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:
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.
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. International Space Station docking attempt cancelled. Mission declared a total loss.
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?