More European Crew Space Transportation System details

by | Apr 17, 2008 | Seradata News | 1 comment

Visiting European aerospace giant Thales Alenia Space yesterday I got to talk to the head of systems management and methodologies for the company’s space infrastructure and transportation business unit, Claudio Ferro about Crew Space Transportation System (CSTS) and he says there are now crew and cargo-only variants being discussed and an Apollo-like capsule is still a possiblity

caption: This artist’s impression shows ESA’s 2,800kg (6,100lb), 2.8m (9.18ft)-diameter Atmospheric Reentry Demonstrator (ARD) capsule in orbit. With 200 onboard sensors ARD was launched on 21 October 1998 by an Ariane 5 into a 830km (515miles) apogee suborbital trajectory and splashed down in the Pacific ocean after its 100min flightESA has funded a CSTS study being conducted jointly by what it calls “the European consortium” involving Thales Alenia Space and EADS Astrium and probably a few others, and that consortium is in turn collaborating with Russia’s S. P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia

Interestingly Ferro said that an Apollo like capsule is still very much being discussed and that the current trade space studies were focusing on the internal volume of the capsule, which would land using parachutes and have an outer mould shape that would improve lift over drag performance

The internal volume studies are because of these crew and cargo-only versions

Ferro also said that a biconic design was being considered although a simple shape based on conical geometry was still seen as attractive

While the near-term circumlunar capability might be dropped in favour of a more rapid development of a vehicle to go to the International Space Station before its retirement in 2016, if it is actually deorbited then

Early talk of CSTS had focused on a lunar capable version of the Soyuz vehicle but Ferro says that upon closer study problems arose with the thermal protection system for a Soyuz and the changes that a lunar return capable TPS would mean for the Soyuz capsule

With the Apollo-like capsule a man-rated Ariane 5 is also still being considered according to Ferro. I was surprised at this as I thought man-rating an Ariane would just be too expensive especially when the Russians seem to be pushing for one of their boosters to be used and if they want to spend that money, why would ESA member states stop them?

This website,, has information about ESA capsule concepts

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