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posted by janrinok on Tuesday October 12, @06:54PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the squeeze dept.

Putin slashes Russia’s space budget and says he expects better results:

Russia plans to slash funding for spaceflight activities during the coming three-year period, from 2022 to 2024. The cuts will come to about 16 percent annually, several Russian publications, including Finanz.ru, report. (These Russian-language articles were translated for Ars by Rob Mitchell.)

For 2022, the state budget for space activities will be set at 210 billion rubles ($2.9 billion), a cut of 40.3 billion rubles ($557 million) from the previous year. Similar cuts will follow in subsequent years. The most significant decreases will be in areas such as "manufacturing-technological activities" and "cosmodrome development." Funding for "scientific research and development" was zeroed out entirely.

[...] Putin has reportedly told the Russian space corporation, Roscosmos, that it must increase the reliability of Russian rockets and "master" the next generation of launch vehicles. This directive has come in response to growing competition in the global space launch business, particularly from US-based SpaceX.

I guess Russia is throwing in the towel as far as space is concerned?


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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @07:22PM (10 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @07:22PM (#1186487)

    Elon Musk is the man for you. As long as you have new and novel psychedelic drugs to offer in exchange, he will put any people or equipment into orbit that you desire.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @07:24PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @07:24PM (#1186488)

      The Chinese in the meantime are doing the slow march to fuck them both

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @08:31PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @08:31PM (#1186499)

      Sounds like a smart man.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday October 12, @08:41PM (6 children)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday October 12, @08:41PM (#1186502) Journal

      Elon Musk is the man for you. As long as you have new and novel psychedelic drugs to offer in exchange, he will put any people or equipment into orbit that you desire.

      Bezos is the one who seems to be on psycho deli drugs. He once compared Blue Organ and SpaceX to the Tortoise and the Hare. Blue would catch up when SpaceX is napping. Just look at those 3D rendered videos of New Glenn!

      --
      Employers should not mandate wearing clothing. It should be a personal choice. It only affects me. Junk can't breathe!
      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @10:24PM (5 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @10:24PM (#1186517)

        Don't underestimate Bezos. He has so much money he could buy Marvel and make Superman straight again.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @07:28PM (20 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @07:28PM (#1186489)

    Holy crap, what a turnabout. They lost their big client, and they must feel like they have no hope of putting together a better offer. Total cut of R & D? Can you say "brain drain"? He probably still wants to fund military aerospace, but space is cutting edge and the best/brightest want to be in it. This is going to have serious repercussions for that sector, and possibly even the whole economy. Wow. Just wow. What a tool. Probably wants the scientists to work on better poisons so he can maintain his grip on power until the day he gasps his last foul breath.

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @07:47PM (11 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @07:47PM (#1186491)

      Brain drain. Maybe there's still time for the Russian talent to get jobs in North Korea and Iran.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by HiThere on Tuesday October 12, @08:45PM (10 children)

        by HiThere (866) on Tuesday October 12, @08:45PM (#1186503) Journal

        Try China. China seems to have a fairly constant push of development. It's not a hugely fast push, but it's rather stable.

        --
        Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by PinkyGigglebrain on Tuesday October 12, @11:32PM (9 children)

          by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Tuesday October 12, @11:32PM (#1186528)

          China is one of those rare tyrannies that combines size, stability, available local resources, money, and most of all, thinking in the long term rather than next years elections. They started plans decades ago that have been steadily progressing and are only now reaching the attention of more than the small portion of the Western world's populations that pay attention to the briefings from their intel agencies. China's space program, their steady acquisition of resources in Africa and the port properties along major shipping routes are the bigger plans I've heard of. Goddess only knows what other wheels are in motion that haven't been mentioned in the fringes of the Internet yet.

          The former U.S.S.R. also had those traits but failed to achieve it's long term potential by letting itself get pulled into a dick waving contest with the USA and destroyed it's economy trying to have the biggest missiles..

            Just like the Tortoise and the Hare, the USA decided to take a nap along the way. Pretty soon the USA's public will wake up to what China has really been up to and start screaming to their congrescritters to catch up with China. Personally I think its too late for them to do anything other than make that desperate last 50 meter sprint to be the top 3, but not the number one spot.

