Author Topic: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?  (Read 17433 times)

Offline Davd

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #20 on: 02/26/2013 03:07 am »
Worst Soviet/Russian space decisions:

*Unrealistic programs that were beyond their technical capabilities (manned lunar flights, Mars landers)
*Going ahead with Soyuz 1 even after prior unmanned tests clearly demonstrated that it was not ready or safe to fly with a human passenger
*Too much use of automated flight that left cosmonauts without sufficient experience there
*Equipping N1 with way too many engines for it to possibly work
*Continuing to operate Mir long after it was past its design lifespan and starting to turn into a safety hazard
*Pressing Proton into service before it was fully debugged or reliable enough to commit to operational space launches
*Buran (pointless)

And as someone already said, ruining Korolev's health by imprisoning him in the Gulag.

Offline savuporo

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #21 on: 02/26/2013 03:26 am »
Not building a Lunokhod-3. Stopping at Luna-24.
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline Archibald

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #22 on: 02/26/2013 10:53 am »
By far: Buran

some young mathematicians at Keldysh institute found that the US shuttle lifting off from Vandenberg, can drop a nuclear bomb on Moscow - sneaking between the SAMs and ABM-135 defense systems for a decapitation strike.
Keldysh tell that to Brezhnev; Breznhev answer "ok, so let's build a carbon copy of that american shuttle".
End result: Energia - Buran, billion of rubbles spend for nothing, Mir delayed, no successor to Soyuz.

Second worse: Ustinov hate against Chelomey forever precluding manned flights of the TKS.
« Last Edit: 02/26/2013 10:53 am by Archibald »
...you have been found guilty by the elders of the forum of a (imaginary) vendetta against Saint Elon - BLAAASPHEMER !

Offline SalemHanna

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #23 on: 02/26/2013 10:59 am »
Scrapping the Energia booster along with the Buran programme was the Soviet Union/Russia's biggest mistake.

They already had a manned vehicle (Soyuz), an orbital research platform (Mir) and a resupply ship (Progress). So they didn't need a large spaceplane.

But no-one else in the world had a booster of Energia's capability; it really deserved to be developed further and would have been useful in ISS construction and Mars missions. 
Apollo, Soyuz, Shuttle...SKYLON.

Offline Star One

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #24 on: 02/26/2013 01:23 pm »
Not building a Lunokhod-3. Stopping at Luna-24.

I would add not continuing on with their Venus exploration program, they should have stayed focus on Venus rather than the shift back to Mars & its satellites that occurred.

Offline Dmitry_V_home

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #25 on: 02/26/2013 02:48 pm »
If to speak shortly, that a big mistake of the USSR was lack of the correct strategy in space. From the technical point of view, the N1 and the Buran projects   were the greatest mistakes. Both programs didn't correspond to requirements and country opportunities. IMHO.

Offline Davd

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #26 on: 02/27/2013 01:23 am »
If to speak shortly, that a big mistake of the USSR was lack of the correct strategy in space. From the technical point of view, the N1 and the Buran projects   were the greatest mistakes. Both programs didn't correspond to requirements and country opportunities. IMHO.

N1 was fine from a conceptual standpoint, but the execution was anything but. Buran was totally pointless except from a Cold War d--- waving stance. "Hey Americans, look we can build a shuttle too!"

Offline Dmitry_V_home

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #27 on: 02/27/2013 03:22 pm »

N1 was fine from a conceptual standpoint, but the execution was anything but. Buran was totally pointless except from a Cold War d--- waving stance. "Hey Americans, look we can build a shuttle too!"

The H1 project was a basic mistake, irrespective of a technical plan. It withdrew resources which could be used with bigger advantage from the Soviet astronautics.

Offline Danderman

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #28 on: 02/27/2013 10:42 pm »
First off, decisions without funding aren't decisions, they are opinions, so some of the "decisions" that were pretty bad, like those made by the Powers That Were in 1966 to fly around the Moon in 1967, or in 1968 to land on the Moon the next year weren't really decisions. The reality was that lack of real decision making capability is what killed the Soviets in regards to their "Challenge to Apollo".

And yes, isolating a real decision means that the decision to fly Soyuz-1 was pretty bad, pretty much a Challenger-level screw-up.

The decision to kill Mir in 2001 was pretty bad, although defensible.

