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Euro-Russian Manned Space Vehicle Planned

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the no-clipping-mode dept.

Space 163

drachton writes "BBC News reports that the 'European Space Agency (ESA) is proposing joining forces with Russia to develop a new vehicle for human spaceflight, the Clipper.' The head of the ESA permanent mission in Russia also told BBC that the Clipper 'is meant to service the space station and to go between Earth and an orbit around the Moon with six crew members.'"

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163 comments

with DRM on-board? (-1, Offtopic)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668787)

With a name like "Clipper," after all...

Re:with DRM on-board? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668812)

With a name like "Clipper"... it's gotta be good! :-P

(With apologies to Smuckers.)

Tom DeLay - Patriotic Felon : +1, Patriotic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13669131)

Within the compass of this letter, I can do no more than indicate, as concisely as I can, relevant considerations that must be taken into account if we are to discuss Tom DeLay's evil utterances in a rational manner. Read on, gentle reader, and hear what I have to say. On a television program last night, I heard one of this country's top scientists conclude that, "The world would be a much better place to live if DeLay just stopped trying to confuse, disorient, and disunify." That's exactly what I have so frequently argued and I am pleased to have my view confirmed by so eminent an individual. Cantankerous scapegoatism is the shadow cast on society by his apothegms, and as long as this is so, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance.

If DeLay continues to sweep his peccadillos under the rug, crime will escalate as schools deteriorate, corruption increases, and quality of life plummets. Although there are no formal, external validating criteria for his aberrent claims, I think we can safely say that DeLay periodically puts up a facade of reform. However, underneath the pretty surface, it's always business as usual. What is his current objective? As usual, there are multiple objectives:

        * to force women to live by restrictive standards not applicable to men,
        * to prevent me from getting my work done, and
        * to make us less united, less moral, less sensitive, less engaged, and more perversely viperine.

There are some simple truths in this world. First, his diatribes represent explicitly his overly accepting attitude towards lewd ivory-tower academics. Second, he profits from human suffering. And finally, his vituperations amount to what a proverbial metaphor in Sanskrit describes as trying to extinguish a fire by feeding it enough wood to glut its appetite. No joke.

Although the Gospel According to DeLay says that DeLay can change his violent ways, I aver that raising the volume, increasing the stridency, or stressing the emotionalism of an argument does not improve its validity. How much more illumination does that fact need before DeLay can grasp it? Assuming the answer is "a substantial amount", let me point out that I want nothing more -- or less -- than to criticize the obvious incongruities presented by DeLay and his worshippers. To that task I have consecrated my life, and I invite you to do likewise. Sadly, in once sense, he is correct. If we let DeLay resolve a moral failure with an immoral solution, then I will certainly be forced to waver between the alluring promises of a twisted "new morality" and the sound dictation of my own conscience.

Maybe some day, DeLay will finally stop trying to pour a few drops of wormwood into our general enthusiasm. Don't hold your breath, though. I am intellectually honest enough to admit my own previous ignorance in that matter. I only wish that he had the same intellectual honesty. Many people aren't aware of how mudslinging his newsgroup postings are, so let's present a little breakdown. First off, contemptuous insecure-types like DeLay are not born -- they are excreted. However unsavory that metaphor may be, it seems clear that we cannot and we must not allow ourselves to become infected with the fatal germs of antagonism. But we ought to look at the matter in a broader framework before we draw final conclusions on the subject: We see that DeLay has -- not once, but several times -- been able to make our lives a living hell without anyone stopping him. How long can that go on? As long as his self-deceiving snow jobs are kept on life support. That's why we have to pull the plug on them and take a proactive, rather than a reactive, stance.

There are those who are informed and educated about the evils of insurrectionism, and there are those who are not. DeLay is one of the uninformed, naturally, and that's why he wonders why everyone hates him. Apparently, he never stopped to think that maybe it's because if I were a complete sap, I'd believe his line that those of us who oppose him would rather run than fight. Unfortunately for him, I realize that DeLay's insults will have consequences -- very serious consequences. And we ought to begin doing something about that. People have pointed out to me that DeLay's efforts to rely on the psychological effects of terror to magnify the localized effects of his ploys so that, like a stone hurled into a pool of water, shock waves ripple from the epicenter of DeLay's attacks to the furthest reaches of the Earth have touched the lives of every person in this country, but I still can't help but think that what I find frightening is that some academics actually believe DeLay's line that anyone who resists him deserves to be crushed. In this case, "academics" refers to a stratum of the residual intelligentsia surviving the recession of its demotic base, not to those seekers of truth who understand that DeLay really struck a nerve with me when he said that the rest of us are an inferior group of people, fit only to be enslaved, beaten, and butchered at the whim of our betters. That lie is a painful reminder that I once had a nightmare in which DeLay was free to fuel the censorship-and-intolerance crowd. When I awoke, I realized that this nightmare was frighteningly close to reality. For instance, it is the case both in my nightmare and in reality that I want to put an end to DeLay's evildoing. I want to do this not because I need to tack another line onto my résumé, but because we should agree on definitions before saying anything further about DeLay's arrogant, horny dissertations. For starters, let's say that "alcoholism" is "that which makes DeLay yearn to overthrow western civilization through the destruction of its four pillars -- family, nation, religion, and democracy." How can we trust DeLay if he doesn't trust us? We can't. And besides, he doesn't want us to know about his plans to supplant one form of injustice with another. Otherwise, we might do something about that.

DeLay occasionally writes letters accusing me and my friends of being noisome fomenters of revolution. These letters are typically couched in gutter language (which is doubtless the language in which DeLay habitually thinks) and serve no purpose other than to convince me that if I didn't sincerely believe that I am so mad at him right now, I could spit nails, then I wouldn't be writing this letter. On the surface, it would seem merely that I, unlike DeLay, refuse to introduce more restrictions on our already dwindling freedoms. But the truth is that one of his proxies keeps throwing "scientific" studies at me, claiming they prove that everything is happy and fine and good. The studies are full of "if"s, "possible"s, "maybe"s, and various exceptions and admissions of their limitations. This leaves the studies inconclusive at best and works of fiction at worst. The only thing these studies can possibly prove is that DeLay wants us to emulate the White Queen from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, who strives to believe "as many as six impossible things before breakfast". Then again, even the White Queen would have trouble believing that the sky is falling. I prefer to believe things that my experience tells me are true, such as that if I were elected Ruler of the World, my first act of business would be to make this world a better place in which to live. I would further use my position to inform certain segments of the Earth's population that perhaps one day we will live in a world where good people are not troubled by fear of covinous paper-pushers. Until that day arrives, however, we must spread the word that Nature is a wonderful teacher. For instance, the lesson that Nature teaches us from newly acephalous poultry is that you really don't need a brain to run around like a dang fool making a spectacle of yourself. Nature also teaches us that I respect the English language and believe in the use of words as a means of communication. Merciless-to-the-core guttersnipes like DeLay, however, consider spoken communication as merely a set of noises uttered to excite emotions in insufferable, power-hungry voluptuaries in order to convince them to call evil good and good evil.

