Lost In Space Again

When it comes to launching satellites, the Russians can’t seem to catch a break.

Russia Loses Contact With Satellite After Rocket Launch

Russia’s Federal Space Agency lost contact with a new communications satellite shortly after it launched into space due to an apparent communication glitch on the spacecraft’s rocket, Russia’s space agency has reported.

The satellite, called Express-AM4, blasted off atop a Proton rocket on Wednesday (Aug. 17) at 5:25 p.m. EDT (2125 GMT) from the central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where it was early Thursday morning local time.

According to a translated statement posted in Russian to the country’s Federal Space Agency website, officials said flight controllers lost contact with the satellite due to an apparent communications problem with the Proton rocket’s Breeze M upper stage. Later, another statement suggested that the rocket stage may have been found though the status of the Express-AM4 satellite was unclear.

. . .

The new rocket malfunction is the latest of several embarrassing Russian launch failures or incidents for Russia’s space program in a single year.

See also:
Missing satellite found off designated orbit
Lost Russian satellite found in wrong orbit
Russia loses newly launched telecom satellite
Russian Inquiry Into Express-AM4’s Anomaly…
Russia loses contact with $265-million Express-AM4 satellite shortly after launch
Satellite loss deals ‘severe blow’ to Russia: experts
Powerful communications satellite feared lost in space
Contact lost with freshly launched satellite in Russia
Missing satellite found off designated orbit
Russia loses contact with satellite after launch: reports
Russian Federal Mission Express-AM4 Anomaly Investigation Underway
Russia loses contact with just-launched £160m satellite in latest setback for its space industry
Russia loses contact with Europe’s biggest communications satellite
Russian satellite missing within hours of takeoff
Russia Loses Contact With Newly-Launched Satellite

Looking on the bright side, at least they don’t currently have this sort of problem with their manned space flights.

/which is a really good thing since, now that the U.S. space shuttle program is grounded, we depend on Russia to ferry out astronauts back and forth from the International Space Station

Missed It By That Much

Oops.

Unmanned capsule misses space station

An unmanned Russian cargo ship sailed past the International Space Station instead of docking on autopilot, as engineers on Earth struggle to determine what went wrong.

A telemetry lock between the Russian-made Progress module and the space station was lost and the module flew past at a safe distance. NASA said the crew was never in danger and that the supplies are not critical and will not affect station operations.

NASA said that it will not attempt another docking today. Russian flight controllers don’t know yet what caused the failure in the unmanned modules automated docking system.

The robotic cargo ship Progress 38 was slated to dock at the space station at 12:58 p.m. ET (1658 GMT) but lost its navigational lock on the orbiting lab about 25 minutes before the rendezvous.

“The Progress literally flew past the station, but at a safe distance from the outpost,” NASA commentator Rob Navias said. “The station crew reported seeing the Progress drift beyond their view, as they worked to reestablish telemetry with the spacecraft.”

The Progress 38 spacecraft flew by the space station at a distance of several kilometers (a couple miles) away, posing no threat of impact. But because of its orbit, there may not be a second chance to dock the spacecraft by remote control today, Navias said.

Known in Russia as Progress M-06M, the new Progress 38 spacecraft is packed with nearly 2.5 tons of fresh food, clothes, equipment and other supplies for the space station’s six-person crew. It launched Wednesday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

See also:
Russian cargo ship ‘under control’ official says
Russian ship zips by International Space Station after failing to dock
Resupply vessel fails to dock with space station
Russian cargo ship fails to dock with ISS
Cargo ship misses space station docking
Robotic cargo spacecraft misses rendezvous with ISS
Unmanned cargo spacecraft misses tryst with ISS
Supply spacecraft misses space station
June 30, Soyuz-U – Progress M-06M (38P)
Progress M-06M

I’m sure they’ll get this errant Progress under control and docked with the ISS. However, it’s worth noting that, after the last two Space Shuttles stop flying, there’s no plan B anymore, it’s the Russian spacecraft or nothing.

/of course, we had a follow on to the Space Shuttle, but Obama canceled it

Coup In Kyrgyzstan?

Whatever is happening, it’s not helpful to the U.S. war effort in neighboring Afghanistan, seeing as one of our main resupply bases is located at the Manas International Airport, about 19 miles northwest of the capital of Bishkek.

Dozens killed in Kyrgyzstan unrest

The small, mountainous Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan, a vital conduit for supplies to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, plunged into chaos Wednesday as thousands of protesters ransacked government buildings and riot police fired on crowds, killing dozens of people.

