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The Russian Space Agency sees the Kliper reusable spacecraft to be the most promising cooperation project with Europe
The Russian Space Agency sees the Kliper reusable spacecraft to be the most promising cooperation project with Europe, agency head Anatoly Perminov told a Moscow press conference today. "The European Space Agency has supported this project, and plans to involve the space agencies of other countries in it, too." Perminov said. "The Kliper, which can be launched from both Russian and European space centers, may become a key element in exploring the solar system's planets." Nikolai Sevastyanov, the new head of Russia's leading rocket-manufacturing company, Energia, told RIA Novosti that the main economic principle underlying the project was to reduce the cost of space flight by building a vehicle big enough to accommodate a six-member crew. He said it would be cheaper to use the Kliper than Russia's current workhorse, the Soyuz, or the U.S. space shuttle. When speaking of the launch vehicle for the new craft, Sevastyanov said the most likely candidate was an upgraded Soyuz. This would allow the Kliper to be launched from either of Russia's two space centers (Baikonur in Kazakhstan and Plesetsk in northern Russia), as well as from the Kourou site, which is in French Guiana. However, he said a final choice would be made later, once a thorough analysis of each site had been conducted. Vladimir Daneyev, the project's chief designer, told RIA that the Kliper's outward appearance and many of its technical specifications had been determined. He said an innovative design (specifically, forward-curved wings) would enable the spacecraft to land on any military airfield with a runway three to three and a half kilometers long. According to Daneyev, the first of the Kliper's two unmanned test flights is scheduled for the year 2011, to be followed by a manned test flight the next year
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