As I see it, relative to just a few years ago, sleazy quacks (especially the sordid type) are nearly ten times as likely to believe that DeLay's opinions represent the opinions of the majority -- or even a plurality. This is neither a coincidence nor simply a sign of the times. Rather, it reflects a sophisticated, psychological warfare program designed by DeLay to bamboozle people into believing that truth is merely a social construct. His exegeses may sound comfortable and simple, but it must not be forgotten that if you're the type who dares to think for yourself, then you've probably already determined that I, for one, plan to address the continued social injustice shown by peevish chiselers. This is a choice I have made; your choice is up to you. But let me remind you that anyone who takes DeLay's childish, wild philippics seriously has obviously not spent much time around malign oligarchs. So what's the connection between that and DeLay's nostrums? The connection is that his biases are geared toward the continuation of social stratification under the rubric of "tradition". Funny, that was the same term that DeLay's surrogates once used to apotheosize impertinent varmints.

Now, perhaps you think I'm imagining things. Perhaps you think that DeLay really isn't going to make our country spiritually blind. Well, I wish it were just my imagination. But you know, his prophecies are as predictable as sunrise. Whenever I denounce his obloquies, DeLay's invariant response is to pass off all sorts of superficial and obviously unpleasant stuff on others as a so-called "inner experience".

While crapulous primates claim to defend traditional values, they actually confiscate other people's rightful earnings. It has been said that DeLay demands his freedoms while unhesitatingly and hypocritically encroaching upon the rights of others. I believe that to be true. I also believe that he wants to produce an army of mindless insects who will obey his every command. To produce such an army, DeLay plans to destroy people's minds using either drugs or an advanced form of lobotomy. Whichever approach he takes, I correctly predicted that he would acquire power and use it to indoctrinate unholy, uneducated doomsday prophets. Alas, I didn't think he'd do that so effectively -- or so soon.

Statements like, "I myself don't trust craven masters of deceit" accurately express the feelings of most of us here. I would never take a job working for DeLay. Given his aberrant beliefs, who would want to? I am confident that genuine patriots will perceive the veracity of my statements regarding his shameless, stuck-up philosophies. Now take that to the next level: If this letter did nothing else but serve as a beacon of truth, it would be worthy of reading by all right-thinking people. However, this letter's role is much greater than just to defend with dedication and ferocity the very rights that he so desperately wants to abolish. Tom DeLay should practice what he preaches. And that's the honest truth.

Sincerely,
Kilgore Trout, M.D.

Re:Tom DeLay - Patriotic Felon : +1, Patriotic (1)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669723)

The funny thing is, it's even almost all true and accurate.

Brain Dump on Old News (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668789)

Collection of random thoughts, aka A Brain Dump:

1. This news is older than the hills.

2. What's with the dates? The Clipper was supposed to be in service by 2010 [newsfromrussia.com] , not 2011. Originally this would have put it ahead of the CEV, but the latest projections have the CEV flying by 2008.

3. HOTOL [wikipedia.org] , Skylon [wikipedia.org] , Hermes [wikipedia.org] ; need I say more? Russia obviously wants the money for building, not the enigineering experience of the ESA.

4. "The Clipper would allow Russia and Europe to collaborate with the Americans on lunar exploration, allowing six astronauts to orbit the Moon and to act as a back-up rescue craft, if needed." I'd be happy if we collaborated, but I think it's a bit premature considering that Russia never landed anyone on the moon. Did they get close? Maybe. The details are a bit sketchy there. There certainly seems to be a coverup involved, but considering the number of "Moon Rockets" that Russia had blow up on the pad, I wouldn't have held my breath either way.

5. You'll note that Russia is looking at a winged vehicle. Lockheed proposed a lifting body [wikipedia.org] for the CEV, but was turned down. I'm consoled, however, in that the CEV vehicle will be a small part of the future stack and very easy to replace. Even if the CEV flies capsules for the first couple of years, there's a strong liklihood that we'll go back to lifting bodies with reinforced carbon-carbon heat shielding. (For those of you who complain about carrying wings and landing gear into space, it really isn't that big of a deal. The problem with the Space Shuttle is that it's FREAKING HUGE so that it can carry satellite packages. Reduced to a more normal size for human cargo, its wings and gear wouldn't cost all that much in weight.)

6. "The Clipper also enhances the possibility of space tourism." I just love Russian zeal. Those guys are never worried about the, "Why not?" =)

7. "The development and operational side of the programme is expected to cost around 100m (£68m) euros a year." Am I the only one who thinks that price tag is a little low? Even if you expect Russia to take the brunt of the costs, you're still a billion or so Euros shy. According to this page [russianspaceweb.com] , they are thinking of using the Zenit booster (now there's a hell of a ride) so I imagine that would help reduce the costs. Still...

Personally, I wish them the best of luck. If all goes well, maybe the ESA will build its own Clippers and begin flying them. Their recent Galileo system certainly suggests that Europe is finally looking to be technologically independent from the US. :-)

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668911)

"The Clipper would allow Russia and Europe to collaborate with the Americans on lunar exploration, allowing six astronauts to orbit the Moon and to act as a back-up rescue craft, if needed." I'd be happy if we collaborated, but I think it's a bit premature considering that Russia never landed anyone on the moon.

I don't think Russia has tried to put anyone on the moon in ages, because that space race is finished. But I have little doubt that Russia and ESA together can get to the moon if they really want to. The Soyuz, for which the Clipper is going to be the replacement, has been an incredibly reliable vehicle, and like the article says, some European high tech certainly won't hurt.

Ofcourse the real question is: why would they want to go to the moon at all?

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669004)

/Me shakes head.

Russia doesn't have any super-boosters left in production. Getting to the moon would require either a new super-booster design, or a LOT of very expensive staging.

Just to give you an idea of how difficult this is, the Delta-V to go from the Earth the the Moon is almost exactly the same Delta V required to get from the Earth to Mars Orbit. When you consider the difference in distance, that should give you a good idea of why many consider the moon to be a poor target. (Chart [caltech.edu] )

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (2, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669270)

While you're true that they don't have any such vehicle in production (although only partially...I'll get to that later), ressurecting Energia, given enough money, is entirelly doable - this isn't the same case as with Saturn, Russian tech hasn't changed that much, stuff is still alive and so on... So..they have design and - they're building, all the time, some crucial parts of it - namely, strap on boosters, AKA as Zenith. (not that I think this would ever happen; BTW, it's interesting how NASA is now pushing for the system that Russians had 15 years ago - small/robust capsule/rocket for crew transport + super heavy cargo booster)

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669347)

While you're true that they don't have any such vehicle in production

And it's still true. The Zenits flying today are heavily modified from their original design to be independent rockets, not strap ons.

namely, strap on boosters, AKA as Zenith

That's "Zenit", not "Zenith". "Zenith" is the translation, but it's never referred to as such in English.

