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Russia And Europe Discuss Developing New Manned Spacecraft

ESA is insisting the new vehicle have "Kourou capability," referring to ESA's main launch facility in French Guiana near the town of Kourou (pictured), but said it would not necessarily be launched from there.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Jan 18, 2007
Russian space agency Roskosmos and the European Space Agency (ESA) are in talks to jointly build a space vehicle that could be launched from a base in French Guiana, representatives of Russian space constructor RKK Energiya and ESA said Thursday. The vehicle would be based on an updated version of the Russian Soyuz, and could be ready for its first flight by 2010 and launched by the Russian Soyuz-2 rocket, RKK Energiya head Nikolai Sevastyanov was quoted by news agency ITAR-TASS as saying.

"ESA made the decision about these initiatives and has already spent 20 million euros (26 million dollars) this year on preliminary development for the project," Sevastyanov said.

Daniel Sacotte, director of human space flight at ESA, confirmed to AFP that ESA was discussing the project with the Russians, as well as possible Japanese participants.

Sacotte said the goal was to develop a vehicle capable of crew transfers to the International Space Station (ISS), as well as later participating in a US-planned lunar exploration program.

In-depth study of the project is underway with the goal of presenting a concrete proposal at an ESA ministerial meeting in the end of 2008, Sacotte said.

"If it is possible to make a decision in 2008, the date of 2010 for a first launch seems very optimistic," Sacotte said.

He added that ESA is insisting the new vehicle have "Kourou capability," referring to ESA's main launch facility in French Guiana near the town of Kourou, but said it would not necessarily be launched from there.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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