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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

European Space

posted by on May 28 at 16:10 PM

The Europeans are tired of catching American and Russian rides to the stars. They now feel a great want for a spaceship of their own.

This is a model of the future European spaceship…

The interior is more PR-orientated. We have three leather benches in there; we have touch screens - we can show simulated flights on the monitors; but of course the accessible volume is a lot larger than the real vehicle, which would have lots of equipment, a docking port, and these kinds of things.

Russia and America! Move out the way, move out the way.

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I suspect European space is still going to be dominated by more practical robot craft for the near future.

Posted by The Baron | May 28, 2008 4:28 PM

The leather looks Corinthian. Rich.

Posted by elenchos | May 28, 2008 4:32 PM

I hope they build a better Space Toilet than the Russians.

Posted by Toe Tag | May 28, 2008 4:33 PM

This is just a man-rated version of ESA's current Jules Verne "Automated Transfer Vehicle" (ATV) that went into service this past March, and the idea of converting it to manned operation has been kicking around for four or five years now.

At any rate, even if the Europeans decide to upgrade the ATV to carry human passengers, they won't have a functional Crew Return Vehicle available until 2018 at the earliest, so don't go holding your breath there, Chaz.

And besides, it's not the Europeans OR the Russians we should be looking over our shoulders at - I'd be much more concerned about what the Chinese are up to with their "Shenzhou" program, which has already successfully completed two manned missions, with a third scheduled for October of this year.

Posted by COMTE | May 28, 2008 4:52 PM

Everyone with a half-assed space program has designed a manned spacecraft. The key word here is 'designed'. The ESA has existed only about 5 years less than NASA and they have accomplished a grand total of zero manned spaceflights and about a dozen probes. I won't be holding my breath waiting for this craft.

I'd put my money on the Japanese getting a manned spacecraft operational before the Europeans. Less bureaucracy and competition with the Chinese will give them the motivation that the ESA lacks.

Posted by bz-ishi | May 28, 2008 5:00 PM

The US is retiring its shuttle fleet in T-minus a year and a half, and from then on is planning to hitch rides on Soviet spacecraft, until/unless a replacement manned spacecraft can ever be launchpad ready.

CNSA is planning to have their taikonauts do a spacewalk from their Shenzhou craft this fall.

Posted by BTW | May 28, 2008 5:02 PM

The Euro spacecraft will have two toilets - one for heteros and one for LGBTs.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 28, 2008 5:15 PM

Why would LGBT astronauts need their own toilet, Will?

Posted by COMTE | May 28, 2008 6:19 PM

elenchos @2,

That leather is indeed rich and Corinthian. Not to mention smooth and luxurious. Just like the luxury seats in my brand new Cordoba!

(Cue Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez")

Posted by Jeff Stevens | May 28, 2008 6:28 PM

Stop it! American plastic chairs are so much more practical.

Posted by lawrence clark | May 28, 2008 6:41 PM

That looks a little bit like Mr. Poe's bedroom.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | May 28, 2008 7:25 PM

What the fuck kind of word is "PR-orientated" ?

Posted by Dr_Awesome | May 28, 2008 8:51 PM

Well, just in case.

But at least they have a backup ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 28, 2008 11:42 PM

The obvious advantage is that they can get their spacecraft interior from Ikea, flat in a box, and not assemble it until in orbit.

Posted by Mikeblanco | May 29, 2008 2:51 AM

I have a leather chair, a touchscreen, and an empty closet in my home office. Does this mean I'm more advanced than the American and Russian space programs?

Posted by Spoogie | May 29, 2008 7:09 AM

I will be impressed when we build this....

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | May 29, 2008 7:09 AM

Funding for unmanned earth-science missions has been dwindling in favor of manned missions. This needs to stop.

Yeah, putting a man on the moon is sexy, but it's pretty useless. Tracking hurricanes and tornadoes in real-time with multi-spectral imagers is damned useful.

And before some romantic starts in about how humanity needs to go to the stars... Just NO. If we can't make nice here on earth, we've no business trashing the galaxy.

While my examples are from US space policy, I hope the Europeans don't follow us down this path.

Posted by opticsdoug | May 29, 2008 9:20 AM

Kinda has that "Dr. Who" vibe to it...

Posted by notonthehill | May 29, 2008 10:45 AM

Three leather bench seats?

Is there room in there for Charles, Monica Belluci, and Natalie Merchant?

Charles didn't want to say it, so I said it for him.

Posted by CP | May 29, 2008 4:00 PM

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