          Time will tell :)

          --
          "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
          • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday October 13, @12:32AM (5 children)

            by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 13, @12:32AM (#1186534) Homepage Journal

            Pretty soon the USA's public will wake up to what China has really been up to

            You have more faith in the public than I do. We don't wake up to facts until our noses are rubbed in the facts. Kinda like how events in Europe and Asia were just academic until Pearl Harbor. We won't understand where China is going, until they start dictating terms to us - and then we probably still won't understand how we got into that position. Can we recover from a service economy and student debt and the general dumbing down of America?

            --
            Let's go Brandon!
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @02:48AM (3 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @02:48AM (#1186549)

              Since you're one of the more vocal opponents of the people trying to improve the US economy and education YOU tell us if it is possible to recover.

              • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @03:21AM (2 children)

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @03:21AM (#1186562)

                Yeah. Start by un-woking the education system, from K through post-grad. Cut funds for stupid dead-end studies, and give those funds to STEM.

                • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @05:03PM (1 child)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @05:03PM (#1186701)

                  How cute, the anarcho capitalist thinks their opinions are worth a damn. PC concepts are not the problem, quite the opposite. Anyone else rember some conservative dumb fucks trying to legislate pi as 3? Rightwingers are beyond dumb, we need a new word.

                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, @04:52PM

                    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, @04:52PM (#1187017)

                    Where is the anarcho when he is not advocating abolition of governing bodies? Please, smear the retards with the appropriate shit.

            • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Wednesday October 13, @07:46AM

              by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Wednesday October 13, @07:46AM (#1186604)

              Actually that was what I meant. I guess I didn't convey it well.

              Thank you for expressing it with more clarity than I could.

              as to your question

              Can we recover from a service economy and student debt and the general dumbing down of America?

              I want to say yes because I have a niece who will be living in that future and I hope she will have a brighter future than what I currently see coming over the horizon. But honestly I don't think so, just looking at history we can see that no nation lasts forever, no matter how big or powerful they were. They all die eventually and something different, and hopefully better, will grow from the ashes.

              --
              "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
          • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Wednesday October 13, @04:41AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 13, @04:41AM (#1186580) Journal

            China is one of those rare tyrannies that combines size, stability, available local resources, money, and most of all, thinking in the long term rather than next years elections.

            Then where's the evidence? This is the third post that has implied that China somehow has some special competence in this area. Well, SpaceX blew right by them just like the Russians.

            China has some of that stuff going for it. It's got a lot of people, space, resources, etc. Stability and thinking remain to be seen. The various sorts of shenanigans that China has engaged in don't strike me as typical of a long term thinker, rather just a brash thug with unusual resources at their disposal.

          • (Score: 2) by driverless on Wednesday October 13, @12:25PM (1 child)

            by driverless (4770) on Wednesday October 13, @12:25PM (#1186620)

            Pretty soon the USA's public will wake up to what China has really been up to and start screaming to their congrescritters to catch up with China.

            I doubt it. China has been really clever here, the only thing the US can ever see is military threats, for which China has been doing just enough sabre-rattling in the right places with often a bare-bones level of actual modern military gear, e.g. rebuilt Soviet-era floating hulks that the US is absolutely paranoid about, that the US' hard-on for war machines is blocking its view of anything else. For example China currently has 165 nations in debt traps out of a world total of 195, and holds over a trillion dollars in US debt. By the time the US wakes up, if it ever does, to realise that war toys are irrelevant when you what really matters is who controls the money, it'll be too late.

            Which is odd really, since it's the same thing the US did to the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

            • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday October 13, @03:20PM

              by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday October 13, @03:20PM (#1186673)

              > By the time the US wakes up, if it ever does, to realise that war toys are irrelevant when you what really matters is who controls the money, it'll be too late.

              You may be right... but history also offers many examples of "Who controls the war toys, controls the money"

              China is a nuclear power, so we won't be nearly as eager to go to war with them as with... well, pretty much every non-nuclear power on Earth that has had something we want. But China's growing financial power also stems from our debt rather than their wealth - so there isn't actually anything we need to take to dissolve it. And we also have 165 (by your count) potential allies willing to stand with us in saying "all debt to China is hereby void".

              Of course China wouldn't be happy about that, but probably not so unhappy that they'd risk nuclear war over it. And probably not even so unhappy that they'd destroy their economy by cutting off trade, though no doubt they'd demand cash up front for a long time to come.

              Of course there'd be serious fallout from doing such a thing, but it sets a hard limit on how much China can leverage the debt they hold - the moment blowing them off looks more profitable in the big picture, it starts becoming the likely response.