BTW, it's interesting how NASA is now pushing for the system that Russians had 15 years ago - small/robust capsule/rocket for crew transport + super heavy cargo booster

I swear, the next person to say that to me is going to find his head rolling on the ground. NASA has done nothing that NASA has not done before. The ONLY element in the new CEV design that isn't distinctly NASA is the choice to ground land the craft instead of using sea landings. And that is simply a matter of practicality, not copying of the "Uber-Russian Design".

Cripes, people. All NASA is doing is reorganizing the Shuttle technology to pick up where the Saturn V program left off. If we can get our super-booster ducks back in order, we can do all the cool stuff we dreamed of in the 60's like going to Mars, flying a Mini-Orion, seeing Saturn, and having usable space stations.

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669463)

"And it's still true. The Zenits flying today are heavily modified from their original design to be independent rockets, not strap ons." Well...I've just said that it's true, haven't I? As for the thing you're adressing - you really don't see any huge benefits that they're produced, in case Energia would be ressurected? (as I said...it won't happne anyway, but...). Besides first stage is practically the same... "That's "Zenit", not "Zenith". "Zenith" is the translation, but it's never referred to as such in English." Yeah, I should know, I'm slavic myself (in my language the word "zenit" means the same as in Russian). I guess I have a tendency to "overtranslating" while on English boards... "I swear, the next person to say that to me is going to find his head rolling on the ground. NASA has done nothing that NASA has not done before. The ONLY element in the new CEV design that isn't distinctly NASA is the choice to ground land the craft instead of using sea landings. And that is simply a matter of practicality, not copying of the "Uber-Russian Design". Cripes, people. All NASA is doing is reorganizing the Shuttle technology to pick up where the Saturn V program left off. If we can get our super-booster ducks back in order, we can do all the cool stuff we dreamed of in the 60's like going to Mars, flying a Mini-Orion, seeing Saturn, and having usable space stations." Huh? What's your problem? I mean...why such a big deal that there are many similarieties? (especially since they ARE doing something new - when was the last time at NASA when launch system intended for launching large spaceplane was directed also at launching other very heavy cargoes? (which was the result of faulty decision at the beginning also in Russia BTW...) I could go on...but...what for? It's not the case of "Uber-Soviets"...just similarietes)

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (1)

mfrank (649656) | more than 8 years ago | (#13670377)

Mini-Orion? Don't know about that; can't see us putting a few hundred nukes into space without causing all sorts of screaming conniptions. :)

Unless you're talking about a fusion drive with lasers.

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (1)

terrymr (316118) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669513)

What about Delta-V required to achieve the return flight ?

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (2, Interesting)

spoogle (874602) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668977)

On point 5, the main reason for having a winged vehicle is that is the only way to get a capability to bring significant mass down from orbit ("downmass" capability). Personally, I am sceptical about reusability for space vehicles even though NASA's specifications for the CEV include it. But winged vehicles are much more cute than capsules. This press release doesn't say anything about the launch vehicle. Any information?

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (3, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669049)

On point 5, the main reason for having a winged vehicle is that is the only way to get a capability to bring significant mass down from orbit

That's not the *only* reason. Wings are also safer for the crew for a variety of reasons:

1. Fewer reverse Gs.
2. Gentle touchdown. (Apparently, Cosmonauts often receive injuries when the capsule hits the ground.)
3. The ability to control the flight.
4. Aerobraking manuvers become possible.

Of course, wings add a great deal of engineering difficulty to the design, but the US already has a great deal of experience with them.

This press release doesn't say anything about the launch vehicle. Any information?

It was in point 7, under this link [russianspaceweb.com] . Originally Russia was going to build a new "Onega" booster, but they seem to have settled on a Zenit [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (1)

spoogle (874602) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669288)

4. Aerobraking manoeuvres become possible.

Good point. This seems necessary for Mars orbit insertion and I'm sure useful for good ol' Earth too. It hasn't been tried with a winged or manned vehicle yet, though.

"Onega" booster, but they seem to have settled on a Zenit.

Kerosene-fueled which is good. I do not like the fact that the shuttle-derived launch vehicle uses solid rocket boosters. I do like the fact it uses shuttle main engines for the upper stage though.

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669390)

I do not like the fact that the shuttle-derived launch vehicle uses solid rocket boosters.

I'm sure NASA would love to obtain more control over launches by reengineering a kerosine rocket like the F-1s on the Saturn V, but the fact of the matter is that we have the SRBs now and they work. (They work extremely well too! Over twice the power of the F-1 engines on the Saturn V!) It would be a waste of time for NASA to develop new hardware when they already have a solution.

I do like the fact it uses shuttle main engines for the upper stage though.

Actually, the SSMEs fire for the entire launch duration. The launch profile is very similar to the Space Shuttle, but with five SSMEs instead of three.

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669371)

1. "reverse"? As in: "in the opposite direction than during launch"? 2. Parawing, retrorockets. 3. Soyuz can do that also...the only difference, when control fails, it goes back to ballistic mode. I wouldn't want to be in a "spaceplane" in which control fails... 4. Zonds made them succesfully...even though they were capsules. Wings are unnecesassary complexity IMHO...and even though US has experience, that still hadn't prevented last catastrophe. Russia doesn't have experience...they should stick with what they know good IMO

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (1)

LandKurt (901298) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669515)

3. The ability to control the flight.

I take it you mean cross range capability. That's a big improvement with wings. Any lift at all gives you the ability to land somewhere to the side of the ground path of your orbit. Capsules can have a little bit of lift if their center of gravity is asymmetric, but it takes a bit more to get good cross range capability. More options on where to land is a good thing.

Lift also allows the reentry to remain above the dense part of the atmosphere a bit longer and bleed off more speed first for a gentler, but more prolonged reentry.

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (1)

aunitt (121462) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669727)

Of course, wings add a great deal of engineering difficulty to the design, but the US already has a great deal of experience with them.

Maybe the Russians have some experience with wings too [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669811)

Of course they do. Point 5, though, was me lamenting the fact that the US wasn't going to use wings.

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668999)

1. This news is older than the hills.

I heard news of ESA asking a a few million Euros for a study concerning kliper/clipper/whatever the spelling of the day is, but it was multiple weeks ago IIRC. I checked the article, but I found nothing new.. So why they publish it now is a mystery to me, there must be some reason though, maybe there was a press conference?

