The Recent Soyuz Rocket Failure and What We Can Learn
Chris and Fred discussing the recent Russian Soyuz rocket failure. With the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle fleet, the Soyuz rocket and spacecraft are now the only viable way to launch humans into space. The 1960s Soyuz rocket propels the 1960s Soyuz spacecraft into orbit … and to be clear it is only the rocket that failed. The Soyuz spacecraft successfully aborted the launch keep the crew safe. The Soyuz rocket has long been the yardstick of rocket safety – it easily has the most impressive reliability track record. But should this recent failure change that perception? And how can the Soyuz system still be operating when other programs have come and gone, primarily due to safety and reliability? This podcast attempts to answer some of these questions.
Join Chris and Fred as they discuss the recent failure of the Russian Soyuz-FG Rocket. The rocket propels the Soyuz spacecraft into orbit which typically allows humans to reach and return from the International Space Station. In fact, with the space shuttle fleet now retired, this is the only way any human can get into space these days. The most recent failure occurred on October 11, 2018. But the Soyuz family of spacecraft and rockets (all of which were originally designed and operated in the 1960s) still have a safety and reliability track record that is the envy of all others. So what does this recent failure mean?
We are still not sure. Preliminary evidence suggests that one of the four rocket boosters that is supposed to detach struck the core of the rocket instead of falling harmlessly away. But this is preliminary at best. But if we look at the Soyuz program more broadly, we see a highly reliable system that has outlasted all its contemporaries … and is still the safest, most reliable and only option for launching humans into space.
- What about the space shuttle? The space shuttle designers famously chose not to incorporate an in-launch abort system as they believed their orbiter to be very reliable. Was this the right call?
- There is something to be said for simplicity. The Soyuz rocket and spacecraft have one mission – and that is transporting humans. Other systems (… again – the space shuttle) tried to be all things for all missions.
- What does this mean for emerging technology? The Soyuz was designed when it certainly was an emerging technology. Can we take anything away from this today>?
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