              Basically, geopolitics is complicated. And pretty much everything except raw materials, production capacity (agricultural, industrial, and research), and military power exist only by mutual agreement. And historically (and currently, *especially* the US), those with the most military power are not shy about simply taking what they want of the rest.

              Though when it comes to those "outdated floating hulks" - I seem to recall that China's navy actually has some serious advantages over our own, especially in regards to mobility. Something about their carriers and battleships being able to pilot circles around our destroyers? Even if that's only a minority of their fleet, that would still give them an *enormous* advantage in picking off our fleet (and even more importantly, supply lines) as they trundle across the 7,000 miles of open ocean between us . And the harsh geology of the region ensures that there's basically no land route a military could take to reach them - which combines to put them in an extremely strong defensive position, even if their direct offensive potential against the US is pretty limited.

              Of course that all goes out the window if a conflict crosses the line into a nuclear exchange - but that's an everybody-loses scenario all sides will (hopefully) seek to avoid. More of an insurance policy against total defeat, and a deterrent against other nuclear powers objecting too strenuously against any aggression directed towards non-nuclear powers. See: The UN and US's "response" to Russia invading Crimea despite the Ukraine being under a protection treaty with the Allies against just such a threat, in exchange for not developing their own nuclear arsenal. And whom we strenuously protected with a strongly worded letter - the absolute minimum required by a motivated reading of the treaty, and a clear announcement to every other non-nuclear power in the world that any non-proliferation treaty with us isn't worth the paper it's written on, and they absolutely must develop their own nuclear arsenal if they want a real deterrent.

    • (Score: 2) by Username on Tuesday October 12, @09:20PM (7 children)

      by Username (4557) on Tuesday October 12, @09:20PM (#1186508)

      Well, what R&D is required? The US spent trillions to modify the space shuttle rocket to accept a top payload. Russia doesn't have to do that, they always had rockets designed that way. They tried nuclear rockets too, I remember that one blowing up. Not sure if they have reusable stages. Is one that lands itself really necessary? Cost of fuel to land a rocket vs cost of fishing it out of the sea. They whole landing the rocket seems more like a job for the KGB than R&D anyway. Reinventing the wheel and what not.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by mhajicek on Tuesday October 12, @10:25PM

        by mhajicek (51) on Tuesday October 12, @10:25PM (#1186519)

        The problem with fishing it out of the sea is that the saltwater severely damages the engines. Parachute landing on land could be ok, but you'd better have a calm wind. Even a 30MPH wind could wreck your rocket on touchdown. SpaceX evaluated all of these options and decided propulsive landing was the cheapest, most reliable way. Fuel is cheap.

      • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Wednesday October 13, @04:05AM (5 children)

        It doesn't say they're stopping R&D on the rockets. Only "scientific R&D". That's building new space telescopes that can take photos of some space shit a long way away that benefits the average Joe not one bit. Or seeing how mice fuck, or slime mold grows, in space, as that benefits the average Joe not one bit. Putin's just being a good Libertarian, and not wasting public money on stuff that doesn't benefit them.

        In fact it says the opposite of what some people seem to have interpreted the summary as saying: it says that the focus on rocketry R&D is absolute.

        Given that reusable launch vehicles have yet to prove them selves significantly cheaper than single use ones, I don't even see why he'd bother obsessing about that particular aspect. If it can't be repurposed for the military it probably is low priority. The military usually doesn't care about getting the shells of its rockets back.
        --
        I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Immerman on Wednesday October 13, @03:29PM (4 children)

          by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday October 13, @03:29PM (#1186677)

          >Given that reusable launch vehicles have yet to prove them selves significantly cheaper than single use ones,

          How do you figure that? Last I heard the Falcon 9, despite being only partially reusable, was significantly undercutting the competition. And that's despite a near-unanimous consensus that they're operating with *huge* profit margins that are being sunk back into Starship development.

          Significantly cheaper to operate does NOT mean significantly cheaper to hire. Not while one company has a monopoly on the new technology, and absolutely no incentive to lower prices beyond what's necessary to undercut the competition.

          • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday October 14, @08:06AM (3 children)

            I reckon that because Space-X charged the US military (thus the US taxpayer) 6 times the going rate for a launch. That ain't cheaper, that's a quarter of a billion more expensive.

            Oh, other ones, yes, they've been cheaper. And you know why they can do that? Because of the over-charging elsewhere.

            You've confused "cost" and "price" again.
            --
            I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
            • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Thursday October 14, @02:26PM (2 children)

              by Immerman (3985) on Thursday October 14, @02:26PM (#1186978)

              Pretty sure they're making a profit on *every* launch - otherwise why would they launch at all? It's not like they'd want to give that money away to other customers by subsidizing those launches.

