Crew of the International Space Station at risk.

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Crew of the International Space Station at risk.

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Crew of the International Space Station at risk.

 

Russia has had two launch failures in a handful of days. Further launches are on hold while they figure out what the deal is.

 

They have six months worth of food up there. Europe and Japan both have the launch capability to get supplies up to them. So nobody is going to have to starve.

 

However, how do we get the crew off if something bad happens? Right now, we can get half of them off trivially but that leaves them at half manpower. That does not sound like the best idea for a space station.

 

Right now, the only way that we can deal with this is to get another Soyuz capsule up there and all of the rockets that can do the job are grounded.

 

There are three types of rocket that could do the job but building the gear to connect them to a Soyuz capsule in not something that one does in a few minutes.

 

Our contingency plan seems to be to let the stay there until Spacex, Orbital Dynamics or Virgin Galactic can do the job. We are looking at at least a year and probably two before that can happen.

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Grounding the shuttle before

Grounding the shuttle before a replacement was operational was a bad move. Russia's been having too many problems to be dependable. At least it was a satellite and supplies instead of a crew.

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Isn't

Isn't God/Allah/Vishnu/Thor/Flying Spaghetti Monster great?

Insert deity here, "I blessed you with a brain to figure out how to get up there, but ain't going to do shit when you get stuck or burn up on launch or re-entry".

"So now you might starve to death. Meh, I enjoy watching my lab rats squirm. Maybe I'll do something. And if I do save you, please forget about the 29,000 children in Somalia who died from starvation last month."

"Sorry, got to put you on hold, someone is thanking me for their World Championship(insert sport here), I'll get back to you when I feel like it, if I feel like it."

 

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And as an update, it turns out that there are two Soyuz reentry vehicles up there. So they all can get off. However, the logistics for doing so are fairly complicated. The station has to be in the right place in order to set up a landing during daylight hours and fairly near the area where the recovery crew and equipment are located.

 

That and Soyuz reentry vehicles are only designed to be in space for 200 days. This pegs them to the specific date of September 21st. Anything after that and the next opportunity to abandon the station is when the SpaceX Dragon will be up there at the end of November. That is far from an optimal solution as it was not designed to people to ride in.

 

On better news, the Russians have said that they figured out the problem. They have two satellite launches scheduled before the 21st. If the fix works, we will be back in business.

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Problem: no one in their

Problem: no one in their right mind is going to want to stay up there for 6 months. Besides the odds of snapping/having a nervous breakdown in such a confined space, 6 months is more than enough to use up whatever remaining time the astronauts have before they've exceeded the limit of the amount calcium they can deplete from their bones and still remain relatively healthy and functional on the ground.

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OK Kap, that has already happened. Back when the Soviet Union collapsed, there was an extended time when there was nobody willing to take responsibility for the crew of Mir. I would have to look up the details but I think that the guy who had been up there the longest ended up spending well over a year in space.

 

I don't know what medical things had to happen when he got back but from what I have heard, he ended up just fine.

 

But yah, they have a deadline of about three weeks to get them out of there or it may not be safe to pull them back. Then they have to ride back in the Dragon, which is a cargo ship. No seats or safety gear.

 

Then we run into additional problems. After seeing what disasters happened with Mir, the ISS was designed to be abandoned for short times (and in fact has been already) but that was back when the turnaround time for the shuttle fleet was fairly brief and we always had a few in various stages of turnaround.

 

Now we are looking at an extended time away. It can be operated remotely for a while but eventually, someone is going to have to be up there for system maintenance. Buttons to be pushed, thrusters to be refueled, that sort of stuff.

 

Now, the Russians are saying that they might have this worked out and they have two rockets being prepped which could demonstrate that this is true. But is it? The time frame for calling this shot is short and if we have to abandon it for a couple of years, we might just lose it.

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I wonder what kind of

I wonder what kind of internet speed they get there. I don't think it would be that bad if you had a good connection. Heck, I barely get out these days anyway! Eye-wink

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Well Natural, the speed is probably similar to the rest of satellite internet. If you are trying to download some bit of free software, not all that bad. Not all that good either but certainly not dialsuck speed.

 

The real issue is latency. How long does it take for the signals to travel?

 

Your normal satellite is over the equator at 22,300 miles up. There it takes exactly one day to go around the planet and thus you get to have a dish that is fixed in position. When you figure the speed of light into the equation, it should become obvious that gaming is a large problem.

 

You point the gun and pull the trigger but the guy is simply several feet away when the bullet arrives.

 

I am not sure how they handle antenna tracking with the ISS. It does move through the sky fairly quickly. I do know that they tweet from space all the time but the amount of real information is quite low and when it goes through a computer, the transfer rate can be boosted so high that a tweet can probably make it back down in less than a millionth of a second. That and the ISS is no farther from the ground than the distance between two cities with a quarter million people.

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Chris Hadfield says he's

Chris Hadfield says he's still on to be station commander next year, so if the station is abandoned, it is unlikely to be for more than a few months.

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