Russia versus the USA: spaceships in the near future

Spaceships created during the Cold War are gradually becoming a thing of the past. The Space Shuttle, which turned out to be uneconomical, took off for the last time in 2011. His Soviet counterpart, Soyuz, is still flying, but it’s hardly possible to connect the future of manned space exploration with it. Against this background, the leading space powers are investing money and intelligence with triple power in the creation of vehicles that will bring the new Armstrongs and Gagarins to distant space peaks tomorrow, which, however, will be no less difficult to conquer than at the dawn of space time .

Today, different countries of the world (especially the USA) have developments for the near future and not very close. Therefore, we will not consider them all in detail, but dwell on the most interesting projects.

Crew Dragon (SpaceX, USA)

SpaceX is known as the world's leading (now) rocket builder: the Falcon 9, now the edge of the line, is the most sought-after carrier on Earth with the largest number of orders. However, Ilon Musk plays an equally important role in the field of manned space exploration: if everything turns out as he wants, it is the Crew Dragon spaceship (pictured above) that will allow Europe and the United States to refuse Russian services for delivering astronauts aboard the ISS. True, the deadlines have been postponed more than once.

As it became known at the end of July, the test flight of the Crew Dragon ship with the crew to the International Space Station was postponed until mid-December: earlier they wanted to implement the mission in November of this year. In general, the situation around the manned Dragon seems almost cloudless. The ship is reusable, which means it is potentially cheap: the analogy with the reusable Space Shuttle is inappropriate here, different concepts. It’s also important that proven Technology freight "Dragon". The technical capabilities of the new SpaceX ship, which allow delivering up to seven people at a time on board the station, seem to be even redundant: in real life, this is simply not necessary.

Starship (SpaceX, USA)

“Smoke smoother and lower chimney” - this is how the evolution of the Interplanetary Transport System from SpaceX can be described. The BFR complex, of which the Starship spaceship is a part, has lost a lot of weight in recent years. The payload brought by him into low Earth orbit fell from 300 to 100 tons. Big Falcon Rocket itself, of course, has also become smaller. And yet with all this, Starship will be the largest and most load-carrying spaceship in history, which is supposed to be able to transport up to hundreds of colonists at a time. At the same time, you should not confuse Starship with the Starhopper technology demonstrator, which is a flying stand for testing technical solutions, which will then be embodied on the BFR.

The final development result should be the launch of a BFR with cargo to Mars in 2022, followed by a manned flight in 2024. Even the engine is ready - the innovative Raptor Methane. However, in fairness, the chances of implementation (and not even fast, but in general) for Starship are incomparably less than for Crew Dragon. Still, the scale and technical risks are not comparable.

CST-100 Starliner (Boeing, United States)

Not as famous as Crew Dragon, and not as ambitious as Starship, but still a very significant project for the United States. The CST-100 is a partially reusable spacecraft that can deliver up to seven astronauts aboard the ISS. Conceptually, the device is close to Crew Dragon, but the design is more “angular”: Boeing is alien to the aesthetics of Elon Mask - the basis of practicality. This, by the way, can play into the hands of megacorporations, because after the problems of the Dragon, in particular, the recent capsule explosion during the tests, competitors are on a par. This means that it is the CST-100 that can become the ship that will first save America from dependence on the Russian side. The first flight with the crew can take place before the end of 2019, that is, at the same time as with SpaceX.

Orion (Lockheed Martin, United States)

Of all the aforementioned ships, Orion can carry out the first manned flight later than all - around 2023, although it was de facto started developing earlier than any other promising manned ship. Orion, recall, was part of the old American Constellation program - very ambitious and expensive (which killed her). The Americans wanted to fly either to the asteroid, or to Mars, or to the Moon.

Ultimately, the mission of the apparatus, weighing fifteen tons, should be flights to the lunar orbital station, which they want to operate instead of the ISS. It is planned that the crews to the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway station will be delivered by Orion ships using the Space Launch System. This, in general, is the main difference between Orion and the Crew Dragon and the CST-100 (Starship is a separate topic for discussion), because the last two spaceships are seen primarily as a tool for delivering cargo and astronauts to the ISS. In any case, as long as it works: we recall that earlier they wanted to decommission the orbital station in the mid-2020s.

