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Russian/European Joint, Manned Spacecraft Design Unveiled (News) July 24, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in Ares I, Ares V, cooperation, Current News, European Space Agency, Orion (craft), RKK Energia, Roscosmos.
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The replacement for the oft-used Russian Soyuz craft was unveiled today, and it is a joint project by the European Space Agency and the Russian Federal Space Agency(Roscosmos):

Designed by Russian space firm RKK Energia, this is a craft planned to be used for lunar missions, effectively being the counterpart to NASA’s Ares/Orion lunar-mission tag team (which I profiled briefly here at Luna C/I back in May). In NASA’s case, the Ares is the launch module and the Orion the manned portion; this new craft is a manned craft, with the launch vehicle undetermined and (as noted in the linked BBC news article) possibly being either an entirely new vehicle or a modified existing Russian rocket.

The Russian-European plans to collaborate are not a set-in-stone agreement, and so the ESA does have a backup plan to continue should the partnership with Roscosmos fall through. Still, it’s promising to see signs of this sort of high-level collaboration working, as opposed to, say, tense and outright competition that could lead to cynical (perhaps silly?) ‘war in space’ scenarios. In my view, if there’s a time for humanity to start moving on from the more petty social-geopolitical problems of Earth, this is it. Do we really need to go start churning out terms like “lunapolitical conflict”?

But, for the time being, we have developments like this tentative Euro-Russian agreement (and other cooperation efforts) to nudge things towards what I see, at least for now, as a positive direction.

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