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In Soviet Russia, space travels you

The U.S. may have given up on a fresh Moon shot for now, but its former Cold War-era space race rival has fresh hopes to finally achieve what it could not do in the Soviet-era -- set foot on the moon.

Corporate president Vitaly Lopota, head of one of Russia's largest commercial space companies -- Space Corp. Energia -- announced that it had fulfilled a its design objectives it took on when it won an April 2009 contract to design a new multi-purpose rocket.

Comments Mr. Lopota, "We have completed the technical design project taking into account the fact that the new spaceship is to fly to the Moon, among other places."

In addition to a potential Moon shot, the rocket will be tasked with ferrying cargo and passengers to and from the International Space Station (ISS).  Federal Space Agency Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin announced earlier in the year that the rocket would be constructed and operational by 2018; the news from Energia shows that target may indeed by reached.

Energia heavy lift vehicle
Energia's heavy lift rocket is moving ahead towards a 2018 launch.
[Image Source: RCS Energia]

Russia seemingly is in a bit stronger position than the U.S., in that it still maintains domestic capability to launch humans into space (aboard the seasoned Soyuz capsule craft).  However, the program is under pressure after a string of failed and/or delayed commercial launches.  Most recently a suspected failure in the Briz-M booster scuttled a Proton rocket launch from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.  The expensive August 2011 failure destroyed two commercial satellites.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev gave the Russian space agency and its private partners until the end of the summer to work out a plan to fix the deterioriating situation.  

While the design side of the equation appears to be rolling forward, the business plan to remedy the recent issues is still very much up in the air.  Chief Popovkin had proposed creating a holding company that would tie together top commercial space firms -- such as Khrunichev and TsSKB Progress.  The plan then involved creating a sub-holding company inside the greater holding pool to specifically pull in the smaller engine producers, including Energomash, the Khimavtomatiki design bureau, the Voronezh mechanical works, Proton PM, and others.

However, Mr. Lopota blasted that plan, calling it a non-market measure.  Some opponents feel that shareholders in the corporate space firms will be short-changed if the government combines them, and further feel that it's a return to Russia's communist past -- a controversial topic in modern Russia.

Source: Space Travel

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RE: picture
By Amiga500 on 12/29/2012 10:31:13 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe... maybe not.

The Ares V was built using much of the design knowledge of the Saturn V.

I would be very surprised if the knowledge of the Energia - Buran system was discarded.

Certainly, if I was running it - I'd be using the Energia - Buran as a starting point.

RE: picture
By Bubbacub on 12/29/2012 1:27:20 PM , Rating: 2
sure - it would totally make sense to re-use the engines etc. e.g. ares V had a lot of apollo heritage - e.g. the j2x engine (though after 10 years and billions of dollars of development with no end product i wonder if they should have just carried on with rs25d production line)

but i think their design will look like the original energia as much as ares V/SLS looks like saturn V.

also the zenit boosters are under ukrainian control now - thats another reason for a substantially different design.

i'd really like to see this rocket fly - i just don't see it happening - there is no commercial benefit, there is no military benefit.

the only benefit for the politicians who will decide to cancel/fund this is for international bragging rights - i just don't think that is enough of a carrot to make the russian kleptocrats bite.

RE: picture
By JediJeb on 1/2/2013 6:01:14 PM , Rating: 2
the only benefit for the politicians who will decide to cancel/fund this is for international bragging rights - i just don't think that is enough of a carrot to make the russian kleptocrats bite.

The Russian government seems to still like to one up the US every chance they can get so it may just be worth it to them to pull off a successful moon landing in the modern era. They may not be first, but they will find some way to be "better" at a moon landing. Maybe the next space race will be between Russia and China, who knows.

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