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More quality control problems in Russia

The investigation into the failure of a Russian Soyuz rocket to place two European Galileo GPS satellites into the correct orbit has found that it was caused by the faulty installation of fuel lines on the Fregat upper stage.

The failure was as simple as clamping together a cold helium line with the hydrazine fuel line, causing the hydrazine to freeze long enough to upset the Fregat stage’s orientation and cause the two satellites’ release into an orbit that is both too low and in the wrong inclination, officials said. One official said the Euro-Russian board of inquiry into the failure discovered that one in four Fregat upper stages at prime contractor Moscow-based NPO Lavochkin had the same faulty installation. ,,,,

Government and officials said the commission is debating how to proceed now that it knows that, as expected, the Fregat failure was not one of design, but of assembly and quality control. [emphasis mine]

In other words, 1 in 4 Fregat upper stations were routinely assembled improperly and no one noticed. The investigation also found that this assembly problem had existed on several past launches but because of the orbital requirements it had fortunately not caused any problems.

I want to emphasize that these kind of sloppy assembly issues have been occurring at a number of different Russian factories and different Russian companies. It seems to be systemic to the entire Russian aerospace industry, and it also appears to be getting worse.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Cotour

    The Russians apparently do not have any problem producing and deploying nukes:

    I still say that it remains in question whether Obama would actually authorize a retaliatory strike if need be. He brings plausible incompetence and doubt related to the minds of his adversaries and that IMO fact leaves the United States in a strategic loss position and encourages opponents to continue their acquisition of power and real estate. A product of the ” Leading from behind” model of world engagement, which is a synonym for assinine.

    There is nothing more dangerous than a weak man making believe that he is strong.

  • Pzatchok

    If the construction of the rockets change from one way to another then something is very wrong.

    It seems that they have no written instructions or blueprints to follow. Or at least no one is following them.

    How could one in 4 fuel lines be assembles in the totally wrong place and in the wrong way?
    Poor employee training and or workers who care so little that they don’t even bother to read the manual.

    If one department does this I can pretty much guarantee that all the other departments do the same thing.

    I was under the impression that they had hired an American to oversee quality control. To adopt American industrial standards and pass them onto the employees.

  • Pzatchok

    Nothing is saying those Nukes are any better built than their other rockets.

    In fact during the first Gulf War a LOT of the Scud missiles fell apart in flight and never reached their rang or target.
    That is one of the reasons we used so many Pac One Patriot missiles to take them down. We had one target splitting into two or even more in flight and the computers didn’t know junk from some new tactic so they fired a second and third missile at the falling junk.

    And the same thing supposedly happened when the Russians tested their Scuds also. To correct for this problem they just built more in the hope of getting a few to target.
    Communism works. Like the US unions, it works to keep people employed no matter how bad they are at the job.

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