Author Topic: Russian launch failures  (Read 7526 times)

Offline the_other_Doug

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Russian launch failures
« on: 11/29/2017 05:05 PM »
I've been following the discussion of the recent Soyuz 2.1/Fregat launch failure in the Live Events forum, here, and I'm seeing (rather as per usual) comments about how there has not been a year free of a Russian launch failure since 2003, and how any statistical assessment of the probability of future launch success is just automatically lowered just because, well -- it's a Russian launch vehicle/team.

Is that really true?  I know that, of the Russian stable of launchers, only the Soyuz vehicle is really prepped and flown outside of the former USSR, by ESA in Kourou... is the success record of the Soyuz any higher in Kourou-prepped-and-launched vehicles than in those flown from Russia and Kazakhstan?

And, to (re-)open the door to this discussion, is this base assumption that Russian rockets are somehow shoddier or more-poorly-assembled valid?  And if so, why?  Is it the overall depth of talent in the Russian aerospace engineering pool, or does the Russian space agency (whatever they are calling themselves this week) fail to pay their workers?  All of the above?  Additional reasons?

Is it a cultural bias that places the Russian program in this position?  Accident of geography?  Deficiencies of ideology?

What do y'all think?
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline Svetoslav

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #1 on: 11/29/2017 05:12 PM »
Well... here's the article in Russian:

https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Список_космических_запусков_России_в_2017_году

This is where we get info about Russian failures. This article was also quoted on Novosti-Kosmonavtiki. forum.

« Last Edit: 11/29/2017 05:13 PM by Svetoslav »

Online ncb1397

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #2 on: 11/29/2017 06:26 PM »
This year, there has been 1 Japanese failure, 2 Chinese failures, 1 Kiwi failure, 1 Indian Failure and 1 Russian failure. Russia has the most launch successes, right behind the U.S.

Offline Svetoslav

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #3 on: 11/29/2017 06:30 PM »
Should we count the 1 Kiwi failure as Kiwi? It's an american company after all... And it's a test launch of a brand new rocket.

Offline Satori

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #4 on: 11/29/2017 06:34 PM »
Should we count the 1 Kiwi failure as Kiwi? It's an american company after all... And it's a test launch of a brand new rocket.

Sure we should, RocketLab is an American company.

Offline Hog

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #5 on: 11/30/2017 05:23 PM »
Should we count the 1 Kiwi failure as Kiwi? It's an american company after all... And it's a test launch of a brand new rocket.

Sure we should, RocketLab is an American company.
So you are saying we should NOT count the Kiwi failure as a Kiwi failure, BUT as an American failure. 

Are Soyuz launches out of French Guiana considered Russian launches? or does it depend upon what launcher and what payload it launched?

Interesting.
Paul

Offline JimO

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #6 on: 11/30/2017 07:22 PM »
« Last Edit: 12/04/2017 10:21 PM by gongora »

Offline JimO

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #7 on: 11/30/2017 07:24 PM »
... and another presentation I made last year in which I suggested the magnificent Soviet space industry was like a 'hothouse orchid' that required a number of specific conditions to thrive, conditions now absent and unlikely to be retrieved. 

Offline Phillip Clark

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #8 on: 11/30/2017 07:45 PM »
Should we count the 1 Kiwi failure as Kiwi? It's an american company after all... And it's a test launch of a brand new rocket.
Sure we should, RocketLab is an American company.
So you are saying we should NOT count the Kiwi failure as a Kiwi failure, BUT as an American failure. 
Are Soyuz launches out of French Guiana considered Russian launches? or does it depend upon what launcher and what payload it launched?
Interesting.

Another viewpoint are the launches from the Italian San Marco Platform which was located in Italian territory on the high seas.   The launches used United States Scout launchers and these launches are credited to the United States and not Italy who owned the launch facilities.

Using excactly the same logic I count the the Sea Launch missions as being Russian/Ukrainian and the Soyuz launches out of Kourou as Russian launches.
I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane - WJ.

Online calapine

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #9 on: 11/30/2017 08:43 PM »
Some perspective....

...

... and another presentation I made last year in which I suggested the magnificent Soviet space industry was like a 'hothouse orchid' that required a number of specific conditions to thrive, conditions now absent and unlikely to be retrieved. 

