Skip to comments.Rocket chief: Russia could fall behind in space race if it doesn't develop new spacecraft
Posted on 01/12/2007 5:04:59 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
MOSCOW Russia could fall further behind the United States and other nations in space research if it fails to quickly build a replacement to its Soviet-designed spacecraft, the head of the nation's top rocket builder said Thursday.
Nikolai Sevastyanov, the head of state-controlled RKK Energiya, said it was continuing design work on a new reusable spacecraft called the Clipper, which he said would cost an estimated $1.5 billion to develop, and build a fleet of five such ships.
''If we don't conduct the Clipper program, we may fall behind irreparably in five years or so,'' Sevastyanov said at a news conference. ''We mustn't lose our chance to secure our positions in competition with the Americans and others.''
Energiya said that the Clipper, which will have six seats compared to three on the existing Soyuz spacecraft, would be capable of delivering crews to the international space station and could also become the basis for future moon missions.
Sevastyanov said that the Clipper would make space travel more comfortable for the crew, easing requirements for space tourists to go to orbit and would also reduce the costs of delivering crews to orbit by three times compared to the Soyuz craft now in use.
The Russian government so far has been noncommittal about Energiya's pleas for funding, and Sevastyanov voiced hope that the European Space Agency could share the costs. Energiya, which builds both the Soyuz manned and Progress unmanned space vehicles, has been financing the initial design work from its own funds, he said.
NASA is planning on using a new manned vehicle, the Orion, and new Ares rockets to return to the Moon. NASA hopes to begin flying Orion with astronauts by 2014 and return to the moon no later than 2020.
Energiya also has laid out bold plans for exploring the moon and Mars, but the government has made no specific commitments.
As a stopgap measure, Energiya plans to modernize the 40-year old Soyuz spacecraft by fitting it with new digital control systems, Sevastyanov said. He added that the company also was developing the Parom (Ferry) cargo ship to replace the existing Progress supply vehicles.
Meanwhile, the company hopes to win new orders for Soyuz and Progress craft, which are becoming increasingly important as the main link to the space station as the United States prepares to retire its shuttle fleet.
Energiya currently builds 2 Soyuz and 4 Progress spacecraft a year to send crews and cargo to the station, and their number is expected to grow to 4 and 7 respectively starting in 2009, he said.
Why? Its heavy lift boosters are some of the best tools in the business!
I guess they want to go to the Moon.
A brave woman to ride in a Russian spacecraft. I was in the US Submarine Navy but I would never go to sea in one of their subs.
What heavy-lift boosters? Energia does not exist for all intents and purposes. Heavy lift is > 100mT. Currently no booster exists to put that much anything into orbit.
And the Russians aren't losing the space race. The US will be buying seats on Soyuz capsules for 2 to 4 years after the Shuttle is retired. You'd think for $22m a pop that we could develop an inexpensive way to get our boys to the station, but instead we get years of development on "the Stick" and a heavy lifter that may never see the light of day.
Hopefully SpaceX and RPK can pick up the slack.
The article I read was referring to the machinery, but I don't recall anything about expansion/contraction.
Unfortunately, NASA could never develop launch capability cheaply. A commercial company probably could, but NASA would dedicate itself to quashing any rivals.
NASA is not about space any more, its about power, pork and job security these days.
They would do better by reviving the F-1A engine and using an RP-1/LOX first stage, since they're going with a clean-sheet design anyway. If you actually want to use Shuttle-derived technology, then use it DIRECTly!
Or spend the development money on man-rating Delta or Atlas. That would free up some funds that could be used to speed up development of the CEV, thus having first launch in 2010 or 2011 right after the Shuttle is retired. Since we'll still need heavy-lift capability, develop a truly shuttle-derived vehicle such as Shuttle-C or something more akin to Energyia. With 2 strap-on SRBs and a cargo pod on the side where the shuttle goes, with 2 or 3 RS-68's on the bottom of the shuttle ET.
Just by a quick calculation. You could get pretty close to the 100 metric tonne mark. The shuttle orbiter has a mass of 109000 kg at launch. Each RS-68 puts out about 1.5 times the thrust of a SSME (400000lbs vs 650000lbs at S.L.) and has a mass of 6600kg. So we have about 95000 kg to work with. Say a cargo pod (essentially nothing more than an aerodynamic fairing) has a mass of 10000kg (which is a conservative estimate), we still have 85000kg to LEO, much more than any other booster system in production today. And developed significantly cheaper than the current solutions.
That solution would require few if any changes to the launch pads, and the crawlers. Most of the development money would go to Boeing or Lockheed (or both) and to infrastructure changes at KSC and VAB. Now you could interest DOD in the manned infrastructure because they can launch it into polar orbits from Vandenberg. But that's neither here nor there. If Orion could be launched by either Delta or Atlas at any given time, launch rates could skyrocket. This would allow support of the ISS, the Moon AND Mars simultaneously. NASA would have a pseudo-heavy lift launcher and contract out the manned launches.
We would be able to support the ISS by 2011 (just after the Shuttle retires) and the Moon by 2015 or sooner.
Atlas was "man rated" at one time. You are too young to remember the Mercury programme.
Until the Treaty is repealed we will never know.
That vehicle and the Atlas of today share nothing but a name.
Russia, Russia...the guys in the furry hats with the funny kicking dancing? Ruled an empire once, now like to make noise about how important they are? That Russia?
Atlas is still Atlas. It might have new motors and burn hotter and not use the stage and a half, but it's still Atlas.
It's like the Cheddar family's kitchen knife been in the family for 9,000 years. Blade's been replaced a dozen times and the handle half a dozen, but it's the same knife slicing the same veggies.
As long as the 9,000 year old flint blade was replaced by another flint blade.
They went to bronze when it was available, then iron, then stainless, still the same knife. One of the handles was bone, one was antler, most were wood, still the same knife; still the same cheese; still the same family; still the same farm.
That's like saying Ares is the shuttle. It may not have the orbiter, or the SSMEs, but the SRM and colour scheme are there.
The newest version of Atlas, the Atlas V, is an Atlas in name alone as it contains little Atlas technology. It no longer uses balloon tanks nor 1.5 staging, but incorporates a rigid framework for its first stage booster much like the Titan family of vehicles. The rigid fuselage is heavier, but easier to handle and transport, eliminating the need for constant internal pressure.
Which immediately takes the Atlas ICBM's man rating and throws it out the window.
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