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The end of the Union: Americans have left Russia the chance
Material posted: Publication date: 19-09-2018
Now the spacecraft Soyuz is the only means of transporting crews to the ISS. It is also the only Russian manned spacecraft and one of the two existing manned vehicles in the world. As you know, the Chinese are very actively developing its programme "Shenzhou": built within the ship is, in fact, a Chinese version of "Union". Americans have their own manned space vehicles do not yet have: the space Shuttle made the last run in 2011. Now, US astronauts fly on Russian ships. The Europeans and the Japanese dream to create a full ship on the basis of the space of "trucks", but whether to do it — is unknown. Such budgets like NASA space agencies can only dream of, and current experience who would not say, much less than that of overseas partners.
It seems that in Russia everything is just great: there's only manned "Unions" (even one of them Chinese). Why, then, increasingly, we hear the panic among the people close to the space industry? The reality is much more complicated than it might seem at first glance. And what the Soviet Union could be proud of at the time, now causes embarrassed gaze to the side. The above mentioned space ship Soyuz first flew in very early 1967. To say that since then, the design of the spacecraft has changed a lot — to say nothing. "Union" was also changed, but to measure the means which Russia allocated for upgrades and, more importantly, to the extent specified in the design capacity.

So the ship cannot make much larger devices (series "the Union" is pretty close). The last modification of the ship's Soyuz MS: update has affected almost every system of manned spacecraft and, above all, electronics. But even a glance at a camera is enough to understand that we ship half a century ago. Even the Chinese twin brother "Shenzhou" looks much more modern, although they both belong to the second generation of manned spacecraft.

Not to say that the Russian space Agency don't understand something. Not to say that Russia is not trying to create something to replace the "Union". The most unpleasant that such attempts were, but they over, to put it mildly, nothing. The most illustrative example is a multi-purpose manned reusable spaceship "the clipper". It showed the aliens had built a full-size layout, but in 2006 the works were shut down. In turn, the first manned flight of the long-suffering "Federation" recently moved to the mid-2020s: it's hard to imagine where the time will be counterparts. Perhaps themselves has been replaced by some fundamentally new reusable system, for example, Big Falcon Rocket from SpaceX.

Challenge accepted

By the way, about the analogy. Several of them, all of them from the United States.


Dragon V2. Developed By SpaceX. First flight is scheduled for 2018.
Orion. Developed By Lockheed Martin. The first flight took place in 2014.
The CST-100. Developed By Boeing. First flight is scheduled for 2018-2019.


Dream Chaser. Developed By SpaceDev. Flight with cargo for the ISS is scheduled for 2020.
Big Falcon Rocket (BFR). The exact date of first flight unknown.

The mini-Shuttle Dream Chaser and mega-Shuttle BFR — bit of another story. It fully reusable vehicles (with a rather uncertain fate). They are purely conceptually very different from the new partially reusable spacecraft such as the Dragon V2, or "Federation".

Overall, the competition Russia things are also not as good as you think. Literally recently it became known that the company SpaceX has rescheduled the first launch of the manned Dragon V2 spacecraft, and the first test unit with astronauts on Board. Before the date of the first tests of its CTS-100 moved Boeing. The company wants the Mask to carry out the first flight of a manned spacecraft the Dragon V2 in November of the current year and not in August as previously planned. First test flight with people on Board want to make in April 2019. For CTS-100 first unmanned launch now I want to be held in late 2018-early 2019. The first manned launch of the spacecraft scheduled for mid-2019.

It is difficult to judge the real benefits of the new spacecraft. But even a cursory glance at them is enough to understand how much in terms of space technology, the US was ahead of the whole world. One can hardly doubt that the new "Dragon" or CTS-100 will, at least, much more comfortable their earlier counterparts. Aboard Dragon V2 can seat up to seven crew members. For comparison, the "Union" fit three people. Inside the "space Shuttle" is probably still bigger, but this program has forever sunk into Oblivion.

The issue of security more scrupulous. If the "Union" boasts over 130 successful launches, the new ships have yet to prove their reliability. And there's no way to accelerate. Overall, one can hardly doubt that in the first half of the 2020s, the US will refuse to fly on the Russian Soyuz completely. But if the political situation will continue to be the same tense, it could happen even sooner.

The Future Of The Union

Transfer test "Federation" and the successes of the Americans are pushing the Russian space Agency on the frankly bizarre actions. In June, Dmitry Rogozin said that to fly to the moon on a modernized Soyuz spacecraft. "Manned flights to the moon can be carried out on the ships "the Union" even before the completion of the "Federation". Initially, the spacecraft "Soyuz" was created under the lunar program and, therefore, its modernization is quite possible, until we got a new space ship," said the statesman. Perhaps it makes sense to put in a "Union" of three is not encumbered in good physical shape officials and ask if they are ready to fly to the moon? It is obvious that the ship, by modern standards, no longer meets the requirements of long-term missions. They are in theory responsible "Federation". In such case, based on purely the concept.

More realistic seem to be plans to create on the basis of the Soyuz spacecraft, unmanned cargo version. Such a device is even got the name "the Union of the GVK": assume that he will be able to stay in space for up to 370 days. However, the project resembles a transfusion from a sieve. Russia already has "Progress": this space "truck," as you know, is also built on the basis of the "Union." And for many decades he successfully performs its tasks.

Spaceship "Soyuz" will go down in history as a very successful development during the Cold war. However, to predict a "bright" future for it would be unreasonable: the ship is obsolete and needs to be replaced. Otherwise, the Russian astronauts will have to fly on American ships.
Elijah Legat

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