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  Europe looks to buy Soyuz craft

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Author Topic:   Europe looks to buy Soyuz craft
gliderpilotuk
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Posts: 3043
From: London, UK
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 08-28-2009 07:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
BBC News: Europe looks to buy Soyuz craft
Europe is seeking to maintain flight opportunities for its astronauts by buying Soyuz spacecraft from Russia.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has asked Moscow if it is possible to increase the production of the craft from four to five a year.

ESA could then buy its own vehicle, perhaps with the Canadians who are also looking for more seat opportunities.

...Simonetta Di Pippo, the director of human spaceflight at Esa, told BBC News she was hopeful a deal on Soyuz could be put in place for 2013.

"From '13 on, we would like to have at least one European astronaut per year flying and this can be done in various ways. One of the proposals we are putting on the table is to buy a full Soyuz," she said.

jimsz
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posted 08-28-2009 12:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"From '13 on, we would like to have at least one European astronaut per year flying and this can be done in various ways. One of the proposals we are putting on the table is to buy a full Soyuz," she said.
As the shuttles are decommissioned, why not sell a couple to the Europeans or Russians?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-28-2009 12:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Because it is not just the vehicles (or seats on them) that are being decommissioned, but the program -- ground support, facilities, manufacturing, etc. -- that supports them. And those cannot be sold or exported, for either physical or logistical reasons.

eurospace
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From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Dec 2000

posted 08-28-2009 04:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And, honestly, why would the Europeans buy a defunct, unreliable launch system, that is incapable to launch in time and on schedule, with two in-flight accidents on the log and another one just waiting to happen?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-28-2009 04:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In contrast with Soyuz, which had three in-flight accidents (two that led to the loss of the crew), three (at least) off-nominal reentries and which can only return home with the smallest of payloads.

But this comparison (and therefore discussion) is meaningless. The shuttle will not be available.

Dietrich
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posted 08-28-2009 11:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dietrich   Click Here to Email Dietrich     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
ESA is currently building a launch pad for the Soyuz launcher in Kourou, but this is not for manned launches.

On the other side, if Europe buys Soyuz space capsules from Russia, this than has to include the launch service and the mission management and requires Russia's agreement to launch a spacecraft with their own technology with a fully foreign crew.

Besides that, once Russia has a monopoly in crew transport to the ISS, the price may rise considerably.

hlbjr
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From: Delray Beach Florida USA
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 08-29-2009 07:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hlbjr   Click Here to Email hlbjr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by eurospace:
And, honestly, why would the Europeans buy a defunct, unreliable launch system, that is incapable to launch in time and on schedule, with two in-flight accidents on the log and another one just waiting to happen?
Interesting comment disparaging the Shuttle considering nothing the Europeans or Russians have or will have in the next few decades could even remotely do what that defunct unreliable launch system does. You're comparing apples and oranges as the shuttle isn't just a personnel launch system but is a unique outsized load carrier with utterly unique capabilities never before seen and which will not be replaced.

Furthermore, the personnel it does haul (more than double the Soyuz) have unprecedented capabilities while on board, something that can't be said for any of the other launch systems. You can't bring a suitcase on the Soyuz but you can capture and return a school bus sized satellite in the Shuttle if necessary.

Yes the Shuttle design is fragile in some ways, but that speaks to budget considerations four decades ago and it also speaks to the amazing and unmatched missions this incredible spacecraft can conduct which no one and nothing else can. Quite frankly, the Europeans couldn't run the Shuttle program and that is the greatest reason it wouldn't work even back in the beginning of the program.

eurospace
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From: Brussels, Belgium
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posted 08-29-2009 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for eurospace   Click Here to Email eurospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You might want to recall that the Apollo Moon programme was run by "Europeans", namely the German rocket pioneers. One might argue that the Saturn rockets were in many ways superior to the shuttle system, whether in terms of performance, thrust or reliability.

Having said that, the problem of the shuttle system is precisely the multi-functional approach you mention and the endless compromises made during its development. It was designed to replace anything that was in people's minds regardless of this would increase or decrease usability or reliability. It was designed as

  • people carrier to a space station that did not exist at the time nor existed for almost two decades;
  • a freighter to transport payloads ("bus like" as you say) that were hitherto carried on unmanned boosters (a function nixed after the Challenger accident)
  • not-so-big-space-station-replacement-vehicle-while-no-station-was-yet-available
  • an aircraft with wings to please the pilot's in an environment were there is no air and consequently wings were superfluous for 99% of the flight time.
Obviously, the shuttle does not fulfill either of its purposes perfectly well, and at considerable cost.

Why would someone want to buy such a failed vehicle? Did the US ever sell parts or all of the concept to any interested party, including its very own commercial space companies? In the contrary: Russia, Japan as well as Europeans have experimented with a space plane concept; for very good reasons, all abandoned it.

Other launcher systems have followed a modular approach building vehicles for a specific purposes:

  • a manned transporter (Soyuz)
  • an unmanned transporter (Progress)
  • heavy lift vehicle (Proton)
  • an unmanned transporter combined with a heavy lift vehicle (ATV/Ariane)
Of course, NASA's future vehicles will also abandon the space plane concept and return to modular vehicles - for good reason. We'll see about their abilities as the development goes on - it will be interesting.

For the very obvious reasons of what fits the purpose and what is available on the market, Europeans need to turn to Russia to acquire a system that works and complements its own products. The Soyuz launch pad currently built at Kourou may very well be developing into a manned launch site. The Ariane V could also be man-rated with time, albeit at a cost. Did anyone ever think about setting up a shuttle launch pad at Kourou, and buy the corresponding hardware from the US? Of course not, and for good reasons.

If you feel that the shuttle concept should be maintained, extended and be made commercially available on a global level, I'd be interested to hear your arguments.

Dietrich
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posted 08-29-2009 03:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dietrich   Click Here to Email Dietrich     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, in the end you may consider the German rocketry from Peenemünde as the common heritage of both the US Saturn moon rocket and of the Russian Soyuz launcher.

The European Ariane is French-dominated with a very different management system and engineering thinking. Other Europeans are welcome to participate with their budget, but the fundamental decisions are made in France. That includes the decision to erect a Soyuz launch pad in Kourou (as compensation for Aeroflot buying Airbus). Kourou is not a European site, but French territory.

The Hermes space project was cancelled in the end because the mission requirements were too much for the small vehicle, which was already dictating the Ariane 5 design.

Even if the Soyuz pad in Kourou could be extended to manned capability, at least an abort will become very different, not in the vast Asian part of the former Soviet Union on land, but in the mid of the Atlantic.

Comparing the Space Shuttle to Soyuz is not fair in this context. The Europeans need a crew transport to the ISS, not a stand-alone multi-purpose vehicle. A huge budget has been spent in the Columbus laboratory, now this shall be used. Also, the idea to buy Soyuz spacecrafts will be an addition of the running program (another part of the pogramm will be used by the US for their astronauts). In contrast, buying the Shuttle would be a prolongation of a finished program, while the infrastructure is now to be converted for the successor vehicle Ares/Orion.

The end of the Spce Shuttle in about two years does not give Europe enough time to develop their own crew vehicle. Negotiations with Russia about a common development did not result in an agreement, because it obviously went into the direction "Russia will realise, while Europe will pay".

All times are CT (US)

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