Red Space: The Secret Russian Space Program - Life and Death

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Winston

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Some incidents I didn't know about and much Soviet film I've never seen.

[video=youtube;wYyETnopXpY]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYyETnopXpY[/video]
 

XolveJohn

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Very good video, many things I have never seen, like the Sputnik launch! That caused hysteria in America at the time. I remember the push for science education so we could catch up with Russia. Very crowded science fairs at school, many boys interested in tech courses in college.

If they had told us about the guy who got cooked in the oxygen chamber, it might have prevented the Apollo capsule fire.

Also the ballooning space suit on the spacewalk. They just had to keep everything secret. Like not telling their people when we landed on the moon.

And shutting off the radar when docking the Progress supply ship to Mir was irresponsible! Almost wiped it out.

Having watched the space program since the Mercury days, I find it a little funny NASA has gone full circle, back to capsules and the moon. Von Braun would not be happy.
 

XolveJohn

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I wish they had covered the many legendary problems with the Soyuz, like almost burning up on reentry, because it was coming in BACKWARDS. #10 on the list. The hatch was glowing red, but it finally flipped around, after the "service module" which had not fallen off burned up. What a ride. They need to move up from that Radio Shack control system they have.

https://www.jamesoberg.com/soyuz.html
 

XolveJohn

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Hasn't anyone watched this great video? Here are my favorite Soyuz problems from Obergs site.

Roll the dice.............Fly SOYUZ!


10. Soyuz-5. 1969 Jan 18. Major life-threatening failure kept secret for quarter century. "During descent of Soyuz-5, a dangerous deviation occurred: the connecting latches between the descent module and the equipment module (SM) did not separate and the motion went forward on the bare surface of the descent module. Layers (polki) of the shell peeled away under action of heating during entry into the thick layers of the atmosphere and internal pressure in the DM, but the shell (shpangout) endured these unforeseen conditions. As a result of the heating of the construction of the transfer module, the connections were broken, the DM broke free from the SM, and returned to the normal orientation. Descent went on along a ballistic trajectory, the landing system ensured a soft landing. This situation confirmed the correctness of the project decision for a titanium shell."

12. Soyuz-10 undocking. 1971 Apr 23. Probe/cone mechanism failed during docking with Salyut-1. Undocking command failed, probe was jammed. Crew jumped back and forth inside Soyuz to shake jam loose.

18. Soyuz-23. 1976 Oct 16. After successful launch, the space station rendezvous failed and a mission abort landing was declared. By freak chance, DM came down on Lake Tengiz 2 km from shore. Electrical short in water caused deployment of reserve parachute. Both parachute lines kept capsule lying on its side in water, preventing hatch opening and blocking air vent. Transmission antennas became inoperable due to submersion. Inner walls became covered with ice. Recovery forces concluded crew was dead, dragged capsule to shore, awaited special team to remove bodies. Hatch opened by crew after eleven hours.
 

XolveJohn

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Interesting, will have to download and read. I think they use different techniques than NASA, not to say one is better and the other bad.

Both groups can probably learning something from the other. But one thing is for sure, the key to reliability is testing, testing, and more TESTING.

NASA used to be known for their "gold plated solutions", where often a lower cost one would work. The Russians are known for simple, rugged, designs,

and keeping things that work for decades. Hence the Soyuz. Sort of a 1957 Chevy that flies in space!
 

Winston

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Hasn't anyone watched this great video? Here are my favorite Soyuz problems from Obergs site.
Thanks for the tip about his site. Keyword search there on "Soyuz" returns what I'm sure will be much interesting reading material.
 

Winston

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Hasn't anyone watched this great video? Here are my favorite Soyuz problems from Obergs site.

Roll the dice.............Fly SOYUZ!

10. Soyuz-5. 1969 Jan 18. Major life-threatening failure kept secret for quarter century. "During descent of Soyuz-5, a dangerous deviation occurred: the connecting latches between the descent module and the equipment module (SM) did not separate and the motion went forward on the bare surface of the descent module. Layers (polki) of the shell peeled away under action of heating during entry into the thick layers of the atmosphere and internal pressure in the DM, but the shell (shpangout) endured these unforeseen conditions. As a result of the heating of the construction of the transfer module, the connections were broken, the DM broke free from the SM, and returned to the normal orientation. Descent went on along a ballistic trajectory, the landing system ensured a soft landing. This situation confirmed the correctness of the project decision for a titanium shell."

12. Soyuz-10 undocking. 1971 Apr 23. Probe/cone mechanism failed during docking with Salyut-1. Undocking command failed, probe was jammed. Crew jumped back and forth inside Soyuz to shake jam loose.

