Kliper choice delayed

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Russia’s Federal Space Agency (FSA) will select a contractor for its Rb16 billion ($565 million) Kliper reusable manned spacecraft in April following a delay caused by bid concerns. Inadequate financial, safety and delivery data in bids led the FSA to abandon its original 3 February decision date. Now bidders Energia, Krunichev and Molniya will have to resubmit their offers in early March.

Energia’s design remains the favourite (Flight International, 31 January–6 February). The FSA says Krunichev has been asked to revise its proposal, an update of its late-1970s TKS lunar ferry, to use the proven Proton booster rather than the yet-to-fly Angara.

Molniya’s design, based on the MAKS spaceplane cancelled in 1988 and air-launched from an Antonov An-124 or -225, requires four times the planned budget, but is being considered because it promises lower operating costs, the FSA says.

The cost for development and prototype manufacture is to be split between the state and contractor, Rb11 billion and Rb5 billion respectively. Kliper is expected to replace the Soyuz capsule early in the next decade.