A Station that Needs Everything A Scrappy Startup Contracted to Ship 35.4 Metric Tons of It Ought to be Easy Enough, Right?
By Douglas Messier Managing Editor
The International Space Station (ISS) is not exactly a self-sufficient outpost. The station’s occupants can’t jump into a Soyuz and pop over to an orbiting Wal-Mart when they run out of food, water or toothpaste. Everything the six astronauts need to survive — save for the random plastic wrench or replacement part they can now 3-D print — must be shipped up from the majestic blue planet 400 km below them.
BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan, March 31, 2016 (Roscosmos PR) — On March 31, 2016 at 19:24 MSK carrier rocket Soyuz-2.1a to transport cargo vehicle (THC) Progress MS-02 was successfully launched to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — It will be rush hour at the International Space Station for the next two weeks as a pair of spaceships gets ready to launch new science, hardware and crew supplies to the Expedition 47 crew. As the crew prepares for the new shipments, they are already working on the latest research delivered Saturday on the newest Cygnus space freighter from Orbital ATK.
MOSCOW (RSC Energia PR) — Yesterday, December 29, the management of RSC Energia in a meeting with employees summed up the results of the company performance in 2015, reported on the key performance figures and presented preliminary plans for 2016.
The Corporation president Vladimir Solntsev presented in his speech the final financial and economic figures, spoke in detail about the core business of the company – development of rocket and space technology, touched upon social policies and outlined the company development vectors in the incoming year of 2016.
In a sobering report, NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) warned that a combination of funding shortfalls and programmatic decisions have led to an “unacknowledged accretion of risk” that threaten the agency’s Commercial Crew and deep-space human exploration programs.
“As we noted in our 2014 Annual Report and continue to assert this year, NASA’s budget is insufficient to deliver all current undertakings with acceptable programmatic risk,” ASAP stated in its 2015 Annual Report. “Programmatic risk can lead to tradeoffs that are inconsistent with good safety practice.”
Russia continued its dominance of the global satellite launch industry in 2015, conducting 29 of 86 orbital launches over the past 12 months. It also maintained its lead in botched launches, suffering two failures and one partial failure.
MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Roscosmos has received 1.9 billion rubles [$29.8 million] in insurance compensation from Sogas and Ingosstrakh due to the destruction of Progress spacecraft. Sogaz and Ingosstrakh insurance companies have fully compensated for the damage caused by the emergency launch of Progress M-27M cargo transport spacecraft on April 28, 2015, from Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Space Access Update #144 7/6/15 copyright 2015 by Space Access Society __________________________________________
Contents This Issue:
Station Supply Update
Latest From SpaceX
Station Supply Update
A Russian Progress cargo ship successfully docked with Station in the early hours of Sunday morning. This adds a month to International Space Station’s supply reserves, sufficient now for roughly through November.
To succeed in the launch business, you need to be very, very good and more than a little bit lucky. Eventually, there comes a day when you are neither.
That is what happened to SpaceX on June 28. A string of 18 successful Falcon 9 launches was snapped as the company’s latest rocket broke up in the clear blues skies over the Atlantic Ocean. A Dragon supply ship headed for the International Space Station was lost, SpaceX’s crowded manifest was thrown into confusion, and the company’s reputation for reliability was shattered.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Traveling about 251 miles over the south Pacific, southeast of New Zealand, the unpiloted ISS Progress 60 Russian cargo ship docked at 3:11 a.m. EDT to the Pirs Docking Compartment of the International Space Station.
The craft is delivering more than three tons of food, fuel and supplies, including 1,940 pounds of propellant, 106 pounds of oxygen, 926 pounds of water, and 3,133 pounds of spare parts, supplies and experiment hardware for the members of the Expedition 44 crew currently living and working in space. Progress 60 is scheduled to remain docked to Pirs for the next four months.
UPDATE: Looks like the launch went well. Progress is in orbit, solar arrays deployed.
Russia’s preparing to launch a critical Progress resupply mission containing more than 3 tons of food, fuel, water, oxygen and other supplies to the International Space Station on Friday. The launch of Progress M-28M is set for 0455 GMT (12:55 a.m. EDT).
Progress flights usually attract little attention. However, this flight is seen a crucial following the loss of SpaceX’s Dragon freighter last summer in a launch accident. It was the third launch failure involving an ISS resupply ship in eight months.
On April 28, a Progress vehicle began tumbling out of control after it reached orbit. The mission was eventually abandoned. Last Oct. 28, an Orbital Sciences Antares rocket exploded shortly after liftoff, destroying a Cygnus cargo ship.
Russians officials have blamed a problem with the third stage of the Soyuz-2.1a rocket for the Progress failure. For this launch, they have switched to a Soyuz-U launch vehicle that is not susceptible to the same problem.
The resupply ship is scheduled to arrive on Sunday at 0713 GMT (3:13 a.m. EDT) with an automatic docking to the space station’s Pirs compartment.
Space Access Update #143 7/2/15 copyright 2015 by Space Access Society __________________________________________
Sunday’s Commercial Cargo Mission Loss
Sunday’s (6/28/15) SpaceX cargo resupply launch to Station failed, breaking up a little over two minutes into the flight. (More here and here.) This was SpaceX’s eighth such flight; their initial test mission then six commercial-contract cargo flights had essentially gone as planned. This was SpaceX’s nineteenth launch of the Falcon 9 booster; the first eighteen F9 launches all reached orbit successfully. (more…)
There was a lot of discussion on Sunday about the impact of the loss of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft on the International Space Station. NASA officials said the ISS crew was in no danger from a supply standpoint, and they said they would stick to the existing schedule for crew rotation but might change the cargo manifest.
Some notes from the NASA press conference covering the loss of Falcon 9 and the Dragon resupply ship on Sunday morning.
Cause of the Accident & Investigation
The cause is as yet undetermined. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who was not at the press conference, Tweeted that there was an overpressure event in the second stage liquid oxygen (LOX) tank prior to the launch vehicle breaking up. “Data suggests counterintuitive cause,” he wrote. Video of the accident appears to show the breakup of the vehicle beginning there.