Space Program
ESA Phoenix, European Space Shuttle
Source: US Air Force

Phoenix is the prototype of a European vehicle for reusable launchers and may even support manned space flight.
It can be flown atop the Ariane 5 or may be launched using other techniques. The project is for non-military usages and will probably be part of ESAs next vehicle. (Phoenix was, besides Penelope and Ariane, originally suggested for the name of Ariane rocket family.)

Phoenix is designed to be more economical than todays space vehicles and even reliable for manned space operations.
For conventional rockets, like the Ariane, the costs to launch 1 kilogram of payload weight into orbit can be up to $25.000 (per kilo).
In the first few decades of the 21st century, it will be the first independent manned European non-military attempt at space operations and will be an important part of the ISS project. (Compare Vostok 1.)
It is anticipated that the production craft will enter use between 2015 and 2020.

Phoenix is part of the German national program ASTRA, a $40 million project founded by the German Federal Goverment, EADS Space Transportation and the State of Bremen with one third each.
Both EADS and the State of Bremen have already invested another $8.2 million respective $4.3 million out of own funds. Another contribution of 16 million euros comes from partner companies such as the Bremen-based OHB, DLR and the Federal Ministry for Education and Research.

EADS is responsible for the project management and for the entire software equipment of the system. Other partner companies are also involved in the development.

The Phoenix RLV prototype is 6.9 meters long (23'), has a weight of 1,200 kilograms (2,640 lbs), and a wingspan of 3.9 meters (13').
The prototype, at one seventh the size of the planned vehicle, is still in the alpha stage of development at Bremen labs of EADS.

On Saturday 8 May 2004 the prototype was dropped from 2.4 kilometers (8,000 feet) by a helicopter and landed precisely and without incident after a GPS-guided 90-second glide.
The test was conducted at the North European Aerospace Test range in Kiruna, 1,240 km (770 miles) north of Stockholm, Sweden. Future tests will involve drops from higher altitude, possibly from a balloon.

The primary aim of the test was to assess the glider potential of the craft. The final version of the vehicle must be able to glide from an altitude of 129 kilometers (80 miles). 


ESA Phoenix, European Space Shuttle
Air Drop Tests
Credit: DLR/US Air Force


DLR's Phoenix demonstrator is dropped over Sweden's NEAT test range
Credit: DLR/US Air Force
Credit: DLR/US Air Force

May 10, 2004
PHOENIX: Future prospects in space transport through reusable launch systems

Bremen- Sagging commercial satellite markets and distorted competitive conditions in the launch services sector show that conventional, expendable launch vehicles need to be adjusted to meet the market's demand for improved profitability, efficiency and versatility. Studies prove that Europe's position in the global market and sustained, autonomous European access to space can only be ensured by drastically lowering current transportation costs. This, however, can be achieved by using reusable launch systems.

EADS SPACE Transportation is taking a very active role in the research, technology and development efforts that will support improvements to current launch vehicles and the development of brand-new launcher families. This work covers both conventional, expendable launch vehicles and the planned partially or totally reusable launch vehicles.

For the moment, however, it is still too early to predict what type of launch vehicle will be carrying our payloads aloft in 20 years. EADS SPACE Transportation is currently studying several technological demonstrators such as PHOENIX, Pre-X, Ares or Themis. In doing so, technologies will be prepared that are indispensable for the development of tomorrow's space vehicles.

With PHOENIX, EADS SPACE Transportation concentrates on aspects such as flight characteristics and automatic landing capabilities of such a future reusable space vehicle. PHOENIX is a German project that is intended to strengthen Germany's position in view of the forthcoming Europeanisation.



Astrium has unveiled a revolutionary new vehicle for space tourism. The business jet sized craft is designed to carry four passengers 100 km up into space giving more than three minutes of "zero G" or weightlessness.

Video Animation

Space Plane Brochure PDF


NASA CEV Shuttle Replacement

Bold New Frontiers
November 10, 2004
By James Bernstein
Newsday (New York)

Northrop Grumman Corp. and Boeing Co. yesterday announced plans to team up to design a vehicle to take astronauts back to the moon and even beyond, but they've got to make one stop first - an off-white cinderblock building in Bethpage known as the Grumman History Center

Stored there are documents and pictures that the former Grumman company used in the 1960s to design and manufacture the spidery-looking vehicle known as the lunar lander that took astronauts to the moon during the Apollo program.

Why would Northrop Grumman and Boeing engineers want to look so far back to compete against other companies for the right to build what NASA is now calling the crew exploration vehicle? Space experts said it is likely the CEV will follow the module and capsule design used in the Apollo program, instead of the reusable spaceplane design employed in the space shuttle system.