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669086)

The big problem with the Soviet lunar program wasn't their crew vehicle - it was the N1 [astronautix.com] booster. The N1 was a humiliatingly bad piece of junk: four launches, four catastrophic failures. Heck, they even messed up when christening the first booster - they broke the bottle of champaign over the crawler instead of the rocket ;)

Now, Buran's energia booster had the payload capacity for a lunar launch in its heaviest configuration. However, they'd have to bring the program back from the dead; there's not too much actual hardware left that could be salvaged. Perhaps not as tough as the US trying to bring back a Saturn V, but still a major, costly task.

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669186)

The big problem with the Soviet lunar program wasn't their crew vehicle - it was the N1 booster.

Indeed. That was kind of my point about the "Moon Rocket" blowing up on the pad. :-)

Thank God they gave some other engineer a chance when they went to build the Energia. Otherwise half their crap never would have gotten off the ground. (Punctuated by the fact that half the crap that did get off the ground never got where it was going. Polyus [wikipedia.org] anyone?)

Buran's energia booster had the payload capacity for a lunar launch in its heaviest configuration. However, they'd have to bring the program back from the dead; there's not too much actual hardware left that could be salvaged. Perhaps not as tough as the US trying to bring back a Saturn V, but still a major, costly task.

At the same time, though, Energia is only 15 years out of date, there hasn't been much aerospace change in that time, and Russia doesn't have any other super-booster hardware to work from like the US does. IMHO, it would probably still be easier for them to bring back the Energia than it would to build a new rocket from scratch.

Re:Brain Dump on Old News (3, Informative)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669397)

Did they get close? Maybe.

They did more than "maybe" "get close" - the first probe ever to actually reach the moon was Russian (Luna 2), for example. The Russians may not actually have sent people to the moon, but they certainly have accomplished some things, too, so give credit where credit is due.

When A Moon Oribt Is Not A Moon Orbit (2, Insightful)

reallocate (142797) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669687)

Let's be clear, Clipper won't be of much use to rescue people actually on the Moon, since it won't have the capability to land on the lunar surface.

That said, there's orbiting the Moon and then there's obiting the Moon.

First, you can follow an elongated orbital path around Earth that just happens to get close enough to the Moon that it's gravity alters your path and swings you around the backside of the Moon and then towards Earth. That's the path followed by Apollo 8. The vehicle does not actually enter Lunar orbit.

Second, the vehicle uses internal rockets or thrusters to insert itself into a permanent Lunar orbit. Leaving orbit to return to Earth requires another application of thrust to accelerate out of orbit.

I suspect Clipper could handle the first variation, but not the second, making its rescue ability effectively nil.

Why (2, Interesting)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669777)

can't we just drop our own manned space vehicle plans and collaborate with Europe and the Russians on this thing? It's an elegant, simple design, gets the job done and is eminently reusable (what's with the "10-reuse capsule" thing?). It's even kinda pretty.

I'm sure the answer has something to do with feeding business to Boeing, Grumman, Lockheed, etc., but there's no reason those companies couldn't contribute to the development of a United Nations Space Administration (!) group-effort manned spacecraft.

And before you complain "look what happened with the ISS!", that was a MUCH larger-scope project with interests pulling on it from every direction. We basically all want the same thing here: a cheap, simple way of putting people into LEO, high earth orbit, LaGranges, and interplanetary space, depending on the booster technology.

I hate waste.

Re:Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13670011)

The moment it becomes a multinational project, it will become a large-scale project like ISS, as each constituency tries to throw in its kitchen sink. Let's try multiple, independent platforms instead.

Microsoft Lookout! (5, Funny)

Frac (27516) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668815)

"The Clipper is essentially a "people carrier" designed to transport astronauts, said Alan Thirkettle, head of the Esa's Human Spaceflight Development Department."

Not to be confused with The Clippy (TM), which "is essentially a "people harasser" designed to deliver inane suggestions. ;)

Re:Microsoft Lookout! (4, Funny)

m50d (797211) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669017)

It looks like you're trying to write a first post

Great relations... (-1, Troll)

tivoKlr (659818) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668841)

Nice to see another example of the US alienating another group of governmental agencies enough to force them to work in a competeting enterprise against NASA.

Well done.

Re:Great relations... (5, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668907)

This has nothing to do with relations. It has everything to do with the EU wanting to have access to it's own vehicles, and with Russia wanting an updated vehicle of it's own.

It's funny how we can't keep the political trolls out of even an article like this.

Re:Great relations... (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668985)

You're probably right in this case, but there are other space related issues where the US does seem to be alienating its allies. Do you remember their response to Galileo, the European version of the GPS satelites?

Re:Great relations... (1)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669428)

Last I heard, they are going forward with Galileo, because they don't want to have to rely on our system. The GPS was designed as a US military application and is still managed with military primarily in mind. It would be every bit as foolish for the French or Germans to depend wholly on navigation system run by another army during a war (even if we're not in any way opposed to whatever they might be doing) as it would be for us to rely on them.

Re:Great relations... (3, Funny)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668919)

I would rather work with Japan anyways as it increases the likelyhood the spaceship would change into a giant robot once on the moon and include a direct link to some blue haired J-pop singer.

Re:Great relations... (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668972)

Wow. Someone completely missed it.
Russia needs venture capital. ESA can't come up with their own manned space program. They hook up. We'll see what happens in a few years.
-everphilski-

Re:Great relations... (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669227)

translation: The Russians want to boost their space program: The Europeans pay for it, then the Russians have a space program and the Europeans have, well, debt.

Sounds about right!

Then the Russians launch European satellites at a discount (they'll still need cash so it won't be free) and bill the US x3 to go rescue people/expensive equipment.

They might also "accidentally" bring an unofficial US spy satellite back down with them.

Re:Great relations... (2, Insightful)

sho222 (834270) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669016)

Well done is right. We should be welcoming this competition. It was the cold-war space race that got us to the moon before, and hopefully this competition from ESA/Russia will be enough to finally whip NASA back into shape. We had some fun experimenting with shuttles and space stations over the past couple of decades, but now it's time to jump-start the human exploration of space again.

Re:Great relations... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13669230)

Of course, this is the US's fault. There is no other explanation. It could not be yet another Euro-snub by jealous, petulant, insecure, and corrupt officials from emasculated, unprincipled nations clinging to ancient memories of grandeur and relevance. Let's not ask if the US was invited to participate in this initiative before launching an anti-US tirade grounded in immature, liberal preconceptions.

Punk.

ack (-1, Troll)

ac1djazz (914419) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668881)

nothing ever really works out well whenever we team w/ the russians on space stuff.

