The end of the "Union": the Americans did not leave Russia a chance

Pride Without Prejudice

Now the Soyuz spacecraft is the only means of delivering crews aboard the ISS. It is also the only Russian manned spacecraft and one of the two existing manned ships in the world. As you know, the Chinese are quite actively developing their "Shenzhou" program: the ship built within its framework is, in fact, the Chinese version of the "Union". The Americans do not yet have their own manned spacecraft: the Space Shuttle made its final launch in 2011. Now, US astronauts fly on Russian ships. Europeans and Japanese dream of creating a full-fledged ship on the basis of their space "trucks", but whether this can be done is not known. Their space departments can only dream of such budgets as NASA, and there is much less experience than anyone else’s overseas partners.

From the outside it seems that everything is just wonderful for Russia: of the manned there are only “Unions” (even if one of them is Chinese). Why, then, is it increasingly common to hear panic among people close to the space industry? In reality, everything is much more complicated than it might seem at first glance. And that which the Soviet Union could rightfully be proud of at the time, now causes an embarrassed look to the side. The Soyuz spacecraft mentioned above made its first flight in the very distant 1967. To say that since then much has changed in the design of spacecraft - to say nothing. The Soyuz was also changing, but to the extent of the funds that Russia allocated for modernization and, more importantly, to the extent of the potential laid down in the design.

So, a ship, in principle, cannot be made much more spacious (the Soyuz series vehicles are quite cramped). The latest modification of the ship today is the “Soyuz MS”: the update affected almost every system of a manned spacecraft and, above all, electronics. But even a single glance at the device is enough to understand that we have before us a ship half a century ago. Even the Chinese twin brother of Shenzhou looks much more modern, although both of them belong to the second generation of manned spacecraft.

Not to say that they do not understand something in Roscosmos. And not to say that Russia did not try to create something to replace the Union. The most unpleasant thing was that there were such attempts, but they ended, to put it mildly, with nothing. The most illustrative example is the Clipper multi-purpose manned reusable spacecraft. He was shown to foreigners, built a full-size layout, but in 2006 the work was simply minimized. In turn, the first manned flight of the long-suffering “Federation” was recently moved to the mid-2020s: it’s hard to imagine where there will be analogues by then. Perhaps they themselves will be replaced by some fundamentally new reusable system, for example, the Big Falcon Rocket from SpaceX.

Challenge accepted

By the way, about analogues. There are several of them, all of them are from the USA.


- Dragon V2. Developer - SpaceX. The first flight is scheduled for 2018.
- Orion. Developer - Lockheed Martin. The first flight took place in 2014.
- CST-100. Developer - Boeing. The first flight is scheduled for 2018-2019.


- Dream Chaser. Developer - SpaceDev. Flight with cargo for the ISS is scheduled for 2020.
- Big Falcon Rocket (BFR). The exact date of the first flight is unknown.

The Dream Chaser mini-shuttle and the BFR mega-shuttle are a bit from another opera. These are completely reusable ships (with a rather unclear fate). They are purely conceptually very different from the new partially reusable devices, such as Dragon V2 or "Federation".

In general, competitors in Russia are doing not quite as well as one might think. Just recently it became known that SpaceX postponed the date of the first launch of the Dragon V2 manned spacecraft, as well as the first tests of the device with astronauts on board. Earlier, the dates of the first tests of its CTS-100 were postponed by Boeing. Mask company wants to carry out the first flight of the manned spacecraft Dragon V2 in November this year, and not in August, as previously planned. They want to make the first test flight with people on board in April 2019. For the CTS-100, they want to launch the first unmanned launch at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019. The first manned launch of the spacecraft was scheduled for mid-2019.

It is still difficult to judge the real benefits of the new spacecraft. But even a cursory glance at them is enough to understand how strong in terms of space of technologies The USA is ahead of the whole world. There is almost no doubt that the new Dragon or CTS-100 will be at least significantly more comfortable than its earlier counterparts. On board Dragon V2, you can accommodate up to seven crew members if necessary. For comparison, three people are placed in the Union. Inside the Space Shuttle, it’s probably even more spacious, but this program is forever gone.

The security issue is more sensitive. If the Soyuz boasts 130 successful launches, the new ships only have to prove their reliability. And there is no way to accelerate. In general, there is almost no doubt that in the first half of the 2020s, the United States will abandon flights on Russian Soyuz completely. And if политическая the situation will continue to be just as tense, it can happen even earlier.

The future of the "Union"

The transfer of the tests of the "Federation" and the success of the Americans push Roscosmos to frankly strange actions and deeds. In June, Dmitry Rogozin said that you can fly to the moon on the modernized Soyuz spacecraft. “Manned flights to the moon can be carried out on Soyuz spacecraft even before the development of the Federation is completed. Initially, the Soyuz spacecraft was created under the lunar program, which means that its modernization is quite possible until we received a new spacecraft, ”the statesman said. Perhaps it makes sense to put in the “Union” three officials not burdened with good physical form and ask: are they ready to fly to the moon? It is clear that the ship by modern standards no longer meets the requirements of long-term expeditions. They are in theory responsible "Federation". In any case, if we proceed solely from its concept.

