Author Topic: Russian launch failures  (Read 7134 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.

Offline 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?

Online 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.

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.

Offline Nicolas PILLET

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #20 on: 12/09/2017 02:43 PM »
I've made some statistics abut Soviet/Russian launches :

http://www.forum-conquete-spatiale.fr/t18808-statistiques-des-lancements-russes

If you look at the last graphic at the bottom of this page, you can see that the main reason for the decrease is that they have no more film-return capsules.

Another reason is the increase of satcoms' life duration.
Nicolas PILLET
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Offline Nicolas PILLET

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #21 on: 12/09/2017 02:47 PM »
Correlating number of launches and Russian economy is really a bad idea. In the 1970s-1980s, Soviet economy was not good at all, and they made about 100 launches per year.

The peak of Russian economical crisis was in 1998-2000, and they made 39 launches in 2000.
Nicolas PILLET
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Offline Phillip Clark

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #22 on: 12/09/2017 02:52 PM »
I've made some statistics abut Soviet/Russian launches :
http://www.forum-conquete-spatiale.fr/t18808-statistiques-des-lancements-russes
If you look at the last graphic at the bottom of this page, you can see that the main reason for the decrease is that they have no more film-return capsules.
Another reason is the increase of satcoms' life duration.

Not just the film-return photo-recons but military launches in general - ELINT, "minor military", etc.
I've always been crazy but it's kept me from going insane - WJ.

Offline Stan Black

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #23 on: 12/10/2017 03:35 PM »
The data are from ... this marvellous 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)

I tried to update that list.
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=17568.msg1756855#msg1756855

It looks like they no longer send the Briz-M from factory to launch site on is own. These days the Briz-M are shipped along with the Proton-M rocket and fairing to the launch site? The Briz-M is no longer sent by aeroplane? 11Т756 railway carriage is used?
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=17568.msg1640131#msg1640131
https://www.roscosmos.ru/20896/
« Last Edit: 12/10/2017 03:37 PM by Stan Black »

Offline AncientU

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #24 on: 12/10/2017 05:09 PM »
I've made some statistics abut Soviet/Russian launches :

http://www.forum-conquete-spatiale.fr/t18808-statistiques-des-lancements-russes

If you look at the last graphic at the bottom of this page, you can see that the main reason for the decrease is that they have no more film-return capsules.

Another reason is the increase of satcoms' life duration.

Thanks for these graphics!

Looks like they made up some of the drop-off by taking a significant share of the word's commercial launches (starting around 1998-2000) -- just when Delta iv and Atlas v were planning to support flight rate with commercial launches.  Now, their commercial flight rate is collapsing and with it the much-needed cash flow into the space launch industry.  This loss combined with the country's budget woes is a double hit to space industry, triple if you include the soon-to-be discontinued US-funded crew flights (vols habites).  Don't see any of these diseases getting cured soon.
« Last Edit: 12/10/2017 05:18 PM by AncientU »
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Online ZachF

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #25 on: 12/10/2017 05:16 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.

https://unstats.un.org/unsd/snaama/dnllist.asp

" GDP and its breakdown at current prices in US Dollars"
"Exchange Rates and Population"
« Last Edit: 12/10/2017 05:19 PM by ZachF »

Online ZachF

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #26 on: 12/10/2017 05:24 PM »
I've made some statistics abut Soviet/Russian launches :

http://www.forum-conquete-spatiale.fr/t18808-statistiques-des-lancements-russes

If you look at the last graphic at the bottom of this page, you can see that the main reason for the decrease is that they have no more film-return capsules.

Another reason is the increase of satcoms' life duration.

Thanks for these graphics!

Looks like they made up some of the drop-off by taking a significant share of the word's commercial launches (starting around 1998-2000) -- just when Delta iv and Atlas v were planning to support flight rate with commercial launches.  Now, their commercial flight rate is collapsing and with it the much-needed cash flow into the space launch industry.  This loss combined with the country's budget woes is a double hit to space industry, triple if you include the soon-to-be discontinued US-funded crew flights (vols habites).  Don't see any of these diseases getting cured soon.

6-8 launches per year (about half manned) to the ISS. Take those and the commercial launches away and you're down a lot. By the mid 2020s Russia could be struggling to put up 8-10 launches a year IMHO.

Don't forget Arianespace phasing out their Soyuz launches and ULA switching to BO engines. More lost cash flow for space industry.
« Last Edit: 12/10/2017 05:35 PM by ZachF »

Offline Nicolas PILLET

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #27 on: 12/11/2017 11:31 AM »
Take those and the commercial launches away and you're down a lot.

Of course.
Take commercial and ISS launches away from SpaceX's manifest and you're down a lot, too.
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Offline JMSC

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #28 on: 12/15/2017 05:47 PM »
Take those and the commercial launches away and you're down a lot.

Of course.
Take commercial and ISS launches away from SpaceX's manifest and you're down a lot, too.

The difference being though is that a large number of the ISS manned seats are being taken away from Soyuz and given to SpaceX and Boeing.  From 2006 to 2018 NASA paid Russia a little over $3.36 billion and over $500 million a year on average for 2017 and 2018.  Beginning in 2019, a good chunk of that $500 million a year will be going to buy seats on Dragon II and pumping up SpaceXs bottom line instead of Roscosmos.  Given the Russian civilian space program budget is only a little over $2 billion a year, losing the manned ISS business is a huge financial blow for the program.

http://www.businessinsider.com/astronaut-cost-per-soyuz-seat-2016-9

Online ZachF

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Re: Russian launch failures
« Reply #29 on: 12/16/2017 04:45 PM »
Take those and the commercial launches away and you're down a lot.

Of course.
Take commercial and ISS launches away from SpaceX's manifest and you're down a lot, too.

The difference being though is that a large number of the ISS manned seats are being taken away from Soyuz and given to SpaceX and Boeing.  From 2006 to 2018 NASA paid Russia a little over $3.36 billion and over $500 million a year on average for 2017 and 2018.  Beginning in 2019, a good chunk of that $500 million a year will be going to buy seats on Dragon II and pumping up SpaceXs bottom line instead of Roscosmos.  Given the Russian civilian space program budget is only a little over $2 billion a year, losing the manned ISS business is a huge financial blow for the program.

http://www.businessinsider.com/astronaut-cost-per-soyuz-seat-2016-9

Yep. They are losing cash flow on all sides.

Domestic space budget had to drop from $4 billion a year to $2 billion because of the drop in oil/gas prices.
~$1-1.5 billion a year throwing up over a dozen commercial Proton launches/year, pretty much gone now.
~$500 million a year sending people to the ISS, soon to be gone.
~$150 million a year selling Soyuz to Arianespace, soon to be gone.
~$200 million a year selling 8-10 RD-180s to ULA, soon to be gone.

That's a "Space industry" total just right there dropping from about ~$6 billion/year a couple years ago to $2 billion and change by the early 2020s... Jeff Bezos can outspend that by himself. The question is, does this start to trigger a death-spiral syndrome? And if so, when?
« Last Edit: 12/16/2017 04:48 PM by ZachF »

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