18. Soyuz-23. 1976 Oct 16. After successful launch, the space station rendezvous failed and a mission abort landing was declared. By freak chance, DM came down on Lake Tengiz 2 km from shore. Electrical short in water caused deployment of reserve parachute. Both parachute lines kept capsule lying on its side in water, preventing hatch opening and blocking air vent. Transmission antennas became inoperable due to submersion. Inner walls became covered with ice. Recovery forces concluded crew was dead, dragged capsule to shore, awaited special team to remove bodies. Hatch opened by crew after eleven hours.
That Soyuz-5 incident was well covered in a very recent TV documentary series that was about manned space accidents. Anyone recall the name of the series because I want to buy it if it shows up on DVD?

Here's a PDF from Oberg's site that includes a detailed account of the Soyuz-5 incident along with a very interesting SAVE by an Afghan astronaut who was sent for propaganda purposes on Soyuz TM-5 during the Soviet Union's very own counterproductive fiasco in his native land and who was expected to be little more than dead weight payload. Far from it, he saved his and the Soviet crew member's life.:

Secrets of Soyuz

https://www.jamesoberg.com/99march-LS-soyuz.pdf

The paper where you may have found your favorite Soyuz incidents listed:

Soyuz Landing Historical Reliability Study
James Oberg, March 19, 1997

https://spaceflight.nasa.gov/outrea...oyuz-landing-historical-reliability-study.pdf
 

XolveJohn

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The ones I listed were from the link I posted on Obergs site: https://www.jamesoberg.com/soyuz.html

I am checking out your articles today, a lot of reading. It is too windy to fly here in Ohio today.

Reentering backwards, and the hatch glowing red must have been a trip. They probably have to give Soyuz

passengers some heavy meds when they pull them out of that ship. Did you read the one where the landing rockets
failed, and it hit at 30 G? No report of injury. Hope it knocked some sense into them.
 

OverTheTop

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There were a couple of Soyuz entries not so long ago (7-10 years ago) where, due to a problem with the separation system (pyros IIRC) the Service Module failed to separate from the Command Module (using the equivalent USA module names). The craft were heavily buffeted during the entry, and landed hundreds of kilometers away from the predicted landing site due to ballistic entry. Luckily the Service Module was able to break free due to the severe buffeting in the upper atmosphere before the serious heating occurred to the capsule. The female astronaut from NASA on board played down the severity, but I seem to remember it getting up around 8-10Gs before the SM separated and things settled down.

Two flights in a row suffered the problem I think. NASA were quite concerned about reliability of the craft.

EDIT: Just found an article on the incidents:
https://www.space.com/5574-rides-soyuz-spacecraft-rocky-risky.html
 
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Winston

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Reentering backwards, and the hatch glowing red must have been a trip.
Yeah, I loved their line, "This situation confirmed the correctness of the project decision for a titanium shell."
 

Winston

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There were a couple of Soyuz entries not so long ago (7-10 years ago) where, due to a problem with the separation system (pyros IIRC) the Service Module failed to separate from the Command Module (using the equivalent USA module names). The craft were heavily buffeted during the entry, and landed hundreds of kilometers away from the predicted landing site due to ballistic entry. Luckily the Service Module was able to break free due to the severe buffeting in the upper atmosphere before the serious heating occurred to the capsule. The female astronaut from NASA on board played down the severity, but I seem to remember it getting up around 8-10Gs before the SM separated and things settled down.
Yeah, there are some details about these in the various materials on Oberg's site. It is claimed that the wire bundle connections between the Soyuz modules are now specifically designed to fail/disconnect after a certain amount of tension is applied, something they should have obviously done from day one. Hell, even I would have thought of that.
 

XolveJohn

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I have started to read Rockets and People, #1. Will take some time, at 400 pages! Chertok has a lot to say, some of it is very interesting. Once you get past the endless prefaces and intro's, that is. Have to wade thru a lot of mentions of people involved in everything "rocket-space", I just want to know about the main players. Like Korolev. It was said the failure of their moon program was due to him dying in 1966! Another problem they had was the N1 winding up with a ring of ~30 small engines, instead of 5 big ones like the Saturn 5 had. The guy who had the big engine designs, I think it was Glushko, was not on speaking terms with the program manager. The "ring" created a complex plume, which caused roll beyond the range the control system could null out. That repeatedly caused destruction of the N1. Here is a video of a Little Joe doing the same thing:


[video=youtube;AqeJzItldSQ]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqeJzItldSQ[/video]





One problem NASA did not have was that Stalin killed a lot of key people in the industry, sort of a Kim Jong un type.
The R7 was enlarged so it could carry the 3.5 ton H-bomb instead of the 1 ton A-bomb, how they wound up with such a giant rocket at the start. Here are some excerpts, I am up to pg 28:

During the first decade after victory, the country’s material, intellectual, and
spiritual resources were expended neither for the sake of political prestige nor to
prove the superiority of socialism, but because the very real threat of nuclear
aggression on the part of the United States hung over our country.The political
leaders of the United States, not without reason, feared the expansion of the
Soviet Union’s hegemony and the weakening of American positions in Europe
and Asia. Striving to eliminate the threat of nuclear aggression and World War III,
the Soviet Union achieved parity with the United States in the basic types of
strategic armaments.

