Feeds

NASA chief: Europe should have own astronaut ship

Put some spam in the Jules Verne can

Seven Steps to Software Security

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.)

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.