Riporto l’articolo che ho letto con un certo disappunto sulla mailing list FPSPACE.
Kliper dropped for lunar capsule
By Rob Coppinger in London
A four-crew lunar return capsule could be operational by 2014 if the
European Space Agency and Russia?s Federal Space Agency (FSA) get a ?30
million ($39 million) pledge from ESA member states next week.
The money is for ESA?s proposed two-year preparatory programme for the
Advanced Crew Transportation System, which would start this month if the
funding is approved.
The joint ESA/FSA transport system study would examine a Moonship consisting
of capsule, service and habitation modules. The lunar return capsule would
be based on the Russian Soyuz vehicle. The service and habitation modules
could be developed from ESA?s International Space Station Columbus
laboratory and its Automated Transfer Vehicle ISS resupply ship.
ESA director-general Jean-Jacques Dordain will present the preparatory
programme proposals at the 22 June member state council. ?In mid-2008, when
the preparatory phase ends, ESA?s ministerial council would have to approve
funding for the full development and operational phase,? says Manuel Valls,
head of the policy and plans department of ESA?s human spaceflight,
microgravity and exploration programmes directorate.
In December Dordain presented to ministers a ?30 million two-year
preparatory plan for ESA involvement in the Russian Kliper concept. But only
?6 million in backing was offered by member states for Kliper, a six crew
mini-shuttle proposed by Russian space vehicle developer Energia.
ESA member states postponed a final decision on co-operation with Russia to
June this year. In January a high-level ESA/FSA meeting renewed discussions
on mission requirements for a transport system. From February to April
European and Russian companies were involved in more detailed studies.
A programme level meeting in Moscow on 4 May, involving Valls, concluded a
capsule transport system would be best. A winged vehicle was considered too
risky in cost and development terms.
At a meeting at last month?s ILA Berlin air show, Dordain and FSA chief
Anatoly Perminov agreed the capsule option.
ESA understands that capsule proposals have been submitted by Russian
industry to FSA, which in early July is expected to select a capsule
(the story also includes a drawing of the proposed vehicle)