-acidjazz

http://www.litebay.org/ [litebay.org]

This is a duplicate, I think (5, Informative)

TheReckoning (638253) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668882)

Original article here [slashdot.org] .

Re:This is a duplicate, I think (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668906)

Parent is correct.

I thought it was a dupe, but I couldn't find the link. Seems they used the Russian name "Kliper" in the original article rather than the Anglecized name, "Clipper". :-)

Opportunity to go with a "new and clear" direction (3, Interesting)

deathcloset (626704) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668893)

with russia involved with the rest of europe, now what's keeping them from researching a nuclear [wikipedia.org] rocket? [wikipedia.org]

It just seems like a great use of nuclear ability. I mean, space, nuclear reactions, the two just go so well together, like peanut butter and...and whatever else goes really well with peanut butter.

Is it still just public opinion about nuclear power? Because that's dumb.

Re:Opportunity to go with a "new and clear" direct (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668954)

AFAIK, Russia never developed Nuclear Propulsion. On the thermal side of the equation, the engineering costs of starting from scratch are likely too high for Russia to consider. On the pulse propulsion side, Russia never really worked out the "micro-nuke" problem, and the Orion nuke designs are still classified.

Add a healthy dose of Chernobyl fears and you've got a country that has no intention of pursuing nuclear propulsion.

Re:Opportunity to go with a "new and clear" direct (1)

eddiegee (236525) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669130)

Actually the USSR has pursued nuclear [fas.org] and nuclear-electric [astronautix.com] propulsion. Their limited funding has all but ceased these efforts but a partnership with the EU may accellerate those projects. Of course the US will not be of any assistance as long as they continue to beat their chests regarding Iran. But as we've seen in recent days, practical matters can overcome congressional paranoia.

Re:Opportunity to go with a "new and clear" direct (2, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669148)

Nuclear electric is a whole different thing, though. It's not really nuclear propulsion, but rather a small nuclear powerplant to drive electric propulsion. In other words, it's not really a new form of propulsion, but a natural evolution of an existing one.

Re:Opportunity to go with a "new and clear" direct (2, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669169)

On the other hand, the USSR pursued the nuclear-electric avenue extensively, while the US was working on its failed nuclear thermal programs. Both nations wanted ways to get heavy cargoes out into the solar system, but picked radically different approaches. It's no coincidence that US electric propulsion technology advanced greatly in the years following the collapse of the USSR. The Russians were working on Hall effect thrusters back in the 1960s - they were using them on spacecraft as far back as 1964 (Zond-2). We really missed the boat on that one.

I suspect that nuclear thermal will eventually become *the* way to launch payloads - however, it shows what can happen when you focus too intently on a single technology to revolutionize your access to space ;) The USSR at the time correctly saw that nuclear engineering wasn't yet advanced enough to make reliable enough nuclear thermal rockets without politically unaffordable amounts of investment and prolongued timelines, and pursued an ultimately invaluable, nearer-term propulsion method instead (electric, with the intent of nuclear electric).

Re:Opportunity to go with a "new and clear" direct (1)

lonesome phreak (142354) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669751)

Nah, I suspect this [computercrowsnest.com] will be the way to launch payloads. Russian tech as well!

Re:Opportunity to go with a "new and clear" direct (1)

Bonhamme Richard (856034) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669838)

Did you read the wiki article you linked to? It pretty much answered your question. Virtually every nuclear powered rocket has the same problems:

If the nuclear material remains inside the rocket, the rocket cannot get a thrust to weight ratio of 1:1. The rocket itself begins to melt before the tempuratures required to produce that kind of pressure (and therefore thrust).

If the nuclear materal exits the rocket, the thrust can be much larger, but it spews radioactive waste all over the place. Great for getting from orbit to Mars, but not a great idea if you're trying to get into orbit.

The third issue is reentry. Think of the dedris path of Columbia. It covered probably 7-8 states. Imagine if there had been nuclear material in the shuttle... *shutter*

I'm not saying its not a good idea, but it needs a lot more research. Not using nuclear power to get into space has very little to do with popular opinino and everything to do with engineering problems.

Re:Opportunity to go with a "new and clear" direct (1)

asoap (740625) | more than 8 years ago | (#13670009)

It just seems like a great use of nuclear ability. I mean, space, nuclear reactions, the two just go so well together, like peanut butter and...and whatever else goes really well with peanut butter.
I believe the answer you were looking for was "jam" skip.. yes.. Peanut butter goes well with ... *long drawn out pause*.. jam.

Re:Opportunity to go with a "new and clear" direct (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 8 years ago | (#13670100)

It might have something to do with Cold War treaties. There was one forbidding the nukes in spaces, right?

I can't remember the specific treaty, but it may explain why they waited so long. We backed out of the ABM treaty, so maybe they're taking a looser interpretation of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partial_Test_Ban_Tre aty/ [wikipedia.org] ) or something? Because the Russians in Communist times wouldn't have been limited by popular opinion very much, right?

first :4ost (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13668917)

FreeBSD cIore team its readers and my calling. Now I are attending a about 700 users architecture. My all along. *BSD

Space Program Futures (4, Interesting)

Fox_1 (128616) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668923)

This kind of thing is really interesting. Without the Russian space program honestly the ISS project would be dead right now. The American space program has had far more money invested in it, and while arguably more success, the success per dollar ratio may not be as good as the Russians. The real kicker is that the Russian space program has been mostly funded by the West (US & Allies) during the past decade while it has been really taking off. One area that may explain the differences in success are management and design philosophies. By being forced to operate on stricter budgets the Russians have relied on simplier designs and technologies. In effect they never had the opportunity to let a project BLOAT out of control. It's a good thing that the Russian program is recieving this investment and that this vehicle is being developed. It's likely that it will happen, unlike the myriad of plans that have come from the NASA side of the world. One can only hope that the US private industry picks up the reins from their government and keeps the US competitive with the Russians in the future space industry.

Re:Space Program Futures (3, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669039)

Without the Russian space program honestly the ISS project would be dead right now.

Without either the US or the Russian space program honestly the ISS project would be dead right now.

I think that's why they called it the "International" Space Station.

Re:Space Program Futures (2, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669839)

There is a fair chance the Russians would have either kept patching together the MIR or they would have done MIR 2 without the U.S. MIR was well past its prime but the Russians sure didn't want to deorbit it. They were forced to as condition for joining ISS. It takes enormous time, money and effort to get stuff in to space. Throwing away stuff that still worked was stupid.

MIR 2 would have been a challenge for the Russinas from a funding perspective a few years ago but thanks to soaring oil and natural gas prices Russia actually has a lot of money to burn these days. They are one of the world's larger oil and gas exporters. Siberia almost certainly still harbors vast unexplored reserves of fossil fuels, its one of the few poorly explored land masses left.

