Nowadays, Russia is working on a completely new six-seat piloted space shuttle.
In case Rosaviakosmos agrees to finance the project, the shuttle will replace “Soyuz” by 2010. This has been reported by Deputy Administrator of the scientific and technological center of project-oriented works “Energiya” Boris Sotnikov.
“The newly designed space shuttle, under a working name “Clipper” is intended to transporting crews and cargos to orbital stations, and also, should the need arise, ensure emergency evacuation of cosmonauts and equipment back to earth,” stated he. According to Sotnikov, “Clipper” will be used for autonomous orbiting flights lasting up to 10 days. It will also be used for scientific and research purposes. In addition, in case Rosaviakosmos approves such decision, the new shuttle will also be able to carry not one as in “Soyuz”, but 4 space tourists.
A crew of this space shuttle will consist of six people—two pilots and four cosmonauts (or passengers). Aside from transporting people, the shuttle will also be capable of carrying cargo weighing up to 700 kilograms. Judging by the project “Energiya”, initial weight of the 10-meter shuttle will constitute 14.5 tons. Clipper would be launched to orbit by means of the Russian rocket carrier “Onega”, which will most likely resemble an updated version of present-day “Soyuz”.
The shuttle could be launched from any Russian space centers (Baikonur and Plesetsk) with launching pads designed for “Soyuz”. In case a newly designed project “Soyuz on Kur” is a success and with a permission of foreign partners, “Clipper” could also be launched from the Russian launching complex in Kur located in French Guiana, reports RIA “Novosti”.