Feeds

NASA chief: Europe should have own astronaut ship

Put some spam in the Jules Verne can

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

NASA chief Michael Griffin has urged Europe to build its own manned space vessels, saying that he is "worried" about the period from 2010 to 2015. During those five years, no Western nation will have technology able to carry people into space.

"We welcome the development of independent European capabilities in space to provide redundant systems in the event of failure of any one partner's capabilities," Griffin told reporters in Paris yesterday.

NASA's space shuttle is due to go out of service in 2010, and the next generation of US manned ships - the Orion programme - isn't forecast to be ready until 2015. At present, the only other countries with the ability to send people to space are Russia and China.

Griffin said he was particularly worried about the International Space Station, which is permanently staffed. Once the Shuttle retires, on current plans the only means of getting to and from the ISS will be by Russian Soyuz ships, which have lately been plagued by technical mishaps.

The European Space Agency has collaborated with Russia on space journeys for a long time, and the Russian space agency Roskosmos has lately sought to suggest that a future generation of Euro/Russian manned voyages was a done deal. However, the ESA has not made up its mind.

Those advocating a European capability point to the "Jules Verne" automated transfer vehicle (ATV) which has just gone into operation delivering supplies to the ISS. At present, the ATV is not configured to carry people or survive atmospheric re-entry; but European aerospace colossus EADS reckon they could upgrade it for "a couple of billion" euros.

"I think it's a great idea. I would love to Europe to do that," said Griffin yesterday.

The ATV is launched atop a disposable Ariane rocket stack, much like Soyuz. NASA's planned Orion craft will also work in this way, returning to old-school "spam-in-a-can"* crewed rockets after a long period with the partly-reusable spaceplane Shuttle. ®

Bootnote

*A term said to have been coined by US test pilot Chuck Yeager, referring to America's first astronauts. Yeager was suggesting that they had no meaningful control over their ships, and thus were not true pilots but merely tinned meat. Scope for piloting genius is also rather limited in the Shuttle, however. (Yeager's school of thought would have favoured craft developing from the famous X-15 rocketplane.)

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?
How surgery might be making cancer prognoses worse
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole
B-64 amateur ultralight payload approaching second circumnavigation
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?