Meanwhile, SpaceX is progressing with BFR, pretty chilled
MetOp-C take-off (Photo: ESA-CNES-Arianespace / Optique Video du CSG – JM Guillon)
A third Soyuz was successfully launched yesterday, effectively clearing the way for the crew members, while the results of the US interludes may have unfortunate consequences for NASA.
Three for three for Soyuz
A Soyuz rocket launched ESA's MetOp C meteorological satellite from French Guiana, which lifted at 00:47 GMT. At 4,083 kg, the satellite is Europe's second largest earth observation probe and carries a variety of instruments from Europe and the USA.
The previous MetOp satellites A and B were launched in 2006 and 2012 with Soyuz rockets from Baikonur. Although the Russian space agency Roscosmos from another part of the world was launched on a slightly different variant of Soyuz, it will consider the successful launch as further proof that the October disaster was a one-time attack and the venerable booster for the crew that's for sure.
Assuming of course, NASA agrees.
According to reports in Kommersant, Roscosmos boss Dmitry Rogozin (the unforgettable back in 2014 suggested that NASA used a trampoline Nauts to the ISS) has sent a memo to managers instructing them to get their houses in order.
The Russian space program has been characterized for years by quality problems. An exploding Soyuz due to assembly errors and a mystery in an orbital module are just the latest examples. According to the report, Rogozin wants to "restore order" and eradicate "the low production culture and the disregard of personnel for work".
The memo was aimed at combating the poor condition of Russian equipment and insisted that the amount of funds could not be used as an excuse for the situation.
Russia plans to launch another Soyuz, a progress vessel of the ISS, on 16 November. The next start in December should then be filled with crew, if everything goes according to plan.
NASA has another reason to feel nervous when Republican John Culberson lost his seat to Democrat Lizzie Fletcher. Culberson has chaired the Subcommittee on Home Remedies for Trade, Justice, Science and Related Agencies in recent years and was a staunch defender of NASA during his tenure.
Culberson was not only manned, like Orion, but also to bring more money for scientific missions like the Europa Clipper in the agency.
His departure comes when NASA's extremely delayed large missile, the Space Launch System (SLS), is scrutinized by the Office of the Inspector General.
OIG announces an audit evaluating NASA's efforts to manage the costs and contracts of the Space Launch System program.
– NASA OIG (@NASAOIG) November 5, 2018
The attention comes at a time when SpaceX is taking steps to get their BFR off the ground. The Big Falcon rocket is expected to bring a paying passenger around the moon in 2023, and Musk claims that he can send 150 tonnes into a near-earth orbit. To put this into context, three or four launches would be enough to put together the ISS depending on the configuration.
In a Tweet Musk announced yesterday that SpaceX intended to test the design of the BFR on the second stage of a Falcon 9.
Mod to SpaceX Tech Tree Build: The second stage of Falcon 9 is upgraded like a mini BFR ship
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 7, 2018
The purpose of the mini-BFR, after muskIt will be to test the heat shield and the high power control surfaces of the larger rocket. Unfortunately, the second stage of the BFR will not try to simulate the amount of Falcon 9, which is a pleasant touchdown. "I think we have the drive under control," said a confident Musk.
So no pressure, SLS. ®