Monday, December 26, 2011

Memo to Russia: Space Launch is Still Hard

Soyuz Failure

Space launch is not routine yet - at least, not as routine as it needs to be. While the U.S. has gone through boom and bust cycles of launch success, we generally think of Russian launch based on Soyuz rockets dating back to Sergei Korolev as a bus line, almost always succeeding on schedule.  But last week's failure of a Soyuz 2-1b, a variant with six successful launches on its record, was the third complete failure in the last 13 months (there were also two partial failures, where the upper stages failed to put the payload in the right orbit).  NASA must be pretty nervous about the whole "depend on Russia to launch our astronauts" plan.  It's a reminder that truly routine access to space needs a major investment to become a long-term reality.

No comments: