21 thoughts on “The Russian Space Program”

  1. He has zero evidence that it’s a QC issue. That said, there was no concrete evidence that Soyuz MS-22 was MMOD, just the circumstantial evidence of velocity and vector. There’s no real reason why Progress MS-19 couldn’t have experienced a similar impact, either back then (and only now failing) or later. And, again, MM rather than OD is merely circumstantial (unless one believes there are motionless particles suspended at that altitude).

    Part of the problem here is the conflicting reports in western media (first, the hatches were shut and the air leaked out, then the hatches were open and the coolant leaked out; which was it?). I try to read Russian language reports (because English language translations tend to be “loose” at the best of times), but so far the only one I’ve seen has been a screen shot. We’ll see.

    Finally, there’s no non-circumstantial evidence that it isn’t QC related, and no reason it can’t be both. The US and Russian segments are mounted at a 90 degree angle to one another. Poisk, Rassvet, and Nauka/Prichal protrude above and below the plane of the ISS. If it was, in fact, a MM that Soyuz MS-22 (docked to Rassvet nadir) ran into, if ISS had come by a fraction of a second later, said MM would have been run into by Nauka. Then the leak might have been hypergolic rocket fuel.

    1. It’s interesting that orbital debris and micro-meteors seem to be able to target coolant system plumbing.

      1. On the one hand yes; on the other, cooling plumbing has to go through an external radiator, which wants to be both large and lightly armored, so it would make sense for that to be the most vulnerable component.

      2. It’s even more interesting that we don’t hear about debris strikes on the parts of Soyuz/Progress that are covered with a thick layer of thermal blankets! Then again, we know there have been larger debris strikes on both the USOS solar arrays, and on the Canadarm2. What a fantastic coinicidence that a piece of orbital debris managed to punch a hole in the skinny arm structure, when it had a whole great big space station to run into! Incalculable odds!!

          1. Reminds me of the results from LDEF, retrieved from LEO by Columbia in 1990 after 6 years in orbit traversing a range of altitudes including the ISS’s. The first abstract of papers was published here:


            Includes a section on MM impacts. I wonder if we see a uniform scaling up based on size and geometry of the ISS?

            Should future stations have pro-grade co-orbital aerogel clouds?

  2. My other thought is, maybe it’s high time Dragon and Starship wre restored to 7-seat capacity. That has turned out to be far easier than was claimed in the past. Assuming that we still want to keep ISS running until Axiom is ready, we’ll need to deadhead a couple of Russians aloft, until they get their shit together (if they can). A redundant radiator and bypass valve shouldn’t be that hard.

    1. Starship will no doubt have at least an order of magnitude more than room for seats than Dragon 😉
      Starliner’s another story.

      1. I did mean Starliner, but self-induced autocorrect got the best of me once again! In fact, Starliner should be easier to add seats to than Dragon. It already has a fifth seat mount available, The other two seat position have been replaced by cargo racks, so a bit more work. Starliner-1 is over a year away.

        For Dragon, I imagine something you could cobble together from car seat stepper rails and motors. I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be ready by Crew-7 this coming Fall. Dragon already has buddy connectors. It just seems like a good idea. NASA may have a different opinion.

  3. It’s all fun and games until someone gets killed. Based on their Ukraine exploit, the Russians seem to have a pretty high tolerance for casualties. So let’s make sure the butcher’s bill for the next fatal Soyuz failure consists entirely of Russians and cancel this idiotic seat-swap nonsense. If NASA won’t do that, they could at least award the Congressional Space Medal of Honor to whichever luckless Western souls draw the short straws and have to ride one of these orbital junk piles.

    1. Posting Neocon word salad has no more to recommend it than my overuse of the word “boob” to describe some posters here.
      When was the last time someone was killed on a Russian spacecraft? When was the last time someone was killed on a US spacecraft? Golden opportunities coming up: Starliner CFT, Artemis II. I understand Boeing is involved in both…

  4. Btw, I’m seeing pictures that indicate the Progress MS-21 leak is from the radiators on the back of the solar panels, and a statement that the leak was from the same points on soyuz MS-22. Those are the most vulnerable spots on the spacecraft. Previous statements said different. I did read Krikalev’s statement (in acual Russian) but it wasn’t all that informative.

    I do soemtimes wonder about people claiming expertise. Anatoly Zak moved to the US 30 years ago. I don’t know anything about Katya Pavlushcheko, other than that her photo shows someone vaguely African-American looking, she uses the Twitter handle @katelinegrey, which seems odd, and Slavic names ending in -ko are often Ukrainian.

      1. Why do you think that is an inefficient radiator? I do think it’s foolish to not have redundant flow loops on a radiator, but it looks just fine otherwise. White paint is a perfectly fine surface coating for a radiator with its high IR emissivity and low solar absorptivity.

        1. OK on the white paint. I guess you’re suggesting that the entire trunk of what I guess is the service module is functionally a radiator, including right up to what looks like a structural connection. Not impossible, I suppose. Not a lot of surface area, and a lot of what looks like welds or connections nearby.

  5. One of the possibilities that should come to mind is, the vulnerability of Soyuz/Progress reveals the worsening debris problem in LEO. The pdf I linked is from 2019, but it does reveal there were debris strikes on Dragon 1. It was more like Progress/Soyuz than Dragon 2, but probably less vulnerable overall.

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