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Soviet-era spaceships to fly commercial space missions

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http://www.floridatoday.com/article/200 ... +missions+

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An international spaceflight company plans to launch paying passengers on week-long orbital trips by 2013 using Soviet-era spacecraft originally built for classifed military space stations.

The company, Excalibur Almaz Limited based in the Isle of Man, has acquired several Reusable Return Vehicles (RRVs), spacecraft initially designed for flying cosmonauts to the former Soviet Union's super-secret Almaz space stations of the 1970s, the firm announced Tuesday at the Moscow Air Show in Russia.

"With this announcement, the dream of private orbital space exploration may become a reality in the very near future," said veteran Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Titov, an advisor to Excalibur Almaz, in a statement.

To date, wealthy space enthusiasts have been able to book trips to orbit by riding as paying passengers on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft headed for the International Space Station during crew change missions. Those trips, arranged by the Virginia-based firm Space Adventures and Russia's Federal Space Agency, currently cost more than $30 million.

Excalibur Almaz did not reveal its anticipated price per trip in Tuesday's announcement, but did detail plans to update its RRV spacecraft for independent flights to orbit.

The spacecraft consists of two sections, the cone-shaped RRV for launch and re-entry, and an expendable service module designed to offer more room to live and work in space. The vehicles can carry three people - a commander and two passengers - or about 1,100 pounds of cargo and are designed to stay aloft for at least a week, officials said.

"A critical feature of the RRVs is their reusability, which will reduce logistical, overhead and program costs for commercial access to space," Excalibur Almaz officials said, adding that the spacecraft will be designed to fit atop a variety of launch vehicles in order to lift off from different sites around the world.

The company is working with the original Almaz station manufacturer, Russia's NPO Mashinostroyenia (or NPOM), to overhaul its stock of launch vehicles and space stations, company officials said. The spacecraft will be updated to meet customer needs for space exploration, cargo delivery or orbital research in microgravity, they added.

NPOM designed, tested and flew several Almaz space stations and RRV prototypes in the 1970s. The first Almaz (which means "Diamond" in Russian) station to reach orbit was christened Salyut 2, but failed in 1973. Two others, dubbed Salyuts 3 and 5, later flew with much success. The RRVs flew about nine test flights, with two vehicles reaching orbit repeatedly, Excalibur Almaz officials said.

The effort is an international endeavor with members in Russia, the United States, Europe and Japan. Former NASA astronauts - such as veteran spaceflyers Leroy Chiao and Franklin Chang-Diaz - as well as veteran space officials and cosmonauts are listed among the company's top leadership and advisors.

Because of that international involvement and expertise "[Excalibur Almaz] is in a unique position to initiate a new era of private orbital space exploration," said the company's founder and CEO Art Dula, a veteran attorney specializing in aerospace issues.




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Sounds a bit "Delboy to me" - "Picked up some old Rusky spacecraft at a car boot sale last Sunday Rodney. We could make a fortune doing sightseeing trips over Peckham!!! :) :)

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The Soviet-era space kit was never used as much as the US kit was, and has been kept in reasonable condition. Not quite sure why, perhaps 'job creation', or national pride, or a bit of both.
Given that most of the US kit is at the end of its' days, the Russians may be the only ones who can keep up space flights in the short-term.
On a similar theme, I saw the 'Konkordski' at the Moscow Air Show last week, and it looks immaculate. It doesn't fly, but I have the feeling it wouldn't take too much work to put it in the air.
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It was open to visitors, and there was a very long queue.
I love the thought of Excalibur Almaz being based in the IOM. No doubt it's a 'brass plate',company, like the 4-engined Airbus which could never land in the IOM, but is registered there!

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I'd love a go in an Eraknoplan!!!

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here's one still sitting in the caspian sea


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Yeah, me too! I've heard it's in a bit of a sorry state, but I'd love to see it. I noticed it got a starring role in Sebastian Faulks' interpretation of James Bond in 'Devil May Care'. Guess there'll have to be a bit of a re-write if they film it! :chin:

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tango15 wrote:The Soviet-era space kit was never used as much as the US kit was, and has been kept in reasonable condition. Not quite sure why, perhaps 'job creation', or national pride, or a bit of both.
Given that most of the US kit is at the end of its' days, the Russians may be the only ones who can keep up space flights in the short-term.
On a similar theme, I saw the 'Konkordski' at the Moscow Air Show last week, and it looks immaculate. It doesn't fly, but I have the feeling it wouldn't take too much work to put it in the air.
Image.
It was open to visitors, and there was a very long queue.
I love the thought of Excalibur Almaz being based in the IOM. No doubt it's a 'brass plate',company, like the 4-engined Airbus which could never land in the IOM, but is registered there!


I bet if Konkordski did fly again it would kept clear of Paris this time :chin:




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Why does it need those small forward wings when the 'Western' concorde didn't ?

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smeggypants wrote:Why does it need those small forward wings when the 'Western' concorde didn't ?


That's a very subtle hint, Martyn!

The story I've been told is that British Aircraft Corporation became aware that plans for the Concorde were finding their way to Moscow. Rather than cut off the source, they decided to 're-design' the aircraft on the basis that the droop nose was causing aerodynamic problems. Hence the addition of the 'canards' as they're called. (Not sure why they're called after the French word for duck :confused:).
There are varying views about this, but many in the aviation community believe that these canards were complicit in the accident at the Paris Air Show. The real reason(s) for the accident were never fully determined, because the aircraft was destroyed, there were no 'black boxes', and of course Soviet secrecy.

The evidence for the plan leak story is contained in a fascinating book by Greville Wynne. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greville_Wynne 'The Man from Moscow' - This guy was a real-life James Bond, and did many years in the KGB prison in Lubyanka for his trouble. His story makes James Bond look a wimp!

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tango15 wrote:
smeggypants wrote:Why does it need those small forward wings when the 'Western' concorde didn't ?


That's a very subtle hint, Martyn!


Smeggypants you mean? ;)


The story I've been told is that British Aircraft Corporation became aware that plans for the Concorde were finding their way to Moscow. Rather than cut off the source, they decided to 're-design' the aircraft on the basis that the droop nose was causing aerodynamic problems. Hence the addition of the 'canards' as they're called. (Not sure why they're called after the French word for duck :confused:).
There are varying views about this, but many in the aviation community believe that these canards were complicit in the accident at the Paris Air Show. The real reason(s) for the accident were never fully determined, because the aircraft was destroyed, there were no 'black boxes', and of course Soviet secrecy.

The evidence for the plan leak story is contained in a fascinating book by Greville Wynne. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greville_Wynne 'The Man from Moscow' - This guy was a real-life James Bond, and did many years in the KGB prison in Lubyanka for his trouble. His story makes James Bond look a wimp!


Once again politics and subterfuge comes into it. I'm not surprised.

btw - the definition of 'carnard' I found was a 'misleading fabrication' or a 'false statement', which is what I remember it to be. maybe French Ducks are fake and aer pigeons in disguise.

Mallard Fizz? Twist of Lemming?

Oooh no thank you sir!!!

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