No way Russia could have fallen so far. . .

Is there any chance in hell that this is anything but propaganda put out by the Russian Government to mislead people as to their capabilities? I quote the commander of the Russian space force as he talks about the Middle East:

I mean how could a country once so powerful have sagged so far that they can’t even get good satelite recon info on THE MIDDLE EAST. The most volatile (and one of the most valuable as long as the oil keeps coming) part of the world. I’m callin’ bullshit on this one.

DaLovin’ Dj

Do you have any idea what kind of shape Russia has been in since the fall of the USSR?

You might recall this economically crippling Cold War that lasted for roughly 40 years, and that the USSR lost. You might also recall their famous space station which recently plummeted to Earth after only 15 years in orbit. Russia haven’t exactly been launching replacement spy satellites into orbit on a regular schedule.

Sorry, DJ, but it sounds about right to me. For the last 10 years, I imagine that “satellite maintenance” has been pretty low on the Russians’ “to do” list.

And this is interesting:

And this is from last April.

I dunno, but I’m guessing that maybe the deal’s off.

This is from September.

And who exactly are you thinking they want to “mislead” as to their satellite capabilities? Uncle Sam? The Cold War is over. China? Why would you think that the Russians would think that China would care? If China wants to know how many satellites Russia has up there, all they have to do is look it up–the Russians are the only ones who have registered all their satellites.

One has to remember that the Soviet economy was run in an extraordinarily inefficient manner, and that they only kept up with the West by sheer willpower and sacrifice. Willpower and sacrifice will only take you so far before something gives, and the Soviets reached that point and fell on their faces. What gave was Russia’s cash reserves, infrastructure, and confidence, and without those as a foundation, the rest of the structure could not stand. It will be a decade or more before Russia finds it’s feet and begins to move again. In the meanwhile, it would be far-sighted and smart, not to mention charitable, for Western nations to share with the Russians satellite intelligence of their southern border.

The more we help the Russians while their down (while being sensative to their pride!), the better they’ll feel about us when they get back to their feet…

Only “after” 15 years? As far as I know, “Mir” was the only space station to spend any significant (measured in years) amount of time in space.It was originally designed to spend 72 months in orbit (which in itself would’ve been far more that Skylab was designed for).Can you name another one? The fact that it was in space for more than twice of originally scheduled time speaks for itself.And, from the info I have (which is pretty old and might be surpassed by now), V.G. Titov and M.H.Manarov, launched in Soyuz-M4 on on December 21-st,1987 and landed on December 21-st,1988, having spent 365 days 22 hours 39 minutes and 47 seconds in space, still hold the world’s record for the longest space joourney.
Of course, honorary mention should go out to Yu. V. Romanenko, with 430 days, 18 hours and 20 minutes in space (in three separate flights).
Until ISS is built, these numbers will stand untouched.And even AFTER it’s built (which is certainly not going to happen according to original schedule),I doubt that anyone will spend a year in space anytime soon. The knowledge about prolonged space expeditions can come only from 2 sources:the info Russia’s gathered or by gaining that expirience from scratch.

Russia’s economy is SSSOOOOOOO screwed up, they don’t have enough money to keep hardly anything going. A few years ago their stock market plummeted 95% (it went from being valued at around US$100 billion to US$4 billion). Since then they have had ups and downs, but the country as a whole is poor as dirt. This is one reason why they are fighting with Chechnya, etc…keep their citizens minds off of the bad stuff.

If you want proof of their plight, just keep your eyes open for news articles in the next few months- winter is coming fast, and you will start to see reports about food & fuel shortages, electrical blackouts, etc.

So yeah, a country can keep money in reserve to keep some things going for awhile, but those reserves have run dry. Satelites? Expensive. Now think about their aging nuclear weapons. Nukes need tender lovin care…how much do you think they are actually getting? I really believe that while they might physically have thousands of warheads, not many of them are reliable. Either for storage or for combat. Scary, ain’t it?

I can’t wait until the world wakes up and stops considering Russia a “super-power.” In reality, they should have about as much world-wide clout as, oh, India? Indonesia? Maybe the world has started to- I was at an economic conference last year and there was reference to the G7-and-a-half…

Anywho, seeya-

Russia’s inclusion in the G-8 is mostly symbolic from what I can tell.