Beyond that, Northrop Grumman and Boeing engineers want to know what their Grumman ancestors went through in designing the LM - the spacecraft that put what was then Long Island's largest company squarely into the spacefaring business of the 60s.

Larry Feliu, 78, of Uniondale, who manages the Grumman History Center, said he has already turned over to Jim Berry, Northrop Grumman's chief engineer, 29 documents related to the LM's structural and thermal shielding, handling and instrumentation systems. He is preparing to hand over more.

"It's a guiding light for them," Feliu said of the new generation of space explorers. "Of course, technology has improved" since the 60s. "But there's a lot of things they can learn. We've experienced this thing. Nobody else in the world has done this before or since," he said of putting astronauts on the surface of the moon.

Northrop Grumman and Boeing were working independently on studying ways of developing the still-largely undefined CEV. Company executives yesterday said they decided to combine talents to take on 10 other competitors, including Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md., the nation's largest military contractor.

"We are truly all going to have to learn to work together to create a systems capability far beyond anything anybody has tried to do," said Chuck Allen, a Boeing vice president, in a teleconference.

The proposal to create the CEV is partly a reaction to the space shuttle Columbia disaster in February 2003 and the White House's review of the U.S. space program. Last January, President George W. Bush announced the CEV as part of what he called his "Vision for Space Exploration." The CEV, Bush said, would ferry astronauts and scientists to the moon, Mars and "to other worlds" after the nation's fleet of space shuttles is retired around 2010.

What the CEV will look like, or how many people it will be capable of carrying is part of what the study is all about, said Michael Braukus, a NASA spokesman. NASA hopes to ask contractors for design proposals by January. A first moon flight is scheduled for 2015.

Space policy analysts said Northrop Grumman and Boeing increased their chances of winning any competition by forming a team. But, they said, there is a long way to go. Among the obstacles, experts said, is the mounting U.S. budget deficit.

John Pike, director of, a space research organization in Washington, D.C., said he had serious doubts the project would materialize. "Everybody is standing up and saluting the president's bold vision, and there's not a one of them prepared to acknowledge it's a charade" because of the deficit, Pike said.

But Mehmet Sozen, an associate professor of engineering and physics at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., said he believed in the mission. "One of the main issues is to check for evidence of life, or past life," on planets, Sozen said. Does he think life exists out there? "I can't rule that out," Sozen said.

Copyright 2004, Newsday, Inc.

SOURCE: Global Security

Jun 4, 2005
NASA Wants a Shuttle-derived Launch Vehicle

Editor's note: According to NASA sources, the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate has recommended (internally) that NASA pursue development of a heavy lift launch system based, in part, on the current Space Shuttle. Such a Shuttle-derived Launch Vehicle (SDLV) would be capable of placing 80-100 metric tons of payload into Low Earth Orbit (LEO). NASA is expected to formally reveal its SDLV plans in the first week of July.

NASA chief: Marshall has 'brightest future', Huntsville Times

"Griffin said an attractive option would be to use the shuttle propulsion elements with a new cargo-carrying vehicle hung on the massive 15-story external fuel tank. This would keep shuttle production lines going - a cost saving measure - and experienced shuttle propulsion workers in their jobs. A final decision on NASA's next heavy-lift vehicle could come within the next few weeks, Griffin said."

NASA chief boosts Michoud spirits, Times Picayune

"Griffin said that fulfilling President Bush's directive to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 will require not only a new vehicle for astronauts, but a heavy-lift cargo spaceship as well. The new cargo vehicle will require "assets that only the Michoud plant can deliver," he said."


Jul 31, 2005 
NASA's New CEV Launcher to Maximize Use of Space Shuttle Components

The decision on what new launch vehicles NASA plans to use in the coming decades is rapidly coming into focus. In some ways these launchers will be new - yet they will also look very familiar using hardware and concepts that have long and well-established flight histories.

Analysts have reviewed a wide variety of launch vehicle options for both manned and cargo-only versions of the NASA Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and have settled for an all-solid booster configuration, according to sources close to NASA's Exploration Systems Architecture Study (aka the "60 Day Study")

But a year-long study initiated prior to the change in NASA Administrators and completed this spring gave an extensive review to both uses of a launch vehicle derived from the Space Shuttle's Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) as well as a larger booster design using twin SRB motors flanking a derivative of the shuttle's External Tank (ET), mated with a large liquid upper stage. Studies also looked at growth options from the nation's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELV) community.