Both have been interesting reads. Thank you!
« Last Edit: 12/04/2017 10:59 PM by gongora »

Offline smoliarm

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #10 on: 12/01/2017 12:05 PM »
...
... is the success record of the Soyuz any higher in Kourou-prepped-and-launched vehicles than in those flown from Russia and Kazakhstan?

...

well, the answer is below - summary table from my database.
It shows no difference in failure percentage - by formal approach.

But there is A BIG difference if we compare Soyuz failures by periods.
E.g., for the period of 1997-2010 there were -
161 launches of *R-7 family* LVs (All Soyuz variants + all Molniya)
Of those only 3 (three) launches were failures.

3 / 161 = 1.9%

- which is three times lower than current failure rate.
Quite a difference.

Offline AncientU

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #11 on: 12/01/2017 03:29 PM »
Tabulated results in Svetoslav's post above show 5 more Soyuz failures 2011-present (and more launches) than your table.  Are Proton launches/failures included in his table and not yours?

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=44321.msg1754212#msg1754212


« Last Edit: 12/01/2017 03:32 PM by AncientU »
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Offline Alter Sachse

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #12 on: 12/01/2017 03:40 PM »
Tabulated results in Svetoslav's post above show 5 more Soyuz failures 2011-present (and more launches) than your table.  Are Proton launches/failures included in his table and not yours?

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=44321.msg1754212#msg1754212
I think thats all rockets (Soyuz, Proton, Zenit...)
« Last Edit: 12/01/2017 03:58 PM by Alter Sachse »

Offline smoliarm

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #13 on: 12/01/2017 04:26 PM »
Tabulated results in Svetoslav's post above show 5 more Soyuz failures 2011-present (and more launches) than your table.  Are Proton launches/failures included in his table and not yours?

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=44321.msg1754212#msg1754212

That's because Svetoslav's table is about ALL launches of ALL LVs. My table shows launches of R-7 - only.

Offline Arch Admiral

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #14 on: 12/04/2017 10:06 PM »
It's not just the high booster failure rate since 2009 that lowers confidence in Russian launches, it is the extraordinary incompetence by individuals revealed in the investigations. The guy who hammered the Proton rate gyros in backwards -- into mountings carefully designed to prevent this -- fits right into a long Russian tradition of ex-peasants vainly trying to adapt to modern industrial society. Ditto the guy who loaded TOO MUCH propellant into an upper stage. This latest Fregat fiasco is the latest of many from the hapless Lavotchkin organization, which operates at a higher level of failure in engineering and management.

JimO's presentation touches on a number of reasons why Russian space industries no longer attract competent job applicants. One we don't appreciate enough is the declining value of exemption from universal male military conscription. In the USSR, all males aged 20 were swept into some branch of the military for 2 or 3 years. Besides the interference in your career development, life as an "enlisted" man was pretty bad. A draft exemption was an immense attraction, and everyone working in the rocket industry got one. Today the Russian forces are much smaller, many units are manned by volunteers, conscripts serve only 1 year, and it is much easier to get exempted (if you have the cash).

Offline smoliarm

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #15 on: 12/05/2017 05:48 PM »
Just some notes with pictures on the topic, without an attempt to answer *global* questions

I'd suggest to use three time periods for analysis Russian launches & failures:
1: before 1996
2: 1996 -- 2010
3: 2011 -- Present
The reason for the first boundary (1996) is actually ... the agreement of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission.
Which allowed Russian launchers to the commercial market, and also required sharing the information on launch incidents and failures - with insurers. As a result - our databases on failures and incidents are MORE detailed for Russian launches AFTER 1996.
Roughly speaking, for launches before 1996 we know mostly "obvious failures": [Fail-to-orbit], [LEO instead of Molniya orbit] etc.
In contrast, our stats for the period AFTER  1996 include partial failures like Yamal-402 (Dec 08, 2012) and
Ekspress-AM 6 (Oct 21, 2014). Such type of incident would not be visible AT ALL in soviet times, just because there was NO INFO about the intended target orbit.

