Join Date: May 2004
Location: that interweb thing
Ground Control to Comrade Tom...
Earth/Moon orbit for 6 passengers. Future versions upgradable for Mars.
Originally Posted by BBC
Russia to announce new spacecraft designs/launchers.
The Russian space agency is expected to unveil development plans for a next-generation manned spacecraft on Monday.
The new ship would be launched towards the end of the next decade
Roscosmos should name the ship's prime developer, which has competed to win government funds for the project.
The proposed new spacecraft should enter into service sometime towards the end of the next decade.
It will replace the venerable three-seat Soyuz capsule, which has carried Russian cosmonauts into orbit for more than four decades.
Although Roscosmos has remained tight-lipped about the upcoming presentation, the agency has quietly released its requirements for a future manned transport system to the Russian space industry.
In doing so, the agency has shed some light on the ship's likely design and its possible missions.
The spacecraft, currently known only by the Russian abbreviation PPTS, for Prospective Piloted Transport System, would be able to reach low-Earth orbit or to enter orbit around the Moon.
The Earth-orbiting version of the ship would have a mass of 12 tonnes, carry a crew of six, along with no less than 500kg of cargo; while its "lunar cousin" would weigh 16.5 tonnes, have four seats and be capable of delivering and bringing back 100kg of cargo.
The unmanned cargo version of the vehicle would be required to carry no less than 2,000kg to Earth orbit, and return at least 500kg back to the planet's surface.
Roscosmos has reserved the option of making the crew module of the spacecraft reusable, reckoning that a cone-shaped capsule could fly up to 10 missions during its 15-year lifespan.
In providing the technical specifications for the new spacecraft, the agency has also given a glimpse of its vision for the future of the Russian space programme.
Soyuz also acts as the "lifeboat" at the International Space Station
Although the most capable version of the ship is meant to support expeditions to the Moon, "intermediate" configurations are intended for a variety of other tasks.