Talking to a senior advanced projects engineer from EADS Astrium today I got a few more details about the Crew Space Transportation System (CSTS) programme
As well as the concept revealed on Hyperbola the joint western European, Russian industrial technical study of possible concepts has covered the “whole spread” from “a simple capsule” through to “Clipper [Kliper]”
I seem to remember being told that the industrial report has to get to the sponsoring agencies, the European Space Agency and Russia’s Federal Space Agency aka Roscosmos, by September so they have enough time to put together a proposal for the ESA member states ministerial council that is being held in November. The Astrium engineer declined to confirm or deny that September was the delivery date for what would be an intermediate results report – as the programme is funded to the end of this year
Asking about the booster for CSTS, over lunch here at Kennedy Space Center’s canteen, I was told that that was being left to one side and would be considered by the Russians once an agreed concept had been reached. Although a man-rated Ariane 5 has been mooted as a possible booster candidate the Astrium engineer’s reaction strongly suggested that the Russians would be less than happy about anything other than a Russian rocket. Well, you have got to accept they have the most reliable man-rated launch systems in the world
But the “Soyuz 3” proposal is not firm and I was told the CSTS booster could just as easily be a wholly new design. What I was told that I had not heard before was that Soyuz 2 can do up to 16,000kg (35,200lb) into low Earth orbit at a push
But can you really get a Moon-capable (as CSTS is supposed to be) vehicle, plus margin, for 16 tonne?