Now about the second boundary, 2011.
Well, there are several reasons, and each of them is of kind "it's a long story..."
So here I just stick to the pictures :)

FIGURE 1: Launch Site processing time for Briz-M
The data are from ... this marvelous site, nasaspaceflight.com:
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=17568.msg1171855#msg1171855
("Information about Proton rocket", table "Briz-M Baikonur delivery dates" compiled by Stan Black)
The figure shows that originally LS-processing time for Briz-M was quite uniform - 25-35 days between delivery and launch. In 90% of cases the processing time was below 40 days, and only in 1 case it was greater than 50.
This started to change in 2010, so that since 2011 this "25-35 days processing" is not a rule anymore.
The first explanation which comes to mind - something is wrong with QC/QA.
And the bottom part of Figure 1 confirms this clearly: launch failure rate for the first period (2005 -- 2010) is almost twice lower.

FIGURE 2 - just to show the whole picture for Protons.
Also, it illustrates that this type of bar-graph is NOT a good instrument to visualize *percentage* or *concentration of failures*

FIGURE 3 - it shows just the same spike in failure rate for another launcher, Soyuz-family.
in my opinion it demonstrates that the problem is not limited to one factory/OKB/company but rather global - in sense of industry.



Offline Hog

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #16 on: 12/05/2017 06:25 PM »
Wow Smoliarm, there certainly is something going on with the Russian launch industry.  The graphs you supplied, esp. #3 point that out in sobering detail.  What is going on?
« Last Edit: 12/05/2017 07:03 PM by gongora »
Paul

Offline Arch Admiral

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #17 on: 12/08/2017 03:32 AM »
I don't understand why people are so mystified by the collapse of the Russian space industry. The Russian Federation is collapsing at all levels - economic, social, political - since the invention of fracking destroyed their only export industry. The industrial base they inherited from the USSR is worn out and they can't or won't replace it. Why should space be an exception to this?

Offline ZachF

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #18 on: 12/08/2017 01:30 PM »
I don't understand why people are so mystified by the collapse of the Russian space industry. The Russian Federation is collapsing at all levels - economic, social, political - since the invention of fracking destroyed their only export industry. The industrial base they inherited from the USSR is worn out and they can't or won't replace it. Why should space be an exception to this?

The Soviet Union/Russia has been on one long decline since 1970. Note: (Source:UN)

1970 (USSR):
12.8% of world economy
6.7% of world population

1975 (USSR):
10.4% of World economy
6.4% of world population

1980 (USSR):
7.7% of world economy
6.1% of world population

1985 (USSR):
6.8% of world economy
5.9% of world population

1990 (USSR):
3.3% of world economy
5.6% of world population

1995 (Russia):
1.3% of world economy
2.7% of world population

2000 (Russia):
0.8% of world economy
2.5% of world population

2005 (Russia):
1.6% of world economy
2.3% of world population

2010 (Russia):
2.3% of world economy
2.1% of world population

2016 (Russia):
1.7% of world economy
2.0% of world population

By 2050 Russia will likely be less than 1% of world population, and probably an even smaller share of the world economy.

The run-up in oil prices from 2002-2013 masked a lot of the inefficiencies and bloat in their system. Much of the profit from the resource sector was pilfered by oligarchs and sent into Swiss bank accounts rather than rebuilding/upgrading old soviet infrastructure, or general economic improvement. Russia now has dutch disease, and relies on digging stuff out of the ground to purchase more complicated products/services from abroad. The eventual transfer to electric cars and away from fossil fuels will only hurt them more.
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Offline smoliarm

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #19 on: 12/09/2017 02:36 PM »
...

The Soviet Union/Russia has been on one long decline since 1970. Note: (Source:UN)

...
Thank you for the data. And yes, the general correlation is clear, as the attached graph illustrates.
I'd like to play with more detailed figures - could you please give the link to the source of your numbers ?

Quote

The run-up in oil prices from 2002-2013 masked a lot of the inefficiencies and bloat in their system. Much of the profit from the resource sector was pilfered by oligarchs and sent into Swiss bank accounts rather than rebuilding/upgrading old soviet infrastructure, or general economic improvement. Russia now has dutch disease, and relies on digging stuff out of the ground to purchase more complicated products/services from abroad. The eventual transfer to electric cars and away from fossil fuels will only hurt them more.
- well, that's true, but it is pretty general true.
I hope to find more specifics with more detailed economic numbers. That's why I'm asking for the source.

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