ESA to finalise manned capsule contributions at July meeting

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By Rob Coppinger in London

In two weeks the European Space Agency (ESA) will finalise agreement with its member states for a two-year collaborative study with Russia’s Federal Space Agency (FSA) on a manned capsule.

At a meeting this week between ESA’s leadership and its member states' officials,  the proposed advanced crew transportation system (ACTS), which could be a four-crew capsule, was discussed.

A meeting scheduled for early July will see talks on levels of financial contribution for ACTS from member states. At this week's meeting, France and Germany offered €15 million ($18 million) for the study.  “We made a step forward this week but the member states are hesitant [about ACTS]. A couple of issues still have to be resolved,” says ESA.

A decision on ESA’s involvement with the FSA in developing a manned vehicle was postponed from the December 2005 ESA ministerial council. Then ESA’s proposal to its member states for a €30 million two-year programme of work to develop the winged Kliper vehicle was rejected.

At the ministerial meeting the project only gained pledges of €8 million from ESA members.