnik was launched on October 4th, 1957.The next event set to take place at this facility is the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center launch of a Proton-M/Briz-M Rocket on March 31st, 2019.Today, March 14th, 2019, a launch of the Soyuz MS-12 is set to take place live on video.Below you’ll find a YouTube video embed which will feature the Live Feed as such.
The Russian space program's budget process is not particularly transparent to outsiders, but it does appear likely that Roscosmos will face cuts in the coming years.According to Sputnik, a Russian government-controlled news agency, the Roscosmos state corporation will likely to suffer funding shortages amounting to 150 billion rubles (more than $2 billion) in the next three years, from 2019 to 2021.The consequences of these cuts could be severe for Russia's much-vaunted launch industry.In particular, the reduced budget could forestall a rocket development project intended to compete with SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and a new super-heavy lift booster.Cuts in the Roscosmos budget will make it impossible to develop the new Soyuz-5 medium-lift booster, the Falcon 9 competitor, as well as imperil further development of a heavy-lift variant of the Russian Angara rocket."One can say that the current plan for an ultra-heavy booster is unnecessary because there is no payload or mission for it, and even the draft design has already cost a billion (rubles)," Moiseev told the Russian publication Lenta.RU.
Russia's space programme has been hit by another blow after its latest weather satellite failed to enter orbit.Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said it had been unable to establish communications with the Meteor M 2-1 satellite which was launched atop a Soyuz-2 booster rocket on Tuesday (28 November) from Russia's new Vostochny launch pad in the Far East.The agency was trying to find out what had happened."During the first scheduled communication session with the space vehicle, contact was not established because it is not on its planned orbit," the space agency said.Russian news agencies reported that the likely cause was the failure of the booster's final stage, the Fregat.The booster - part of a five-year mission - also carried 18 micro-satellites built in Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
According to reports, KB Arsenal is expected to present a blueprint for this technology by 2018.Roscosmos, the Russian space agency has reportedly made a contract with KB Arsenal, a research facility based out of St. Petersburg to build a nuclear-powered satellite.The satellite is also touted to have a laser system that can recharge other satellites and even spacecraft in orbit.The project was reportedly revealed when KB Arsenal was roped in to study the "space nuclear power plant".An RT report says the space agency is eyeing a nuclear reactor with a power output of between 100 kW and 1,000 kW.The report adds that it will also have a laser beam that can power other satellites.
AFP reports the US and Russia will work together on a NASA program to build the Deep Space Gateway, a space station in orbit around the moon.NASA and Russia's Roscosmos signed an agreement to cooperate on the station—which will be "an invaluable pit stop for human and robotic exploration of the lunar surface" and "a staging point for deep space missions" to Mars and Venus—on Wednesday at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Australia, according to Motherboard.While the Deep Space Gateway program is being led by NASA, Roscosmos will contribute docking ports and life support systems, and Russian rockets will be used to help with construction, Engadget reports.NASA wants to start work on the Deep Space Gateway, which will be crewed by four astronauts, in the mid-2020s.It's one step toward its goal of sending humans to Mars by the 2030s.In statements, Roscosmos and NASA say they share a "common vision for human exploration."
When Apollo astronaut Eugene Cernan left the moon in 1972, no-one thought that he'd be the last human to visit our nearest astronomical neighbour for 45 years.But the defunding of NASA as the Cold War wound down, and failure of any other country to land a person on the Moon, has meant that the International Space Station in Earth's orbit remains the most distant outpost of humanity.And that's just 400km away - less than the distance from London to Newcastle.However, we may be about to claw back some of our past glories.The United States and Russia have formally agreed to collaborate on a NASA-led project to build a space station orbiting the Moon.The Moonbase will be the first step of a multi-stage project to send humans deeper into the Solar System called the Deep Space Gateway.
Today, the US and Russian space agencies are planning a lunar space station, Facebook is sending an aid team to Puerto Rico, Amazon reveals its new Fire TV dongle and Echo speakers and more.The US and Russian space agencies, Nasa and Roscosmos have issued a joint statement outlining a plan to cooperate in building humanity's first lunar space station (The Guardian).Acting Nasa administrator Robert Lightfoot said: "While the deep space gateway is still in concept formulation, NASA is pleased to see growing international interest in moving into cislunar space as the next step for advancing human space exploration."Environmental campaigners have urged the UK government to make its South Sandwich Islands Antarctic territory a protected wildlife sanctuary, banning all fishing and commercial activity (BBC News).The volcanic islands, which are home to half the global population of chinstrap penguins, are already part of a marine protected area, limiting human activity around them.Simon Reddy of campaign bid leader Pew Charitable Trusts said: "All we have around the South Sandwich Islands is one tiny fishery, so why not just declare it fully protected now.
