Russia's Moon Mission Rocket Creeps Closer to Completion
December 28, 2012 3:31 PM
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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 --
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'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
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.
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RE: go for it!
1/1/2013 11:17:33 PM
I do agree that robotic missions are cheaper and can take more risks to push the envelope technologically. But since we seek to expand human existence and ultimately to give more choices to humans, then robotic missions should be used to pave the way for human missions. Robotic missions should be used to evaluate and validate technologies that will ultimately allow humans to go farther, to places like Mars where they can live.
"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference
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