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The future of space flight: who will replace the "space Shuttle" and "Union"?
Material posted: Publication date: 22-06-2014

While Americans are in the middle of the last century was frantically thinking how to keep up with the "evil Empire", onaya was full of slogans: "Komsomol – on a plane", "Star space". Today, the U.S. easily launch kites spacecraft, our can only surf until, perhaps, the Bolshoi theatre. Versed in the details of the Naked Science.


During the cold war, space was one of the arenas for fighting between the Soviet Union and the United States. Geopolitical confrontation between the superpowers - the main incentive in those years for the development of space industry. For the implementation of programmes of space exploration were abandoned huge amount of resources. In particular, for the project "Apollo", whose main objective was landing a man on the moon, the U.S. government spent about twenty-five billion dollars. To the 70-ies of the last century the amount was just huge. The lunar program of the USSR, which was destined to fail, cost the budget of the Soviet Union in 2,5 billion roubles. The development of Russian space Shuttle "Buran" was worth sixteen billion rubles. The "Buran" destiny is to make only one space flight.

Much more lucky its us counterpart. "The space Shuttle" made one hundred and thirty-five runs. But the U.S. Shuttle was not eternal. Ship created under the state program "Space transportation system", July 8, 2011 has carried out its latest space launch, which ended in the early morning of the 21st July of the same year. During the implementation of the programme, the Americans produced six space Shuttle, one of which was a prototype, never carrying out space missions. Two ships and all crashed.

From the point of view of economic feasibility the program "space Shuttle" can hardly be called successful. Spaceships are disposable and were much more economical than their seemingly more technologically advanced reusable counterparts. And the safety on the Shuttle was in doubt. During their operation, as a result of two accidents, the victims were fourteen astronauts. But the reason for such ambiguous results of space travel to the legendary ship is not in its technical imperfections, and the complexity of the concept of spacecraft reusable.

In the end, the Russian spacecraft are disposable Soyuz, developed in 60-ies of the last century, were the only type of devices, now carrying out manned flights to the International space station (ISS). It should be noted that this does not indicate their superiority over the "space Shuttle". The Soyuz spacecraft and unmanned "space truck" Progress, created on their basis, have a number of conceptual flaws. They are very limited in capacity. And the use of such devices leads to the accumulation of orbital debris remaining after their operation. Space travel on the ships of type "the Union" will very soon become part of history. At the same time, to date, there are no real alternatives. The huge potential inherent in the concept of shuttles, often remained technically infeasible, even in our time.

The first project of the Soviet reusable orbital plane OS-120 "Buran", proposed by NPO Energia in 1975 and were similar to the American Space Shuttle

New ships USA

In July 2011, us President Barack Obama said the trip to Mars is new and how you can put, the main goal of American astronauts in the coming decades. One of the programs undertaken by NASA in the framework of the exploration of the moon and flight to Mars, has become a large-scale space program "Constellation".

It is based on the creation of new manned spacecraft "Orion" launch vehicle "Ares-1 and Ares-5" and lunar module "Altair". Despite the fact that in 2010, the year the U.S. government decided to minimize the program "Constellation", NASA got the opportunity to continue development of Orion. The first unmanned test flight of the vehicle planned for 2014-th year. It is assumed that during the flight the device is removed at six thousand kilometers from Earth. It's about fifteen times further than the ISS is. After the test flight, the ship will take course to Earth. The atmosphere of the new device will be able to enter with a speed of 32 thousand km/h. For this indicator, "Orion" for a thousand miles surpasses the legendary "Apollo". The first experimental unmanned flight of Orion is intended to demonstrate its potential. The test vehicle should be an important step towards the implementation of its manned launch, scheduled for 2021 year.

According to plans NASA, in the role of carrier rockets "Orion" will be performing "the Delta-4 and Atlas-5". From the development of "Ares" was abandoned. Furthermore, for deep space exploration, the Americans are designing a new super-heavy booster SLS.

