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SFS News: Russia, Europe Sign Deal for New Spacecraft

Posted by: Klaus Schmidt - Fri May 16, 2008 8:42 am
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SFS News: Russia, Europe Sign Deal for New Spacecraft 
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Post SFS News: Russia, Europe Sign Deal for New Spacecraft   Posted on: Fri May 16, 2008 8:42 am
(VOA News) - The Russian and European space agencies have announced a deal to build a manned spacecraft for near-earth orbits and trips to the moon.

Russian news agency reports quote a spokesman for the Russian agency Roskosmos as saying engineers want to test a 20-ton capsule by 2015. A first launch is planned for 2018 at a launch center in Siberia.

Under the pact, Russia will build the capsule, while European engineers build the service module and the engine block.

The new craft is to be phased in as the replacement for Russia's Soyuz spacecraft, which has come under increased scrutiny this year, after two consecutive rough landings on return from the International Space Station.

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Post    Posted on: Fri May 16, 2008 11:24 am
I'm not sure that this is so much a partnership, it seems more like Europe is supplying some bits for a Russian launch system.

Some questions spring to mind, why so heavy? a capsul could be made half or even a quarter of this weight fairly easily.

Why use a yet to be built Russian booster, when Arianne could probably do the job already?

Why would Europe create a new launch system based in Siberia when Kourou would be a better alternative?

This all seems very strange to me, Europe is switching one dependance for another. Independant access to space should not be reliant on other countries to provide half the launch system.

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Post    Posted on: Fri May 16, 2008 3:15 pm
I have not much information yet about the whole thing (I was two days away without Internet access). Actually the only source I had was Voice of America.

I know of an already for years now ongoing discussion of a somewhat partly European version of an upgraded Soyuz. Orbital module newly developed from Europe. Descent module from Russia and Service module derived from the ATV service module.

Earlier Russian concepts saw for example an increased Soyuz-derivate solution launched atop a Zenit rocket.

But as I said, I have no other sources yet than VOA so details of the contract (if there is actually one already) are yet to discover.

About the weight: When they want to go to the moon (and increase crew capacity from 3 upwards to perhaps 6 or 7) they need quite some heavy shielding (-> Apollo capsules mass increase during development).

About the launcher and launch location: As VOA quotes Russian sources I'm not that surprised. The system (if developed) will be launchable on a Russian launcher from Russian territory but not necessarily not from an Ariane rocket or at least from Kourou.

One possible reason to focus on a Russian launcher from Siberia is the current situation. The Ariane rockets are reaching their launches per year limit with 8 launches a year and about the time mentioned (2018) a successor launcher shall be available in Europe, so the Ariane wouldn't be any longer available.

Additionally the new launch site in Siberia has a lot of room for new launchers and all the necessary buildings and an "empty" launch space. Kourou, with Ariane 5, Soyuz then and from next year on Vega as well has to handle quite a lot launches.

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Post    Posted on: Fri May 16, 2008 5:52 pm
Klaus Schmidt wrote:
I know of an already for years now ongoing discussion of a somewhat partly European version of an upgraded Soyuz. Orbital module newly developed from Europe. Descent module from Russia and Service module derived from the ATV service module.


Not to mention the numerous Klipper stories that have been around for the last few years.

Klaus Schmidt wrote:
Earlier Russian concepts saw for example an increased Soyuz-derivate solution launched atop a Zenit rocket.


I posted something in the European section detailing some previous ESA concepts.

http://esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/gsp/c ... 303ExS.pdf

Klaus Schmidt wrote:
About the weight: When they want to go to the moon (and increase crew capacity from 3 upwards to perhaps 6 or 7) they need quite some heavy shielding (-> Apollo capsules mass increase during development).


I'm still surprised about it being 20 ton. I would have thought starting lighter should have been possible then weight creep would not be the problem it has been for NASA.

Klaus Schmidt wrote:
About the launcher and launch location: As VOA quotes Russian sources I'm not that surprised. The system (if developed) will be launchable on a Russian launcher from Russian territory but not necessarily not from an Ariane rocket or at least from Kourou.


Yes its possible.

Klaus Schmidt wrote:
One possible reason to focus on a Russian launcher from Siberia is the current situation. The Ariane rockets are reaching their launches per year limit with 8 launches a year and about the time mentioned (2018) a successor launcher shall be available in Europe, so the Ariane wouldn't be any longer available.


Surely that would make it more likely to launch on Arianne's successor as it could be designed with the new craft in mind.

Klaus Schmidt wrote:
Additionally the new launch site in Siberia has a lot of room for new launchers and all the necessary buildings and an "empty" launch space. Kourou, with Ariane 5, Soyuz then and from next year on Vega as well has to handle quite a lot launches.


Is there no way to increase Kourou's capacity, it has an obvious advantage due to it equatorial location.[/quote]

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