The US has SpaceX, and it has -the reusable Crew Dragon spacecraft. In May 2020, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were successfully brought to the International Space Station inside it. And this was a truly historic event, because previously the United States could send astronauts to the ISS only on Russian ships, but now they can handle it themselves and for less money. Many of us were very interested in how Russia would respond to its foreign colleagues. This moment has come - the state corporation Roscosmos announced the beginning of the development of its own spacecraft, which can be used many times. At the moment this ship is called "Argo" and its creators hope that its characteristics will not be worse than the Crew Dragon ship.
The reusable spacecraft willdeveloped in the alliance between Roskosmos and the Reusable Space Transport Systems company. The new Roscosmos ally was founded in May 2019. The main activity of the company was considered to be carrying out scientific research and development in the field of natural and technical sciences. The young company had previously managed to develop a project for the reusable spacecraft "Argo", which was planned start using in 2024... Apparently, within the framework of a new agreement for a period of 5 years, Roskosmos and MTKS will bring the project "to mind" and will position itself as a competitor to SpaceX's Crew Dragon.
Some are already known about the ship "Argo"details. Like Crew Dragon, it will be launched into Earth orbit on a launch vehicle. First, it is planned to use Soyuz-2.1B as missiles for launch, and then Soyuz-5. Here are some of the features of the ship "Argo":
- total weight - 11.5 tons;
- the volume of the cargo compartment is 11 square meters;
- diameter and height - 4.1 × 5.6 meters.
The spacecraft will be able to deliver useful cargo weighing up to 2 tons, and he will be able to return 1 ton of cargo to Earth. The fuel tank of the engine for maneuvering in space will hold up to 1200 kg of fuel. The flight time when attached to the ISS will be 300 days. And in an autonomous flight for research, he can stay only 30 days. The descent to the Earth for subsequent use will be carried out by braking with the help of landing engines at an altitude of 250 meters.
Using a reusable ship, which meansreturn and salvage of expensive equipment will significantly reduce costs and shipping costs. Ultimately, this will reduce the cost of the space program as a whole, - explained Sergey Sopov, a representative of the MTKS company.
Roscosmos vs. SpaceX
Do the specs look impressive? For some it is possible. How the ship will change by 2024 is unknown, but at the moment it is clearly inferior to the Crew Dragon. Take, for example, the length of time a ship has been in a space station. The Russian Argo can wait for the crew for 300 days, while the Crew Dragon ship can be docked for up to 720 days. According to Pavel Pushkin, former manager of the Khrunichev Center, the Argo ship does not surpass either the Crew Dragon or the Russian Progress-MS. Its only advantage over Progress is the ability to return cargo.
See also: Roscosmos will use robots to explore the moon
The cost of launching the ship "Argo" should beabout $ 69 million. This is cheaper than shipping the cargo on the Crew Dragon, which costs about $ 150 million. However, the use of the new ship will still be more expensive than the operation of Progress-MS, which costs 50-60 million dollars, which is significantly cheaper. Perhaps in the future Roskosmos and MTKS will change the ship, but at the moment its concept looks so-so. Look at the images - it almost completely follows the design of the Crew Dragon. Almost nothing new, even worse. In this form, it clearly cannot compete with the SpaceX ship.
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And it is necessary to create competition, because in 2023construction of a multi-module space station in China should begin. It will be necessary to deliver cargo to Earth's orbit, and China does not deny the possibility of international cooperation. SpaceX and Roscosmos will have to compete for the country's attention, because orders promise a lot of money.