The prototype of a new Russian space shuttle was for the first time showcased in 2002. Named Cosmopolis XXI, it was in development by the Myasishchev design bureau with financial backing from the company Space Adventures. In flight pattern it is very much like the American private craft SpaceShipOne, which has only recently risen to the upper atmosphere. This information is available on the Compulenta web site.
The Cosmopolis XXI is a small craft, launched from an aircraft and seating three - one pilot and two space tourists. The flight lasts about an hour: the first 30 to 40 minutes -- reaching a height of 17 kilometers in tandem with the carrier aircraft, the rest - on reactive thrust.
Sergei Kostenko, representing the Space Adventures Russian office, said that the manufacture of Cosmopolis XXI has been suspended for lack of financing. Its creators hope that the launch of the American twin SpaceShipOne will be helpful.
The goal pursued in this project is the birth of a system for regular launching space tourists. Although Cosmopolis XXI manufacture is a costly affair (SpaceShipOne development and building cost $20 million), enthusiasts hope it will pay its way.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building