Conceptual spaceships of the future (photos)
This article will address such a topic as future spacecraft: photos, descriptions and specifications. Before turning directly to the topic, we offer the reader a brief insight into the history, which will help to assess the current state of the space industry.
Space during the Cold War was one of the arenas where the confrontation between the USA and the USSR was fought. The main stimulus for the development of the space industry in those years was precisely the geopolitical confrontation of the superpowers. Vast resources were thrown on space exploration programs. For example, the United States government spent approximately $ 25 billion on the project called Apollo, whose main goal is to land a man on the moon. This amount for the 1970s was simply gigantic. The Soviet Union’s budget for the lunar program, which was never to be realized, cost 2.5 billion rubles.16 million rubles cost the development of the spacecraft "Buran". At the same time he was destined to make only one space flight.
Space Shuttle Program
His American counterpart is much more fortunate. The Space Shuttle completed 135 launches. However, this “shuttle” was not eternal. Its last launch took place on July 8, 2011. Americans during the implementation of the program released 6 "shuttle". One of them was a prototype, which never carried out space flights. 2 others completely crashed.
The program "Space Shuttle" from an economic point of view can hardly be considered successful. Disposable ships were much more economical. In addition, it caused doubts about the safety of flights on the "shuttle". As a result of two accidents that occurred during the period of their exploitation, 14 astronauts became victims. However, the reason for such ambiguous travel results lies not in the technical imperfection of the ships, but in the complexity of the very concept of spacecraft intended for multiple use.
The value of spacecraft "Soyuz" today
In the end, "Soyuz", single-use spacecraft from Russia,which were developed in the 1960s, became the only vehicles that are currently manned flights to the ISS. It should be noted that this does not mean their superiority over the Space Shuttle. They have a number of significant drawbacks. For example, their carrying capacity is limited. Also, the use of such devices leads to the accumulation of orbital debris, which remains after their operation. Very soon, space flights on the "Union" will become history. To date, there are no real alternatives. The future spacecraft are still in the development stage, photos of which are presented in this article. The huge potential laid down in the concept of reusable ships is often, even in our time, technically unrealizable.
Barack Obama statement
Barack Obama in July 2011 stated that the main goal of astronauts from the United States in the coming decades is a flight to Mars. The space program "Constellation" has become one of the programs that NASA carries out as part of the flight to Mars and the exploration of the moon. For these purposes, of course, we need new spacecraft of the future. What is the situation with their development?
The main hopes are pinned on the creation of the Orion - a new spacecraft, as well as the Ares-5 and Ares-1 launch vehicles and the Altair lunar module. In 2010, the United States government decided to curtail the program "Constellation", but despite this, NASA still got the opportunity to further develop "Orion." In the near future, it is planned to carry out the first test unmanned flight. It is assumed that the device during this flight will be removed from the Earth by 6 thousand km. This is about 15 times greater than the distance at which the ISS is located from our planet. The ship after a test flight will head for Earth. The new device can enter the atmosphere, developing a speed of 32 thousand km / h. "Orion" in this indicator exceeds the legendary "Apollo" by 1,5 thousand km / h. The implementation of the first manned launch is scheduled for 2021.
According to NASA plans, the Atlas-5 and Delta-4 will act as launch vehicles for this ship. It was decided to abandon the development of "Ares". For the development of deep space, in addition, Americans are designing a SLS - a new launch vehicle.
The concept of "Orion"
Orion is a partially reusable ship. It is conceptually closer to the Soyuz than to the Shuttle. Most future spaceships are partially reusable. This concept assumes that the ship’s liquid capsule can be reused after landing on Earth. This will make it possible to combine the economics of operating the Apollo and Soyuz with the functional practicality of reusable ships. This decision is a transitional stage. In all likelihood, in the distant future all spacecraft of the future will become reusable. Such is the development trend of the space industry. Therefore, it can be said that the Soviet Buran is a prototype of the future spacecraft, just like the American Space Shuttle. They are far ahead of their time.
The words "forethought" and "practicality" seem to characterize Americans as well as possible. The government of this country has decided not to shoulder "Orion" all cosmic ambitions. Today, at the request of NASA, several private firms are developing their own spacecraft of the future, which are designed to replace the vehicles used today.Boeing, for example, is developing the CST-100, a partially reusable and manned ship. It is designed for short trips to Earth orbit. Its main task will be the delivery of cargo and crew to the ISS.
Planned launches CST-100
Up to seven people can make up the crew. During the development of the CST-100, special attention was paid to the comfort of astronauts. Its living space was significantly increased in comparison with the ships of the previous generation. It is likely that the launch of the CST-100 will be carried out using Falcon, Delta or Atlas launch vehicles. Atlas-5 is the most suitable option. With the help of airbags and a parachute will be landing the ship. According to the plans of the company Boeing, CST-100 in 2015 waiting for a whole series of test launches. Unmanned will be the first 2 flights. Their main task is to put the device into orbit and test the security systems. Manned docking with the ISS is planned during the third flight. In the case of successful tests, the CST-100 will very soon come to replace Progress and Soyuz, the Russian ships, which today are monopoly on manned flights to the ISS.
