The European Space Agency and Russian space agency Roskosmos are discussing mutual low-Earth orbit and exploration vehicle requirements, and are due to decide in 2006 whether to develop a spacecraft jointly.

Talks began last November and will continue for the rest of this year. Roskomos identified a need to replace its manned Soyuz capsule last year and would like to co-operate on the new vehicle's development. ESA is also developing ideas for manned transport and recognises Russia's expertise.

"We are seeing if we have the same requirements and the same schedule as the Russians. It could lead to a joint programme in 2006," ESA's head of re-entry and human transport system division, Marco Caporicci, told Flight International at the French Association for Aeronautics and Astronautics' Fourth Re-entry Vehicles and Systems symposium.

Russian space company Energia has proposed a six-crew vehicle called Kliper, which ESA expects to form part of Russia's new space strategy, to be approved in 2006.


Source: Flight International