The plans to create an unmanned cargo version on the basis of the Soyuz spacecraft seem somewhat more real. Such a device even got its name - “Union GVK”: it is believed that it can be in space for up to 370 days. However, the project itself resembles a transfusion from empty to empty. Russia already has "Progress": this space "truck", as you know, is also built on the basis of the "Union". And for many decades, he has successfully completed his tasks.

The Soyuz spacecraft will go down in history as a very successful development of the Cold War. However, to predict a “brilliant” future for him would be unreasonable: the ship is morally obsolete and needs to be replaced. Otherwise, Russian cosmonauts will have to fly on American ships.
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  1. alexey alexeyev_2 (Alexey Alekseev) 19 August 2018 16: 44
    Somewhere I already saw this mini-shuttle .... And not in the layout
    1. Awaz Offline Awaz
      Awaz (Walery) 24 August 2018 20: 37
      this mini-shuttle is a complete copy of the Soviet BOR test program. As far as I know, either Americans stolen roofing felts bought it in Russia.
      Unfortunately, the Soviet space program is aging and the new Russian one does not appear. The United States is also not doing very well. All these new projects are just a modernization of the old ideas of Von Braun and Korolev. All the successes of the Americans are connected only with the fact that Roscosmos constantly discredits Russia and the Russian and Soviet cosmonautics and the fact that the Americans have no limits in financing.
  2. Dmitry Konoplev Offline Dmitry Konoplev
    Dmitry Konoplev (Dmitry Konoplev) 20 August 2018 08: 31
    The author, of course, is well done on the issue of the race for spaceships. But for some reason he said nothing that the boat with the flag of the United States. An almost exact copy, for example, BOR-4C and EPOS and SPIRAL (50-22), there were still such boats with us and even in iron. But only in 90 gentlemen, gentlemen, the Americans bought where they stole our achievements. And after about 20 years, they were unable to implement the projects. It’s ridiculous. But the fact that ours is slowing down is a direct consequence of the presence of agents in the factories and corridors of Roscosmos. And not only there, but also in the political environment. One scandal with engines, which cost effective pancake managers. I have always said, and I will think so, economists do not have the right to manage enterprises and are also on the board of directors. Only ideological people interested in projects.
    1. Kristallovich Offline Kristallovich
      Kristallovich (Ruslan) 20 August 2018 14: 06
      It doesn’t matter what the copy is. The fact is that he is there and flies, but we do not.
      1. sogdy Offline sogdy
        sogdy (sogdy) 21 September 2018 13: 06
        Quote: IGAR
        The fact is that he is there and flies,

        Where and when? While "they" are in theoretical developments, and not in hardware.
  3. 17085 Offline 17085
    17085 (Dmitriy) 20 August 2018 18: 19
    The plans to create an unmanned cargo version on the basis of the Soyuz spacecraft seem somewhat more real. Such a device even got its name - “Union GVK”: it is believed that it can be in space for up to 370 days. However, the project itself resembles a transfusion from empty to empty. Russia already has "Progress": this space "truck", as you know, is also built on the basis of the "Union". And for many decades, he has successfully completed his tasks.

    “Union GVK” - look at Wikipedia, this is the killer of Orion, a cargo returning ship.
  4. NordUral Offline NordUral
    NordUral (Eugene) 25 August 2018 21: 43
    Send Rogozin himself together with his son to the moon in the Soyuz. And a few hundred more top managers.
  5. Alexander Zhdigurda (Alexander Zhdigurda) 16 September 2018 13: 49
    n-yes ... putting a soft sign where it is not there is, for a journalist, frankly speaking, strange ...
    At one time I was very rooting for our space industry. But then somehow my ardor cooled.
    But it is interesting to read such "pearls". Without going into too much detail ... to say that the Chinese ship is more modern? ..
    And he will not tell us, dear journalist, how is a gas station country with an economy torn to shreds for almost ten years the only cab driver on the ISS?
    But the journalist (with all the same regalia) will not tell us why GLONASS has suddenly become more accurate and noise-resistant in comparison with JPs?
    And another question. Why is a "rogue country" with a "terrible authoritarian political system" located "on the outskirts of the world economy" being compared ... with leading world leaders? )))
    Well, sooo interesting.
    And finally, a question.
    Maybe the author thought. that the United States, by investing monstrous money in a delivery man to orbit, will never do this?

    You think, dear author, and we went further there is popcorn
  6. Misha Kvakina Offline Misha Kvakina
    Misha Kvakina (Misha) 17 September 2018 09: 25
    Roskosmos needs to increase the pace of space exploration, and this is to change the ideology ... The Spaniards, when they discovered America, quickly began to consider what they could make money on. And we only know how to count where to snatch "for free" .... The 90s have sunk into oblivion !!!
    1. sogdy Offline sogdy
      sogdy (sogdy) 21 September 2018 13: 12
      Quote: Misha Kvakin
      The Spaniards, when they discovered America, quickly began to count on what they could earn.

      And what did you learn? Spain - separately, Latin America - separately. There was nothing to earn.
  7. Igor Isakov Offline Igor Isakov
    Igor Isakov (Igor Isakov) 24 September 2018 21: 49
    The journalist Legatto should have limited himself to presenting verified facts, without communicating his opinions, in the question of where he is 0 (ZERO)