              And pretty much every analysis agrees they're making a *huge* profit on every launch. The military contracts may be especially lucrative, but they are lucrative for *everyone* - have you actually looked at the going rate for a military launch?

              And I assure you I'm not confusing cost and price - cost is what SpaceX pays, price is what they charge the customer. And the large distance between them is pure profit.

              • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday October 14, @03:30PM (1 child)

                Your first point is wrong by technicality - by design, they make a loss on Starlink launches, for obvious reasons.

                However, your second point is properly wrong because the recent (2020) Roscosmos analysis concluded that SpaceX is using predatory pricing to attract customers.
                --
                I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
                • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Friday October 15, @05:05PM

                  by Immerman (3985) on Friday October 15, @05:05PM (#1187316)

                  You mean the same Roscosmos that has consistently attacked SpaceX on every front with the flimsiest of excuses for over a decade? And been just as consistently proven wrong?

                  Hint - when looking for an unbiased analysis of... anything really, don't rely on the testimony of the people who are losing business and/or reputation to it.

                  By all means - listen to their arguments, they may be raising a legitimate concern worth investigating. But your default assumption should always be that it's a biased and self-serving fabrication. They're human, and such "sour grapes" storytelling is what we do. They might not even be lying, as such, just projecting their own inevitably-flawed assumptions onto a situation where they don't apply.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @08:14PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @08:14PM (#1186494)

    Are the RD-180 engines reusable?
    Then keep using them and All you need is to perfect landing a rocket with fold-out tripod legs.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by DannyB on Tuesday October 12, @08:37PM (1 child)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday October 12, @08:37PM (#1186501) Journal

      Are the RD-180 engines reusable?

      If they are not designed to be reusable, then just how reusable can they actually be?

      I wonder if chewing gum is reusable?

      I saw some on the sidewalk! Research may be required.

      --
      Employers should not mandate wearing clothing. It should be a personal choice. It only affects me. Junk can't breathe!
      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday October 13, @04:31PM

        by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday October 13, @04:31PM (#1186692)

        >If they are not designed to be reusable, then just how reusable can they actually be?

        That's actually a very good question. Because they *are* designed to be extremely reliable, and reliability can potentially translate to at least limited reusability. Basically, the route to high reliability almost always amounts to ensuring that worst-case degradation during use still leaves a large margin before there's any risk of failure. And if there's enough safety margin, especially after refurbishing, it can potentially be harnessed for re-use, though probably with lower reliability.

        That said, there's another big concern that the RD-180 is useless against: it's an RP-1 engine, and the writing is on the wall that orbital refueling is going to, at long last, soon become a reality. And for a number of reasons the infrastructure is going to be geared towards methalox (first among them, it's *far* easier to maintain a propellant depot where everything is at the same temperature - and at the temperatures where oxygen is liquid, RP-1 freezes solid, and hydrogen is still a gas). If Russia wants to compete in the coming generation of spaceflight, they need to either be compatible with the commercial orbital infrastructure the rest of the world is working towards, or be willing to tackle a more difficult challenge on their own.

        Of course, none of that is relevant to first stage boosters that will never reach orbit - but it does simplify things immensely (a.k.a. make them a lot cheaper) if your first- and second-stage engines are basically the same. And methalox also has a huge advantage over RP-1 in that coking (buildup of soot, etc from incomplete combustion) is almost nonexistent, which greatly aids in reusability.

        If I were in charge of renovating Russia's rocketry program I'd take a two-prong approach: Immediately begin working on landing using the existing engines (assuming they can be fired multiple times so that's even possible) to develop the flight control systems necessary. It doesn't do you any good to have a reusable engine if you destroy it trying to land, and Russia is notoriously bad at precision rocket control systems. And once working it opens the door to potentially getting limited re-use out of the existing engines, or at least being able to swap out new engines and save the cost of rebuilding the rest of the rocket. Not nearly as much of a benefit, but better than nothing.

        Simultaneously I'd begin development of a reusable methalox engine to replace the existing ones. That's going to take years, and with any luck by the time it's ready they will have mastered booster recovery and can immediately start testing and improving the real-world reusability of the new engine.

