Author Topic: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011  (Read 412594 times)

Offline lbiderman

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #720 on: 11/11/2011 11:26 AM »
Even though the Soviet era of paranoia and secrecy is gone, many Russian institutions still operate very strongly on a 'cover up embarrassments' policy.  However, failure to report success for a publicly-known mission that is publicly known to be in trouble is highly indicative, IMHO at least. 

A very perceptive comment. The term I've used in advising my news media clients, for the reaction of space officials and their press liaison teams, is 'panicked despair'. It's as if they are pulling the blanket over their heads and wishing people would just lose interest and move on to some other story. Unprofessional, irresponsible, and in the modern interdependent world of space partnerships, unacceptable -- IMHO.

They have defiantly withheld information on their activities, on what they are attempting, on the true state of the vehicle [ARE the solar arrays really deployed?], on the degree of pre-flight contingency planning as it may apply to this situation, and to the most basic guidelines of any possible delayed trans-Mars insertions [such as -- what is the time limit imposed by the parking orbit's precession?].

The one bright light was the pre-launch request from IKI for South American observers, a request that turned out to be prescient. But culturally, for a long time Russians had not been willing to ask for help from foreigners, it was regarded as a sign of weakness. In the bad old Soviet days, they would rather have died -- and sometimes did -- in sight of foreign help they refused to ask for. One glaring example was a serious fire at their 'Vostok' Antarctic base in 1982 that was covered up in a pretense of normalcy while the men struggled for their lives -- with rescue from other countries only days away, if asked for.

In a spasm of dark humor, I'm reminded of the scene in "The Christmas Story" where Ralphie and his classmates are asked by their teacher where one of their friends (a boy named Flick) is -- who's actually in difficulty due to a prank he was dared into doing. Ralphie's innocent-faced response [voiced by the narrator}: "Flick? Flick who?"

Moscow officials are playing the "Fobos? Fobos who?" game now, in contemptuous disregard of their international partners on this project. And as a result, they are seriously poisoning the trust and expected candor levels that have been grudgingly but inexorably built up over the long, difficult years of joint work with other nations, including the US. They've even annoyed China, never a prudent plan.

And the project failure itself isn't the cause, since we've overcome worse, together. The failure is in the hearts, minds, and souls of the people running the program, who could have chosen differently, but did not so so.

And you may quote me.



I agree with Jim, this is just an example of how money or some personal sacrifice alone can't guarantee success, you need leadership and teamwork, two things missing from this mission. As a regional integration specialist, I'm sick and tired of good projects flawed by local ego. Time to focus more on results and less on the flag sticker.
"If I wanted to lead a bunch of robots that could only follow orders, I would have joined the Army!"
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Offline lbiderman

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #721 on: 11/11/2011 11:27 AM »
Even though the Soviet era of paranoia and secrecy is gone, many Russian institutions still operate very strongly on a 'cover up embarrassments' policy.  However, failure to report success for a publicly-known mission that is publicly known to be in trouble is highly indicative, IMHO at least. 

A very perceptive comment. The term I've used in advising my news media clients, for the reaction of space officials and their press liaison teams, is 'panicked despair'. It's as if they are pulling the blanket over their heads and wishing people would just lose interest and move on to some other story. Unprofessional, irresponsible, and in the modern interdependent world of space partnerships, unacceptable -- IMHO.

They have defiantly withheld information on their activities, on what they are attempting, on the true state of the vehicle [ARE the solar arrays really deployed?], on the degree of pre-flight contingency planning as it may apply to this situation, and to the most basic guidelines of any possible delayed trans-Mars insertions [such as -- what is the time limit imposed by the parking orbit's precession?].

The one bright light was the pre-launch request from IKI for South American observers, a request that turned out to be prescient. But culturally, for a long time Russians had not been willing to ask for help from foreigners, it was regarded as a sign of weakness. In the bad old Soviet days, they would rather have died -- and sometimes did -- in sight of foreign help they refused to ask for. One glaring example was a serious fire at their 'Vostok' Antarctic base in 1982 that was covered up in a pretense of normalcy while the men struggled for their lives -- with rescue from other countries only days away, if asked for.

In a spasm of dark humor, I'm reminded of the scene in "The Christmas Story" where Ralphie and his classmates are asked by their teacher where one of their friends (a boy named Flick) is -- who's actually in difficulty due to a prank he was dared into doing. Ralphie's innocent-faced response [voiced by the narrator}: "Flick? Flick who?"

Moscow officials are playing the "Fobos? Fobos who?" game now, in contemptuous disregard of their international partners on this project. And as a result, they are seriously poisoning the trust and expected candor levels that have been grudgingly but inexorably built up over the long, difficult years of joint work with other nations, including the US. They've even annoyed China, never a prudent plan.

