Russia may select first crew for its Federation spacecraft next year
Russia may soon reveal the names of the cosmonauts assigned to the first space mission of the country’s next-generation spacecraft known as “Federation”. According to the spacecraft’s manufacturer, RKK Energia, the crew could be selected as early as the first half of 2018.
“The first crew for the Federation spaceship may be chosen next year. It would be appropriate to combine the experimental development phase for the unit [the Federation spacecraft] with the initial stage of the crew’s training. For this purpose, the first flight squads for the crew transfer vehicle should be assigned no later than the middle of next year,” said Alexander Kaleri, Head of the Flight Service of RKK Energia.
Although the first crewed orbital flight of the Federation spacecraft is currently scheduled for 2023, the lengthy process of cosmonaut training could last more than three years in order to fully prepare them for the spacecraft’s first flight.
The Deputy Head of the Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Center, Yuri Malenchenko, recently disclosed that it would take at least one year alone to train the first crew for testing the Federation spacecraft and two additional years to get the cosmonauts prepared for a mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
RKK Energia plans to complete the construction of the first Federation spacecraft by 2021. The first unmanned flight of the spacecraft should take place in 2022, followed by a crewed flight to Earth orbit two years after that. If everything continues to go according to plan, one year after its first shakedown flight Roscosmos will send the first crew to the orbiting lab aboard Federation. Moreover, the Russian space agency is eyeing potential crewed missions to lunar orbit as early as 2025.
Russia considers Federation as its next-generation reusable spacecraft that the nation hopes will replace the country’s flagship Soyuz vessel. It will measure some 20 feet (6.1 meters) in length and have a mass of approximately 14.4 metric tons. The spacecraft is being developed to be capable of delivering people (up to four cosmonauts) and cargo to the Moon as well as to space stations positioned in low-Earth orbit. It could also be able to operate autonomously for a period of up to 30 days, with the possibility of staying attached to the ISS for up to a year.
Initially, Roscosmos was planning on using the modified Angara-A5P heavy rocket as the launch vehicle for the Federation spacecraft;, however, the decision was changed in favor of a future Soyuz 5 booster. The two-stage Soyuz 5 rocket will be around 160 feet (50 meters) tall and its heaviest variant should be capable of delivering up to 25 metric tons to low-Earth orbit. The first flight of this launcher is expected to take place in 2022.
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