The European Space Agency (ESA) on Friday pledged its backing for Russia's plans for manned spacecraft called Kliper, the news agency Itar-Tass reported here. Daniel Sacotte, ESA's director of human spaceflight, microgravity and exploration programmes, said here his organisation "would support" the project, it said.
The project was discussed by Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian Space Agency (RSA) and visiting ESA chief Jean-Jaques Dordain, it said.
Dordan said a Russian-ESA collaboration plan would be put to a meeting of ESA ministers this December, and added hoped that other countries would join the Kliper scheme, with the goal of enabling its first flight around 2011.
Kliper (Clipper), the brainchild of Russian space corporation RKK Energia, is sketched as a successor to the venerable Cold War workhorse of space, the Soyuz capsule.
It would be a reusable, wingless space plane that would glide back to Earth, with up to seven people on board. It would be used for ferry services to the International Space Station (ISS) or for space tourism.
Mockups of Kliper have been shown in aerospace shows in Europe and Japan in the hope of whipping up interest in it.
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