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Space Science Technology

First Images of Russian-European Manned Spacecraft 191

oliderid writes "The first official image of a Russian-European manned spacecraft has been unveiled. It is designed to replace the Soyuz vehicle currently in use by Russia and will allow Europe to participate directly in crew transportation.The reusable ship was conceived to carry four people towards the Moon, rivaling the US Ares/Orion system. This project is the Plan A for the European Space agency. The plan B is an evolution of the ATV proposed by a consortium of European companies led by Astrium."
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First Images of Russian-European Manned Spacecraft

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  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:55AM (#24304525) Homepage

    I'd guess the thrusters are used only during final touchdown to soften the landing...JUST LIKE SOYUZ DOES (and if they fail, the touchdown will simply be a little rough...JUST LIKE IN SOYUZ)

  • Re:Towards the Moon (Score:4, Informative)

    by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:59AM (#24304601)
    Actually, they did say that. Reread TFA.

    The lack of a Saturn-class booster does pretty much kill the idea though. Neither Arianespace nor Energiya are going to fund the development of that kind of monster, not when there's no commercial use for it and no guarantee of continued political backing for manned Moonshots.

    Hence the first related story linked from TFA [], which discusses the prospect of an ATV-derived spacecraft to launch on an Ariane 5. Much cheaper, and using existing kit. Funding for it might require political change in Britain, however, which has so far refused to get involved in manned projects.

  • Re:Go Europe! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @11:02AM (#24304647)

    Is there any way we can look through a telescope from Earth and see the flag on the moon? That's something I've always wondered.

    It would shut a lot of people up pretty quickly.

    Well that, or talk about how we just tied the thing to a missile and shot it at the moon like a javelin...

  • Re:Lunar? (Score:5, Informative)

    by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @11:06AM (#24304703)
    Article states this is capable of bring six people into Terran orbit, and four into Lunar orbit. I understand the difficulty in getting down to the moon and back up, but if you're capable of getting there and back with four people, odds are you can get down to the surface.

    Not a bit of it. It's a question of fuel.

    Having reached the Moon, you have to fire engines to slow down into orbit. Otherwise you loop around the back and head straight back to Earth like Apollo 13. So you need to carry fuel for this.

    So now you're circling the Moon like Apollo 8. Good. To come home, you need to fire engines again to speed back up. More fuel.

    But wait, you want to visit the surface? Then you need a lander. Those things are heavy. And it needs fuel: fuel to land, and fuel to take off again.

    That's the trouble with spaceflight. It's all about fuel. Every manoeuvre burns fuel. Every kilogram of fuel means you need even more fuel at the start, just to carry that fuel into space with you. It's why the Saturn V rocket was the size of a skyscraper, but only carried something the size of a minibus to the moon, and brought only a tiny capsule home to Earth. All the rest? Fuel tanks.

  • Re:Lunar? (Score:4, Informative)

    by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @11:51AM (#24305561)
    Except, the Saturn V only got them to the moon. Getting into orbit, landing, coming back up, and getting back to earth was the job of your minibus and tiny capsule.

    Saturn V got Apollo to the Moon, with the fuel and equipment necessary to stop and land there and to come home again.

    Let's see: the service module, the lunar excursion module, all the fuel for both of them... that's got to be three or four times the mass of the command module, which was all that got back to Earth (I haven't looked it up so this is probably well off). A rocket whose sole purpose was to send a crew around the Moon, but not to land, could have been a whole lot smaller than Saturn V.

    Look at it this way: suppose that bringing along a lander and fuel supplies for a Moon landing doubles the mass of your spacecraft at the Moon. Then clearly, that must require that you at least double the size of the rocket on the pad.

    I don't actually know what the plan would be for a Moon landing with this vehicle. The fact that it has its own thrusters for landing suggests to me that it might have a direct-ascent mission profile: no separate lander, just bring down the whole ship. NASA considered this approach when planning Apollo: it has the benefit of simplicity, but would have needed a more powerful rocket even than Saturn V to bring enough fuel. Perhaps with modern materials and engineering it could be done this way: but as the article says, no rocket powerful enough currently exists.

  • Re:the hell? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @11:55AM (#24305627)

    "Spaceship" 1 is garbage. It's not even close to orbital speed (its maximum speed was 3518km/h while you need about 29000km/h to enter the LEO).

    The whole "two stage" system is also mostly junk it just gives an extra 1000km/h which is totally lost when compared with the orbital speed.

  • Re:the hell? (Score:5, Informative)

    by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @12:13PM (#24305927) Journal

    The blast is deceptive, it is generated by the released gamma radiation being absorbed by surrounding matter rather than by the contents of the bomb absorbing energy. On Earth nuclear explosions have a big blast because their is plenty of atmosphere to absorb the gamma, radiate less energetic photons, and expand, a nuclear burst in the water is much less effective blast-wise than an airburst and a in-ground blast is down-right disappointing. In space there is no practically atmosphere so there is little to expand due to the energy release except for the ablative coatings in the engines themselves. Eventually we'll be pushing asteroids around by detonating nuc's near them which will vaporize the surface facing the release and generating the expanding reaction mass.

  • Re:Go Europe! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @12:25PM (#24306185)
    You could never, ever see the Apollo flags on the moon through a telescope. Partly it's because they are very, very small. But, mostly it's because they were not left behind. What is left behind on the moon are the LEM descent modules, plus miscellaneous equipment like those rover buggies from the later missions. Those are still too small to be seen from a telescope. However, once the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launches later this year, it's LROC camera (a close cousin of the HIRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) should be able to see evidence of the Apollo missions.
  • Re:hmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @12:29PM (#24306273) Journal

    Actually the Russians are the de facto masters of hybrid parachute-thruster technology, not only do they use it for their spacecraft their military use the same technic for parachuting heavy cargo in military airdrops.

  • Re:Go Europe! (Score:5, Informative)

    by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @01:24PM (#24307287) Journal
    The Apollo astronauts left retroreflectors [] on the moon. These are devices that reflect a laser beam back in the direction it came from. If you were to shine a laser beam at the moon, you would see its reflection (given a powerful enough laser).

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