Author Topic: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy  (Read 7655 times)

Offline FinalFrontier

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We have had a serious failure at high velocity and high altitude of the Soyuz booster today. It appears the astronauts survived and landed safely in ballistic abort mode. This might be the highest energy abort ever made and survived by a living crew although it remains to be seen.

While it is hoped the standown of the Soyuz spacecraft and launch vehicle will not last long the immediate effect is that there is no crew launch vehicle for the ISS. This thread will be for discussing whether the president or congress may intervene and issue a directive to either accelerate commercial crew or potentially to use other means (Orion on eelv?) to reach Iss in the event the Soyuz standown becomes lengthy.

For now my thoughts are with the crew and their families.

Edit/Lar:
We have several threads for this, please do your best to use the right thread, thanks

Mission thread
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=45365

Space Policy implications thread
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=46543

General implications thread
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=46541
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 01:35 PM by Lar »
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Offline speedevil

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #1 on: 10/11/2018 11:02 AM »
We have had a serious failure at high velocity and high altitude of the Soyuz booster today. It appears the astronauts survived and landed safely in ballistic abort mode. This might be the highest energy abort ever made and survived by a living crew although it remains to be seen.

While it is hoped the standown of the Soyuz spacecraft and launch vehicle will not last long the immediate effect is that there is no crew launch vehicle for the ISS. This thread will be for discussing whether the president or congress may intervene and issue a directive to either accelerate commercial crew or potentially to use other means (Orion on eelv?) to reach Iss in the event the Soyuz standown becomes lengthy.

For now my thoughts are with the crew and their families.
Orion on EELV seems unlikely for a number of reasons (in the next six months).

Dragon 1 would seem likely to be several times safer from any reasonable assessment, even absent Dragon 2.
If there are no slips, commercial crew is adequate to not evacuate ISS.

Online Markstark

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Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #2 on: 10/11/2018 11:05 AM »
Just woke up to this news. I could see what you’re suggesting happening behind the scenes. Probably wouldn’t want to do it publicly in an overt manner so that congress doesn’t look like they are creating additional schedule pressure

Edit: Orion unlikely due to lack of docking system and ECLSS. Something could probably be rigged but Commercial Crew is so close that it wouldn’t be worth the effort.

Edit 2: removed reference to launch abort system until we know more
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 01:11 PM by Markstark »

Offline Jarnis

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #3 on: 10/11/2018 11:21 AM »
Only non-Soyuz short term (<6 months) ride would be SpaceX DM-1 or DM-2. Or, I guess Starliner demo. Two of these were not planned to carry crew, so changing that would be a fairly complicated process and would throw quite a lot of risk onto the table. DM-2 might be able to move left if it "has to".

Realistically next crew will be no earlier than December on the next scheduled Soyuz. Once it is cleared by the investigation. December may be very optimistic as any investigation like this is bound to delay things.

Offline guckyfan

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #4 on: 10/11/2018 11:35 AM »
Could they send up a Soyuz unmanned as a replacement life boat and keep crew up 6 months longer?

Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #5 on: 10/11/2018 11:45 AM »
Could they send up a Soyuz unmanned as a replacement life boat and keep crew up 6 months longer?
Unlikely. Might be possible technically speaking but it won't happen. Already been reported rogozin has grounded Soyuz and they have halted all operations at energia related to the production line "pending investigation of the factory AND the other Soyuz boosters which are either built or in the build stage. ".
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 11:46 AM by FinalFrontier »
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #6 on: 10/11/2018 12:56 PM »
First the lousy OIG report on SLS and now this failure... Charlie is probably real happy he is now retired and enjoying his time on the boat with the grand-kids!
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Offline Proponent

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #7 on: 10/11/2018 01:06 PM »
Thank god for the launch abort system.

The failure occurred after the escape tower had been jettisoned.  In fact, I have seen speculation that the tower may be the cause of the accident, in that it may have collided with the booster.

To avoid dragging this thread OT, I propose we not discuss this point further here.

Offline Lar

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #8 on: 10/11/2018 01:29 PM »
(mod) Yes, agree with Proponent, let's save the technical discussion for other threads thanks

(fan) This will be a test of Bridenstine's mettle.
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Offline incoming

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #9 on: 10/11/2018 02:07 PM »
We're lucky the two astronauts survived unharmed. I don't think it makes a lot of sense snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by cutting corners elsewhere - whether it's on commercial crew, orion, or returning Soyuz to flight.

