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Russia recovers boosters dropped on Russia

The new colonial movement: Dmitri Rogozin, head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, announced this past weekend the recovery of the first stage and boosters from a December 18th Vostochny launch that, because of the polar orbit of the satellite, were dropped on Russian territory.

On Friday, a Soyuz 2.1b rocket launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, carrying its payload of 36 OneWeb satellites into space. Although Russia’s newest spaceport is located in the far eastern part of the country, it still lies several hundred kilometers from the Pacific Ocean.

This means that as Soyuz rockets climb into space from this location, they drop their stages onto the sparsely populated Yakutia region below. With the Soyuz rocket, there are four boosters that serve as the rocket’s “first stage,” and these drop away about two minutes after liftoff. Then, the “Blok A” second stage drops away later in the flight.

Although the Yakutia region is geographically rugged and sparsely populated, the Russian government does a reasonably good job of establishing drop zones for these stages and keeping them away from residential areas. This is what happened, as usual, with Friday’s launch. [emphasis mine]

The focus of the article at the link is the silly jabs at SpaceX that Rogozin included in his announcement. The real story, however, is that the Russian government, in deciding to build a new spaceport in Vostochny, made the conscious decision to place it where it would have to dump rockets on its own territory. They could have instead built this new spaceport on the Pacific coast, and avoided inland drop zones, but did not for reasons that escape me.

Tells us a lot about that government and what it thinks of its own people. But then, governments rarely care much about ordinary people, as those who revel in the power of government are generally more interested in that power than in doing what makes sense or is right.

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Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
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  • Ray Van Dune

    From the appearance of that booster, I think “recovered” is a bit of a stretch, unless perhaps in the sense of “recovered the bodies” after an air crash. I can just see the Roscosmos suits telling the next customer “Oh, not to worry Comrade! A few scratches! Buff right out!”

  • David Eastman

    From what I remember, the decision on why to locate Vostochny where they did was equal parts sensible realization that virtually everything else in their aerospace program is in the northwest of Russia, and a site located just for a clean flight path would me thousands of miles of rail transport away from their production facilities, industrial and scientific centers, etc. And equal parts desire to funnel money into the pockets of people who’s assets and influence were in that area, not the eastern areas.

  • David M. Cook

    Does anyone think the Russians are going to be landing these stages & re-using them in our lifetimes? I will eat my hat if they can reuse any boosters in the next 30 years!

  • Ian C.

    Vostochny, home of corruption, neglect, unpaid wages, strikes, delays. I love the Russians a lot and I prefer to see them on our side (than to lose them to the Chicoms), but they really need to get their stuff in order. Though we could manage, if both sides really want to.

    David M.,

    The Baikal booster for the Angara was meant to be reusable, so they were working on that. Perhaps they manage to develop something within the next 30 years. Though without independent, private enterprise, I won’t bet on it.

  • David Eastman: Thank you for making points I had not considered. I’d thought it might have been good old-fashioned Russian paranoia: inland targets are harder to reach than coastal ones.

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