Crewed deep space exploration is back on the agenda, after NASA and its Russian counterpart Roscosmos announced they will co-operate on efforts to create a cislunar space station.The joint statement between the two agencies was signed yesterday at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.The two agencies' first objective is something akin to a spaceport in cislunar space, something already on NASA's wish-list under the Deep Space Gateway project.NASA's announcement quoted acting administrator Robert Lightfoot as saying the joint statement shows “the gateway concept as an enabler to the kind of exploration architecture that is affordable and sustainable”.Later in that announcement NASA mentioned Martian exploration, not specifically as an objective of any Roscosmos collaboration, but as an example of the outcomes hoped to flow from current industry engagements around habitation concept evaluations.Roscosmos filled out some other details in its own release (helpfully translated by Google here).
From left to right, Associate Administrator & Acting-Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Robert Lightfoot, head of the Russian Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities Igor Komarov, Director General, European Space Agency Jan Woerner, Secretary General of the China National Space Administration Tian Yulong and President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Naoki Okumura attend the Head Of Agencies press conference at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, on Sept. 25, 2017.Despite increasingly strained diplomatic relations between Washington and Moscow, Russia’s top space official has formally agreed to participate in U.S.-led efforts to devise a replacement for the international space station.But after months of uncertainty and public vacillation by Kremlin leaders about cooperating on such a project, the move represents an important step forward for what is intended to be an outpost near the moon to serve as a jumping-off point for manned exploration of the solar system starting in the next decade.With the National Aeronautics and Space Administration leading the way, and other national partners on the current space station leaning toward participation, the concept of a Deep Space Gateway is gaining momentum.Igor Komarov, director general of Roscosmos, told the conference in Adelaide that the project would refine technologies needed to pursue the long-term exploration of Mars.NASA is still studying design options and budget questions are still unresolved.
For a long time, with its low production costs and efficient fleet of rockets, Russia has been the leading player in the global market for satellite launches.Some recent failures with its Soyuz and Proton boosters have not helped, but the biggest threat to Russia's preeminence now clearly comes from SpaceX.Publicly, at least, Russian officials were slow to acknowledge the threat from SpaceX.But that tone has started to shift in 2017, as SpaceX has begun to fly used boosters and demonstrate this emerging capability.Now, in a new interview posted on the site of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, its chief executive Igor Komarov acknowledges that SpaceX poses a "serious challenge" to his country's launch industry.Accordingly, Komarov outlined a strategy for how he believes Russia will compete with SpaceX over the next five years, and his response to this is pretty telling.
Which maybe they should have, since that country’s space agency, Roscosmos, hasn’t sent significant representation to the symposium in over 20 years.During this panel, which included 14 other space-agency leaders, Roscosmos general director—a dark, handsome man named Igor Komarov—puts special emphasis his country’s desire to collaborate with the fledgling space programs of emerging nations, like Vietnam and Venezuela.Komarov sticks to feel-good terms like “cooperate” and “collaborate” when he talks about international partnerships—which he and other Roscosmos reps do throughout the symposium.Last year, the Russian government restructured Roscosmos as a state-run corporation, and the cash-strapped organization is using these altruistic overtures to cultivate nascent space programs into new customers dependent on Russia’s 60 years of orbital expertise.But such idealism overlooks the endeavor’s roots in the fertile soil of nationalist competition, the still-present remnants of that country-centricity, and something else: money.“Their program is in a very fragile condition, despite what Komarov, et al., were saying in Colorado,” says John Logsdon, founder and former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.
As recently as last year, Russian rocket scientists were dubious about the potential of reusable rockets, such as those being developed by SpaceX and Blue Origin.Among the doubters was the Central Research Institute of Machine Building, which develops basic rocket strategy for Roscosmos, the Russian space agency."The economic feasibility of reusable launch systems is not obvious," an official with the research institute said in February 2016."First and foremost it will depend on how often launches will be made.At the moment it is hard to forecast which way the market of launch services will go when reusable space rockets become available.The designers are still to demonstrate the real costs of production and of making reusable stages for re-launching,"
The Progress MS-04 cargo spaceship lifts off from Baikonur last week.On December 1 a Soyuz rocket carrying an uncrewed Progress spacecraft laden with 2.6 tons of food, fuel, and other supplies lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.Following a normal launch, first-, and second-stage firings, things started to go wrong for Progress MS-04 at about six minutes into the flight.Instead of a nominal ride to orbit, however, mission controllers lost telemetry from the vehicle at about six minutes, and there was no confirmation of the Progress spacecraft separating from the rocket's third stage.Around that time, a large explosion was observed in the sky over the Tuva Region of Russia, a remote area of southern Siberia, followed by reports of falling debris.Tanks and other debris associated with the rocket and spacecraft were later found on the ground.
Bad news for those in the International Space Station looking forward to a fresh batch of food and supplies, after a Russian cargo ship was destroyed during launch today.The unmanned Progress MS-04 cargo spacecraft was meant to deliver 2.6 tons of fuel and other goods to the orbiting research platform to the Expedition 50 group currently onboard.However, just over six minutes after takeoff, telemetry from the craft cut out.Radar stations did not detect the cargo vehicle Progress MS-04 on the calculated orbit, Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said in a statement.The most of cargo spacecraft fragments burned in the dense atmosphere.Initially, the launch appeared to be going according to plan.