False start of the Soyuz rocket: The emptiness of space

The dangers of space travel have long been underestimated. After the recent false start, the ISS threatens the end.

       Comment by Christian Gschwendtner



    The fact that the flight into space is now the purest child's play, was an impression, which last pushed itself formally. Who wants to be suspicious when the sympathetic astronaut Alexander Gerst from Künzelsau sends down nice pictures of the International Space Station (ISS) every day. On top of that, if you know the almost impeccable record of the Russian Soyuz launcher: 850 launches in more than 50 years – almost never has anything happened.


    That's what Russia's space organization Roskosmos thought on Thursday in Kazakhstan. At least she was very sure of her case. After the rocket launch, it took only 287 seconds to read on Twitter: All right, second rocket stage separated as planned. Unfortunately, nothing was alright. The ignition of the second stage did not work. The false start both astronauts have survived only with good luck.

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For space agencies, the careless marketing of recent years takes revenge. The pictures coming soon from the ISS will be a lot, but certainly not beneficial. Manned flights to the ISS are canceled for the time being, also transport flights should not exist in the near future. At least until the Russian space agency has clarified the exact cause of the accident. The decision is right. The astronauts on the ISS are stocked with enough provisions, they will survive.


    Nevertheless, the false start comes at an inopportune time. The controversial scientific experiments will be further delayed. Critics who question the usefulness of the expensive space station will get even more headwater. Presumably there was never a better time to end the era of the ISS.


    It is quite possible that it does not even need an official resolution. There is currently no one who could replace the three-headed crew as planned in early December. But for ever, even Astro-Alex will not be able to stay on the ISS. In fact, his time in space is already predetermined by the expiration date of the Soyuz capsule, in which he traveled to the space station five months ago. The technical guarantee will expire in January. Then the astronauts have to go back. Everything else would be an irresponsible risk.


    The problem is that an alternative to the Soyuz rocket still does not exist because the US has discontinued its shuttle program in 2011, confident that Boing and SpaceX will step in with new companions. But they are far from being ready for the market. So it could happen that in the coming year for the first time in a very long time an empty space station revolves around the earth. Just 50 years after the moon landing.

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