Kliper

From Academic Kids

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Russian media coverage of Kliper spacecraft - Russia's Channel One TV network. The headline reads: Russia builds new space shuttle.

Kliper (Клипер) is a spacecraft proposed in 2004 by Russian rocket and space company RKK Energia. Designed primarily to replace the Soyuz spacecraft, it is a reusable space plane with small wings that glides into the atmosphere at an angle that produces much less acceleration on the human occupants than the current Soyuz. The craft can carry up to six people and can be used for ferry services between earth and the International Space Station, but is also planned to be the crew module for further trips to the Moon and Mars. The primary focus for its development was to reduce costs for manned space flights by using the reuseable spaceship approach.

Contents

Development

In February 2004 FSA deputy director Nikolai Moiseyev told journalists that the Kliper project had been included in the Russian federal space program for 2005-15. At that point he announced that if the program is implemented successfully the first launch may even take place in five years time. Kliper had been developed since 2000 and reportably relied heavily on research studies as well as proposals for a small Russian lifting body spacecraft from the 1990s.

In 2005 Kliper was displayed in various air shows around Europe and Asia, in order to reach out to international partners who would be interested to co-fund and co-develop the spacecraft. The Russian Space Agency especially looked to Europe as ESA has become its major partner in space activities during the last years. In May 2005 rumours started in the press that Europe would join the Kliper project in a specially funded venture that would be part of the Aurora Programme. These rumours turned out to be correct, when both Russian and European space officials announced their cooperation to built Kliper during the Paris Air Show on June 10 2005 [1] (http://www.physorg.com/news4524.html).

Announcements and speculations following the February 2004 press conference suggested a development budget of solely 10 billion rubels (approxametly 350 million dollars). However in looking at today's costs for space related activities it was clear that the 10 billion rubels figure was just wild speculation. As of 2005 the costs are estimated to be as low as 3 billion dollars (for development and construction of Kliper until 2015) of which the bulk of 1.8 billion is speculated to come from Europe Template:Ref. Both the project itself and the funding questions will be debated in a European space summit in December 2005. As it stands now, it is likely that funding for the project will be approved and that Kliper will make its first successful launch as early as 2010 or 2011 – the same time the Space Shuttle is planned to retire.

Design

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Kliper spacecraft design
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Kliper mockup

Its design is another attempt to solve the geometric problems of spacecrafts. Soyuz had an Orbital Module, a hollow sphere, to be used for eating and hygiene, and as an airlock, located above the Reentry module (the capsule), with the docking mechanism at the top. In the event of an emergency, it would have to be lifted away from the rocket along with the reentry module, and the fairing over the spacecraft had to be designed to successfully split apart either circumferentially just below the reentry module in such an emergency or longitudinally like a banana were the flight successful. Kliper has the Orbital Module below its reentry module, and the docking mechanism below that. This is made possible by having the reentry module wider than the orbital module, so that a pair of rocket nozzles for orbital maneuvering can be fitted alongside it, as the later Salyut space stations had. No American spacecraft had anything like the Orbital Module, except for the Docking Module of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, which was stored separately.

The lifting body design would not only allow a smoother descent into earth's atmosphere, it would also allow some steering. RKK Energia claims the craft would be able to land in a pre-determined one square kilometer area. Artist impressions show the Kliper will resemble a cylinder topped by a cone. Landing proposals involve both a landing by parachute and as an alternative in a modified version a landing on a runway similar to an airplane like the Space Shuttle.

Kliper, as a vehicle alone, will be primarily a manned vehicle, carrying six astronauts and payloads of up to 700 kilograms (mostly experiments and other equipment used for carrying through experiments in orbit) and will be able to stay in orbit for approximately 15 days.

The spacecraft will have feature a life escape system that will enable Kliper to detach from the launch rocket if an abort of the mission during launch is paramount. This abort will be possible during every phase of the launch with the limitation of the first seconds after takeoff. Leading designer Vladimir Daneev commented to this issue in June 2005: We are 99% sure that it will be a spaceship with upturned little wings, enabling the Kliper to land on any class-one military airfield with a runway from three to three and a half kilometers in length. [2] (http://en.rian.ru/science/20050614/40521455.html)

Missions

Kliper is the counterpart of the American Crew Exploration Vehicle and is therefore part of a modular design that enables it to be both a LEO-shuttle type vehicle as well as a spacecraft able to go beyond Earth orbit to the Moon and even Mars. The modular design will enclude the Kliper crew module and - depending on the mission - a mission module or propulsion module.

Launch vehicles

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Soyuz TMA-6 spacecraft approaching International Space Station - the Soyuz spacecraft could be replaced by Kliper

At present the Soyuz rocket will not be able to lift Kliper into lower earth orbit, because the spacecraft is planned to weight between 13 and 14.5 metric tons (with payload and crew) whereas Soyuz has only a lifting capacity of around 8 metric tons. It was therefore planned to heavily enhance the Soyuz rocket - a project that was labelled the Onega rocket. However as of 2005 it is much more likely that Kliper will take off on a Angara-A3 rocket, that is scheduled to make its first launch 2006-2007 or under certain circumstances on a Zenit rocket that is built in Ukraine.

Kliper is planned to be a flexible spacecraft, that should have the capability to be launched both from Plessetsk and the European spaceport in French Guiana Kourou. As of June 2005 it is unclear whether the Ariane 5 rocket, that was originally designed to bring the European Hermes shuttle into orbit, will be used as a launch vehicle beside Russian launch carrier.

Another unresolved question concernes flights beyond Earth orbit. As of 2005 there is no rocket anywhere in the world in use that is able to launch Kliper (or the American CEV) to destinations such as the Moon or Mars. Altough considered illusory speculation by many in the space business, the Energia rocket - the most powerful rocket ever constructed - might be revived for these kind of missions. Yet this is very unlikely, as it would be even easier to develop an entirely new heavy-lift rocket. On June 15 2005 Russian and European officials announced that they would team up to built a state-of-the-art rocket carrier to put heavy spacecrafts into orbit by 2025; it is unclear whether this launch craft will have the power needed for launches beyond Earth orbit or if it will rather be an Ariane 5 replacement. [3] (http://en.rian.ru/russia/20050615/40528022.html).

Footnotes

  1. Template:Note An article in the British Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/space/article/0,14493,1489679,00.html) in March 2005 stated that Europe's contribution would amount to 100 million British pounds for 10 years. Disregarding time value of money this would amount to approximately 1.8 billion dollars.

See also

External links

Template:Russian manned space programsde:Kliper ru:Клипер (космический летательный аппарат)

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