back to article European manned spaceship design unveiled in Berlin

Proposals for a European-built manned spacecraft have been formally unveiled in Berlin, with some backing from the German government. Backers of the plan hope to see the European Space Agency (ESA) using Euro technology to carry astronauts into orbit, rather than Russian Soyuz rockets. As reported previously, the mock-up now …


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  1. stizzleswick
    Thumb Up

    Do it!

    Build the thing... then sell it to NASA when Boeing can't get their act together with the Vega system....

  2. TeeCee Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Shurely shome mishtake?

    ".....would rather ride in a European or American ship at the moment."

    Given the known in-case-of-cockup outcomes of "excessive G forces" or "BANG", I'm not too sure about that latter option being preferred by anyone.

  3. stizzleswick
    Thumb Down


    Silly me; I should stick to doing my research before typing. I meant Lockheed and the Orion of course.

  4. nacnud

    Lets do it!

    @TeeCee The ATV based system would probably have the same ballistic fail-safe mode as the Soyuz and there is no room left on the Soyuz rocket to upgrade the Soyuz capsule so the Russian system would likely need a new rocket anyway. All the Euro system needs is the re-entry capsule and to man rate the Ariane 5 with abort sensors and escape system.

    This seems like the most realistic option for a domestic Euronaut capability yet all without being beholden to the whims of Putin and Co.

    Mines the one with the Nomex lining.

  5. Robert Hill

    Ariane Heavy Lift???

    Is that booster even man-safe qualified yet? It's very nice to talk about putting seats in a sealed can, but I would only want to ride on it after the booster has been qualified safe for manned (or personned!) flight - and I didn't think the Ariane was yet. Can anyone provide the status of this?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Go for it

    I'd like to see this plan come to fruition.

    Before actual people try to go up and come down safely, every part of the system -except live support inside upgraded ATV - has been in operation a couple of years.

  7. Mike Flugennock

    Shades of Mercury > "Mercury Mark I/II" > Gemini?

    From Mark Wade's Encyclopaedia Astronautica:

    Mercury Mark I,

    Gemini, the project:

    Gemini, the spacecraft (and proposed variants):

    Just thinking about this whole repurposing-JV-for-manned-ops issue here, and it got me thinking of the whole repurposing-Mercury-for-two-man-ops idea from back in the day...once ESA's engineers are done retrofitting the interior for life support, seats for the crew, RCS/engine throttling controls, instrument panels, viewports/rendezvous windows -- not to mention the all-important parachute deployment apparatus and heat shielding -- wouldn't they have better spent the cash designing a CTV new, from zero? True, they've proven the basic JV autonomous robotic design, and manuvering systems, and pressure vessel, but still...building that design out for manned flight is certainly a bigger PIA than going the opposite direction, as the Russians did with Soyuz > Progress.

    This is pretty much the conclusion NASA came to after all the Project Mercury followup "Mark i/II" proposals to repurpose Mercury for two-man crews, orbital-change manuverability, etc.; if we're going to go this far, why not just design a whole new spacecraft from the ground up? About the only similarity Gemini ended up having was in the command module -- black iconel corrugated hull, cone-joined-to-cylinder shape -- and some of the environmental controls, iirc.

    PS @ stizzleswick: I think ESA would do better to try and sell it -- or, more accurately, rides aboard it -- to countries who have astronauts in training but no craft of their own. I'm afraid NASA would still rather be Earthbound than stoop to using something Not Invented Here.

  8. Mark Ireland-Spicer

    A couple of billion euros?

    When ave we ever seen a european based project of this sort of scale come in on this sort of budget. I can't help thinking that this is money that could be better spent elsewhere.

    PS I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid!

  9. Vulch

    Man rating

    @Robert Hill - Define "man-safe qualified". The NASA Shuttle doesn't meet their requirements, nor will the Aries launcher they're planning to use for the Orion.

    The Ariane 5 was intended to launch the Hermes mini-shuttle, and is used to launch satellites costing hundreds of millions each. The NASA man-rated spec is considered to add huge amounts to the cost of a launch for almost negligible benefit.

  10. Pete Silver badge

    mind your head

    From the referenced article (astronauts toss old fridge out of the airlock)

    >but pieces of the EAS as large as 39lb might make it down to strike the surface when it de-orbits in a year or so's time

    Hmmm, given the date of that story (July 2007), we can expect the debris any day now

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Robert Hill

    No it's not certified but they rekon thats the easy bit. apparantly just needs a reliable rocket and sensors for control and emergency kit, they rekon the rocket is reliable and just needs the sensors.... we''ll have to wait and see...

  12. Aron A Aardvark
    Thumb Down

    Don't put people into low Earth orbit; use robots instead.

    Shoot me down if I'm wrong but aren't all these expensive "manned missions" really about nationalistic ego battles rather than anything of real, lasting benefit to ordinary people? All this renewed interest in space is more likely to do with putting more weapon systems in orbit than anything that benefits the sane majority of humans.

    Robots can do most "space jobs" people can and at a fraction of the price and with zero risk to human life.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is ESA better than Roskosmos?

    The quality of the crappers will tell the difference, hopefully.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of astronautics, ambassadors, and the bowel habit

    Back at L.Reg's Soyuz reentry story, we read:

    > NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who with Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko made up the returning trio, told reporters that the ballistic landing was "irregular, but not an emergency".

    I guess the Russians just had to know the real pravda about NASA astronauts and diapers, and so arranged a high-G ride. But what a terrific riposte from the lady there. It would be a waste not to fast-track her for next US ambassadorial vacancy in Moscow.

  15. E

    Brit participation

    I think the UK participates in the EU space program?

    Will the proposed vehicle have enough lift to also carry a comprehensive CCTV surveillance system for Mr. Brown & co.?

  16. Bounty

    @ AAA

    Robots can do all jobs at a fraction of the price with zero* risk to human life. All hail our new robot overlords.


    add some industrial accidents to make the robots... and of course Judgement Day and later the Cylons

  17. Marco

    Who cares about the shuttle?

    Just make sure it won't be the Russians that build the toilets.

  18. Stephen


    Britain participates in the EU space programme with the exception of manned space missions. So there's no need for cameras or ASBOs in space as yet...

  19. David Stever

    Don't worry about Lockheed delivering the goods, me boys

    I have no doubt that Lockheed (full disclosure- I work for LM, but am not one of the Rocket Boys) will be able to build the capsule. After all, we have a fully built Atlas V that could be used to launch anything being contemplated worldwide right now, not that NASA is interested in hearing that. Hence, the huge and unneeded expenditure of funds to build the chronically underpowered Ares I and it's bigger brother, the Ares V.

    At least one of the alt space companies has contracted with LM to use those Atlas V's to launch their own yet unbuilt capsules. I think that the more programs out there actually flying, the better off the human race will be, as long as they don't toodle around in LEO as the Aardvark has already pointed out, but actually get out and explore the neighborhood. We need to be looking at the nearby asteroids, and figuring out how to prevent them from ruining some of our real estate in the future, and going out to those same rocks and moons, to figure out how to mine them, instead of wrecking the Earth, our own selves.

  20. TeeCee Gold badge


    Er, but the latter option was the American one? I've got no objection (apart from having to pay for it) to a European solution, I was just trying to point out that anyone with an adequate memory of recent historical events who would prefer the current Yank ride to the Russian one probably needs their bumps felt.

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