The above image is a concept drawing for the successor to Russia’s Soyuz. Today, Russia announced the winner of the contract to begin building the next-generation space capsule. It will be roomier and capable of entering Lunar orbit! The BBC article where I saw this pic speculates that Russia may be planning for their own moonbase and this new craft will be a big piece in that puzzle.
For many of the past few years, the US government (aka NASA) has dominated the above 100KM mark when it came to human spaceflight. Now, there are a number of nations and private companies wanting to get in on the action:
- China recently carried out their first spacewalk using the Shenzhou design and has its eyes on the moon
- India’s planning to meet us out on the regolith in 2020
- While unmanned, the European’s have proven out the ATV concept
- Space X’s Dragon is slated for a demo launch this year
Constellation is still on track, but there are still questions about what the President plans to do with that project, the Space Shuttle, and the entire future of our manned space program. I’m on pins and needles waiting for a decision!