The unrest left the fate of the government of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in doubt. Bakiyev has led the country since 2005 when he headed the so-called Tulip Revolution that deposed autocratic leader Askar A. Akayev. In the wake of Wednesday’s violence, Bakiyev’s government declared a state of emergency, even as opposition leaders claimed to have assumed power and Kyrgyzstan’s border with Kazakhstan was closed.

Although officials reported that at least 40 people had been killed and 400 wounded in the violence, opposition leaders put the death toll at 100. Neither claim could be verified.

The violence was being watched closely by Washington, which uses the Manas base at the airport in the capital, Bishkek, to ferry supplies in and out of Afghanistan.

Manas is the only remaining American base in Central Asia and is considered vital to the Afghanistan war effort. Military officials said the violence had not affected operations there.

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said the base was “functioning normally,” adding that the Obama administration was urging a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Kyrgyz opposition leaders have called for closure of Manas because, they say, the base could put the country at risk if the U.S. becomes involved in a military conflict with Iran. And at least twice in recent years Bakiyev has threatened to end U.S. use of the airport, but reconsidered after negotiating larger payments.

Ex-foreign minister says she’s Kyrgyzstan’s interim leader

A former foreign minister claimed to be in control of an interim government in Kyrgyzstan early Thursday after a wave of protests that left at least 40 dead and appeared to have driven President Kurmanbek Bakiev from office.

“We must restore a lot of things that have been wrongly ruled,” said Roza Otunbayeva, who called herself the country’s interim leader.

No independent confirmation of the claim was immediately available. The U.S. State Department said earlier that it believed Bakiev remained in power, but Otunbayeva said he had fled Bishkek, the capital, and his government had resigned after a day of clashes between anti-government protesters and police.

See also:
Kyrgyzstan: Coup in a U.S.-Allied Country?
The day Kyrgyzstan’s anger boiled over
Upheaval in Kyrgyzstan Could Imperil Key U.S. Base
Opposition says it leads Kyrgyzstan after uprising
Kyrgyzstan opposition sets up ‘people’s government’
Roza Otunbayeva New President of Kyrgyzstan After Government Collapse, 100 Dead in Extreme Violence
Uprising in Kyrgyzstan leaves dozens killed
Unrest in Kyrgyzstan Prompts U.S. to Limit Flights at Base
Centerra Shares Plunge After Kyrgyzstan Opposition Claims Power
Kyrgyzstan protests: What it means for US role in Afghanistan war?
Factbox: Unrest in Kyrgyzstan
Q&A: What’s causing the unrest in Kyrgyzstan?
Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Kurmanbek Bakiyev
Roza Otunbayeva
Manas International Airport
Transit Center at Manas
Transit Center at Manas

One thing the United States cannot afford to lose is use of the Transit Center at Manas, it’s vital to our resupply of Afghanistan and there really isn’t any viable substitute. Hopefully, if the apparent new government threatens to kick us out, we’ll be able to bribe our way into maintaining the base, as we did when the old government threatened to kick us out.

/however, given our foreign policy comedy team of Clinton and Obama, I have my doubts as to their diplomatic prowess in dealing with this delicate and immensely important situation

A Whiff of Warsaw Pact

Just a day after convincing Kyrgyzstan it kick the U.S. out of Manas Air Base, a vital link in our supply chain for Afghanistan, Russia announced the formation of a new regional military force.

Post-Soviet nations to form military force

A Russian-led bloc of post-Soviet nations has agreed to establish a rapid-reaction military force to combat terrorists and respond to regional emergencies, Russian media reported Wednesday.

The decision came a day after reports that Kyrgyzstan is planning to close a strategically important U.S. military base that Washington uses to transport troops and supplies into Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, the Collective Security Treaty Organization — made up of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan — decided on the rapid-reaction force at a Kremlin summit, the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

The group’s security council “spent a long time discussing the central issue of forming collective reaction forces and, generally, of rapid reaction to possible threats,” said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

“Everyone agreed that the formation of joint forces is necessary,” he said.

. . .

Russian media reported that the force will be used to fight military aggressors, conduct anti-terror operations, battle regional drug trafficking and respond to natural disasters. The force will be based in Russia under a single command, with member nations contributing military units.

See also:
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)
Russia Buys A Vowel In Kyrgyzstan

/the Russian Bear stirs, has Obama finished his waffle?