Europe may develop human spaceflight transfer vehicle
The European Space Agency (ESA) and other European partners have started to look at developing a Crew Space Transportation System (CSTS) which may be able to launch humans into space.
A study, with addition contributions from Japan and Russia, has been commissioned by ESA and starts this month. The study's aim is to find the best architecture for CSTS - it may be based on an updated version of the Soyuz or use a new design. Europe has already built an Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) which will be shortly be launched to the International Space Station (ISS).
The final CSTS architecture decision will depend on the type of missions envisaged - launches to the ISS in Earth orbit or indeed further into the Solar System.
The study will be a European/Russian co-project. It is planned that the study will report to Europe's space ministers in 2008. If the ministers approve the development of CSTS, it will cost hundreds of millions of euros.
European industrial partners are EADS-Astrium, who built the ATV, and Thales Alenia Space. RKK Energia which builds the Soyuz launcherer will be involved on behalf of Russia. The involved organisations are all IAF members.
Meanwhile, the United States is building the Orion vehicle to replace the Space Shuttle.
04 July 2007