The European Space Agency (ESA) is to enter into further talks on collaboration on the proposed six-crew reusable Russian spacecraft Kliper by March, with the aim of reaching an agreement by June.
At ESA’s ministerial conference late last year only €8 million ($9.4 million) of the €30 million necessary to start collaborative studies was raised.
The European agency is intent on raising more funds from its member states, which provide it with its €3 billion annual budget.
The talks with Russia’s Federal Space Agency (FSA) about Kliper and opportunities for the ESA member states’ space companies to be involved will aid this process.
“There will be more discussion about the configuration of the vehicle, and to clearly identify the missions of the Kliper system. It’s a system because there is more than just the one spacecraft – for example, [the space tug] Parom,” says Alain Fournier-Sicre, head of ESA’s permanent mission to the Russian Federation.
At the ESA-FSA meeting on 9 December, ESA director general Jean-Jacques Dordain explained that for the agency’s long-term exploration needs, it had to be involved in a manned transport system.
FSA head Anatoly Perminov added that he was encouraged by the fact that Kliper was not rejected by the ESA member states’ ministers at the December meeting.
Russia has a wide-ranging agreement with ESA on collaboration including propulsion technology.
ESA expects its Future Launcher Preparatory Programme will have a Russian component.