Soyuz? Really?

This was posted today by AFP via Yahoo:

“Moscow on Thursday declared it is now “the era of the Soyuz” after the US shuttle’s last flight left the Russian system as the sole means for delivering astronauts to the International Space Station.

Far less glamorous than the horizontal-landing winged shuttle, the principle of Russia’s Soyuz rocket and capsule system for sending humans into space has changed little since Yuri Gagarin became the first man in orbit in 1961.

But after the successful landing of the US Space Shuttle Atlantis Thursday drew the curtain on the 30-year US space shuttle programme, it is now the only vehicle which can propel astronauts towards the ISS.

“From today, the era of the Soyuz has started in manned space flight, the era of reliability,” the Russian space agency Roskosmos said in a statement.

Roskosmos expressed its admiration for the shuttle programme, which it said had delivered payloads to space indispensable for construction of the ISS.

“Mankind acknowledges the role of American space ships in exploring the cosmos,” it added.

But Roskosmos also used the occasion to tout the virtues of the Soyuz (Union) spacecraft, which unlike the shuttle lands on Earth vertically with the aid of parachutes after leaving orbit.

It said that there was a simple answer to why the Soyuz was still flying after the shuttles retired — “reliability and not to mention cost efficiency.”

It lashed out at what it said were foreign media descriptions of the Soyuz as old spaceships, saying the design was constantly being modernized.

Russia has this year started using the modernized TMA-M version of the Soyuz, which is lighter and uses a digital rather than analogue computer.”

Well, I’m so glad the Soyuz has a digital computer! 

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