Fuckwit idiocy from the usual source

A private sector space mission blew up yesterday. It was not the first: this is the third mission of significance to do so recently. What’s happening?

Has space just got so much harder?

Is more technology more likely to fail?

Or is it that the private sector just can’t do this stuff?

It may be all of those issues. And of course it could just be chance. Except it’s beginning not to look that way.

What seems certain is that it is time for a rethink. Anyone leading that rethink should be reading Mariana Mazzucato: the state does these things best. That’s not opinion. That’s fact. If it’s uncomfortable, deal with it. Progress depends on it.

And via the miracle of Wikipedia we get:

16 May
05:47:39 Russia Proton-M/Briz-M Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 200/39 RussiaUnited States International Launch Services
Mexico Mexsat-1 SCT Intended: Geosynchronous Communication 16 May Launch failure
Proton third stage vernier engine failed at T+497 seconds due to turbopump shaft coating degradation causing excess vibration.[7]

And

28 April
07:09:50 Russia Soyuz-2.1a Kazakhstan Baikonur Site 31/6 Russia Roskosmos
Russia Progress M-27M Roskosmos Low Earth (ISS) ISS Resupply 8 May Partial failure
Spacecraft lost communications and attitude control soon after separation after damaged by vibration issues during launch.[4] International Space Station docking attempt cancelled.[5] Mission declared a total loss.[6]

And in 2014 the failures were by the Russians (3), Arianespace (the EU), US Air Force, NASA, Delft (?), Orbital Sciences, …..yeah, really showing that it’s all because the private sector can’t do this stuff.

As for Andrew Dickie:

Very noticeable that the rocket that the exploded was not a Russian designed rocket, which have an outstanding success rate, access to which the West got handed to them on a plate by that drunken buffoon, Yeltsin – the West’s convenient placeman.

And, of course, ALL that Russian expertise – actually, Soviet expertise, since the Soviet space programme was a multi-ethnic enterprise – was built up by the financial and human capital of the USSR, without which backing it would have got nowhere.

And all picked up for a song by the West, and still being used by us, almost certainly with no “royalties” being paid to Russia or other former USSR states that were part of that great enterprise.

I was a supplier to the Russian space program for a number of years. Russian industry couldn’t produce the radiation hardened chips necessary so someone, somewhere, had to go buy them from the Americans. Guess who?

And as for royalties, doesn’t he know that NASA pays huge amounts to the Russians to use those rockets?

31 thoughts on “Fuckwit idiocy from the usual source”

  1. The Soviet state couldn’t even produce viable shoes for its populace, more pressing, one would have thought, to its long-suffering citizens.

  2. So Much for Subtlety

    And, of course, ALL that Russian expertise – actually, Soviet expertise, since the Soviet space programme was a multi-ethnic enterprise – was built up by the financial and human capital of the USSR, without which backing it would have got nowhere.

    I don’t want to under-state the Russian effort, but the Soviets got about 80% of the German rocket programme. The US just got most of the Big Cheeses, but the actual factories and most of the technical staff were in the East.

  3. So Much for Subtlety

    Incidentally the largest single loss of human life in a space related accident I know of involved a Soviet rocket:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nedelin_catastrophe

    People near the rocket were instantly incinerated; those farther away were burned to death or poisoned by the toxic fuel component vapors. Andrei Sakharov described many details—as soon as the engines were fired, most of the personnel there ran to the perimeter but were trapped inside the security fence and then engulfed in the fireball of burning fuel. The resultant explosion incinerated Nedelin, a top aide, the USSR’s top missile guidance designer, and seventy-one other officers and engineers.[2] Missile designer Mikhail Yangel and test range commanding officer survived only because they had left to smoke a cigarette behind a bunker a few hundred yards away.

    74 dead from a piece of socialist science.

  4. Challenger and Columbia were both built by NASA which, the last time I looked, was a US Government agency. Soyuz 1, Soyuz 11, Apollo 13 – all disasters/accidents of varying severity involving government built equipment.

    The man’s a total balloon.

  5. So, I’m not sure if Ritchie is just stupid, but the problem with sending rockets into space is that they’re inherently unsafe.

    Sending tonnes of volatile chemicals whooshing into the air in a complicated machine with tens of thousands of components and a great big jet of flame roaring out of the bottom is never going to be safe.

    A single component failure can doom the entire mission to a fiery explosion – like the rubber O-rings on the Challenger.

    We need better ways of getting into space if we’re ever going to get a significant human presence among the stars.

    Ideally, a space elevator. But the carbon nanotubes we need to make that technically feasible haven’t been mass produced yet. And the cost will be literally astronomical.

    Nuclear propulsion offers a quick and dirty route to take thousands of tonnes and hundreds of people into space, and we’ve had the basic technology to do it since the 1950’s – but isn’t without its downsides either, which is why Project Orion never got off the drawing board.

    Maybe there will be some amazing breakthrough allowing us to manipulate gravity fields, but I don’t think I’ll live to see that, unless friendly superadvanced aliens visit us soon.

    So in the meantime, we’re stuck with chemical rockets, which blow up some of the time. Even NASA accepts that private sector innovation is the way forward to make space travel more affordable. But apparently Ritchie knows better.

  6. Reminds me of an old joke from the 50’s:

    What does the Sputnik 2 consist of?
    German rocket.
    Asian propellants.
    Czech electronics
    Russian dog.

  7. All these comments and nobody has pointed out that space regularly fails because it is so clearly phallocentric?

    We need rocket designs that embrace the essential femininity of the multiverse. Only then will we have space travel truly representative (albeit rather more engineeringly inefficient than before) of the hopes of the anti-patriarchial pro-diversity humanities population, rather than these neo-liberal, left-brain*, male or male-supporting technologists.

