Russia's Energia Rocket and Space Corporation have released a full-scale mockup of an untested design it wants to replace the reliable Soyuz craft it has used for decades with. The only hitch is they have no money.
I personally find this ridiculous. After the continued delays of Russia in providing it's parts of the International Space Station, they now want to replace the only reliable space equipment they have with a totally untested vehicle, one with no reliability track record. It's just stupid. I'm all for technological innovation, but only when you have the funding to explore it and not in a time when the return on investment is nil. The only thing this would give the Russians would be some minor bragging rights if it worked and the ability to send up a few more Cosmonauts at once.
Another issue is that the current launch vehicle for the Soyuz would not work with the Kliper, they would need a larger launch vehicle that can only be supplied by a company in the Ukraine, which is currently having difficulties of its own with its election.
Anyway here's the story.
MSNBC (whose website is slow and annoying)
Russian space officials on Tuesday unveiled a full-scale high-fidelity mockup of the spacecraft they hope will replace the veteran Soyuz space capsule. Descriptions of the Kliper (for "clipper ship") vehicle have been widely circulated in the space community but today’s presentation in Moscow was the most detailed yet.
The Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, the organization that has built all of Russian’s human space vehicles for the past half century, hosted the media event at its headquarters in Korolyov, a Moscow suburb. Deputy General Designer Valeriy Ryumin, himself a former cosmonaut, called the craft "a spaceship of the future" and boasted that "neither the United States nor Europe have anything of the kind."
Big whoop Valeriy, so we don't have anything of that kind. It sure looks a lot like the shuttle ( see pictures of the craft here
) and it even works with a lifting body design like the shuttle. It appears to be a little shuttle that sits atop a rocket unlike the shuttle that rides piggyback on a rocket.
Officials say their initial plans are to build four of the reusable spaceships, each designed to make up to 25 flights.
Hmm, that sure sounds like the shuttles. There were 4 projected to have 25 missions each.
More details on the Kliper are here.
It's not going to break any major technological barriers like faster than the speed of light or quicker turn around, so why is it better just because the US or Europe doesn't have "anything like it"? Maybe we don't want anything like it.
Tipped by: Slashdot, which also has some geeky comments.