Some news tidbits from the last few days.
Neglected to mention that Energiya president Nikolai Sevast’yanov was in a car accident on 3 March in Moscow (NK News №611); he collided head-on with a 23-year-old driver in a Opel Astra who came out of a side-street unexpectedly. He got a brain concussion and various injuries, but he evidently recovered as it was not mentioned on the Energiya site, and he was attending meetings a week or so later.
“The first Soyuz mission – forty years on”, RIA Novosti, 23/3.
“Space station trip will push the envelope”, James Oberg, MSNBC.com, 28/3. The Soyuz TMA-9 spaceship will have stayed in space longer than any previous Soyuz (214 days – previous record is 210 days).
“China And Russia Plan Mars Mission”, Space Daily, 28/3. A small Chinese satellite is to be launched with the Russian “Phobos Explorer” spacecraft.
“China To Pursue Space Instead Of Socialism”, Space Daily, 28/3. Andrei Kislyakov opinion piece.
“Fireball fears stoked by space history”, James Oberg, MSNBC.com, 29/3. A fireball seen from a Chilean airliner was initially thought to be the deorbiting Progress M-58 cargo ship, but this was later discredited. The sea dump site is in the South Pacific, 45°S and 140°W.
Progress M-58 undocked on 27/3 at 18:11, deorbited at 22:44:30 and was destroyed at 23:30:22.
“Space brings Russia glory but not money – experts”, RIA Novosti/Gazeta (news roundup for 30/3):
On Thursday, the Presidium of the State Council, which comprises Russia’s regional leaders, held its visiting session in Kaluga, a city south-west of Moscow, to discuss how the national space program could benefit the economy. The Presidium said the Russian economy could only benefit from communication satellites, while experts doubt their efficiency.
The Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) is just about the only cost-effective space program to date. Although pocket personal computers and cell phones still cannot operate outside the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia and the European Union are working hard to develop their own navigation systems. The EU’s satellite-navigation system Galileo faces serious problems; and the European Commission even threatened to terminate the project, unless the parties reached a consensus on principled issues.Russia’s GLONASS project is not very successful either because only eight GLONASS satellites are currently in orbit.
In early March, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, one of the likely candidates to succeed President Vladimir Putin, said the GLONASS system will be opened to commercial users late this year. But analysts doubt the system’s market prospects. Eldar Murtazin, a leading analyst at Mobile Research Group, said Russia does not need a GPS-type system. He said the GLONASS system will be adapted for civilian use to make it profitable. But it will not be very popular because few people will install GLONASS receivers into personal pocket computers and cell phones, Murtazin said. The GLONASS system will become cost-effective only if the Government persuades corporate users to adopt it, he told the paper.
This project has political implications because Russia will elect its parliament and president in December 2007 and March 2008, respectively. By promoting the GLONASS system, Russia wants to prove that it is not dependent on Western technology, Alexei Makarkin, deputy director of the Center for Political Technologies, said. He said the Kremlin is trying to improve its reputation through space programs, and society thinks Russia is therefore reasserting itself as a powerful and influential country.
Some unflown cosmonauts from the Cosmonaut Group appeared on a show called What? Where? When?, «Что? Где? Когда?» on 30 March on the First, Первому channel, competing against television viewers. The participants: Sergei Zhukov (team captain), Anatolii Ivanishin, Sergei Ryazansky, Aleksander Samokutyaev, Anton Shkaplerov, Mukhtar Aimakhanov (Kazakhstan). Unfortunately they lost (6:3). (NK news №617, №618)