The decision not to put a large cryogenic second stage on Zenit as a pathfinder to Energia had long term and short term consequences. If that stage were on hand today, Roskosmos would not be chasing its tail right now.


« Last Edit: 02/27/2013 10:42 pm by Danderman »

Offline Davd

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #29 on: 02/28/2013 04:12 am »
First off, decisions without funding aren't decisions, they are opinions, so some of the "decisions" that were pretty bad, like those made by the Powers That Were in 1966 to fly around the Moon in 1967, or in 1968 to land on the Moon the next year weren't really decisions. The reality was that lack of real decision making capability is what killed the Soviets in regards to their "Challenge to Apollo".

Without Korolev, the Soviet program was a chicken running around with its head cut off.

Quote
And yes, isolating a real decision means that the decision to fly Soyuz-1 was pretty bad, pretty much a Challenger-level screw-up.

I mean, really. The flights of Kosmos 133 and 140 should have been an instant red flag that Soyuz was not safe for a manned flight yet.

Quote
The decision to kill Mir in 2001 was pretty bad, although defensible.

Mir needed to go. It was way past its expiration date and turning into a safety hazard (not to mention the butt of jokes on late-night TV). In a way, the later career of Mir was symbolic of the whole disaster that was Yeltsin-era Russia.

Offline RocketmanUS

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #30 on: 02/28/2013 04:25 am »
Trying to follow America and not doing their own thing.

Soyuz was one of their right things they did on a positive note.

Offline Dmitry_V_home

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #31 on: 02/28/2013 02:27 pm »
Without Korolev, the Soviet program was a chicken running around with its head cut off.

It and at the Korolyov was same. The Korolyov's program was logical and internally consistent. But it didn't lean on real resources of the USSR.

Offline SalemHanna

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #32 on: 03/01/2013 10:43 pm »
To mirror the thread "worst decision in US space history?" http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=31200.0

Curious as to people's thoughts on the decisions on the other side of the iron curtain.

I'll mirror the same post I used for the American version of this thread:

Not joining forces fully with the United States and other spacefaring nations immediately after the Apollo-Soyuz flight in 1975.

Think about it:

- It could have helped end the Cold War sooner
- We could have had an international space station 20 years earlier. No duplication of efforts with Mir, Skylab, the latter Salyuts etc.
- The Soviets wouldn't have wasted billions of roubles on a giant spaceplane that they didn't need if they had access to American hardware
- The money saved by both nations could have easily been ploughed into an international mission to Mars by now.
Apollo, Soyuz, Shuttle...SKYLON.

Offline Nickolai

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #33 on: 03/02/2013 03:22 am »
To mirror the thread "worst decision in US space history?" http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=31200.0

Curious as to people's thoughts on the decisions on the other side of the iron curtain.

I'll mirror the same post I used for the American version of this thread:

Not joining forces fully with the United States and other spacefaring nations immediately after the Apollo-Soyuz flight in 1975.

Think about it:

- It could have helped end the Cold War sooner
- We could have had an international space station 20 years earlier. No duplication of efforts with Mir, Skylab, the latter Salyuts etc.
- The Soviets wouldn't have wasted billions of roubles on a giant spaceplane that they didn't need if they had access to American hardware
- The money saved by both nations could have easily been ploughed into an international mission to Mars by now.

Not sure if non-decision counts as worst decision. I imagine there were scientists and engineers on both sides who would have loved to work together, but at the same time I think politicians on both sides decidedly didn't want to work together, so that "decision" can be attributed to both sides.

Also not sure how Skylab, Salyut, and Mir represent a duplication of effort.

Offline SalemHanna

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #34 on: 03/02/2013 09:03 am »
Also not sure how Skylab, Salyut, and Mir represent a duplication of effort.

===========

If I'm not mistaken, Skylab and some of the Salyut stations overlapped time-wise. Skylab fell to Earth because the shuttle wasn't ready in time to continue the programme. A Soviet visit could have corrected that.

Also, Freedom was proposed by Reagan in 1984, two years before Mir was launched. Shame relations were frosty at the time, because astronauts could have had access to a station in the mid-late 80s in spite of the Challenger disaster grounding US launches.
« Last Edit: 03/02/2013 09:04 am by SalemHanna »
Apollo, Soyuz, Shuttle...SKYLON.