        Alternately I might go with a hydrolox engine. It wouldn't be be able to take advantage of the methalox infrastructure built for Starship, but would have an advantage for lunar and asteroid applications, where it would only need water and energy to produce fuel. Aiming to dominate a particular niche, especially such a profitable one, might be a better long-term strategy than being one of the competitors following SpaceX's lead. Then again, Blue Origin already has a heavily tested and reusable hydrogen engine for New Shepard, so there's already established competition for that niche as well.

        And obviously I think it's safe to say that during this time other, more espionage-focused, government branches would be funneling in as much information as possible about the details of SpaceX's rocket and production technology - after all, learning from the technology leaders is a much faster way to catch up than trying to break all new ground yourself.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by DannyB on Tuesday October 12, @08:35PM (13 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday October 12, @08:35PM (#1186500) Journal

    Russia plans to slash funding for spaceflight activities . . . . Putin has reportedly told the Russian space corporation, Roscosmos, that it must increase the reliability of Russian rockets and "master" the next generation of launch vehicles.

    There must be a curve that shows as budgets approach zero, the quality and reliability of rockets increases towards infinity (perfection).

    MBAs in the United States are anxious to learn of this newly discovered relationship.

    Could we apply a similar budget change to SLS and see it become perfect?

    --
    Employers should not mandate wearing clothing. It should be a personal choice. It only affects me. Junk can't breathe!
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @10:24PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @10:24PM (#1186518)

      MBAs in the United States are anxious to learn of this newly discovered relationship

      The MBAs in the United States have already learned. Just automate everything with ansible and all your costs go away! Well, unless you actually need to get real work done...

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @01:14AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @01:14AM (#1186539)

        Virtual work.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @01:46AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @01:46AM (#1186542)

      > ...as budgets approach zero ...

      Reminds of the old saw,
                The beatings will continue until morale improves.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @12:49PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @12:49PM (#1186630)

        Don't forget the old Soviet joke about "The bosses pretend to pay us and we pretend to work"

    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Wednesday October 13, @04:10AM (6 children)

      You've made 2 assumptions:
      1) The budget is going to zero;
      2) The the budget for rocketry is being cut.
      There's evidence for neither.
      --
      I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday October 13, @02:00PM (5 children)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 13, @02:00PM (#1186646) Journal

        assumptions . . . The budget is going to zero;

        I only assume it is forever approaching zero, but never reaching zero. Thus the rockets get ever closer to absolute perfection, but never quite achieve it.

        The the budget for rocketry is being cut.

        Interesting. What other part of Russia's space program budget might be being cut? Bribes? Hired professional female companion assistants? Vodka?

        --
        Employers should not mandate wearing clothing. It should be a personal choice. It only affects me. Junk can't breathe!
        • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday October 13, @05:15PM (3 children)

          by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday October 13, @05:15PM (#1186706)

          Space telescopes and other research. Probably including the Russian space-station they've been talking about, which like the ISS would be enormously expensive and accomplish very little of near-term practical value. A new space station would actually be dramatically less valuable than the ISS, since the core "keeping humans alive in orbit" research is pretty much completed, and they will continue to benefit from the trickle of new research from the ISS regardless of their participation.

          At this point building a new space station, even a replacement for when the ISS is decommissioned, is little more than an enormously expensive vanity project. At least unless you're doing something "real" with it. E.g. an orbital factory or construction yard, a commercial "space hotel", etc. And it's a little early yet to be getting into orbital construction, while I don't see Russia getting into the space-hotel business. In fact, I would be very surprised if Starship doesn't completely corner the "Space hotel" market for a long time to come. They've already started down that road with the Inspiration4 mission, and with a lower launch cost and ~100x the internal volume, a purpose-built "Hotel Starship" will be able to be far cheaper and more luxurious than that. Not to mention highly customizable - you could launch anything from a 400 person "budget cruise ship" hotel where everyone still has as much per-person space as on Inspiration4, to a "private yacht" hotel for a handful of high rollers, like the Dear Moon mission they've already sold. And the difference could be little more than the amount of life support and solar cells (or methalox generators) installed, and what configuration of internal walls you mount inside. And of course the possibility of a a genuine space voyage leaving Earth to dwindle to a marble in the distance is something no low-orbit hotel could offer.

          An actual orbital space hotel would have to be pretty spectacular to compete. I still root for Bigelow Aerospace to rise from its ashes, but realistically I'm not sure there's a near-term market for space stations in the face of Starship's capabilities. The only thing I can think of is long-term microgravity research. Maybe there's enough commercial demand there, but even the ISS doesn't actually do much of that.

          • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday October 13, @05:45PM (2 children)

            by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 13, @05:45PM (#1186717) Journal

            a replacement for when the ISS is decommissioned, is little more than an enormously expensive vanity project. At least unless you're doing something "real" with it. E.g. an orbital factory or construction yard, a commercial "space hotel", etc.

            The ISS had an enormously important purpose. It was not a vanity project. Neither was the enormously expensive space shuttle. The ISS provided a place for the shuttle to go, and the shuttle provided a reason for the ISS to be built.

            No loose edges.

            I would be very surprised if Starship doesn't completely corner the "Space hotel" market for a long time to come.

            Very interesting.

            Rather than a Space Hotel, the Starship the Space Cruise line idea makes better sense. Nothing needs to permanently stay in orbit. Spend six days on a space cruise line and see the world. It would need to have lots of food like the cruise ships (which are really floating restaurants) on Earth. The Starship lands. Passengers disembark. Another Starship is launched with another load of passengers. Two Starships could be rotated so that they get serviced and restocked on alternate weeks.

            not sure there's a near-term market for space stations in the face of Starship's capabilities.

            You've got to start somewhere in order to learn how to do it better and cheaper. That is true for space stations as well as rockets.

            If you ever want long term habitats in space, or on Mars, you're going to have to start somewhere. A small space station or lunar base will eventually be needed if we're ever going to do it like in science fiction.

            --
            Employers should not mandate wearing clothing. It should be a personal choice. It only affects me. Junk can't breathe!
            • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday October 13, @06:47PM (1 child)

              by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday October 13, @06:47PM (#1186729)

              You are far more cynical that I - and I'm pretty cynical. The ISS was a huge international effort, and I promise you they weren't all in it to help pad the wallets of American aerospace companies. Lots of valuable R&D came out of the project.

              To-may-to/to-mah-to. What is a cruise ship, but a floating resort-hotel that stops different places for optional day trips? As there's no place for Starship to stop I think the hotel analogy works slightly better. At least until there's a moon-base to visit (though such a trip would be far more expensive, and frankly I doubt the Moonies would be eager for visits from disruptive, disease-ridden tourists.)

              >You've got to start somewhere in order to learn how to do it better and cheaper.
              Sure. But you also need to satisfy some demand to justify the expense. And there's precious little demand to be served by a "more of the same" space station.

              Power and propulsion systems are already advancing far faster in the satellite sector. While life support will continue to develop for the space hotels, manned Mars missions, and moon base - which *does* serve many new purposes. Initially as a R&D test bed for developing the technologies for mining and utilizing local resources before tackling more profitable asteroids, and eventually as a source of oxygen for both habitats and orbital refueling (with large amounts of refined steel and aluminum as byproducts, promoting further R&D). Lunar regolith is 40+% oxygen by mass, and in the longer-term the moon is a perfect place for "rail-gun" launches to orbit, or even other planets, which can be far cheaper and more efficient than rockets. It takes less than 1 kWh/kg to reach Earth orbit from the moon's surface, and with a railgun that's all you need to deliver. If I remember by results from a few days ago, you should be able to launch 12kg from the moon's surface to a Mars-transfer orbit using the amount of energy needed to synthesize only 1kg of methane from water and CO2. You're using the moon itself as your "propellant", which is about as close to a reactionless drive as the laws of physics seem willing to allow. (Though in fairness solar sails and solar-wind sails have much to recommend them as well - provided you're not in a hurry.)

              • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday October 13, @09:06PM

                by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 13, @09:06PM (#1186783) Journal

                You are far more cynical that I . . . Lots of valuable R&D came out of the [ISS]

                I have no doubt that lots of valuable R&D came out of ISS. And that other nations had their own reasons for participating.

                Addressing your other remarks . . .

                Maybe what we need for an orbital starship cruise ship is some orbital day-trip beaches. Where you can sit, or float, and stare at the Earth. Or space.

                Oh, and some orbital McDonalds.

                --
                Employers should not mandate wearing clothing. It should be a personal choice. It only affects me. Junk can't breathe!
        • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday October 14, @07:29AM

          The "science" part. It's quite explicit in the summary. And in my posting.
          --
          I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by driverless on Wednesday October 13, @12:33PM (1 child)

      by driverless (4770) on Wednesday October 13, @12:33PM (#1186624)

      You've missed the most important part of that, "Putin has told ...". Vladimir Vladimirovich never does anything without a reason, and that reason is to assert his control and/or get more money into his pockets. So the question isn't "what needs to be improved in the Russian space program" but "who at Roscosmos has dared challenge the Tsar" or "in which way did Roscosmos or a Roscosmos contractor fail to channel funds towards Putin"?

