Russia and the European Space
Agency are going to collaborate in building manned and unmanned spacecraft for
orbital work, serving the International Space Station, and even possible trips
to the moon. The new craft will replace the existing Soyuz and Progress
systems. The Progress is actually a variant of the Soyuz, and both weigh about
seven tons. These two space vehicles are used one time only, and were designed
in the 1960s. The Progress can deliver 2.7 tons of cargo (the Space Shuttle
capacity was about 15 tons). The proposed new Russian/European craft is based
on the current European "Jules Verne" ATV (Automated Transfer
Vehicle) cargo module. This is a 20 ton vehicle, which can carry 8 tons of
cargo. The ATV had its first flight three months ago, and will do the same work
as the smaller, and older, Russian Progress vehicle. The current ATV is not
equipped to return material from space (where is will mainly be used to supply
the International Space Station.) A reusable ATV would cost about a billion
dollars to design, and one that could carry passengers, a few billion more.
is developing a reusable capsule, the 25 ton Orion, that can carry up to six
personnel, or up to 3.5 tons of cargo (six tons in s special cargo version).
The Orion can land, via parachute and airbags, anywhere, and be refurbished for
up to ten trips. However, the Orion won't be ready for use until 2015.
Russia builds two Soyuz and four Progress capsules a year. For the 4-5 year
period when there is no Shuttle or Orion, Russia will build four Soyuz and
seven Progress capsules a year. Russian/European ATV craft will weigh 20 tons
and be available in about ten years,
is based on the American Apollo space capsule of the 1960s, which was a
contemporary of the Soyuz. The three remaining U.S. Space Shuttles will be
retired in two years, leaving it to Russia to provide transportation to and
from the International Space Station until Orion arrives to help out.