Why have humans never been to Mars? Pretty much everyone who works in the field agrees that we humans have had the technology to get there for some time now, and it’s certainly nothing to do with the moral implications of colonizing another planet when we’re unable to look after our own.
The reason is simple and brutal. It’s because it could potentially kill whoever tried in so many varied and horrible ways that I can’t list them all here. The main problem the astronauts would face, however, would be the sheer amount of time it would take to get there. Obviously, the longer you’re in space and the farther you are from Earth, the higher the risks. A journey to Mars with the technology currently available would take up to three years. The physical and— more importantly— psychological effects of being away from Earth this long are unknown and potentially catastrophic.
This could all be about to change, however, at least if you believe the latest news from Moscow’s Keldysh Research Center. Scientist, Vladimir Koshlakov, who heads the research center, told Rossiyskaya Gazeta they are working on new engines that could reach The Red Planet in just seven months. Not only that, the turn around time needed between the rocket landing and taking-off again could be as low as 48 hours.
According the Koshlakov, the rockets would work in a similar way to a nuclear power station: they’d heat cryogenic methane to create a gas which in turn powers a turbine and creates electrical energy. This energy would then be used to power the spacecraft.
Although Kashlokov says the engineers are not planning on using this technology in their next two upcoming missions, he describes the idea of a nuclear powered rocket to Mars as “feasible in the near future.”
The head of Roscosmos, Dimitry Rogozin, has said that he believes the hole found in the ISS was not an accident and could have been drilled intentionally.
Rogozin spoke with media on October 1st to say that russian investigators have been looking into the cause of the hole, according to the AFP. Saying that a manufacturing defect has been ruled out as the cause:
“It [the investigation] concluded that a manufacturing defect had been ruled out, which is important to establish the truth. “Where it was made will be established by a second commission, which is at work now.” Initially, the hole was thought to be caused by a meteorite fragment, but markings around the hole that appear to be drill marks have investigators suspicious.
The hole that was located in August (in the Russian made Soyuz) was quickly sealed up but speculation led to a great deal of controversy over the cause. Russia at first had accused the U.S. of creating the hole but than backed off from the claim.
The current ISS commander, US astronaut Drew Feustel, called the suggestion that the crew was somehow involved “embarrassing”.
Russia continues to investigate, and last month they even claimed to have identified the individual responsible, although they weren’t able to divulge their intentions (deliberate or by mistake), nor confirm this is fact.
It’s unclear what the end result of this investigation will be. It seems highly unlikely that this would be a deliberate event from any members on board.
At the UN UN Conference on Disarmament in Switzerland on August 14th, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Yleem Poblete was recorded saying that the government of the United States was “concerned with what appears to be very abnormal behavior” coming from a Russian satellite. The satellite in question is allegedly Kosmos-2519, launched on June 23, 2017 according to IFLscience.
“Russian intentions with respect to this satellite are unclear and are obviously a very troubling development.”
Poblette goes on to say that the “Russian intentions with respect to this satellite are unclear and are obviously a very troubling development.”
Previous comments from Russia’s space force commander indicate that Russia was looking to add new weapon prototypes to the Russian Space Force, according to Poblette. There have also been rumours that Vladimir Putin wants to build anti-satellite technology.
Russia has responded to Poblette’s comments stating that her words are “unfounded and slanderous”.
It remains speculative what the claim on Kosmos-2519 is, what exactly the satellite has been doing. Industry experts are torn on a few possibilities including: that this is primarily a campaign to drum up support for military space funding by employing a strategy of paranoia. Or, that the US intelligence actually has the technology to view Kosmos-2519 activities and genuinely believes them to be malicious.
In recent news, President Trump’s Space Force has taken a key spotlight in the political community. While the findings may be justified, they come at a rather suspicious time in political campaigning. Below you can find Mike Pence’s Space Force campaign speech from a week ago:
“The space environment has fundamentally changed in the last generation. What was once peaceful and uncontested is now crowded and adversarial. Today, other nations are seeking to disrupt our space-based systems and challenge American supremacy in space as never before.”
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – A U.S. astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts made a parachute landing in Kazakhstan on Monday, wrapping up a nearly six-month mission aboard the International Space Station, a NASA TV broadcast showed.
The Russian Soyuz capsule, which left the station shortly before 4 a.m. EDT, touched down southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, at 7:20 a.m. EDT.
Seated in the capsule were returning station commander Shane Kimbrough of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko from Russian space agency Roscosmos.
“It’s really neat to be part of something this big, something bigger than ourselves … even bigger than a nation,” Kimbrough said during a change-of-command ceremony on Sunday. “We get the ability up here to interact with things that actually benefit all of humanity. It’s really humbling.”
Three crew members remain aboard the station, a $100 billion research laboratory that flies about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth. In command is NASA’s Peggy Whitson, who on April 24 will break the 534-day record for the most time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut.
Whitson, a veteran of two previous missions on the station, is the first woman to hold the post of commander twice.
Whitson, Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and France’s Thomas Pesque will be joined by two new crew members on April 20.
The U.S. and Russian space agencies agreed last week to extend Whitson’s mission by three months.
Russia is reducing its station cadre to two from three members until its new science laboratory launches to the space station next year, the head of Roscosmos said last week at the U.S. Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Whitson will return to Earth in September, having amassed a career U.S. record of 666 days in orbit. Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who has 878 days in orbit, is the world’s most experienced space flier.
(Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lisa Von Ahn)
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian investigators are looking into the death of a senior official for state space agency Roscosmos, who was found dead from stab wounds in a prison cell in Moscow.
The body of Vladimir Yevdokimov, an executive director at the Russian equivalent of NASA, was found in the early hours of Saturday with knife wounds to the chest and neck, Russian news agencies reported.