Offline gospacex

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #35 on: 03/02/2013 09:13 am »
To mirror the thread "worst decision in US space history?" http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=31200.0

Curious as to people's thoughts on the decisions on the other side of the iron curtain.

I'll mirror the same post I used for the American version of this thread:

Not joining forces fully with the United States and other spacefaring nations immediately after the Apollo-Soyuz flight in 1975.

Think about it:

- It could have helped end the Cold War sooner

Cold War could only end with the end of incompatible ideologies.

Offline truth is life

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #36 on: 03/02/2013 02:25 pm »
Not building a Lunokhod-3. Stopping at Luna-24.

I would add not continuing on with their Venus exploration program, they should have stayed focus on Venus rather than the shift back to Mars & its satellites that occurred.

I would phrase this a little differently based on my reading. Yes, the Soviets should have continued their successful lunar program. They probably should have done more with Venus (although I have to point out they launched Venus missions at virtually every opportunity up through 1985; there really wasn't all that much more that they could actually do)

Their real mistake with Mars was wasting most of the 1970s working on unrealistic Mars sample return missions (when not a single one of their missions had succeeded!) and only really looking at realistic missions starting the 1980s, when it was getting late for them to successfully execute a mission before the whole edifice collapsed. If they had been more realistic and reasonable, then they probably could have had some missions in the early to mid 1980s, which would have had a decent chance of succeeding. However, the Soviet/Russian record for failure on Mars remains unblemished, alas.

My nomination would actually be a somewhat counter intuitive one, namely aiming to get firsts, especially first satellite and first human into orbit. Doing so kicked off the space race and led to a number of the other problems people here have pointed out, like sloppy, rushed development of, well, everything. I find it hard to believe that the US doing those things first would have triggered the Soviets to play catch-up quite nearly as much as the other way around, in which case both the Soviet and American programs could take a slower, more sustainable development route which would perhaps have ended up in a better place in the long term.

Offline Davd

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #37 on: 03/02/2013 11:40 pm »
Their real mistake with Mars was wasting most of the 1970s working on unrealistic Mars sample return missions (when not a single one of their missions had succeeded!) and only really looking at realistic missions starting the 1980s, when it was getting late for them to successfully execute a mission before the whole edifice collapsed.

As I'd said earlier, the 60s-70s Mars program was too ambitious and beyond the capabilities of their technology. However, the failure of the Phobos probes is pretty inexplicable given that it happened in the late 80s when they should have been up to it. There was also the failed launch in the 90s, but as it was the Yeltsin era, there was no money for a backup probe.

Quote
My nomination would actually be a somewhat counter intuitive one, namely aiming to get firsts, especially first satellite and first human into orbit. Doing so kicked off the space race and led to a number of the other problems people here have pointed out, like sloppy, rushed development of, well, everything. I find it hard to believe that the US doing those things first would have triggered the Soviets to play catch-up quite nearly as much as the other way around, in which case both the Soviet and American programs could take a slower, more sustainable development route which would perhaps have ended up in a better place in the long term.

One could partially blame that on Khrushchev and his desire to have as many stunt flights as possible to upstage the US.

Offline bad_astra

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #38 on: 03/06/2013 03:44 pm »
Mir needed to go. It was way past its expiration date and turning into a safety hazard (not to mention the butt of jokes on late-night TV). In a way, the later career of Mir was symbolic of the whole disaster that was Yeltsin-era Russia.


It's value was not predicated on late night talk show jokes. There were disasters but none were fatal, and a lot was learned. Mir could have had a productive geriatric commercial life, but it was a threat to the ISS program, and it had to go.


To chime in on the original question, I would have to agree that the decision to build Energya/Buran shuttle fleet was the greatest mistake their program made. Other "bad" decisions like N1 construction were simply end results from poor operational environments, and so forth. The ideas were good, but the execution was flawed.

A nation stuck in Afghanistan with a bloated, nearly-aimless heavy-lift based program that it cannot afford does stand a risk of losing it all, in terms of their manned spaceflight capability.


"Contact Light" -Buzz Aldrin

Offline Scoopdiehl

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Re: Worst decision made in Russian/Soviet space history?
« Reply #39 on: 08/19/2013 01:59 am »
My contention is their worst decision was to mess with the timeline, using their myriad publicity shots and reproducing film clips after the fact.  This has given the conspiracists all kinds of ammunition. Had they been straight-forward, we'd know a lot more!

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