Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Russia, ESA plan orbiting shipyard

European Space Agency and Roscosmos officials "want to create an international space shipyard in low orbit above the Earth," Rob Coppinger at FlightGlobal has reported.

The proposal is a response to the uncertain retirement of ISS after American support for the space station is still formally scheduled to end in 2016. The ESA-Russian orbiting platform would be used "to assemble manned spacecraft that could travel to Mars or the moon."

Roscosmos and ESA are already planning a Russian section for the European equatorial launch facility at Kourou in French Guyana.

Meanwhile some Members of Congress in the U.S. remain hopeful of extending support for ISS beyond 2016 though such funding may offset support for the Constellation program.

According to FoxNEWS, "NASA's plans for future manned trips to the moon involve some type of ship assembly in Earth's orbit, as do plans for any vessels capable of taking people to Mars."

"A majority of the world's major space agencies are expected to meet in June at the Hague, and the shipyard is expected to be on the agenda."