Russia And Europe May Develop Manned Spacecraft For Lunar Missions
Russia and the European Space Agency (ESA) are expected to discuss jointly developing a manned spacecraft, in talks during the Berlin air show this week, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
The report, quoting Anatoly Perminov, the head of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), added that the talks will focus on which agency will do what in the program.
A Roscosmos spokesman earlier said the Russian space agency earlier had agreed with ESA to join in developing the vehicle for missions to the moon, as well as for low Earth orbital missions, according to the report.
Perminov said subsequent talks will decide respective funding and commitments, and details of production facilities, according to RIA Novosti.
He sees flight tests as early as 2015, with the initial operational launch in 2018.
In contrast, the initial manned flight of the next-generation U.S. spacecraft, Orion-Ares, is set for 2015, but the first U.S. lunar mission for that vehicle won’t occur until 2020. In other words, Americans may step down on a moon decorated with Russian and Chinese flags.
The transport crew capsule would be developed by Russia, while the service module and engines would be European, and project integration will be handled by RSC-Energia, according to the report.