In the final analysis, parity was not only achieved, but according to some indicators,
we passed the United States in terms of nuclear missile armaments. In any
case, the threat of a third world war was removed.The two superpowers began to
understand that bad peace was better than mutual annihilation. But the initial
economic positions at the start of the Moon race were considerably stronger for
the Americans.
In the early 1970s, we won the nuclear missile race, but lost the moon race.
Statesmen did not support the designers’ proposals to hold on to what had been
begun on the lunar program, modify the N-1 launch vehicle, and gain prestigious
“revenge” by creating a permanent lunar base by the end of the 1970s. It really
would have been possible to achieve this. But every cloud has a silver lining.The
successful landing of Americans on the Moon prompted the rapid acceptance of
the program for creating a series of Salyut long-duration orbital stations, which
served as the scientific-technical basis for the Mir orbital complex.The Mir station,
in turn, initiated the beginning of American operations to construct an even larger
orbital station.

The Energiya-Buran system was the largest-scale program in the history of
domestic cosmonautics. More than 1,200 enterprises and organizations and
almost 100 ministries and departments participated in its creation. As a result,
using mobilization economics methods, the Soviet state produced the Energiya
launch vehicle, which in terms of its capabilities had no rivals in the world, since
the Americans had halted work on the Saturn V superheavy launch vehicle after
the lunar expeditions. The Energiya superheavy launch vehicle offered cosmonautics
the broadest of possibilities. The Buran space carrier vehicle in its single
unmanned flight also demonstrated advantages over the American Space Shuttle.
 

OverTheTop

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It is a great read. The third in the series is a bit of a slog. It covers a lot of material and jumps around in time a lot as well. Still worth a read, but a little harder work than the other three volumes.

Yes, big rivalry between Korolev and Glushko. Started out in the early days IIRC because Korolev prefered the LOX and kero, whereas I think Glushko was a hypergolic devotee. He ended up working on the Energia, which of course used LOX/RP-1 and LOX/LH2 (Korolev wins in the end :) )

Many insights in the series to the greats in the Soviet program, and the comments on the Soviet culture around that time are insightful.
 

XolveJohn

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Maybe Glushko knocked him off. Hypergolics are way more dangerous, remember the Titan base where a guy dropped a giant socket wrench down the silo, it tore a gash in the missile skin, which was the fuel tank, it leaked and went boom, throwing the warhead quite a ways. Did not go off, or we would never know what happened.

It just bugs me that they keep rockets around so long. You would think that once the Proton was perfected, they would put the Soyuz out to pasture. Do they drive the same

cars for 60 years? NASA should brief them on using the latest, cutting edge technology. Like with those 5 or 6 spaceplanes that were all cancelled, at a billion dollars each.
 

Peartree

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It just bugs me that they keep rockets around so long. You would think that once the Proton was perfected, they would put the Soyuz out to pasture. Do they drive the same

cars for 60 years?
Well, yes. They've been making Camaros since 1966, Corvettes since 1953, and Cadillacs since 1902. Oh, but that's different you say. Every year these cars get new features and updates. A Corvette rolling off the assembly line in 2017 is nothing like one that was produced in 1955. All true statements. And many of the same descriptions could easily be used to describe the comparison between modern Soyuz rockets/capsules and those produced in the 1960's.
 

OverTheTop

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Did not go off, or we would never know what happened.
I believe in this case two of the three (or maybe three of four) safety interlocks had tripped on the warhead when they got to it. Only one still functioning to block the boom. Very close...
 

XolveJohn

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I believe in this case two of the three (or maybe three of four) safety interlocks had tripped on the warhead when they got to it. Only one still functioning to block the boom. Very close...
There is a lot of nonsense out there about this. I saw a top level manager say it did not go off because the battery became disconnected. Don't believe that. It did not go off because there are several things that must happen in an exact sequence. First, the unique signal switch has to receive the right
code. Then the PAL permissive action link needs the code. The ready/safe switch must be set to determine ground/air burst, and if the parachute is to come out. The FIRE SET must be powered up, generates the high voltage for the dets. If the weapon winds up in a fire, due to weak link/strong link
design, it will be disabled. Then of course the fire command! Don't ask me how I know all of this. :y:

ON THE SOYUZ, ok it is like a MODEL-T. Can you still buy those? NO NO NO NO NO.

Full scale rockets should have an expiration date on them. How about 20 years. Then you have to get a new design. It only makes sense.