Zvezda [wikipedia.org] and Zarya [wikipedia.org] which form the core of the ISS were essentially designed for MIR 2.

I think its safe to say the Russians would have maintained their decades long presence in space stations with or without the U.S. I'm not sure NASA would have ever managed a space station on their own. They have suffered a huge erosion in capability since the Apollo days. When the Russians came on board they had proven designs for a space station. NASA hadn't flown any station hardware since Skylab.

On the plus side for the Russians the ISS infused a lot of money in to their space program at a key juncture in the post U.S.S.R economuc turmoil. On the down side I'm pretty sure they are completely fed up with having to partner with NASA at this point.

Re:Space Program Futures (2, Informative)

oblivionboy (181090) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669849)

Riiight. The US had LOTS of space stations up and running for a really long time. I mean lets have a look:

Russian:

Salyut1 : 175 Days in orbit
Salyut3 : 213 Days in orbit
Salyut 4: 770 Days in orbit
Salyut 5: 412 Days in Orbit
Salyut 6: 1,764 Days in orbit
Salyut 7: 3,216 Days in orbit
Mir: 5,511 Days in orbit

US:

Skylab: 2,249 Days in orbit

I can see how Russia would really need the US's help.

Re:Space Program Futures (1)

aiabx (36440) | more than 8 years ago | (#13670416)

That's 171 occupied days in orbit for Skylab. I'm not sure about the Russian occupation numbers, but I don't think it really matters for your point.
        -aiabx

Re:Space Program Futures (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669157)

The real kicker is that the Russian space program has been mostly funded by the West (US & Allies) during the past decade while it has been really taking off.

You do realise that the US has been legally prevented from doing this very funding for 5 years due to the Iran Nonpoliferation Act of 2000, yet they have been launching US astronauts and resupplying the ISS for the past 2 and a half years for no funding. Indeed the Russian Space Station recently had its funding from the Russian government increased by $50million for ISS maintenance alone. Russia isnt doing so bad with regard to funding its own space program, the recent tourists being one inventive methods of raising cash.

Too divided? (0)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668927)

At first dividing up such a huge project between countries seems feasible: you can't build a high rise without variations trades assisting one another.

Then I realized we're talking about multiple governments trying to work together. I see many problems.

First, dividing up a non-profitable project is hard. You know major manufacturing will go to a printed contractor (some friend of the State). Good luck picking who it is.

Also, the political climate changes often. New boondoggles push old ones out. Its hard enough when one State needs to fund it. The amount of money spent here is just to fund a basic feasibility study!

I don't have faith in the EU lasting. I don't have faith in Russia's solvency. I don't have faith in this project.

I say wait it out. Offer a $100M prize for a cheap orbital launcher and companies will climb over each other to get there first.

I think we'll see more privatization now that consumer space travel is imminent. Bookmark this, in 10 years suborbital flight will be well under $25k per passenger.

Re:Too divided? (3, Funny)

Homology (639438) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669122)

I don't have faith in the EU lasting. I don't have faith in Russia's solvency. I don't have faith in this project.

Well, the right-wing nutties currently in charge in USA agrees. It's foretold in the Most Holy of Printed Acid-Free Paper that there will be a Second Roman Empire run by a hexor that insists on leaving His mark 666 everywhere. Bloddy spammer.

Re:Too divided? (3, Insightful)

wizzdude (755000) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669267)

I think you'll find that the European Space Agency and the European Union are two seperate entities, run by different people, funded in different ways. Whatever fate eventually befalls the EU, ESA should be able to carry on regardless.

Re:Too divided? (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669357)

True. The ESA > 30 years old.

But the EU and EC are growing, so I believe we'll see more EU+ESA projects.

So many space-socialists here demand public funding of space. "No business would take the risk!!" I disagree. With information needing to be distributed worldwide, satellites are a huge commercial industry. Satellite launches occupy a huge portion of the number of annual launches, and printed launch companies constantly try to decrease cost while increasing safety. The same is not true for NASA and ESA.

Re:Too divided? (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669569)

Is the EU somehow involved?

Re:Too divided? (1)

willie3204 (444890) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669769)

And you have faith that /. will be around in 10 years? I'll put my money on the communists ;)

Re:Too divided? (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669870)

I hope so. Google will acquire OSTG, Microsoft will acquire Google and Hillary.Gov will acquire Microsoft.

Unfortunately Haliburton secretly owns Hillary.Gov. Glad I invested in tin foil.

Re:Too divided? (1)

evil agent (918566) | more than 8 years ago | (#13670257)

First, dividing up a non-profitable project is hard.

I don't think Russia views it as non-profitable. (i.e. space tourism)

Quote continued... (-1, Troll)

Orrin Bloquy (898571) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668933)

"BBC News reports that the 'European Space Agency (ESA) is proposing joining forces with Russia to develop a new vehicle for human spaceflight, the Clipper.' The head of the ESA permanent mission in Russia also told BBC that the Clipper 'is meant to service the space station and to go between Earth and an orbit around the Moon with six crew members.'"

"Future plans will include random explosions and inert probes being lost and/or smashing into planetary surfaces. Only then can we consider our effort that of a mature space program."

A Few Comments (3, Interesting)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668955)

1. Russia already has it engineered. Plans are made, mockups are built. Some test pieces are already constructed.
2. The vehicle will be launch on top of a Russian launch vehicle.
3. The vehicle will be launched from a Russian facility.
Therefore...
4. All Russia is just looking for capital to build. They know the US can't give them money due to the non-proliferation act (with exception, possibly, for a few soyuz flights with the condition that they support Space Station).

My angle? I hate the fact that people keep trumpeteering that "The ESA is so much better than NASA" "The ESA this" "The ESA that" ... the ESA didn't do shit for Clipper (formerly Klipper when it was an exclusively Russian project) other than potentially help fund it.

-everphilski-

Re:A Few Comments (0, Troll)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669259)

Guess which is the highest-payload rocket in the market right now? That is right, the 10 ton Ariane 5 ECA.

As for Clipper, while it looks interesting, Russia's past experience with Buran TPS was allegedly less than stellar, with the thing returning with a lot of tiles blown off and the chassis warped from the temperatures at reentry. What Russia is great at is designing capsules. To me this seems to be basically a waste of money for political goodwill reasons. ESA should have just got the data from ARD off the drawer and made a cheap capsule.

This will most likely need a new rocket, possibly new or requalified engines, new launch facilities, and then you will have to put a winged vehicle on top of a rocket, which to the best of my knowledge no one has got working yet.

Re:A Few Comments (3, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669694)

Guess which is the highest-payload rocket in the market right now? That is right, the 10 ton Ariane 5 ECA.

