Plans are underway to build a European alternative to the US's shuttle replacement Orion. The European Space Agency (ESA) has convened a series of meetings with key industrial groups in Europe to thrash out the details of new passenger launch systems. Russia will lead the feasibility study of various Crew Space Transportation …
...to have parallel systems. After all, what would have happened to the ISS, during the groundings of the Shuttle fleet, had it not been for the Russian's Soyuz?
And if Orion end up like the Shuttle, i.e. over-promised, under-delivered, complex, expensive and unsafe, maybe, just *maybe*, a Euro-Russian-Japanese would fare better.
Ah, who am I kidding? International efforts usually end up being the worst examples of "design by committee". Like the ISS.
[To the editor - please ignore my previous two posts, which have the wrong Title. Browser trouble, so sorry.]
"It looks likely that it will drop the complex space plane approach of the Shuttle set up, and return to a simpler configuration of a flight capsule on a rocket"
That was decided two years ago, and the first test flight of the launch vehicle is sometime in 2009.
I was looking forward to the first real spaceplanes going into service.
Perhaps the Euro-Russian-Japan forces should look into the possibility of using an electromagnetic catapult for the first stage of lift-off on a spaceplane design. They could even involve the Chinese so we can use the Himalayas as a launch platform.
This way, a large part of the energy can be delivered by ground based facilities, which are highly reusable, very efficient and as a result, comparatively much cheaper then expendable rockets. In addition, all of the energy added by a catapult would be fuel and engine systems the craft to be launched doesn't need to carry.
And launching the whole thing from the himalayas will nicely put them up a good distance toward orbital altitudes and significantly reduced air resistance. All we need is the Chinese to cooperate.
Could we revive HOTOL?
A manned version would obviously be necesarry, I beleive one was proposed. It would make up for the demise of Concorde
Is this Kliper?
Isn't Russia already working on a next-gen reusable winged capsule called Kliper? Is this just a way to integrate it with ATV technology and get some ESA cash on board?
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