What does Soyuz rocket's malfunction tell us?
The emergency escape capsule of a Soyuz rocket on its way to the International Space Station ISS was forced to return to Earth shortly after lift-off due to technical problems on Thursday. The two astronauts, one from Russia and one from the US, landed safely. Some commentators say the emergency landing fits into a series of Russian failures. Others see it as proof that Russia's space technology is superior.
Nothing seems to work for the Russians any more
For Novoye Vremya the Soyuz rocket's launch failure is a symbol of Russia's general decline:
“If the Brezhnev era can be described with the word 'standstill', then the current era can be called the 'Putinesque decline'. Everything is crumbling, exploding, collapsing, and foundering, and nothing seems to work. The entire country has forgotten how to do anything at all in a normal way. The living symbol of this phenomenon could be the head of the [Russian space programme] Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin - a self-enamoured dimwit who's only capable of threatening the neighbours, lying, and stealing. It's no wonder Putin appointed him of all people as head of Roscosmos.”
The Soyuz is perfect even when it fails
The opposition daily Novaya Gazeta sees the fact that the emergency escape system worked well as an argument in favour of Russian technology:
“The Soyuz rocket has once again lived up to its reputation: it is de facto ideal for brining people into space. Manned rockets differ from cargo transporters in that they have to be 99 percent reliable, for which much must be sacrificed: lower costs, experiments with modern technology and cargo-carrying capacity. An accident with a transporter simply leads to the correction of the launch-time plans and insurance payments later on. But a manned launch has very different requirements. The lives of the astronauts are the top priority, always and everywhere. The one percent of accidents involving manned flights must end with the crew being saved. The rescue systems must function reliably in every situation. That was the main problem with the space shuttle system.”
Focus on investigation instead of conspiracies
Die Welt hopes that the reasons for the failed launch will soon be uncovered:
“[The US] is dependent on Russia and the Soyuz rockets. As are the Europeans, whose astronauts can only get to the ISS on Soyuz rockets. Despite growing tensions between the US and Russia over various earthly matters, the cooperation on space travel has always functioned very smoothly up to now. ... Now it's important to find out what went wrong not only so that routine flights to the ISS can be resumed as soon as possible. It would also be helpful for Russian-American relations if a technical malfunction is identified so that it can be avoided in future. Otherwise there's a big danger that we'll be hearing about some kind of conspiracy theory about the failed launch.”
Wake-up call for the US
Polityka believes that the Soyuz rocket's emergency landing could convince the US to resume its own manned space programme:
“For seven years the Americans have been condemned to working together with the Russians. Since the end of the space shuttle era they simply haven't had the possibility to carry out manned flights to an international space station. ... There can be no doubt that the disaster that was miraculously averted will prompt the United States to increase its efforts to return to orbit under its own steam. Even if Donald Trump hasn't tweeted it yet, for him that would be an ideal topic to make America 'great again' in space.”