Versatile Modern Crew Capsule

At the request of Roscosmos, the Federation capsule is a modern reusable spacecraft under development to replace the Soviet-era Soyuz workhorse. The Federation will ferry cosmonauts to the ISS, lunar orbit and potentially the Earth Lagrangian points. Russian aerospace contractor RKK Energia is building the Federation which will have its first flight test in 2021.

Interesting Facts About The New Russian Spacecraft!

Initially, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia were going to collaborate on a joint crew transfer spacecraft. Design assessment was undertaken, however, the Europeans pulled out of the project. Therefore, the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) would develop a modern manned spacecraft on its own – the Federation.

The Federation capsule is of particular importance as Roscosmos has announced recently their plans to send cosmonauts to the Moon as soon as 2025 with ambitious plans for even Moon landings! It’s possible the Federation will even be used to send cosmonauts on a trip beyond the Moon’s orbit, further into space, to one of Earths Lagrangian points!

Roscosmos has requested several variations of the crew capsule be developed; configured for either low Earth orbit, lunar missions and unmanned cargo flights.

  • The Earth-orbiting version weighs about 12 tons, seat a crew of six and a minimum of 500 kg of cargo that can operate for 30 days autonomous or up to 12 months when docked to the ISS.
  • A lunar version would seat only four cosmonauts for 14-day missions to lunar orbit returning with potentially 100kg of cargo (moon rocks maybe!?).
  • The cargo variant would have to be capable of carrying 2,000 kg to Earth orbit (the ISS or future Russian Station) and return cargo to Earth.

The spacecraft would be similar to NASA’s Orion, Boeings CST-100 or the Crew Dragon capsule, in that it will be a wingless ‘gumdrop’ shape that can automatically dock and be self-propelled to rendezvous in orbit and de-orbit to return to Earth. As with the other modern spacecraft under development these days, Roscosmos also intends for the Federation to be reusable.

The Federation may be one of the first spacecraft to use only rocket thrusters to slow itself down for landing, unlike the Soyuz capsule, and most American spacecraft, which uses parachutes to slow its descent. The first unmanned test flight of the Federation is planned to take place in 2021 from the new Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East on an Angara-A5P heavy rocket – I can’t wait to see it in action!

 
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