And the project failure itself isn't the cause, since we've overcome worse, together. The failure is in the hearts, minds, and souls of the people running the program, who could have chosen differently, but did not so so.

And you may quote me.



I agree with Jim, this is just an example of how money or some personal sacrifice alone can't guarantee success, you need leadership and teamwork, two things missing from this mission. As a regional integration specialist, I'm sick and tired of good projects flawed by local ego. Time to focus more on results and less on the flag sticker.
"If I wanted to lead a bunch of robots that could only follow orders, I would have joined the Army!"
Captain Alvarez (Uruguay Marine Corps) in Congo (MONUC Deployment), March 2007

Offline Blackstar

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #722 on: 11/11/2011 11:42 AM »
This is a disaster. Pure and simple.

Poppycock.

Nobody died.

Try to keep things in perspective.

Offline Svetoslav

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #723 on: 11/11/2011 11:43 AM »
People on Novosti-Kosmonavtiki have scanned the two-volume edition document from IKI-RAN, dedicated to Phobos-Grunt... It's available here:

http://www.novosti-kosmonavtiki.ru/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=12378

There are too many interesting things there. One of these is a special paragraph that states that during the first part of interplanetary injeciton - which includes the entry on preliminary orbit (the current orbit of the spacecraft), the first burn of the MDU - is conducted in automated mode. The paragraph states that two-sided link between Phobos-Grunt and the Earth is practically impossible.

I ask the Russian folks here for help - am I correct about my non-Google-translated translation?

Offline Cbased

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #724 on: 11/11/2011 11:50 AM »
Lots of technical info (hat tip to Shin from NK forum)
http://www.novosti-kosmonavtiki.ru/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=12378

The most frustrating part is this (from the second page from the top):
(I apologise if some of the technical terms are not translated right)

The stage of interplanetary orbit maneuvers.
The goals for this stage are:
- Initialisation of all systems based on the signals from the contacts of separation
- Perform maneuvers to get to the interplanetary orbit
- Turn on Return Module and YH-1 in standby mode

The specifics of interations with the spacecraft while at the "near Earth" stage/leg is that it is practically impossible to establish/support a 2-way communication with the spacecraft (especially while on the base orbit). This means that the first active stage of the Phobos-Grunt flight (the one that achieves transfer from the base orbit to the intermediate orbit) is done automatically.

<skipped - bottom of the page>
While on the base orbit and within the visibility zones of Russian land stations there is a one way flight control (via the telemetry channel) via the transmitter RPT111. Trajectory measurements are perfomed using a device 38G6.

Zones of visibility increase after the intermediate (interim?) orbit is reached. The angular velocity in relation to the land stations decreases, which makes it possible to establish a 2-way communication with the spacecraft using its radio complex.

-------
This is the source of frustration. Since we haven't reached this intermediate orbit (we didn't have the 1st burn) it is very hard to send any commands to the spacecraft. DESPERATELY need Luch (TDRSS equivalents) - such a shame - ideally you really want to launch Luch first and then Phobos-Grunt :(

Offline MP

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #725 on: 11/11/2011 11:53 AM »

http://www.novosti-kosmonavtiki.ru/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=12378

There are too many interesting things there. One of these is a special paragraph that states that during the first part of interplanetary injeciton - which includes the entry on preliminary orbit (the current orbit of the spacecraft), the first burn of the MDU - is conducted in automated mode. The paragraph states that two-sided link between Phobos-Grunt and the Earth is practically impossible.

I ask the Russian folks here for help - am I correct about my non-Google-translated translation?

Yes, correct. "... practical impossibility of establishing two-way communication with the spacecraft, first of all while on LEO"

Offline Svetoslav

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #726 on: 11/11/2011 12:00 PM »
http://interfax.ru/politics/txt.asp?id=216325

And another insteresting thing...

Looks like amateur astronomers are able to visually confirm that Phobos-Grunt is in stable configuration and properly oriented to the Sun...

If we have a good spacecraft which is working in LEO, but mission control is unable to communicate with it... it will the saddest loss in interplanetary science ever.. They can see it's alive, but they can nothing to do but watch the loss in real time :(

Offline Jim

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #727 on: 11/11/2011 12:05 PM »

DESPERATELY need Luch (TDRSS equivalents) - such a shame - ideally you really want to launch Luch first and then Phobos-Grunt :(

Not really useful planetary missions.  NASA doesn't use TDRSS for planetarys.  More ground stations are needed.  They should have worked with NASA and ESA and maybe paid for some use of commercial ones (USN-United Space Network for example)

Offline aquanaut99

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #728 on: 11/11/2011 12:08 PM »
Poppycock.

Nobody died.

Try to keep things in perspective.

