Manned prospects. Projects spacecraft near future

In 2011, the United States stopped the operation of the Space Transportation System complex with the Space Shuttle reusable ship, as a result of which the Russian Soyuz family ships became the only means of delivering cosmonauts to the International Space Station. Over the next few years, this situation will continue, and after that new ships will appear, capable of competing with the Soyuz. New developments in the field of manned space flight are being created both in our country and abroad.

Russian Federation"

Over the past decades, the Russian space industry has several times attempted to create a promising manned spacecraft suitable for the replacement of "Unions". However, these projects have not yet led to the expected results. The newest and most promising attempt to replace the "Union" is the project "Federation", which offers the construction of a reusable system in manned and cargo design.

Models of the ship "Federation". Photo of Wikimedia Commons

In 2009, Rocket and Space Corporation Energia received an order for the design of a spacecraft designated as “Perspective Manned Transport System”. The name "Federation" appeared only a few years later. Until recently, RSC Energia developed the required documentation. Construction of the first ship of the new type began in March last year. Soon the finished sample will begin testing at the stands and test sites.

In accordance with the latest announced plans, the first space flight of the Federation will take place in 2022, and the ship will send a cargo into orbit. On 2024, the first flight is scheduled with the crew on board. After carrying out the required checks, the ship will be able to perform more ambitious missions. So, in the second half of the next decade, unmanned and manned flybys of the moon can take place.

A ship consisting of a reusable cargo cabin and a disposable engine compartment can weigh up to 17-19 tons. Depending on the goals and payload, it can carry up to six cosmonauts or 2 tons of cargo. When returning to the descent vehicle may be up to 500 kg of cargo. It is known about the development of several ship versions for solving different tasks. Having the appropriate configuration, the Federation will be able to send people or cargo to the ISS, or to work in orbit independently. Also, the ship is supposed to be used in future flights to the Moon.


The American space industry, several years ago left without Shuttles, has high hopes for the promising Orion project, which is a development of the ideas of the closed Constellation program. Several leading organizations, both American and foreign, have been involved in the development of this project. Thus, the European Space Agency is responsible for the creation of the aggregate compartment, and Airbus will build such products. American science and industry are represented by NASA and Lockheed Martin.

Orion ship mockup. NASA Photos

The Orion project in its current form was launched in 2011. By this time, NASA had managed to perform part of the work on the Constellation program, but it had to be abandoned. Certain developments have moved from this project to a new one. Already 5 December 2014, the American specialists managed to carry out the first test launch of a promising ship in an unmanned configuration. New launches have not yet been carried out. In accordance with the established plans, the authors of the project should complete the necessary work, and only after that it will be possible to begin a new phase of testing.

According to current plans, the new Orion spacecraft flight in a space truck configuration will take place only in 2019 year, after the launch of the Space Launch System launch vehicle. Unmanned version of the ship will have to work with the ISS, as well as fly around the moon. From 2023, astronauts will be on board the Orion. For the second half of the next decade, manned long-duration flights are planned, including flights over the moon. In the future, the possibility of using the Orion system in the Martian program is not excluded.

A ship with a maximum launch weight of 25,85 t will receive an airtight compartment with a volume of slightly less than 9 cubic meters, which will allow it to carry fairly large loads or people. Up to six people can be delivered to Earth's orbit. "Lunar" crew will be limited to four astronauts. Cargo ship modification will lift up to 2-2,5 t with the possibility of safe return of a smaller mass.

CST-100 Starliner

As an alternative to the Orion ship, the CST-100 Starliner, developed by Boeing as part of the NASA Commercial Crew Transportation Capability program, can be considered. The project provides for the creation of a manned spacecraft capable of delivering several people to orbit and returning to earth. Due to a number of design features, including those associated with the one-time use of technology, it is planned to equip the ship with seven places at once for astronauts.

CST-100 in orbit, so far only in the representation of the artist. NASA drawing

Starliner is being created by Boeing and Bigelow Aerospace since 2010. The design took several years, and in the middle of this decade it was supposed to carry out the first launch of the new ship. However, due to some difficulties, the test start was postponed several times. According to a recent NASA decision, the first launch of the ship CST-100 with cargo on board should be held in August of this year. In addition, Boeing received permission to perform a manned flight in November. Apparently, a promising ship will be ready for testing in the very near future, and no new schedule changes will be needed.

From other projects of promising manned spacecraft of the American and foreign development Starliner has more modest goals. As planned by the creators, this ship will have to deliver people to the ISS or to other promising stations currently under development. No flights beyond the Earth’s orbit are planned. All this reduces the requirements for the ship and, as a result, allows to achieve significant savings. Lower project costs and reduced astronaut delivery costs can be a good competitive advantage.

A characteristic feature of the ship CST-100 are fairly large size. The habitable capsule will have a diameter slightly more than 4,5 m, and the total length of the ship will exceed 5 m. Gross weight - 13 t. It should be noted that large dimensions will be used to obtain the maximum internal volume. An airtight compartment with a volume of 11 m3 has been designed to accommodate equipment and people. It will be possible to install seven chairs for astronauts. In this regard, the Starliner ship - if it succeeds in reaching service - may become one of the leaders.