Don’t forget - Russia couldn’t get a rescue ship out to the Kursk because it was in dry dock and had been waiting for repairs for months. Russia isn’t exactly flush with cash.

Its a big risk for them I’d imagine - they have an enormous border.

Mir didn’t “fall” to earth; it was brought down in a controlled deorbiting maneuver to dispose of it after its usefulness had long since been outlived. It was never intended to last nearly as long as it did.

The laws of physics mean Mir would have stayed right where it was otherwise - did you think the Russians were too poor to make their gravity tax payments?

By any reasonable definition, after the final rocket-firing procedure during the deorbit, it fell, thanks to our friend Mr. Gravity. Let’s not get nitpicky about semantics.


If you’d like to make a case that Mir’s normal orbit was such that, absent frequent boosts, it would never decay, be my guest, but I’m afraid you’re going to have a difficult time of it. Maybe you’ve heard of Skylab?

Mir was brought down in a controlled deorbit specifically so it wouldn’t hit something populated when its orbit eventually decayed.

I concede that “only 15 years” was extremely sloppy language. Please read the sentence without the word “only.”

BTW, cite.

Please don’t pretend to know more about physics than you do. It’s embarrassing for everyone.

pldennison, that was a nice job of finally doing your research, after that “plummeting to earth after only 15 years” remark of yours, clearly implying that only money was keeping it up. “Extremely sloppy” (your words) is the only way to describe that statement - but you made it, not me. Don’t accuse anyone else of “nitpicking” for pointing it out, m’kay?

BTW, I have an engineering degree from one of the top schools in the world. Gravitational mechanics were covered in the first semester of freshman physics. Thanks for your solicitude, however.

I don’t know what the source is of all the anger you tend to show on this board, but that too is your problem. You really need to get over it and concentrate on facts and reasoning if you wish your posts to be taken seriously.

Is that Elvis-speak for, “In fact, I was incorrect, Mir needed constant orbital reboosting throughout its lifetime, and without it, would have eventually returned to Earth, so they brought it down in a controlled deorbit rather than risk it hitting a populated area?” Because your statement, “The laws of physics mean Mir would have stayed right where it was otherwise,” is obviously 100% wrong.

Your statement that Mir didn’t “fall” was also incorrect. The Russian controllers performed three quick burns during the procedure. The final one took place about 90 minutes before splashdown. I’ll give you three guesses as to what Mir did between burns and during those final 90 minutes, and the first two guesses don’t count. (Hint: Four letters, starts with “f,” rhymes with “smell.”)

I’m really not interested in what kind of degree you have from where–it doesn’t entitle you to make incorrect statements and pretend they are incorrect through some force of authority. Mir required reboosts to stay in orbit. Without them, it would have hit the Earth. Deal with it.

As far as your armchair psychoanalysis, keep it to yourself, or take it to the appropriate forum.

So it would seem most of you take the article at face value. I’m still not convinced. I accept that Russia is poor. I accept that their capabilities are no where near what they once were. But I cannot accept that the Russians have given up on the concept of “Top Secret”. If they do have stuff that’s really advanced snooping gear, they would want to keep it a secret. Press releases like this just misdirect the teeming millions so they can keep their toys to themselves. I do not believe Russia to be the type to just lay all their cards on the table. KGB or no.

So Russia has had tremendous cutbacks. I think that recon missions would be cheaper than building more weapons. Maintain a few of the big guns you’ve got, spend what you can on good recon, and watch the world. Nuclear war is more serious than anything we have ever faced. I don’t believe they ain’t got the eagle eye on us and the middle east. China too. I mean, christ, these are their NEIGHBORS, over their. I mean not watching China, is like if we got into a bad economic situation and stopped spying on Cuba. Don’t see it happening. I could be wrong . . .but I doubt it.

DaLovin’ Dj

dj, do you have any, you know, evidence that this is not true? Or are we just speculatin’? Because if we’re just speculatin’, then we can make up anything we want to support our positions, I suppose.

I mean, it’s no secret that the Russians are in financial trouble. You might recall that back in 1998, NASA agreed to pay Russia more than $600 million to keep them in the ISS project. They couldn’t have afforded it otherwise. The companies that supply components to the space program in Russia are fairly profitable, but the space agency itself is not doing well financially. (See this article from the Financial Times for more.)