Really? I could have sworn that was the Atlas V Heavy with 25000 kg to GTO. The Delta IV Heavy comes in next with 13,130 kg to GTO, leaving the Ariane 5 in third with 10,500 kg to GTO.

Russia's past experience with Buran TPS was allegedly less than stellar, with the thing returning with a lot of tiles blown off and the chassis warped from the temperatures at reentry.

*cough*Bullshit*cough* That was a rumor started on Usenet years ago. It has since been tracked down and squashed. [k26.com]

This will most likely need a new rocket,

It will use the Zenit booster.

new launch facilities

Is there something wrong with the Russian Cosmodrome?

and then you will have to put a winged vehicle on top of a rocket

<sarcasm>No!</sarcasm>

which to the best of my knowledge no one has got working yet.

You know, the Space Shuttle didn't just appear out of nowhere. The idea came from the Dynasoar [astronautix.com] program which was able to trace its roots back to the original German rocketry done during WWII. No one has yet used inline wings because of reentry problems with the vehicle, not launch problems.

Re:A Few Comments (1)

terrymr (316118) | more than 8 years ago | (#13670048)

from wikipedia :

"Currently the most powerful expendable launch system of the U.S.A. is the Titan IV with a thrust of approximately 17 MN, and a lift capacity of 21,700 kg to LEO and 5,800 kg to a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) (thus being much weaker than the Saturn V). The European Ariane 5 performs significantly better with the newest versions Ariane 5 ECA delivering up to 12,000 kg to GTO. The Delta 4 Heavy, which launched a dummy satellite on December 21, 2004, has a capacity of 13,100 kg to geosynchronous transfer orbit. It is the most powerful rocket in operation. And, lastly, the Atlas V rocket delivers up to 25,000 kg to LEO and 13,605 kg to GTO."

Re:A Few Comments (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13670103)

Darn, I was looking at the wrong numbers on the Atlas 5 again. Thanks for the correction. :-) (It still maintains the order, though.)

The Titan doesn't count, BTW, because it doesn't fly any more. The final launch is on Oct. 19 [wikipedia.org] . :-(

Which Vehicle? (2, Insightful)

amightywind (691887) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669930)

2. The vehicle will be launch on top of a Russian launch vehicle.

Which vehicle? I doubt if a proton is reliable enough. Since this is larger and heavier than the Soyuz it does not seem that there is a rocket in the Russian inventory that can orbit it, much less send it to the moon.

The future of manned spaceflight looks interesting (5, Informative)

TheReckoning (638253) | more than 8 years ago | (#13668997)

It's looking like there should be quite a bit of competition soon in human orbital spaceflight. Here are the
various competitors I can think of off-hand:
 
* USA: Shuttle-derived system [wikipedia.org] , probably with a CEV capsule on top. There's several downsides to a shuttle-derived system, but it keeps the constituencies happy and should have enough government momentum to keep on going.
 
* Russia and Europe: Kliper's [wikipedia.org] been searching around for financial support for a while, and it looks like they finally got at least -some- funding from Europe.
 
* China: various iterations of Shenzhou spacecraft [wikipedia.org]
 
In the private sector:
 
* t/Space: The (Rutan-affiliated?) company just completed a parachute drop test [wired.com] and water landing of a full-scale model of their proposed CXV space capsule. It's uncertain if they'll get more funding from NASA, but their concept seems sound and may get private investment. Oh, and their web page has some really spiffy videos [nyud.net] .
 
* SpaceX: They've already announced their intent to compete for Bigelow's
orbital prize, and their upcoming man-rated Falcon V will be large enough to carry a Gemini-style capsule.
 
Now what about destinations? Besides the ISS, we've got Robert Bigelow's inflatable space station modules [wikipedia.org] , which should be up and operational by 2010, with several prototype launches before then. He's planning on selling these modules to various groups and countries, so hopefully we'll have several different space stations up there.
 
Between Shenzhou 8 and 9 China is planning on launching a small orbital laboratory, which Shenzhou 9 will be docking with. Various members of the Chinese space program have also been visiting [aviationnow.com] Bigelow's facility, so perhaps we'll see them doing something with his modules.
 
The future should be interesting.

Space Plane? Any new materials? (2, Interesting)

brewer13210 (821462) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669044)

The clipper design appears to be a shuttle-like space plane. Have there been any significant materials improvements that make a space plane built today more pratical and safer than the current shuttle deisgn?

If it's using the same type of heat resistant tiles that the shuttle uses, then it would seem to have the same inherent problem with fragile tiles.

Re:Space Plane? Any new materials? (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669092)

The clipper design appears to be a shuttle-like space plane. Have there been any significant materials improvements that make a space plane built today more pratical and safer than the current shuttle deisgn?

Yeah, don't make it so damn big and complicated; don't tie the engines into the main craft; and DON'T use heat tiles when carbon-carbon shielding is available!

Does that answer your question?

Re:Space Plane? Any new materials? (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669468)

"DON'T use heat tiles when carbon-carbon shielding is available!"
Umm the leading edge that failed was carbon-carbon. The tiles have never caused a shuttle fatality. Also carbon-carbon is not as light as the tiles.
Bringing back the engines was a good idea and will be used again if we ever get a SSTO craft which I hope we do someday.
Big and complicated are not problems if it is reliable. A 747 is big and complicated.

Re:Space Plane? Any new materials? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669785)

Umm the leading edge that failed was carbon-carbon. The tiles have never caused a shuttle fatality.

Indeed. But that wasn't a failure on the part of the carbon-carbon shield. The fragility of the shield is highly overrated. i.e. You could walk up to it with a sledgehammer and you'd have a hard time getting through. The area of failure had experienced a variety of foam hits and had never failed before. That's why NASA didn't concern themselves with it.

The real problem was the use of a side mounted orbiter as opposed to an inline stack. The side mounting meant that any debris thrown about during launch (and there's plenty of that) would fall near the orbiter. In an inline configuration, you don't have that problem.

Also carbon-carbon is not as light as the tiles.

True, but the carbon-carbon requires almost no maintenece and makes a better heat shield.

Bringing back the engines was a good idea and will be used again if we ever get a SSTO craft which I hope we do someday.

If we ever get there again, I agree. The problem is that the Shuttle was NOT a SSTO craft, and as such the compromises made were the wrong ones. :-/

Big and complicated are not problems if it is reliable. A 747 is big and complicated.

Allow me to rephrase: "The Shuttle was too big and complicated for its otherwise simple mission of bringing five people up and down."

Re:Space Plane? Any new materials? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669583)

Only one nitpick: the Kliper design also uses heat tiles. Carbon-carbon shielding is not used more on Shuttle AFAIK because it is both extremely expensive and fragile.