"Orion" - the vehicle partially reusable and conceptually is closer to the apparatus of the Soyuz than the space Shuttle "Shuttle". Partially reusable are the most advanced space ships. This concept assumes that after landing on the surface of the Earth is a living capsule can be reused to launch into outer space. This allows to combine functional practicality reusable spacecraft with the efficient operation of devices of type "Union" or "Apollo". This decision is a transitional stage. Perhaps in the distant future, all spacecraft will be reusable. So the American "space Shuttle" and the Soviet "Buran" in some sense ahead of his time.

It seems that the words "practicality" and "prudence" could not better describe the Americans. The U.S. government decided not to take all its space ambitions on the shoulders of one "Orion". Currently several private companies commissioned by NASA to develop private space ships designed to replace currently used devices. In the framework of the "programme for the development of commercial manned spacecraft" (CCDev) company Boeing is developing a partially reusable manned spacecraft CST-100. The apparatus is designed for making short trips in low earth orbit. His main task will be the delivery of crew and cargo to the ISS.

The crew of the ship can be up to seven people. Thus, during the design of the CST-100 special attention was paid to the comfort of the astronauts. The living space of the device where larger ships of the previous generation. The run will probably be done with the help of launch vehicles Atlas, Delta or Falcon. In this case, the "Atlas-5" is the most appropriate option. The landing ship will be carried out with the help of a parachute and airbags. According to the plans of Boeing, in 2015, the year of the CST-100 is waiting for a series of test runs. The first two flights will be unmanned. Their main task is the output of the device into orbit and testing security systems. During the third flight is planned for manned docking with the ISS. If successful, testing of the CST-100 very soon will be able to replace the Russian "Soyuz" and "Progress" that are exclusively carrying out manned flights to the International space station.

Another private spacecraft that will deliver cargo and crew to the ISS, will be the device developed by the company SpaceX, which is part of Sierra Nevada Corporation. Monoblock partially reusable spacecraft "Dragon" developed under the program of NASA's "Commercial orbital transportation" (COTS). It is planned to build three modifications: manned, cargo and Autonomous. The crew manned the ship, as in the case of CST-100, could be seven people. In the modification of cargo the ship will carry four people and two and a half tons of cargo.

And in the future Dragon want to use, and for flights to the Red planet. Why develop a special version of the ship - "red dragon". According to the plans of U.S. space leadership, unmanned flying device on Mars will take place in 2018 year and the first manned flight test vehicle United States expects to carry out in a few years.

One of the features of the "Dragon" - its mnogorazovogo. After a flight is part of the energy systems and fuel tanks will descend to Earth together with a living capsule and can be re-used for space flight. This constructive ability differentiates the new ship from most of the promising developments. In the near future, Dragon and CST-100 will complement each other and act as "insurance". If one type of ship for any reason will not be able to perform its tasks, the other will take the part of his job.

"The dragon" into orbit deduced for the first time in 2010-m to year. The unmanned test flight ended successfully, and after a few years, namely 25 may 2012-th year, the handset docked to the ISS. On the ship by that time there was no system for automatic docking, and its implementation had to use the manipulator space station.

This flight was considered as the first ever docking of a private spacecraft to the International space station. Outset hardly a "Dragon" and a number of other spacecraft developed by private companies can be called private in the full sense of the word. For example, the development of "Dragon" NASA has allocated 1.5 billion dollars. Other private projects also receive financial support from NASA. Therefore, it is not so much about the commercialization of space, how about a new strategy for space industry development, based on cooperation of state and private capital. Once a secret space technology, previously available only to the state, now is the heritage of a number of private companies involved in the sphere of Astronautics. This circumstance is in itself a powerful stimulus for the growth of technological capabilities of private companies. Moreover, this approach allowed to organize in the private sphere a great number of specialists of the space industry, previously dismissed by the state in connection with the closing of the program "space Shuttle".

When it comes to the development of spacecraft by private companies, hardly probable not the greatest interest represents the project of the company SpaceDev, called "dream Chaser". In its development also involved twelve partners, three American University and seven NASA centers.