The CIA World Factbook, which really is the best source for this kind of information, has this to say on the Russian economy:

This doesn’t mean they’re abandoning intelligence altogether. It simply means pushing many existing spy satellites to the limits of their useful lives, engaging in intelligence sharing with Western and probably Chinese agencies, and relying more on ground-based and human intelligence capabilities.

dj, buddy. You’re not getting it.

Satellites are freekin’ expensive, to design, to build, to launch, and to maintain. And they have a limited life. Read this. Once a unit malfunctions, runs out of manuevering reaction mass, or decays out of orbit, it’s gotta be replaced. Russia needs to replace dozens of them. We’re not talking about slapping a bunch of cameras, bateries, and computer chips in a box and slinging it up into orbit. Space is a supremely hostile enviroment, and the engineering necessary to build a survivable system for space is extraordinary. Next, the imaging and sensor suites aren’t something you just pick up at the corner store. They don’t come cheap. The computers necessary to control these systems aren’t cheap, either, but are a bargain compared to the sensors and platform. The software to run those computers, however, costs a fortune, indeed! Man-hours, education, practice, and experimentation costs on software development are unbelieveable. All that, and the whole thing still might blow-up on the launch pad, suck-in a stray bolt in orbit, or just plain decide to not play when in orbit, so you generally build two. Sometimes you build a whole series of the same satellite, so to save on development costs, and gain some economies of scale. It still ain’t cheap, and if you’ve got to choose between losing some global coverage, and having your citizens rise up in rebellion because they’ve got no food or power during a cold, cold winter, guess which program gets the money? according to this site, commercial satellites cost typically between US$100,000 and US$160,000 per kilogram. For a Commercial satellite.

Ground control stations aren’t cheap, either, and if you can’t pay the highly skilled operators, they find other work. If you have inexperienced ground controllers, satellites get lost. Literally. One mis-calculation and you put a bird into a useless and un-recoverable orbit, plunge it into the atmosphere, or lose track of it completely. Hell, our people are well paid, and we still managed to miss a conversion factor between Metric and English units, and fling a brand-new probe uselessly out into space.

As for secrecy, well, the Russians just published a definitive book telling all on their Nuke Weapons program, why wouldn’t they be just as up-front here?

Big Page 'O Satellite Cost Links (These are gov’t and contractor sites. Don’t expect much.)

The development and launch cost of a small-ish commercial CommSat.: US$220 Million.


My wife, (who is a Engineer and also articling to be a Proffesional Land Surveyor) once told me that the Russians/Soviets once had a very comperable system to the Americans GPS called (now this is from memory, correct me) “Glonas” (sp?). It is now basically useless since so many of the satellites are down or no longer functioning since they could no longer afford to maintain it. I believe even they are now starting to use the US GPS system.


That was “Glonass”,or Global Navigation Satellite System, and you’re right about its current state. When it first came out, and GPS signals were still dithered for civilian use, it was actually at least as accurate. For a while, there were GPS-type receivers on the market that used both sets of satellites, and calculated a best-fit position based on them both.

I get it and understand the numbers involved. I just don’t buy it. No way Russia goes from being what they were to not being able to get satellite recon on the middle-east. I mean the technology has been around for over 50 years.

And all the cites that show how cash strapped Russia is, only show that they have a bigger reason to hide the extra 10 billion (or whatever the figure) they spent on national security. If they were to come out and say “We want to help you US, use our new multi-billion dollar satellites.”, not only would Nasa be pissed, but so would the population of Russia that has been starving.

I think the idea that Russia has laid all of the cards on the table, and been completely honest as to their spying capabilities is naive.

I don’t have any proof, as the whole international spy thing didn’t work out for me. I base my assumptions on my understanding of military secrets and black-op mentality. So this issue cannot really be resolved. Perhaps that makes you feel like it’s not worth discussing. I, however, like to discuss things whether or not we can ever know the answer. Kinda like that “Is there a God?” question.

DaLovin’ Dj

It’s not about spy resources-it’s about MONEY.

Russia is not rolling in dough, and hasn’t been for quite some time.