Internal NASA documents detailing the review, which was completed in late June, were obtained by the authors. A second, related study has reviewed heavy lift options using the same shuttle-derived elements. 

SOURCE: Space Ref

EURO-Russian Spaceplane Kliper

Sep 27, 2005
Plans for Euro-Russian spaceplane

By Helen Briggs
BBC News science reporter, Moscow

A mock-up of the Clipper on display at the Moscow Airshow

The European Space Agency (Esa) is proposing joining forces with Russia to develop a new vehicle for human spaceflight, the Clipper. The six-person spaceplane would give European astronauts autonomous access to the space station and the Moon. Esa will ask its member states to fund a 30-40m-euro (20-27m) preparatory study at its next ministerial meeting.

Russia is planning to replace its ageing Soyuz capsule with the Clipper and is seeking international partners. The Soyuz has been in operation since the late 1960s, flying cosmonauts back and forth to Salyut, Mir and the International Space Station. Regarded as the workhorse of Russia's manned and unmanned space fleet, it is one of the most reliable spacecraft ever built.

2011: First Clipper test flight
2012: First crewed Clipper flight
2014: Soyuz phased out
But Russia is looking to the future and is planning to replace the Soyuz with a new vehicle that would be capable of taking cosmonauts into lunar orbit.

"The objective is to have a vehicle which is more comfortable than the Soyuz capsule which will be used with pilots and four passengers," Alain Fournier-Sicre, head of the Esa permanent mission in the Russian Federation, told the BBC News website.

"It's meant to service the space station and to go between Earth and an orbit around the Moon with six crew members."

People carrier

The Clipper is essentially a "people carrier" designed to transport astronauts, said Alan Thirkettle, head of the Esa's Human Spaceflight Development Department.

 "For future exploration, when we have the objective of going to the Moon, it is important to have several possibilities to go there" - Alain Fournier-Sicre, Esa

By joining forces with Russia, Europe would have access to a fixed number of seats on the vehicle, perhaps one or two per flight, for use by its own astronauts.

"At the moment we have to ask the Russians or ask the Americans to fly an astronaut," said Mr Thirkettle. "Through participation in the Clipper, we would have the right to seats when we want them."

European industry would benefit, too, from Russia's years of experience in human spaceflight, he said. Russia, in return, would have access to certain technologies that are more sophisticated in Europe.

"It potentially is a fairly happy marriage," said Mr Thirkettle.

Lunar goals

Russia intends to build the Clipper within the next decade, carrying out the first automatic test flight in 2011, and the first manned flights in 2012 The fleet would gradually be phased in, finally replacing the Soyuz in 2014.

The Clipper would allow Russia and Europe to collaborate with the Americans on lunar exploration, allowing six astronauts to orbit the Moon and to act as a back-up rescue craft, if needed.

"Experience has shown that it is very important within an international programme to have a robust approach in terms to access to space," said Mr Fournier-Sicre.

"For future exploration, when we have the objective of going to the Moon, it is important to have several possibilities to go there, and within this framework of cooperation to have our own access to orbit around the Moon."

The Clipper also enhances the possibility of space tourism.

"On the Russian side, of course, they have in mind space tourism and propose a certain level of comfort; but the main objective is science," said Mr Fournier-Sicre.

Esa is to ask member states to fund a two-year study looking into the logistics of the scheme when ministers meet on 5-6 December.

The development and operational side of the programme is expected to cost around 100m (68m) euros a year.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/09/27 20:42:53 GMT



Oct 14, 2005
Russia asks JAXA to help develop Kliper

Russia has asked Japan's space development agency to participate in its new Kliper spacecraft development program, agency officials said Thursday.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has started collecting information on the program and will decide by year's end whether to accept the request, the officials said.

Senior agency official Kiyoshi Higuchi hinted that the agency is willing to participate in the basic development plan, which will start in January.

The European Space Agency is also mulling a role in the project, and Japan's participation would enable Russia, Japan and European nations to operate an international space station without relying on the United States.

NASA has said it will retire the space shuttle by 2010; it plans to send astronauts back to the moon by 2018 in a vehicle designed to replace the space shuttle.

"We should not rely on only one system to transport, and it is desirable to have alternative measures for stable space activities," Higuchi said.

Russia has told JAXA that the Kliper, a successor to the Soyuz spacecraft, will be able to accommodate six astronauts, up from three for the Soyuz, and allow them to be in space for about 10 days, the officials said.

The new spacecraft is chiefly designed to transport people to and from a space station, while being used also for scientific purposes and space tourism.

Russia has also told the Japanese agency that the development of the Kliper will cost only about 100 billion, yen they said.

SOURCE: The Japan Times

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