Russia to Mir....come in Mir...
December 26, 2000 5:18 AM   Subscribe

Russia to Mir....come in Mir... Russia's been recently unable to sustain radio contact with Mir. The station itself is empty, but radio communication is necessary in order to control the autopilot. They are supposed to try again in about an hour, but if they are unable to do so within that hour, they'll have to send someone up. I think they're more afraid that it might fall out of orbit before it's planned sinking into the Pacific this coming February.
posted by Cavatica (8 comments total)
According to CNN this morning, full contact to the station has just been made. Everything's okay now.
posted by Cavatica at 5:34 AM on December 26, 2000

And they want to have people go play on it for a TV show. Lovely.
posted by thc at 6:22 AM on December 26, 2000

Well...seing how the russians are dumb and all. heh.
posted by tiaka at 7:43 AM on December 26, 2000

I thought Mir was due to be decomissioned in February. The thing is often overlooked when Mir is the target of jokes is that it is 14 years old. It was originally designed to last only 5 years. That it has survived to this day is very impressive. To put this in human terms, the avergae human male lifespan (US, 1992) is 72.3. If a man lived to the equivalent Mir age, he would be about 202 (give or take). Of course, this shouldn't be taken as a direct analogy, but frankly Mir has done pretty well.

There is a point of diminishing returns, and that is when the amount of time spent on the station performing maintenance is more costly than taking Mir down and putting put a newer station. It appears that that time has arrived.

Am I misremembering that in addition to the stage collapsing, someone thought it tasteful to display pieces of Skylab at the 1979 Miss Universe competition in Australia?
posted by plinth at 7:45 AM on December 26, 2000

Excellent point, Plinth. Though we do seem to vastly underestimate how long this space junk we build will last...
posted by baylink at 8:32 AM on December 26, 2000

I think the attitude of the Russian space program is the most damn couragous.... sure they're hard headed, but they've got cajones.... anyone see the video of the guy in MIR trying to guide the support pod with nothing but a joystick- looking out the window! It smashes into the side of the station, causing all heck to break loose....incredible

Oh, and James Cameron wants to go to mir
posted by metasak at 11:06 AM on December 26, 2000

thc, plans for the mir tv show thingy were cancelled after it was announced that mir would be yanked out of orbit.
posted by gluechunk at 11:41 AM on December 26, 2000

Everyone on Slashdot keeps making the same mistake, as if "Russians" were still some groupthink amoeba. The fact is that there are different factions, and the space program there is largely run at the behest of the aerospace conglomerates Energiya and to a lesser extent the rocket-manufacturer Khrunichev. The RSA there is a small liaison office, not a major capital bureaucracy. When the government says "we're broke, we can't pay for it anymore" Energiya pumps up the "Mir = Russian prestige" PR and has often gotten its way. The side deals with so-called "MirCorp" (that millionaire, Mark Burnett, James Cameron) were largely a way for Energiya to make inroads into Western aerospace industry. It's possibly already served its purpose.

In short, much of what passes for "news" in terms of Mir is political maneuvering and must be taken with a grain of salt. I do believe the Russian government, this time, though.

Another "myth" is that Mir has had many mishaps and reveals the shaky Russian space program's weaknesses. But look -- they're ready to shoot a couple of guys up there on notice amounting to hours. We're nowhere near accomplishing that level of orbital readiness. Who's better off?
posted by dhartung at 11:33 PM on December 26, 2000

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