Nobody died due to the financial crisis either. Do people always have to die for something to be a disaster?

It is, at the very least, a disaster for Russian unmanned space exploration, which was already in big trouble. And it is very bad news for all space enthousiasts, everywhere.

Offline Cbased

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #729 on: 11/11/2011 12:13 PM »

DESPERATELY need Luch (TDRSS equivalents) - such a shame - ideally you really want to launch Luch first and then Phobos-Grunt :(

Not really useful planetary missions.  NASA doesn't use TDRSS for planetarys.  More ground stations are needed.  They should have worked with NASA and ESA and maybe paid for some use of commercial ones (USN-United Space Network for example)

Agree that more stations are needed.
It would have been nice too to have communication ships (from the Soviet era) deployed somewhere in the Southern Atlantic - this is if you really want to "save face"/pride and not rely on international organisations.


Offline Rocket Science

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #730 on: 11/11/2011 12:21 PM »
Ok, there is time to assign blame later… Now is what are they going to do about entry and risk to those on the ground?
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Offline rdale

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #731 on: 11/11/2011 12:25 PM »
Ok, there is time to assign blame later… Now is what are they going to do about entry and risk to those on the ground?

When and where is it coming down? What can they do to prevent reentry?

Offline aquanaut99

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #732 on: 11/11/2011 12:27 PM »
Ok, there is time to assign blame later… Now is what are they going to do about entry and risk to those on the ground?

When and where is it coming down? What can they do to prevent reentry?

Nobody knows yet and nothing. And that's the problem. Especially since radioactive and toxic materials are on board.

Maybe the Navy will shoot it down?

Offline rdale

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #733 on: 11/11/2011 12:29 PM »
Ok, there is time to assign blame later… Now is what are they going to do about entry and risk to those on the ground?

When and where is it coming down? What can they do to prevent reentry?

Nobody knows yet and nothing.

So why are we theorizing without any factual basis?

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #734 on: 11/11/2011 12:30 PM »
When and where is it coming down? What can they do to prevent reentry?

The only way they can control reentry or keep it from coming down is to regain control. If they can not do that, it will comedown somewhere at some point that can not be predicted this far out.

btw. How mush Cesium was on this probe, and is packaged such that it will survive (not disperse) reentry? Are we talking the equiv. of a smoke detector, or something more sinister?
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Offline ngc3314

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #735 on: 11/11/2011 12:33 PM »
Quote from: Svetoslav link=topic=15610.msg828061#msg828061
Looks like amateur astronomers are able to visually confirm that Phobos-Grunt is in stable configuration and properly oriented to the Sun...

In fact, I saw a near-zenith passage less than two hours ago, and the only brightness variations were slow and consistent with phase effects.

Trail picture with Mars and Leo.


Rats. The picture keeps getting gloomier.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #736 on: 11/11/2011 12:36 PM »
Maybe the Navy will shoot it down?

1. Why?
2. That will rupture the case surrounding the radio active materials. Which is a safer alternative for the Cesium?
3. Will it fully rupture all the tanks? USA-193 had only one tank, and that was targeted in the intercept. Phobos-Grunt has tanks located in several locations on the spacecraft.
4. Most of the tanks have to stay liquid at Mars, so, can they stay liquid from now til reentry?
5. From a spin standpoint, this is the worse thing the US Navy could do. The headline would be "US destroys Russian Hopes and Mars Program".
« Last Edit: 11/11/2011 12:37 PM by kevin-rf »
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Offline Jim

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #737 on: 11/11/2011 12:40 PM »
Are we talking the equiv. of a smoke detector,

That is usually the case for calibration sources

Offline Blackstar

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #738 on: 11/11/2011 12:46 PM »
Poppycock.

Nobody died.

Try to keep things in perspective.

Nobody died due to the financial crisis either. Do people always have to die for something to be a disaster?

You're right. Please feel free to panic and scream in fright.

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: LIVE: Zenit-2SB launch with Phobos-Grunt - November 8, 2011
« Reply #739 on: 11/11/2011 01:06 PM »
Ok, there is time to assign blame later… Now is what are they going to do about entry and risk to those on the ground?

When and where is it coming down? What can they do to prevent reentry?

I believe that estimates (guesses?) about the parking orbit decaying by the end of next week are doing the rounds.  The spacecraft is, I imagine, in a similar orbital inclination to the ISS, so that means, theoretically, almost the entire inhabited surface of the Earth is a potential crash site. 

It will not be possible to better assess the actual likely descent zone until a few orbits before critical decay.  However, I'm sure that appropriate proceedures are being pulled out for the third time after ROSAT and the other large re-entry in recent weeks.

If anything, I'm a lot more worried about the large amount of propellent in the EDS possibly causing an airburst effect rather than the actual spacecraft.
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