Someone tell the Russians, already. Maybe being such an ancient vehicle is why they keep having problems with it. Too many vacuum tubes,
spark gaps, and V2 derived junk.:no:
 

Peartree

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ON THE SOYUZ, ok it is like a MODEL-T. Can you still buy those? NO NO NO NO NO.

Full scale rockets should have an expiration date on them. How about 20 years. Then you have to get a new design. It only makes sense.

Someone tell the Russians, already. Maybe being such an ancient vehicle is why they keep having problems with it. Too many vacuum tubes,
spark gaps, and V2 derived junk.:no:

Still no. As I mentioned, they've done exactly as you described, but kept a similar name, more like Corvette, Camaro, or Cadillac.

Soyuz A (1963)
Soyuz 7K-OK (1967–1971)
Soyuz 7K-T (1973–1981)
Soyuz 7K-TM (1975)
Soyuz-T (1976–1986)
Soyuz-TM (1986–2002)
Soyuz-TMA (2003–2012)
Soyuz TMA-M (2010–2016)
Soyuz MS (2016–.... )

These represent four distinct generations of vehicles with changes to computers, interiors, exterior dimensions, mass, payload (mass to orbit), radars, etc. And even at that, this list doesn't include Progress, Yantar, and a bunch of others in the same "family tree."

Take a look at Wikipedia here.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_(spacecraft)
 

XolveJohn

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Peartree, maybe you can answer my question of whether the Proton could replace the Soyuz booster (not the spacecraft). Is the lifting power similar? I know it has had

some accidents, mainly with the upper stages, the Russians have had a lot of reliability problems across the board. I believe they even had a disgruntled employee SABOTAGING

things. A lot of problems with debris and contamination in fuel lines and pumps.

I just always preferred the USA method of sequential staging. The 4 big liquid strap-ons seem funny to me, reliable solids would make more sense, like the Delta uses.

Of course Space X is on a better path with landing the booster. Their major mistake was that "tank in a tank", causing both big blasts, first a mounting strut broke,
then insulation failed, causing the loss of a very expensive sat. Probably a bad idea to immerse the pressurization tank in the fuel tank!

Overall, I think Space X will blow away the Soyuz, much more modern tech, yet cost effective. ULA and the old school rocket boys must hate him for being so good.


Bayou: Looks like another interesting book I've got to get!
 

Winston

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remember the Titan base where a guy dropped a giant socket wrench down the silo, it tore a gash in the missile skin, which was the fuel tank, it leaked and went boom, throwing the warhead quite a ways.
A 2016 PBS American Experience episode that is ALL about that. Remains on my DVR in HD. Outstanding.:

[video=youtube;at2POyJqmo0]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at2POyJqmo0[/video]

What they did with the retired Titan II ICBMs:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titan_23G

 
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Peartree

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The chart indicates that the Proton doesn't have enough mass to orbit to carry a Soyuz. I would expect that there are also differences in being "man rated."
 

XolveJohn

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Thanks, Winston, have to watch that tonite.

Perhaps a cluster of Protons could boost a Soyuz spacecraft.

Anyway, Elon's gonna get them eventually. Shut down that ancient operation of obsolete ex-ICBM's.
 

XolveJohn

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Good video, a bit scary. Hard to believe people living 1/4 mile from the silo did not know it was there.

Titans were too dangerous, should have used solid motors, I guess not available yet.

It could have been when the guy turned on the exhaust fan, it cause the explosion. If it was not an explosion proof motor, a spark could have come off the centrifugal switch on the starting windings. A 3 phase motor would not do this.

They should have opened the blast door to vent the fumes.

What a circus, everyone left, then guys were sent back in to break into the silo! You see how the military will lie to protect its toys. This has been going on a long time, as the "missile gap" itself was a falsehood.

The first spy sat was called Corona, used film cassettes that were parachuted down from orbit, and grabbed by planes with hooks. They mapped the USSR airbases, and missile sites. They knew how many missile they had, but said they had a lot more than they did, in order to justify building up our forces. If they had told the truth, and went for parity, these Titan silos might not even been needed.

I have my doubts about the missile defense system we have now. There have been a lot of defects in the kill vehicle, and missed interceptions. Hit to kill is hard. I like the old Nike missiles with the nuke warheads! You only have to get close. :dark:
 

Winston

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That Soyuz-5 incident was well covered in a very recent TV documentary series that was about manned space accidents. Anyone recall the name of the series because I want to buy it if it shows up on DVD?
Just remembered the name of the series. The excellent reenactment of the backwards reentry of Soyuz-5 and an interview with the cosmonaut involved is in the second half of this episode:

https://www.sciencechannelgo.com/secret-space-escapes/toxic-leak/?

All Secret Space Escapes episodes:

https://www.sciencechannel.com/tv-shows/secret-space-escapes/

Episodes on Amazon (not free):

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017UGY8B8/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

No DVD available.
 
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