    * Yes, I know it has been largely discredited. I expect this to take a century or so to be recognised by the academy.

  8. Well there’s much more. Perhaps most public was the US Vanguard program in the 1950’s, which managed to launch 3 satellites out of 11 attempts:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanguard_%28rocket%29

    Vanguard TV3 – December 6, 1957 – Failed to orbit
    Vanguard TV3 Backup – February 5, 1958 – Failed to orbit
    Vanguard 1 – March 17, 1958 – Orbited
    Vanguard TV5 – April 28, 1958 – Failed to orbit
    Vanguard SLV 1 – May 27, 1958 – Failed to orbit
    Vanguard SLV 2 – June 26, 1958 – Failed to orbit
    Vanguard SLV 3 – September 26, 1958 – Failed to orbit
    Vanguard 2 – February 17, 1959 – Orbited
    Vanguard SLV 5 – April 13, 1959 – Failed to orbit
    Vanguard SLV 6 – June 22, 1959 – Failed to orbit
    Vanguard 3 – September 18, 1959 – Orbited

    The first of these came to be known as “flopnik” which you can see here:
    https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=vanguard+rocket+failure&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-004

    And there were others. Many others.

    http://wn.com/percheron_%28rocket%29
    [on this one, just x-out the annoying message. sorry.]

    I think it’s fair to say no one has a monopoly on success or failure in rocketry. The enduring thing has been the learning from each mission – especially from the failures.

    I would add these old films can only increase our respect for the courage of the early astronauts.

  9. “If it’s uncomfortable, deal with it”

    This from a buffoon who simply deletes any comment he finds uncomfortable.

  10. SE – We need rocket designs that embrace the essential femininity of the multiverse.

    I agree. Trying to “thrust” our way into space is problematic and not OK and probably rape. And then there’s this:

    Sonya Dyer, PhD student
    Towards an Intersectional Feminist Space Programme: Black female subjectivities in science fiction.
    Why are there so few depictions of Black women in the imaginary future?

  11. Wasn’t the expected failure rate for the Shuttle something like one-in-thirty?

    Although my main source on space exploration is The Right Stuff. None of the space programmes would have happened the legions of men with balls of steel.

    Probably true for any advances in technology.

  12. Steve,

    “Why are there so few depictions of Black women in the imaginary future?”

    Are there? There’s Uhura, Zoe from Firefly, The Oracle and Nyobi from the Matrix series, whoever Tina Turner played in Beyond Thunderdome, B’Elanna Torres on Star Trek Voyager, the pilot from Avatar, Vasquez in Aliens, Whoopi Goldberg’s character in Star Trek: TNG, Rue in The Hunger Games and whoever the Doctor’s assistant was a few years ago.

    And can we include all the green women that Kirk copped off with? The Na’vi? Gamora?

  13. A lot of what I recall, and something that I think is obviously true, is that race isn’t all that important because our ggg grandchildren, given the movements about the planet, are all going to be slightly cafe au lait. “Black” just isn’t going to exist.

  14. “A lot of what I recall, and something that I think is obviously true, is that race isn’t all that important because our ggg grandchildren, given the movements about the planet, are all going to be slightly cafe au lait. “Black” just isn’t going to exist.”

    I don’t think that’s obviously true at all. Look at the Caribbean islands…virtually everyone there is “black” by US or UK Standards, but internally the islands are very stratified racially, with a mulatto minority generally holding superior socioeconomic status to a black working class/majority. I would say that blackness (and non-blackness for that matter) will be with us a good long while.

  15. The ignorance is astounding. Whenever I believe he has reached the absolute maximum of stupidity in his ramblings, he is quick to prove me wrong.

  16. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Murphy’s hubris is such that he thinks he is smart enough to comment on pretty much any facet of human endeavour. The reality is that his crippling Dunning-Kruger deficit means he is weirdly omni-incompetent i.e. no matter what field he is discussing, anyone who actually has expertise in the subject will shoot holes in his argument. Next thing you know he’ll be confidently pontificating on string theory or the phonology of Old Church Slavonic.

  17. So Much for Subtlety

    GlenDorran – “I’d love to know his expert opinion on squirrels.”

    I feel the urge to write a paper on why there are so few Black female squirrels in science fiction. Must be discrimination.

    Know anyone who would publish it? Maybe I was really cut out to be an academic.

  18. So Much for Subtlety

    John Fembup – “I think it’s fair to say no one has a monopoly on success or failure in rocketry. The enduring thing has been the learning from each mission – especially from the failures.”

    The usual rule is that you fail, and then you fail, and then you fail again. Then you succeed. It takes a while to get the bugs out of a new piece of kit. But once you do, they tend to be reliable.

    Which is where the Russians do well. They have big, dumb rockets designed a long time ago. They keep using them. Lots of time to find the problems and remove them.

    Look at the Soviet R-7 family of rockets:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R-7_%28rocket_family%29

    The first 27 launches had 9 failures. The Luna probes had 9 launches of which 7 failed. Molniya had 26 launches of which 14 failed. But then Voshkod and Molniya-M had 300 and 297 launches each. Of which 23 and 21 failed. Soyuz-U had 727 launches. 19 failed.

    Bearing in mind they are all roughly the same rocket and Russia has been sending them into space since 1957.

  19. “So Ritchie’s a rocket scientist now.”

    He paid no attention in his rocket science classes at university because he realised it was all wrong. He then worked out a better way to put men in space, by himself, from first principles.

  20. “The Saturn V was designed under the direction of Wernher von Braun and Arthur Rudolph at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, with Boeing, North American Aviation, Douglas Aircraft Company, and IBM as the lead contractors.” – Wiki

    The United States’ space program was a government program in that government employees were involved in design, assembly, and operations. The government doesn’t make anything. It buys things.

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