to Major Tim...
Tenner says I'm not the first requiring access to the cloakroom
The European Space Agency (ESA) is to build a space capsule capable of bringing cargoes down safely from orbit as well as taking them up, according to reports. A development of the current "Jules Verne" unmanned cargo module used to supply the International Space Station, the planned Advanced Reentry Vehicle (ARV) could lead in …
Space geek pedant nazi here, just to point out that "Jules Verne" was the name given to the first ATV to launch and dock with the ISS. "ATV", Automated Tranfer Vehicle, is the correct name for these vehicles. The next one is going to be called Johannes Kepler (not to be confused with the separate Kepler spacecraft, http://kepler.nasa.gov/ .)
Yeah, thanks, mine's the one with the British Interplanetary Society magazine in the pocket.
... all that research on parafoils has apparently been forgotten about. Rogallo's original incarnation of this in the 60s never went anywhere space-wise, although it was eventually "repurposed" for hang-glider and paraglider design. More recently, the X38 design used a parafoil to allow controlled re-entry and soft landing within an amazingly precise target area, and that'd work anywhere with a viable atmosphere (including Mars). But we're still stuck with poorly-engineered space shuttles that need mega-runways, and NASA's "new" designs seem to have wound the clock back to using dumb re-entry capsules under dumb round parachutes that can't land anywhere more specific than "somewhere in the Pacific", or old-stylee retro-boosters that require you to load a whole lot more fuel.
Don't get me wrong - I don't mind NASA, ESA and the rest spending money on research. I *do* mind when they've spent on a load of research and then thrown away the results.
As it was designed to be launch vehicle for the French, er European Hermes crewed shuttle.
Note that "man-rated" is a very iffy term to use. It is often said that the Shuttle fails NASA guildines on the design of such a vehicle and I don't even know if the European version of them (if they did not pick up the NASA stuff wholesale) is public. I think anything with solid rocket boosters was viewed as a no-no. NASA issues "waivers" so such irritations can be ignored.
I pressume any version of the upgraded ATV for crew use would need some kind of escape rocket system (as Soyuz has and the new CEV will have)