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NASA, ESA, Roscosmos, and others, all have somewhat different cultures and attitudes when it comes to building and launching spacecraft. I don't have a source, but one anecdote I heard from someone with a long time experience in the field, is that whereas the Europeans and Americans carefully and literally documented every screw turned, Russian engineers went by experience and didn't document and test everything nearly as meticulous as the Europeand and Americans did — and that their failure rates were around the same.

My question is about the failure rate. Is there any significant difference in the launch failure rate between the Americans, Europeans, and Russians, respectively?

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  • $\begingroup$ As noted in previous answers, it is hard to give a fair and logical answer to this question. I propose to ask for statistics of individual launch systems, once their respective test phase was declared finished. $\endgroup$ – s-m-e Jul 18 '13 at 16:14
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If you are feeling up to the task you can look at the raw statistics of every space flight here. But you are right in saying that different cultures and attitudes do have effects on their Space Programs. Take for example the Space Race during the cold war. There was a literal rush to send the first satellite or man in space. And in that competition people could have found it not as important to document every aspect of the building process. Like the questions suggests, the Russians. So events, history, practices and cultures do in fact affect the space programs.

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Need to take a side approach to answer this.

Futron did a study for SpaceX on launch failure root causes.

You can read it here.

They focussed on root causes, vs country of origin. I.e. Stage separation issues vs engine failures, etc.

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    $\begingroup$ We should try to avoid link-only answers if we can, so that if the site goes down, future users can still access the important parts of the answer. It would be best if you could provide a short summary of the results of the study in your answer. $\endgroup$ – Gwen Jul 16 '13 at 22:24

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