  • (Score: 4, Touché) by sgleysti on Tuesday October 12, @09:04PM

    by sgleysti (56) on Tuesday October 12, @09:04PM (#1186506)

    The beatings will continue until morale improves.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @09:12PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @09:12PM (#1186507)

    penis

    • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @10:20PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @10:20PM (#1186516)

      Jeff, don't phallus now!

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Mojibake Tengu on Tuesday October 12, @09:28PM (1 child)

    by Mojibake Tengu (8598) on Tuesday October 12, @09:28PM (#1186509) Journal

    The article is full of so much factual nonsense it made me to investigate what the so called finanz.ru source site really is.

    For the first, it's not Russian at all. The owner of the site is Austria/German company Finanzen.net GmbH, which is obviously a fin-specialized outlet of Axel Springer SE, historically a very B-class propaganda media moloch house.

    So, the purpose of such funny article is most probably nothing more than ephemeral manipulation of stock markets. A desperate attempt to slow ongoing transfers of capital into Russia.

    I am sure the article itself has no technical effect on real Russian research and space projects like project Zeus/Nuklon.
    https://interestingengineering.com/russias-space-tug-could-tow-a-nuclear-power-station-to-mars [interestingengineering.com]
    https://en.topcor.ru/20668-rossijskij-kosmicheskij-buksir-zevs-smozhet-unichtozhat-vrazheskie-sputniki.html [topcor.ru]
    https://news.rambler.ru/tech/44846390-roskosmos-atomnyy-kosmobuksir-nuklon-v-2030-godu-poletit-k-yupiteru/ [rambler.ru]

    As Rogozin said, "Venus belongs to us, let them keep the Mars."

    --
    The edge of 太玄 cannot be defined, for it is beyond every aspect of design
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by khallow on Wednesday October 13, @04:55AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 13, @04:55AM (#1186582) Journal
      Well, did it happen or not? Seems like that would be more important than the amount of Austrian/German propaganda cooties in the source.

      Protip: if you can't dismiss a news source as propaganda, then it's probably because you are stone dead.

      So, the purpose of such funny article is most probably nothing more than ephemeral manipulation of stock markets. A desperate attempt to slow ongoing transfers of capital into Russia.

      Sounds like you got a sign wrong.

      According to official individual cross-border transfer statistics published by the Russian Central Bank, in the 12 years between 2006 and 2011 [sic, should be 2017], $479 billion (or $519 billion, adjusted for inflation) were transferred from Russia to 257 foreign countries and territories. This figure amounts to 2.4% of Russia’s GDP during the same period.

      Looks to me like Russia is the new sick man of Europe. Maybe they'll get an upgrade in leadership sometime to fix that.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Hartree on Tuesday October 12, @09:43PM (3 children)

    by Hartree (195) on Tuesday October 12, @09:43PM (#1186512)

    "Faster, better, cheaper. Choose two."

    No, I can choose all three because I control the gulags.

    • (Score: 2) by pkrasimirov on Wednesday October 13, @12:08PM (2 children)

      by pkrasimirov (3358) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 13, @12:08PM (#1186616)

      It's "More (amount), better quality, cheaper". And there is a fourth one: "safe/secure" which people take for granted. So you can actually fix 3 of them.

      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday October 13, @05:40PM

        by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday October 13, @05:40PM (#1186715)

        Yep. My new orbital-launch-ballista design will be able to launch frequent massive payloads to orbit for a tiny fraction of the cost. Unfortunately, the payload will be completely incinerated by atmospheric heating, but that's the price of progress.

        The disappointing part is that, without an atmosphere to deal with, it really would only take a bit over 12kWh/kg (about $1/kg at average prices) to get stuff to low orbit, but thanks to atmospheric drag such efficiency is impossible without first constructing megastructures to get above it.

        On the bright side, without an atmosphere (and further aided by the low gravity) such launch systems are entire viable on the moon, so that something like a 30km mag-lev "rail gun" could accelerate things to orbit for only about 0.4kWh/kg, or if a bit more powerful, to a Mars transfer orbit for only about 1kWh/kg

      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday October 13, @06:52PM

        by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday October 13, @06:52PM (#1186731)

        Though the original quote is the one I've always heard:
        Faster (completed sooner), better (quality), cheaper, choose any two - is applicable to almost any project.