This ship differs from all other advanced space research. Reusable "dream Chaser" looks like a miniature "space Shuttle", capable of landing like a normal plane. And still the main objectives of ship are similar to the objectives Dragon and CST-100. The device will serve to deliver cargo and crew (seven people) into low earth orbit, where it will be displayed with the help of the carrier rocket "Atlas-5". This year the ship should make its first unmanned flight, and by 2015 it is planned to prepare for the launch of manned version. One more important detail. The project "dream Chaser" is created on the basis of the American development of the 1990s, the orbital plane of the HL-20. The last project was the analogue of Soviet space systems "Spiral". All three phones have a similar appearance and proposed functionality. Hence, it is a natural question. Should the Soviet Union collapse half done aerospace system "Spiral"?

What do we have?

In 2000, the year of RSC Energia has been designing a multipurpose space system "clipper". This reusable spacecraft that looks something resembling reduced in size, "Shuttle", was intended to be used for solving a variety of problems: delivery of cargo, evacuation of the crew of the space station, space tourism, flights to other planets. The project was entrusted with certain expectations. As always, good intentions got shut down to lack of funding. In 2006, the year the project was closed. Thus technologies developed in the framework of the project "clipper", will be used for the design of a "Prospective manned transportation system" (PCA), also known as the draft Rus.

It is the PCA (of course, this is still only "working" title of the project), believed to Russian specialists, will be destined to become a domestic space system of new generation, able to replace rapidly aging "Unions" and "Progress". As in the case of the "Clipper", the development of the spacecraft engaged in RKK "Energy". The basic modification of the complex will be "Manned transport spacecraft of new generation" (SHC TC). Its main objective, again, will deliver cargo and crew to the ISS. In the longer term - development of modifications, capable to carry out flights to the moon and perform a lengthy research mission. The ship itself promises to be a partly reusable. Living capsule can be reused after boarding. Motor compartment – no. A peculiarity of the ship - the possibility of landing without using a parachute. For braking and soft landing on the surface of the Earth will apply the reactive system.

In contrast to the "Unions" taking off from the territory of the cosmodrome "Baikonur" in Kazakhstan, the new ships will launch from the new Vostochny cosmodrome under construction in the Amur region. The crew would consist of six people. Manned spacecraft are also able to take goods - five hundred pounds. In the unmanned version of the ship will be able to deliver into orbit the "Goodies" solid - weighing in at two tons.

One of the main problems of the project PCA is the absence of launch vehicles with the necessary characteristics. Today the main technical aspects of the spacecraft worked, but no booster it puts developers in a very difficult position. It is expected that the new booster will be technologically close to "the Hangar", developed in 1990-ies.

Oddly enough, but another serious problem is the very purpose of designing the PCA (read: Russia). Russia will hardly be able to afford the programmes to explore the moon and Mars, of a similar magnitude to those that embody the United States. Even if successful, development of the space complex, probably his only real challenge will be to deliver cargo and crew to the ISS. But the beginning of flight tests of the PCA was delayed until 2018. By this time promising American vehicles, most likely, will be able to take over functions now performed by the Russian ships "Union" and "Progress".

Vague prospects

The modern world is deprived of the romance of space travel— is a fact. Of course, we are not talking about satellite launches and space tourism. For these sectors of space need not worry. Flights to the International space station are of great importance for the space industry, but the tenure of the ISS in orbit is limited. The plant is scheduled to liquidate in 2020-th year. Modern manned spacecraft – is, above all, an integral part of a specific program. It makes no sense to develop a new ship with no idea about the objectives of its operation. New spacecraft the US are designed not only to deliver cargo and crews to the ISS, but also for flights to Mars and the moon. However, these tasks are so far removed from everyday earthly concerns that in the coming years we can hardly expect any significant breakthroughs in the field of Astronautics.

Ilya Vedmedenko


Tags: innovation , space

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