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Google Space Science

Sergey: In Soviet Russia, Rocket Detonates You! 146

Posted by timothy
from the alternative-history dept.
theodp writes "'We were all foolish enough to go on this adventure,' Google co-founder Sergey Brin told the assembled Brainiacs at Google's Solve for X event last week, recalling the time he and Google co-founder Larry Page took their Gulfstream on a $100K journey to watch a 2008 Soyuz launch in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. 'If the rocket blows up, we're all dead,' Sergey overheard a Russian guard say. 'It was incredibly close,' Sergey continued. 'We drove in toward this rocket and there were hundreds of people all going the other way. It was really an astonishing sight. If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend it. It's really not at all comparable to the American launches that I've seen...because those are like five miles away behind a mountain, and the Russians are not as concerned with safety.' Sergey received film credit for the recently-opened Man on a Mission, a documentary on the Russian Soyuz mission that wound up putting Ultima creator Richard Garriott into orbit (for $30 million) instead of changing the course of Google history."
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Sergey: In Soviet Russia, Rocket Detonates You!

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  • Not Necessarily Dead (Score:5, Informative)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @06:11PM (#39007595)

    In 1983, a Soyuz rocket exploded on the launch pad. The crew was lifted to safety by the launch escape system, and there don't seem to be reports about any casualties on the ground due to this this incident.

    • by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @06:51PM (#39007821) Homepage Journal

      Well, not all casualties had to be reported in 1983 in USSR, after all, when Chernobyl blew up they covered it up for days and days, people came out to the 1st of May parade (International labour day was always celebrated with big parades then), nobody stopped them coming out even in the surrounding cities and it was very dangerous for people in Kiev for example because of the wind pattern.

      However Brin says they came too close to the rocket, and people don't have to be that close during launch, there is always a command bunker near the launch site.

    • by rubycodez (864176)
      I added up all the fuel weight, less than 400 tons. You could be quite close to that exploding, really, less than 500 m and survive. That's far different than the 2500 tons of fuel in say a Saturn V, or the 800 tons of all space shuttle engines
      • by jopsen (885607)

        I added up all the fuel weight, less than 400 tons. You could be quite close to that exploding, really, less than 500 m and survive.

        Okay, so you could survive :)

    • by Nimey (114278)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nedelin_catastrophe [wikipedia.org]

      This one had over a hundred dead.

    • by tokul (682258)

      In 1983, a Soyuz rocket exploded on the launch pad. The crew was lifted to safety by the launch escape system, and there don't seem to be reports about any casualties on the ground due to this this incident.

      In 1960 R-16 exploded on the launch pad. Chief designer and 78-150 spectators/staff killed. There don't seem to be official reports about any casualties on the ground until 1989.

      • Luckily, Sergey Brin didn't report that contrary to protocol, he was forced by Soviet commanders to attempt hasty launch pad repairs on the upper stages a rocket while it was still fully fueled with volatile hypergolic propellants.

        Even luckier, more than 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, his secret potential demise hasn't become one of the most widely known no-longer-secret episodes in the history of the cold war.

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      They might be referencing an infamous Nedelin catastrophe where around 120+ people where killed when a rocket blew up on the pad
  • by fauxhemian (1281852) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @06:13PM (#39007619)

    you wouldnt find me close to a rocket launch

    Here's a compilation of videos from a failed Soyuz launch - it got up off the launch pad and then came right back down, very close to the spectators. One person died.

    Foton M-1 launch failure [youtube.com]

    If you hadnt guessed, the video contains lots of expletives.

  • by game kid (805301) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @06:23PM (#39007673) Homepage

    'If the rocket blows up, we're all dead,' Sergey overheard a Russian guard say.

    A fellow guard responded, "Yeah, if it doesn't fall down on us, Putin will. Reality that doesn't agree with his propaganda of sending rockets to Proxima Centauri and winning 99% of the vote for it? Gulagistan for the both of us!" The guard recounted his story on condition of anonymity to avoid the ex-KGBer's customary punishment of death by judo.

  • by oldhack (1037484) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @06:28PM (#39007705)
    What the Soviet ruskies desperately need is more lawyers. Let's ship them at least half of ours, pronto!
  • by bhcompy (1877290) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @06:53PM (#39007831)
    5 miles away behind a mountain? Maybe from the causeway. I guess the Google guys aren't important like me(haha!). I've been to one on the VIP platform. It's about 3 miles away, and has a great view of the launch unobscured by smoke(unlike the causeway). Seriously, though, I don't see how 2 of the most successful men in the US couldn't see a launch from the VIP platform unless they didn't even try to see a launch in the first place.
    • by trout007 (975317)

      I am lucky enough to work at KSC and I've seen the last couple dozen launches from the VAB parking lot which is 3 miles away. One thing to remember is that the Soyuz puts out about 800,000 lbf of thrust at liftoff. The Shuttle puts out close to 7 million lbf of thrust. So you need to be a bit further away. It's still so loud that you can feel loose clothing shake on your body and triggers all aftermarket alarm systems in the parking lot.

  • That place was known to be very chaotic, with very little supervision about secured area. All top brass move with impunity everywhere and they always have a sidekick or two in tow. There was some apocryphal story about the food meant to be shipped to the IST was pilfered in the Baikonur cosmodrome.
    • All top brass move with impunity everywhere and they always have a sidekick or two in tow

      you seem to be speaking from experience.

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [retawriaf]> on Saturday February 11, 2012 @08:35PM (#39008455) Homepage

    And rich men spending their money on junkets and toys is news how Slashdot? What's next, keeping up the Kardashians?

  • by Zadaz (950521) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @11:04PM (#39009067)

    (or will be when they get back into the heavy lifting business.)

    Get a press pass to a NASA launch. You're close enough that the temperature in the room almost immediately goes up by 20 degrees. Fortunately you're in a reinforced bunker.

  • Two very high ranking members of Google not only stand dangerously close to tons of high explosives but also ride on the same executive jet. If they had both died Google could have been hosed.

  • What on earth this puff piece doing in Science section?

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