  • (Score: 2) by looorg on Tuesday October 12, @10:11PM (7 children)

    by looorg (578) on Tuesday October 12, @10:11PM (#1186514)

    I guess Russia is throwing in the towel as far as space is concerned?

    Nah. They have MBA:s and pointy-haired-bosses in Russia to. He is going for the old classic -- Do more (and better) but with less.

    Isn't there some Russian Elon clone or something (or can one be created in some secret lab)? Some eccentric billionaire that does weird science stuff he can sent forward to save their ailing space program?

    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @10:31PM (6 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @10:31PM (#1186520)

      Musk doesn't do shit other that be a con artist, his minions do his bidding.

      Someone needs to buy a scrap Tesla, paint it bright yellow with FUCK MUSK on the sides.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @11:23PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 12, @11:23PM (#1186527)

        Those minions must be so stupid to fall for such a con... I wonder how such stupid people can even do anything at all, much less build reusable rockets and cars and and all...

        Musk haters are even more insufferable than Musk lovers. They have serious insufferability skilz, so watch out!

        • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Wednesday October 13, @04:20AM (2 children)

          "and all'

          Does that include the hyperloop?

          How's that idiotic victorian-era fantasy panning out? Reached 700mph maglev in a vacuum yet? Nope, just got fire-hazard cars driving in fire-hazard tunnels at 30mph. So only everything left to do, then? And wasn't it supposed to be all up and running years ago? Because it was "so simple"?
          --
          I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
          • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday October 13, @05:50PM (1 child)

            by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday October 13, @05:50PM (#1186718)

            You mean the Hyperloop idea that Musk specifically claimed he had no intention of developing when he announced it, and released it into the public domain for others to attempt? I'm mildly surprised he even built the early prototype test track for others to use.

            You seem to be confusing it with the completely unrelated "Loop" system The Boring Company is working on. Which is more akin to a trainless subway and, from what I've heard, everyone involved so far has been pretty happy with.

            I'm sure TBC would be delighted if anyone got the idea working at a tunnel size they could produce, but it seems like currently they've got more work than they can really handle anyway, so they're hardly invested in the concept.

            • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Thursday October 14, @08:11AM

              No, the system he *explicitly* and *repeatedly* said he was going to build.

              And no, it's not an unrelated system at all. Bit by bit he's stripped away features and claims, hoping that people will forget them over time. It seems to have worked, as you seem to have forgotten the connection between the two. Don't you remember the famous "wheels" answer to the question "air cushion or maglev"? No, of course you don't, the Musk reality distortion field has purged it from your mind. This is not the hyperloop you were looking for. Yes, this is not the hyperloop I was looking for.
              --
              I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
      • (Score: 4, Touché) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday October 13, @12:37AM (1 child)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 13, @12:37AM (#1186536) Homepage Journal

        Well, Hello Bezos! I didn't realize SN was so famous that you would make an appearance here.

        --
        Let's go Brandon!
        • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @12:57AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @12:57AM (#1186537)

          After quitting Amazon and failing to go to space, he has more than enough free time. It's either shitpost or spend time with Sánchez of Troy.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @07:08AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @07:08AM (#1186601)

    with more open mlitarisation of space, perhaps Russia will do the space force thing, with black budgets and generals pushing the buttons. not saying they will do it better, but when push comes to shove ther will be as good or better at mass producing t34 rockets for ww4.

    • (Score: 2) by pkrasimirov on Wednesday October 13, @12:47PM (1 child)

      by pkrasimirov (3358) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday October 13, @12:47PM (#1186628)

      T34 was designed by an engineer, not by a general, well before the war. Any good weapon the USSR had during WW2 was designed despite the generals, not thanks to them.

      Assuming you meant WW3 when you wrote ww4, the thing with WW3 is that it will be very short and there will be no manufacturing at all for a very long time.

      WW4 weaponry is well known -- sticks and stones.

      * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikhail_Koshkin [wikipedia.org]
      * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/76_mm_divisional_gun_M1942_(ZiS-3) [wikipedia.org]
      * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_Polikarpov [wikipedia.org]

      • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @07:49PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @07:49PM (#1186751)

        perhaps i should have more explicitly called out Soyuz rockets designed in the sixties, and the last X decades of war on freedoms (cold war and war on terror/drugs/covid).

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @03:00PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 13, @03:00PM (#1186662)

      Putin loves those new Space Farce uniforms.

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