Dragon V2

A few days ago, NASA also determined the timing of the new test flights of spacecraft from the company SpaceX. So, for December 2018, the first test launch of a manned spacecraft of the type Dragon V2 was appointed. This product is a reworked version of the already used Dragon truck capable of transporting people. The development of the project began a long time ago, but only now it is approaching testing.

Layout of the ship Dragon V2 dj presentation time. NASA Photos

The Dragon V2 project provides for the use of a recycled cargo compartment adapted for transporting people. Depending on the requirements of the customer, it is alleged that such a ship will be able to lift up to seven people into orbit. Like its predecessor, the new "Dragon" will be reusable, and will be able to make new flights after minor repairs. The development of the project has been carried out over the past few years, but the tests have not yet begun. Only in August of 2018, SpaceX will launch the Dragon V2 into space for the first time; this flight will pass without astronauts on board. Full manned flight, in accordance with the instructions of NASA, is scheduled for December.

SpaceX is known for its ambitious plans for any promising projects, and the manned spacecraft is no exception. At first, Dragon V2 is supposed to be used only to send people to the ISS. It is also possible to use such a ship in independent orbital missions lasting up to several days. In the distant future it is planned to send a ship to the moon. Moreover, with its help they want to organize a new “route” of space tourism: vehicles with passengers on a commercial basis will fly around the moon. However, all this is still a matter of the distant future, and the ship itself has not even had time to pass all the necessary tests.

At medium sizes, the Dragon V2 ship has a sealed compartment with a volume of 10 cubic meters and an 14-cube compartment without sealing. According to the developer, he will be able to deliver a little more than 3,3 tons of cargo to the ISS and return 2,5 tons to Earth. In the manned configuration, it is proposed to install seven lodgements in the cockpit configuration. Thus, the new "Dragon" can, at least, not inferior to competitors in terms of capacity. The advantages of an economic nature are proposed to receive due to reusable use.

Space ship india

Together with the countries-leaders of the space industry, other states are trying to create their own versions of manned spacecraft. So, in the near future, the first flight of a promising Indian ship with astronauts on board can take place. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been working on its own ship project since 2006, and has already completed some of the work required. For some reason, this project has not yet received a full-fledged designation and is still known as the “ISRO spacecraft”.

Manned prospects. Projects spacecraft near future
Promising Indian ship and its carrier. Figure

According to known data, the new ISRO project provides for the construction of a relatively simple, compact and light manned vehicle, similar to the first ships of foreign countries. In particular, there is a certain similarity with the American technique of the Mercury family. Part of the design work was completed several years ago, and on December 18 of 2014, the first launch of a ship with ballast cargo took place. It is unknown when the new ship will deliver the first cosmonauts to orbit. The timing of this event has shifted several times, and so far there is no data on this.

The ISRO project proposes the construction of a capsule weighing no more than 3,7 t with an internal volume of several cubic meters. With its help, it is planned to deliver three astronauts to orbit. Declared autonomy at the level of the week. The first missions of the ship will be related to being in orbit, maneuvering, etc. In the future, Indian scientists are planning a pair of launches with the meeting and docking ships. However, this is still far away.

After mastering flights to near-earth orbit, the Indian Space Research Organization intends to create several new projects. The plans include the creation of a reusable ship of the new generation, as well as manned flights to the Moon, which are likely to be carried out in collaboration with foreign colleagues.

Projects and prospects

Prospective manned spacecraft are now being created in several countries. In this case we are talking about different prerequisites for the emergence of new ships. So, India intends to develop the first own project, Russia is going to replace the existing "Unions", and the United States needs domestic ships with the ability to transport people. In the latter case, the problem manifests itself so vividly that NASA is forced to develop or maintain several projects of promising space technology at once.

Despite the different prerequisites for creation, promising projects almost always have similar goals. All space powers are going to put into operation new manned spacecraft of their own, suitable, at least, for orbital flights. At the same time, most of the current projects are being created with a view to achieving new goals. After these or other improvements, some of the new ships will have to go beyond the orbit and go at least to the Moon.

It is curious that most of the first launches of new equipment are scheduled for the same period. From the end of this decade to the mid-twenties, several countries intend to test in practice their latest developments. If the desired results are achieved, the space industry will noticeably change by the end of the next decade. In addition, thanks to the prudence of the developers of new technology, astronautics will be able not only to work on the Earth's orbit, but also to fly to the Moon or even prepare for more ambitious missions.

Perspective projects of manned spacecraft being created in different countries have not yet reached the stage of full-fledged trials and flights with the crew on board. Nevertheless, several such launches will take place this year, and in the future such flights will continue. The development of the space industry continues and gives the desired results.

On the materials of the sites:
Ryabov Kirill
Ctrl Enter

Noticed a mistake Highlight text and press. Ctrl + Enter

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in