The commercial crew vehicles are at the point in development where more money (e.g., more people) isn't going to help - if anything it could be counterproductive.  The only option to accelerate is to work the team harder (which its hard to imagine you could) or cut corners when it comes to certification.  Orion is even further away, especially since it needs a heavy lift vehicle to get to ISS, none of which are certified or ready to launch crew safely. 

At the same time it seems obvious that the Russians are having major (and perhaps worsening) problems with their space program. NASA should be very cautious about agreeing to return to flight with U.S. astronauts aboard a soyuz.

The best near term policy decision is to stay the course with the existing programs and not do anything stupid that puts us into a spiral we might not recover from. NASA and Russia should investigate options to keep ISS viable in a "keep alive" mode - extending the 3 crew who are up there, or even de-crew scenarios, as long as needed to return to rotating crews safely. 

Remember before the failure of this crew rotation mission we were already in a somewhat precarious position with regard to the ISS crew rotation outlook.  The priority now should be preserving space station until we can get back to something that approximates normal operations and rotations.



Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #10 on: 10/11/2018 03:10 PM »
I don't know the shift workload on Commercial Crew at Boeing, ULA and SpaceX and if a ramp-up to 24 hrs is going to considered or possible of course without compromising safety...
I guess the Administrator will call in the respective parties for opinions and options...
« Last Edit: 10/11/2018 03:19 PM by Rocket Science »
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Offline Jim

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #11 on: 10/11/2018 03:23 PM »
I don't know the shift workload on Commercial Crew at Boeing, ULA and SpaceX and if a ramp-up to 24 hrs is going to considered or possible of course without compromising safety...


Engineering isn't going to ramp up to round the clock

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #12 on: 10/11/2018 03:35 PM »
This thread will be for discussing whether the president or congress may intervene and issue a directive to either accelerate commercial crew or potentially to use other means (Orion on eelv?) to reach Iss in the event the Soyuz standown becomes lengthy.

I think Boeing and SpaceX are already working at a constant, sustained rate towards their first NASA crew flights, and though maybe some extra money would move their current dates forward, I'd say we'll have to rely on Russia to get the Soyuz back flying again.

What might change is the nature of the first crew flights on Dragon and Starliner, and both Boeing and SpaceX may put greater focus on what they are doing, but I just don't see where the opportunities are for significant date changes without major changes to the program.
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #13 on: 10/11/2018 03:39 PM »
I don't know the shift workload on Commercial Crew at Boeing, ULA and SpaceX and if a ramp-up to 24 hrs is going to considered or possible of course without compromising safety...


Engineering isn't going to ramp up to round the clock
Interesting situation where we have a proven system with problems and untested systems with unknowns...
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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #14 on: 10/11/2018 03:43 PM »
Assuming NASA can get their paperwork done, I suspect SpaceX could get DM1 the pad for static fire before the end of the month. I seriously doubt they would switch it to manned on the way up, but could it be used to extend the stay and provide a return vehicle for crew already onboard? Are there any problems (that couldn't be solved by a bit of bodgeing) with using a Russian flight suit in Dragon?


Depending on the outcome of the investigation and how long Soyuz is grounded for, I almost wonder if NASA will have no choice but to fast track commercial crew if the other option is abandoning a $150B space station for an indeterminate amount of time.
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Offline Lar

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #15 on: 10/11/2018 03:53 PM »
I don't know the shift workload on Commercial Crew at Boeing, ULA and SpaceX and if a ramp-up to 24 hrs is going to considered or possible of course without compromising safety...
I guess the Administrator will call in the respective parties for opinions and options...

This is not a crisis and rushing the current process may not be the best approach. It MIGHT be something to look at to delete procedures entirely. But some of this isn't quite space policy is it?
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #16 on: 10/11/2018 05:24 PM »
I don't know the shift workload on Commercial Crew at Boeing, ULA and SpaceX and if a ramp-up to 24 hrs is going to considered or possible of course without compromising safety...
I guess the Administrator will call in the respective parties for opinions and options...