Regarding the rest I agree. Also, Kliper has an expendable service module.

Re:Space Plane? Any new materials? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669125)

I almost forgot: DON'T use a side mounted stack!

Re:Space Plane? Any new materials? (2, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669416)

Also, mount engines aligned with the center of mass to reduce vibration. And have an escape tower for launch. :)

Lots of lessons from the Shuttle. Lots of lessons. :)

Re:Space Plane? Any new materials? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669233)

The Clipper functions very differently from the shuttle; it doesn't do a winged landing. The aerodynamic shape is a "lifting body". This helps it stay in the atmosphere longer during reentry (making it easier to take reentry heating) and provides for more manuverability before landing (to prevent things like breaking through a frozen lake [astronautix.com] or nearly rolling off a cliff [astronautix.com] . The slowing of its landing, however, is to be due to parachutes.

Re:Space Plane? Any new materials? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669437)

It doesn't really need any material improvements. The Clipper is at the top of the stack nothing can fall off and damage the heat protection system.

Re:Space Plane? Any new materials? (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669625)

Hell, there were better materials around when the shuttle was originally designed. I'm sure the complete story is available somewhere -- oh look, here's part of it now [utexas.edu] .

15 Freakin' Years? (2, Insightful)

windowpain (211052) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669136)

Can anybody tell me why they're not going to put a human crew in this thing until 2020? Almost half a century after the first manned flights it's going to take 15 years to develop this thing?

Or is there something else going on here I didn't spot?

Re:15 Freakin' Years? (2, Interesting)

MidWorldOddity (697372) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669340)

It's really quite simple. It's because the Chinese want to put a person on the moon. And the Europeans do. And the Indians do. And we do. But rather than collaborating and sending 7 or 8 different nationalities in one ship, we're each going to redesign the damn wheel, and spend billions of dollars in a new space race because no one country will play nice in the sandbox with the other countries. As an additional rant, screw the ships. Invest the money into technology that doesn't require us to use an assload of rocket propellant to get us off the planet. What happened to a space elevator by 2015?

Re:15 Freakin' Years? (2, Informative)

bjomo (832719) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669880)

What happened to a space elevator by 2015? We still need lots of technological advancements to be able to build a space elevator. The ribbon cable material(carbon nanotubes top the list) needs to be manufacturable in lengths of 100,000 km with a very high tensile strength. The power beaming technology proposed to power the "climbers" also needs to be developed further.

Re:15 Freakin' Years? (2, Insightful)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669690)

It doesn't have anything to do with country's "playing nice". It's just a matter of national pride to use your own equipment to put your people into space. Rather, it has to do with the fact that we aren't just ordering another space vehicle from the humming production line. We are building from scratch with all new materials/designs/engineers. I mean it even takes months to get another space shuttle ready for orbit again; much less build the whole thing. I'm all in favor of a total overhaul.

The real problem is that we should have built this new CXV 10 years ago. But NASA was spending every penny the government gave them just keeping the shuttles and the IIS going. No vision for the future. So I hope the CXV will last for another 20 years!

Re:15 Freakin' Years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13669773)

I sort of agree. However, it seems silly when the head of NASA is talking about wasting money to replicate what other states are doing. Pride makes people do stupid things. A total overhaul is what is needed. But why not form one worldwide agency with a common goal and build the best possible, with the best technology, rather than mediocre crap.

Re:15 Freakin' Years? (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 8 years ago | (#13670323)

Yeah, we tried the whole "one worldwide agency" thing with the ISS and what do we have to show for it? Are you more into making NASA primarily an organization that furthers world-wide peace or a science organization?

Yuo fail iT?! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13669167)

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YASV (1)

ebvwfbw (864834) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669266)

Yet Another Space Vehicle. That is what they should name it. Well, it is.

Good form. (1)

patdabiker (710704) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669302)

The more organizations of any sort going into space, the happier I am. I hope it goes well.

"Orbiting" and "Landing" (1)

ChocoBean (890202) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669450)

excuse my ignorance on the subject, but the article seems to mentin "orbiting" the moon an awful lot, and only kind of go over lunar landing once or twice.

My limited understanding of space exploration is that while there's a lot of things to do in space like study how organisms get affected in a vacuum and under intense radioation, and how plants do in space and whatnot, it doesn't differ a lot from being "sort of" in space and in actual orbit around the moon. You're still kind of floating around, no?

While an Actual landing will enable us to pick up rocks and map the terrain and see if we can build stuff there or whatever.

....so what's the big deal about being in Moon's orbit and why not aim for landing instead?

Re:"Orbiting" and "Landing" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13669728)

Because everyone fears the word Nuclear. Build one nuclear propulsion craft, and it will go to the moon in one piece, land, launch, come back and land vertically, powered all the way. In one piece. Multiple times. On a single tank of fuel.

Re:"Orbiting" and "Landing" (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669743)

I believe that having the capability of orbiting the moon is significant in that it shows that significant cargo can be sent into orbits that far from earth. Right now, no one currently has the capability of sending people that far away. The Saturn V is long retired and Energia's largest booster hasn't been used to full capability. If you can send a manned craft to the moon, you could probably send a future lander there. I won't say that getting back to the moon is important or necessary, but I would say that it is an inevitable destination for humans on the way to further destinations, provided we can learn to live togeather long enough to make it that far. Outer space: maybe not the final frontier, but the next one. I mean, does anyone doubt that 500 or 1000 years from now, humans will have not set foot on Mars? I'm sure I'll be long dead by that time [that humans set foot on mars] but I'd like to think that I'll see it in my lifetime.

Re:"Orbiting" and "Landing" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13670161)

You know, it makes my blood boil when I see comments like

I'm sure I'll be long dead by that time [that humans set foot on mars] but I'd like to think that I'll see it in my lifetime.

500 or 1000 years you say? Why wait that long? The technology is available TODAY, so why leave it to future generations?

Think of it this way: we are the future generation of all those before us. This is why we're here. We can do it, because we have the technology. We just don't want to. We watch MTV instead.

Yeah right.. (1)

n0other (907866) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669525)

Russian? I fear the same as with this solar sail. Ship takes off, noone takes any pictures of it and suddenly it disappears. Someone in Russia is gonna get rich from this one too :)

Scheduled 6 year gap (1)

badmonkey (29600) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669590)

The schedule strikes me as strange why is there a built in six year gap between soyuz phase out (2014) and first manned clipper flight (2020)
Plus why does it take the world until 2018 to get back to the moon, when it only took less than ten years last time? Some progress.

Re:Scheduled 6 year gap (1)

bjomo (832719) | more than 8 years ago | (#13669798)

1)The goal isn't to get back as fast as possible.

2)It will cost 55% of what the Apollo program cost.
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