New Russian-European Manned Space Vehicle Announced

Russian firm RKK Energia's new manned space vehicle (RKK Energia)
Russian firm RKK Energia's new manned space vehicle (RKK Energia)

NASA’s Constellation Program may be faltering, but the next Russia/ESA manned space vehicle set to replace the reliable Soyuz vehicle has been unveiled in the UK. It is designed to transport astronauts to the International Space Station and it has a unique soft-landing thruster mechanism that will make re-entry a little less dramatic. The new design has been designed by Russian manufacturer RKK Energia and a first look at the 4-6 man capsule was showcased at the annual Farnborough Air Show in the UK last week. ESA has been discussing the collaboration with the Russian space agency Roscosmos on the Crew Space Transportation System (CSTS) since 2006 and now it seems that this vehicle may rival the Orion/Ares system being developed by NASA. What’s more, the CSTS is designed to transport a crew of four to the Moon…

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced plans for the European Space Agency (ESA) last month, giving the multi-national agency a more political agenda. It seems, whether this is a political move or a scientific one, that ESA may soon have access to a reusable space vehicle when the current Soyuz vehicles are retired. Many will see the new design CSTS as a competitor to NASA’s Constellation Program, but it is more likely that Constellation will fly before the first CSTS orbits the planet.

The biggest difference between Orion and the CSTS is that the European system will use existing technology. It will use propulsion systems from the tested Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) and will modify existing rocket technology to get it into space. This means that from design-to-launch, the new system will be quicker to manufacture, possibly launching as soon as 2018. This may seem a long way off, but the first NASA Ares launch is planned for 2015, dependent on funding and government direction. Perhaps the CSTS may fly before Orion after all… the world will be waiting…

For the full story, check out the source BBC article published today.

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6 thoughts on “New Russian-European Manned Space Vehicle Announced”

  1. I saw this mate as well as an italian design to parrachute out of the space station using a personal heat sheild for the hot bit

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