Will the picture become reality? (Image from russianspaceweb.com by Anatoly Zak)

Reaching for the stars or false dawn? Russia says next-gen spacecraft design ready

Published: 26 December, 2012, 23:24

Russia’s halting attempts to build a next generation spacecraft have received a boost after a leading constructor announced that it has completed the design of a new prototype. But seasoned space watchers await specifics before popping their corks.

“We have finished the design of the new spaceship. We took into consideration that the new craft has to be able to travel not only to the International Space Station (ISS), but also to the moon,” said Vitaly Lopota, the chief of RSC Energia, the Russian space industry’s primary spacecraft builder.

The proposed spacecraft is commonly known as PPTS (or Prospective Piloted Transport System) and RSC Energia won the tender to build it in 2009. Initially, 2015 was named as the date of the first test flight, but that was then shifted to 2018. Now, Lopota has brought the test date forward again.

“We are currently working on the first full-size model. The first test flights should take place in 2017,” he announced during a press conference in Moscow.

Currently, Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, uses a modernized Soyuz spacecraft, a basic design that flew its first mission in 1967, to deliver cosmonauts to the ISS.

On paper, PPTS sounds like a significant upgrade, although all design information is preliminary and has not been finalized by the designers.

Unlike the Soyuz, all parts of which can only serve for one mission, the PPTS is partially reusable. Its also expected to be able to deliver a higher payload, increasing the number of crew members from three to six. While the initial models will only be expected to reach orbit, like the Soyuz, more advanced models should be capable of reaching the moon, and possibly even Mars.

But will it get built?

Read more: Reaching for the stars or false dawn? Russia says next-gen spacecraft design ready — RT.

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