Development of "Dragon"
Another private spacecraft designed to deliver crew and cargo to the ISS will be a spacecraft developed by SpaceX. This "Dragon" - monoblock ship, partially reusable. It is planned to build 3 modifications of this device: autonomous, cargo and manned. Like the CST-100, the crew can be up to seven people. The ship in the cargo version can take on board 4 people and 2.5 tons of cargo.
"Dragon" want to use in the future also for a flight to Mars. To do this, create a special version of this ship called "Red Dragon". The unmanned flight of this device to the Red Planet will take place, according to the plans of the US space management, in 2018.
The constructive feature of the "Dragon" and the first flights
Reusability is one of the features of "Dragon". After the flight, the fuel tanks and part of the energy systems will be lowered along with the living capsule to Earth. Then they can be used again for space flight. This design feature distinguishes the "Dragon" from most other promising developments. Dragon and CST-100 will complement each other in the near future and serve as a safety net.If one of these types of ship fails for some reason to accomplish the tasks assigned to it, then part of its work will take over the other.
For the first time the "Dragon" was put into orbit in 2010. Successfully completed a test unmanned flight. And in 2012, on May 25, this device docked with the ISS. By that time, an automatic docking system was not provided on the ship, and it was necessary to use a space station manipulator to implement it.
"Dream Chaser" is another name for future spacecraft. Not to mention this project company SpaceDev. Also, 12 partners of the company, 3 US universities and 7 NASA centers took part in its development. This ship is significantly different from other space developments. It looks like a miniature Space Shuttle and can land like a regular plane. Its main tasks are similar to the tasks facing the CST-100 and the "Dragon". The device is designed to deliver the crew and cargo to near-Earth orbit, and it will be displayed there with the help of Atlas-5.
And what about us?
And how can Russia answer? What are Russian spaceships of the future? RSC Energia in 2000 began designing the Clipper space complex,which is multipurpose. This spacecraft is reusable, resembling something externally "shuttle", reduced in size. It is designed to solve various problems, such as cargo delivery, space tourism, evacuation of the station crew, flights to other planets. Certain hopes were pinned on this project.
It was assumed that the spacecraft of the future of Russia will soon be constructed. However, due to lack of funding, I had to say goodbye to these hopes. The project closed in 2006. The technologies that have been developed over the years are planned to be used for the design of the PCV, also known as the Rus project.
The best space ships of the future, as experts from Russia believe, are PPTS. This very space system will be destined to become a new generation of spacecraft. It will be able to replace the "Progress" and "Unions", rapidly becoming obsolete. The development of this ship, as in the past, "Clipper", is engaged today RSC Energia. PTK NK will be the basic modification of this complex. Its main task, again, will be to deliver the crew and cargo to the ISS.However, in the long term is the development of modifications that will be able to fly to the moon, as well as perform various research missions, long in time.
The ship itself should be partially reusable. The liquid capsule will be reused after the landing, but there will be no engine-aggregate compartment. A curious feature of this ship is the possibility of its landing without a parachute. The reactive system will be used for braking and landing on the earth's surface.
Unlike the Soyuzov, which are taking off from the Baikonur cosmodrome located in Kazakhstan, new ships are planned to be launched from the Vostochny cosmodrome under construction in the Amur Region. 6 people will make the crew. The device can also take a weight of up to 500 kg. The ship in the unmanned version can deliver loads of up to 2 tons in weight.
The problems facing the developers of PTS
One of the main problems facing the PPTS project is the lack of launch vehicles with the required characteristics. The main technical aspects of the spacecraft today are worked out, but the absence of a launch vehicle puts it in a very difficult situation.It is assumed that it will be similar in characteristics to the "Angara", which was developed in the 90s.
Another serious problem, oddly enough, is the design goal of the PTA. Today, Russia can hardly afford the implementation of ambitious programs for the exploration of Mars and the Moon, similar to those implemented by the United States. Even if the space complex will be successfully developed, most likely, its only task will be to deliver the crew and cargo to the ISS. Until 2018, the start of testing of the PTA has been postponed. Prospective vehicles from the United States by this time, most likely, will already assume the functions performed by the Russian ships Progress and Soyuz today.
Foggy prospects for space flight
It is a fact that the world today remains devoid of the romance of space flight. This, of course, is not about space tourism and the launch of satellites. You can not worry about these areas of space exploration. Flights to the ISS are very important for the space industry, but the duration of the ISS orbit itself is limited. In 2020 it is planned to liquidate this station. A manned spacecraft of the future are part of a specific program.You can not develop a new device in the absence of ideas about the tasks before it. Not only for the delivery of crews and cargoes of the ISS are designed new spacecraft of the future in the United States, but also for flights to the Moon and Mars. However, these tasks from everyday earthly concerns are so far away that we can hardly expect significant breakthroughs in the field of astronautics in the coming years. Space threats remain fantasy, so it makes no sense to design the combat spacecraft of the future. And, of course, the Earth’s powers have many other concerns besides fighting each other for space in orbit and other planets. The construction of such devices as military spacecraft of the future, therefore, also impractical.