Russia has struggled to develop new space hardware, especially electronics that reliably work in the harsh conditions of outer space.
”You cannot really fly in space, or, at least, fly in space for a long time, without better electronics,” said Anatoly Zak, who publishes RussianSpaceWeb.com, which tracks Russia’s space activities. “The Soviet electronics were always backwards. They were always behind the West in this area of science and technology.”
He added: “The entire Russian space program is actually affected by this issue.”
I’d argue lack of institutional knowledge. I’ve seen the same thing in the corporate world when a company doesn’t dabble in an area for a decade or two and then tries to get back into it. With a 10-20 year gap, past successes are no predictor of future success because the actual people involved are now all noobs who need to learn all the lessons the hard way again.
India’s second attempt to land on the moon succeeded this morning! And on a shoe-string budget as these things go.
India’s Vikram lander is now operating on the near side of the Moon at about 69 degrees south latitude, closer to the lunar south pole than any prior mission. All of NASA’s Apollo missions, which had astronauts, explored locations closer to the Moon’s equator, as have China’s robotic landing vehicles. But the Vikram lander didn’t land far enough south to explore permanently shadowed craters where vast deposits of water ice may be present.
Sometime in the next few hours, Chandrayaan 3’s Vikram lander will extend a ramp to deploy a small rover named Pragyan. The solar-powered mobile robot will “carry out in-situ chemical analysis of the lunar surface,” India’s space agency said. The lander is designed to function for about 12 days, the remaining amount of daylight at the landing site. Once the sun sets, the spacecraft will be robbed of its power source and temperatures will fall to fatal levels for the lander’s electronics.
Vikram’s science instruments include a thermophysical experiment to measure the thermal conductivity and temperature at the landing site, a seismic sensor, and a Langmuir probe to measure plasma density. NASA also supplied a passive laser retroreflector array on the Vikram lander for future lunar ranging measurements.
I thought this was a pretty interesting video. DW (German public, state-owned broadcasting network) interviews a number of experts from European Space Agency, the UK Space Agency, and some NGOs. I was particularly surprised at how much they emphasized that the new race to the moon is driven by economic potential (which they admit is completely unproven)
Heh, good point. It’s all crushed regolith or something, so it’s pretty much space dust, collected by gravity, and scoured by pure UV light for billions of years, so not much color is going to survive that.
More like a pocket full of chips from a trip to the gravel pit. The surface of Bennu has been pummeled by rocks and fried by radiation for billions of years. The surface of it is apparently composed of flakes of rock, mixed in with boulders.