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The return of the Soviet Union! After experimenting with the online broadcast yesterday of the Soyuz manned launch, Russian officials announced today that they will continue these broadcasts on future launches.
The launch from Baikonur was for the first time broadcast via the Luch (Ray) satellite retransmission system. More than 1,000 people have watched the live broadcast.
The Luch system is designed to solve the problems of relaying information of monitoring and control of low-orbit spacecraft, manned space systems, including the Russian segment of the International Space Station, and to serve in controlling launch vehicle flights using an alternative technology. The Luch is a series of geosynchronous Russian relay satellites, used to transmit live TV images, communications and other telemetry from the Soviet/Russian space station Mir, the Russian Orbital Segment of the International Space Station and other orbital spacecraft to the Earth, in a manner similar to that of the US Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. “One of the main spheres we intend to develop is our functions of mobile communications and data retransmission, including for the broadcast of launches as the most interesting events for the promotion of space exploration,” Komarov said. According to the Roscosmos chief, the Gonets company will be engaged in the development of this sphere. [emphasis mine]
Wow! A thousand people watched the launch! Isn’t that amazing!
In other words, either they didn’t make it easy for the public to find the broadcast online, or they didn’t make it public at all and the 1,000 viewers were merely government apparatchiks. It is clear from the article that they are still working to get their communication satellite network back into operation — which crumbled in the 1980s and 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union — but if they can broadcast to 1000 people they can broadcast to far more than that. Hopefully after this first effort they will broaden its access for future launches, though I wonder if that will happen. All of Russian aerospace is now government-controlled, and the natural inclination of government bureaucrats is to squelch information so that people don’t see bad things happen.