This is not a crisis and rushing the current process may not be the best approach. It MIGHT be something to look at to delete procedures entirely. But some of this isn't quite space policy is it?
Is it responsible for the Administrator to take a wait and see approach? I'm just asking the questions as to options. I'm not into rushing programs and old enough to have seen the results of "Go Fever" and I would not want to go down that road... Now as to the policy question, I guess this is one of those cross-topics as to the policy decisions that may or may not need to be made by the current administration are the drivers for the programs and the results that may come schedule wise... The point is we have control of what we do and not what our Russian partners do, we have been down this road before unfortunately...
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Offline incoming

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #17 on: 10/11/2018 05:54 PM »
I don't know the shift workload on Commercial Crew at Boeing, ULA and SpaceX and if a ramp-up to 24 hrs is going to considered or possible of course without compromising safety...
I guess the Administrator will call in the respective parties for opinions and options...

This is not a crisis and rushing the current process may not be the best approach. It MIGHT be something to look at to delete procedures entirely. But some of this isn't quite space policy is it?

What we are seeing now is very much the RESULT of policy decisions on both the U.S. and Russian sides.  Hindsight is of course 20/20 but given all of the quality problems on the unmanned Russian space systems it is frankly very fortunate that we have made it this long, wholly dependent on them since retirement of Shuttle, without having something like this happening earlier.

There have been a number of threads talking about what should have been done differently in the 2006-2012 timeframe, and I don't see any good in repeating that here.

But there are a number of policy questions that will need to be addressed moving forward. For many of them, we will not even be able to attempt an answer until we know a lot more.  That being said, in the hopes of advancing the thread here are a few that come to mind:

-What confidence do we have that the Russian space enterprise is on the "up-swing"....recovering and rebuilding their quality management, versus continuing the trend downward? What risk are we taking by continuing to fly our astronauts on Soyuz vehicles (as NASA plans to do, even after commercial crew is operational)?

-How will this crew rotation disruption effect future operations of the ISS?  It seems likely that ISS will be limited to 3 crew for some time - perhaps a year?  Maybe more?  How does that affect the administration's goal to "end federal funding for ISS" in 2024 (a decision many in congress were already hostile to)? How does this "near death experience" affect our thinking in terms of being able to "hand over" LEO to commercial industry and the timeline for doing so? Granted there's a big difference between SpaceX, Boeing, and Roscosmos, but they are all situations where NASA is relying on another entity for space transportation services with less oversight and control that has been the case traditionally. 

-Given this reminder of how precarious our current situation is in terms of access to space - do we have the right human spaceflight portfolio?  Are we spreading ourselves too thin trying to develop too many systems at once, or is it a positive thing that we have three new systems under development which will use three different launch systems, all with different management approaches?




Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #18 on: 10/11/2018 08:51 PM »
This could highlight the potential issues with a CC LOM.

Each provider will be conducting a single mission per year. In the event of an abort will the alternate provider be able to accelerate their own mission to adequately cover the gap? and will they also be able to cover the 12-24 month downtime of the other provider?

And for that matter, will NASA permit the alternate provider to do a "return to flight" before the investigation of the other provider has been completed?

I suspect we'll see these questions addressed a little more directly in the next year or two.

Offline incoming

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Re: Immediate effects of Soyuz booster failure on policy
« Reply #19 on: 10/12/2018 05:17 PM »
This could highlight the potential issues with a CC LOM.

Each provider will be conducting a single mission per year. In the event of an abort will the alternate provider be able to accelerate their own mission to adequately cover the gap? and will they also be able to cover the 12-24 month downtime of the other provider?

And for that matter, will NASA permit the alternate provider to do a "return to flight" before the investigation of the other provider has been completed?

I suspect we'll see these questions addressed a little more directly in the next year or two.
Both providers are capable of flying more often than planned. If anything, the currently planned flight rate of once per year is considered to be the minimum viable flight rate.

Being able to continue to support ISS while one provider is down is one of the key requirements for having two providers in the first place (along with competitive pressure). This was planned for and my understanding is that the contracts are structured such that NASA has flexibility to shift missions and/or order additional missions with pre-specified call-up times.

Given the dissimilar nature of the Dragon/Falcon and Starliner/Atlas systems, I have a hard time imagining a failure of one that could ground the other.  The only thing I can think of is a bad requirement levied by NASA that both systems were designed to. That seems very unlikely. 
« Last Edit: 10/12/2018 05:19 PM by incoming »

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