The Moscow prosecutor’s office said it had opened an investigation into his death. He had been in custody since December, accused of embezzling 200 million roubles ($3.5 million) from the state-run MiG aircraft producer.
The authorities are treating his death as suspicious, the TASS news agency quoted a law enforcement source as saying.
In a statement, Roscosmos said it would “insist that all the circumstances of his death be established and the case be fully investigated.”
Yevdokimov, who denied the embezzlement charges against him, was due to appear in court on April 30, Roscomos said.
(Reporting by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Andrew Osborn)
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s space agency said on Wednesday it had ordered extra checks to be made on its Proton-M rockets, meaning it might be forced to delay some satellite launches this year.
Roscosmos, the Russian equivalent of NASA, made the announcement after the Kommersant daily reported that manufacturing problems had been detected in some Proton-M rockets and that some launches were likely to be delayed by several months “in a best case scenario.”
European, U.S. and Asian firms rely heavily on Russia to launch their commercial satellites, and a Roscosmos source told Kommersant that Moscow planned to launch 27 rockets this year, eight of which were Proton-Ms.
“Additional tests (on the Proton-M) are being carried out. That explains the possible delay in launches,” said a spokesman for Roscosmos, without providing details. Igor Burenkov, a spokesman for the corporation, said it would become clear after the tests if there would definitely be delays and for how long.
Kommersant reported that the problem was linked to components used in the rockets’ engines and concerns that some of them were not sufficiently heat-resistant.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov played down the problems, saying Roscosmos did suffer some setbacks, but that it also had great success in many areas.
An unmanned Russian cargo ship loaded with supplies for the International Space Station broke apart about six minutes after lift off in December. It was carried by a Soyuz rocket.
(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov/Denis Pinchuk; Editing by Andrew Osborn)
NASA and the Russian Space Program are working on a joint mission to Venus to investigate some of the planet’s biggest mysteries.
The mission is known as ‘Venera-D’ and it’s currently wrapping up it’s plan for submission to NASA and the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Space Research Institute. The final report is expected by the end of this month.
The Venera-D mission is led by Russia. The team has been working on the project for over ten years inlcuding early versions of the initiative from 1960 – 1990; the Venera and Vega programs.
Russia has had a historic interest in Venus, but NASA has just recently gotten involved. The Russian annex of Crimea in 2014 caused the program to stall as NASA suspended communication with Roscosmos in the time, however the two countries began to collaborate once more in 2015.
Venera-D is aiming to be a pillar of Roscosmos success. Similar to NASA’s Mars Rovers, the Venera concept details the need for an orbiter that will study Venus for at least three years, and a lander that will operate on the planet’s surface.
Unfortunately the Venera lander will only last for roughly 30 days. Given the intense heat on Venus and the technical problems this can cause, the mission would be too costly to prolong the landers life any longer. Data collected by the rover will help scientists understand the composition of the super-hot planet.
Venus as we know it is too hot to support life. However temperatures remain optimal in it’s upper atmosphere (30 miles or 50 kilometers up). It’s believed that microbial life could live at these altitudes. A recent find detailing dark streaks in Venusian clouds have begun to cause a stir in the astronomical community.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia launched its first rocket from a new cosmodrome on Thursday, a day after a technical glitch forced a postponement of the event in a sign of continuing crisis in the nation’s space industry.
An unmanned Soyuz-2.1A rocket, carrying three satellites, roared into a clear blue sky from the launchpad at Vostochny cosmodrome in the remote Amur Region near China’s border at 0501 Moscow time (0201 GMT), state television showed.
The satellites separated from the rocket’s third stage about nine minutes into the flight and headed for their designated orbits, Russian news agencies quoted officials from the space agency Roscosmos as saying.
The launch was called off less than two minutes before lift-off on Wednesday, upsetting President Vladimir Putin. He had flown thousands of kilometers to watch what Russian media and officials called a historic event.
“I want to congratulate you. There is something to be proud of,” Putin told cosmodrome workers and Roscosmos officials after watching Thursday’s launch at Vostochny, Russian media reported.
“The equipment overreached itself a little bit yesterday,” he said. “In principle, we could have held the launch yesterday, but the equipment overdid its job and stopped the launch. This is a normal thing.”
His remarks contrasted with his tough words after Wednesday’s aborted launch, when he criticized Roscosmos and government officials for the large number of technical problems in the space industry, saying that “there should be an appropriate reaction”.
Putin reprimanded Roscosmos head Igor Komarov and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who is in charge of space and military industries, Russian news agencies quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.
CORRUPTION AND GLITCHES
Delays and corruption have blighted work on the new cosmodrome. A European Space Agency launch in French Guiana, using a similar Russian Soyuz rocket, was also delayed by technical problems this month.
Problems with Russian space rockets are worrisome not just for the Kremlin but also for the U.S. space program. NASA has depended on Russia to fly its astronauts to the International Space Station since it retired its space shuttle.
The Soviet Union pioneered manned space flight when it fired Yuri Gagarin into space in 1961.
But since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s space program has had to retrench for lack of cash. For years it filled gaps in its budget by taking paying tourists into space.
The Vostochny spaceport, the first civilian rocket launch site on Russian territory, is intended to phase out Russia’s reliance on the Baikonur cosmodrome, which it leases from ex-Soviet Kazakhstan.
“The main thing is that this launch pad is now working, it has been prepared well by you and it is functioning,” Putin told cosmodrome workers on Thursday. “We are now facing a second stage here, to accommodate a heavy rocket.”
“We have a lot of work in front of us, and it’s daunting. But beyond all doubt, this is … a very serious step forward in the development of Russia’s space exploration.”
(Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Roche)