Federation ("Energy", Russia)

The Federation spaceship is being created for one purpose - to have a replacement with it in case the Soyuz series vehicles become obsolete, which, of course, has not long to wait. Any, even a very successful spacecraft, has its own term. The price of the creation of the first flight model is set at 57 billion rubles, and they intend to carry out the flight in the first half of the 2020s. The Federation will be able to take on board up to 6 crew members (less than the same Crew Dragon) and 500 kilograms of cargo. They want to land the rescue capsule using parachutes and a soft-landing reactive system.

On the whole, the ship constructively looks quite thoughtful, at least from the outside. But in terms of the concept of application, there are many questions. After all, the first manned flight of the "Federation" is de facto scheduled around the time when the ISS will have to stop operating, and Russia will gradually be squeezed out of the project to create a lunar orbital station and, most likely, it will not be its participant. So where it will fly (and whether it will fly) is hard to say. The only real goal for the ship is now seeing a flight to the moon / to the moon, but it is expensive, difficult and risky. And hardly one country can realize this. However, it does not seem to worry much about its creators, who are actively working on the construction of the first test model.

In general, it would be wrong to reduce everything only to Russia or America, but so far these projects seem to be not only the most interesting from the technical point of view, but also have the highest chance of implementation. In general, in addition to the old participants in the space race, in the future, at least, Europe, Japan, India and China will probably be represented. And there, new players may catch up.
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  1. Igor Pavlovich Offline Igor Pavlovich
    Igor Pavlovich (Igor Pavlovich) 7 August 2019 10: 54
    Turned out to be uneconomical Space Shuttle

    made 133 successful flights. His Soviet colleague, BURAN, made one test flight and died under the rubble of a collapsed hangar ...
    1. mister-red Offline mister-red
      mister-red 7 August 2019 14: 07
      And 2 unsuccessful, 14 astronauts in minus. With an average launch cost of $ 0,45 billion. A good indicator, you can’t say anything. Read about the expectations of the Shuttle flights and what happened in the end will be interesting. If in a word - failure. But, true, everything was beautiful, spectacular (not effective), the picture looked, well, etc.
      And "Buran" just appeared late. Or the USSR collapsed early, as you like.
      By the way, "Buran" itself is also a wrong decision, in principle. But the Energia rocket was very good. Her now ...
      1. Igor Pavlovich Offline Igor Pavlovich
        Igor Pavlovich (Igor Pavlovich) 7 August 2019 17: 41
        Commentary in the style of a Soviet "bearded" anecdote about propaganda in the Soviet press:

        Brezhnev ran second, and Reagan - second to last ...
        1. mister-red Offline mister-red
          mister-red 8 August 2019 09: 30
          A pathetic attempt). Once again, the Shuttle was very high-tech and ahead of its time, but it did not fulfill almost any set goal. Therefore, they return to conventional missiles, albeit reusable. And Buran is a dead end, it was necessary to do something like Clipper, it would be enough. Alas, politicians had their Wishlist.
      2. semen Offline semen
        semen (syoma) 8 August 2019 14: 25
        And "Buran" just appeared late.

        - His USSR simply did not pull financially.
  2. Sergey Latyshev Offline Sergey Latyshev
    Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 8 August 2019 09: 07
    Wah! On the one hand - not bad. Both capacity and volume.
    On the other - the cost of the Federation - 1 mln bucks - 2 shuttle flights (post).
    And uncertain terms - holes there, Rogozin - Roskosmos, with its promises and spaceports ...
    1. mister-red Offline mister-red
      mister-red 8 August 2019 09: 31
      Where does the info about the cost of the Federation come from, can I link? I just never met such a figure.
      1. Sergey Latyshev Offline Sergey Latyshev
        Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 8 August 2019 14: 20
        In the article:

        The price for the creation of the first flight model was determined at 57 billion rubles.

        57 rubles - a little less than 1 bucks. And there, for sure, it will increase, alas.
        1. mister-red Offline mister-red
          mister-red 14 August 2019 19: 55
          You confuse a little concept. The cost of creation is one thing, and the price of the finished product is another. This will not be one sample.
          1. Sergey Latyshev Offline Sergey Latyshev
            Sergey Latyshev (Serge) 15 August 2019 09: 11
            Maybe, though in the know.

            But usually Roscosmos and K far exceed costs.
            And the terms are so uncertain, and the amount is so undeclared that I’m afraid this cost can increase dramatically.
  3. Ygm Offline Ygm
    Ygm (Yuri) 10 August 2019 09: 22
    Time will tell what it really is - "ships of the future" or a publicity stunt to finance empty fantasies.