Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Kliper: You know, what it really needs are solar sails

MSNBC has an interesting article up by Russian space expert James Oberg on the unveiling of the next-generation Russian spacecraft, which is optimistically named after the famed "clipper ships" of yore:
Russian next-generation Kliper spacecraft

I find an interesting degree of irony in this picture, as behind the Kliper mockup you can see what remains of the Buran space shuttle, the previous next-generation Russian spacecraft which made several successful test flights prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union, but no manned flights.

I have no idea if Kliper will ever fly, but it's an interesting design. Like some of the designs NASA has toyed with, it's based on the lifting body concept, which I'm convinced will eventually become the preferred approach for orbital vehicles. I'm not convinced this ship can fly as cheaply as the Russians say, but then again it doesn't try to do too much--simply ferry six crew and a modest amount of cargo, as opposed to the U.S. shuttle which tried to do everything, and did everything poorly. The basic approach and design appears sound, but again, the devil's in the details. Venturestar looked great on paper as well, and we all know what a fiasco that one turned out to be.

You can find some interesting schematics and technical specifications for the Kliper at Russian Space Web, and a good visual comparison with the current incarnation of the Soyuz spacecraft at Astronautix.

Now Playing: The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

No comments:

Post a Comment