Posted: Friday, October 18, 2002
The Russian Space Agency announced today that the upcoming "taxi mission" to the International Space Station (ISS) will take place, despite an unrelated, unsuccessful launch of a different, unmanned version of the Soyuz rocket two days ago in Russia. Russian officials emphasize that the manned version of the Soyuz rocket to be used for the upcoming launch from Baikonour, Kazahkstan is the safest in the world.
"The Soyuz family of rockets are recognized as simply the best and the manned Soyuz is the best of the best," says Georgy Poleshuk, deputy director for Russian Space Agency, responsible for non-piloted programs. He added "It is widely acknowledged that the manned Soyuz is more reliable than any other rocket in use today."
Polishuk also explained that the difference between the quality of unmanned and manned Soyuz rockets is due to updated modern technology. The manned Soyuz is a different and much more expensive and an advanced model featuring the latest engine design and technology. "No expense is spared for when humans travel to space and which is why the manned Soyuz enjoys its safety record. Manned missions are also operated with much more stringent safety requirements. More rigorous testing, more fine measuring, many more people are involved. And the rocket itself is the best in the world, using the best safety and emergency systems," adds Poleshuk. The technology for unmanned Soyuz rockets has few redundancies and is older than the manned version.
Poleshuk added, "When you compare the record of the rocket that failed two days ago with the rocket used for manned flight, youíll see that the unmanned rocket has a history of problems, with 10 accidents since 1990. However, not one person has been injured during a manned Soyuz launch since the 1971 and there have been no in-flight failures since 1975. We have the highest confidence that our manned Soyuz flights will remain as safe as ever, despite the unfortunate but unrelated accident two days ago, and we fully intend to send a manned mission to the ISS in the nearest future to fulfill our obligations to our ISS partners."
The Russian safety record with manned launches over the past 20 years is the best in the world. There were two accidents in 1975 in 1983. In both cases, there was no loss to life or injury to humans and the crew was saved by state-of-the-art emergency systems. Poleshuk added, "Since then, in the past 20 years, these problems have been identified and corrected using the latest technology and the safety record for manned launches has been perfect since then. This is why our ISS partners and the world depends upon and relies upon Russia to bring a new manned Soyuz to the ISS as the safety mechanism or "escape vehicle" every six months."
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