The Russian Kliper space craft will make its debut flight in 2012, with full operations to the International Space Station (ISS) beginning in 2015 – when the re-usable ship replaces the Soyuz transport.
The General Director and chief designer of Energia, Nikolai Sevastyanov, said the six-man ship which will also will have a cargo capacity option of 12mt, six times that of the Soyuz, with the first manned test flight scheduled for 2013.
‘In developing Kliper, we create a new concept for manned space vehicle,’ said Sevastyanov to RIA news agency, Moscow. ‘Although Soyuz is economically more efficient than Space Shuttle, its manufacturing costs recur with each new mission. But in the case of Kliper the descent vehicle is to be reusable and to have glider-like properties.
‘Propulsion and utility modules are to be non-returnable, but reusable, that is, they are to permanently stay within the space station.’
Sevastyanov also revealed that the Kliper will land at Baikonur’s 251 runway, originally built for the Buran Space Shuttle. Kliper will use parachutes to aid its return to Earth before gliding down to slowly rollout on the runway
‘Kliper will be launched on an upgraded Soyuz launch vehicle and will land as a glider on a runway, which had been originally constructed for Buran.’
Sevastyanov also opened up the availability for space tourists to travel to the ISS on the Kliper, placing the importance on the project’s ability to pay be commercially viable.
‘It can carry a crew of six: two professional cosmonauts and four non-professionals,’ he added. ‘We plan to launch the first regular mission in 2012 and to start using it as the main transportation system since 2015.
‘We want to make Kliper a self-subsidizing project, which will allow Russia to keep the commercial space flight market.’
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