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Russia, Europe abandon joint space project - Roscosmos

RIA Novosti

29/01/2009 15:39 MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and Europe will not continue the joint development of a new reusable manned spacecraft, an official from Russia's space agency (Roscosmos) said on Thursday.

The Federal Space Program for 2006-2015 stipulated the joint construction with European countries of a reusable "Clipper" spacecraft to service the International Space Station (ISS) and make journeys to the Moon.

"We planned to build a reusable manned spacecraft in cooperation with the European Space Agency [ESA], but our approaches to this project turned out to be very different," Alexei Krasnov, director of manned flight programs at Roscosmos, told a roundtable meeting in Moscow.

The official said Russia would launch a second tender for a new shuttle spacecraft because the first attempt had proved unsatisfactory. New design projects will be considered through 2010.

"The participants of a new tender may include the previous bidders - the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, the Khrunichev State Research and Production Center and the Molniya Research and Production Association," Krasnov said.

He also said Russia was planning to build the project's first manned spacecraft by 2015-2018, along with a new carrier rocket with a payload capacity of at least 23 tons.

Various sources estimate the cost of the Russian reusable spacecraft project, including construction, will total $1-3 billion.

The launches of the future carrier rockets will be conducted from a new space center, Vostochny, in Russia's Far East, Krasnov said.

Russia currently uses two launch sites for space carrier rockets and ballistic missiles tests: the Baikonur space center in the Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan, which it has leased since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the Plesetsk space center in northwest Russia.

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