Tag Archives: spacecraft

Rocket landings for Russian capsules

Soyuz TMA-1 launcher in Baikonur
Soyuz TMA-1 launcher in Baikonur

Russian engineers are considering using a rocket-powered landing system for the their next-generation manned spacecraft that could replace the Soyuz capsule. One would think that a purely rocket-based system would be much more expensive than the parachutes that Soyuz currently uses, but Russia has a political reason for it. Russia's spaceport is in another country, Kazakhstan, so they would really like to move it to within its own borders. However, there is not much land area where a spacecraft could touch down around the new spaceport, so they would need a landing system much more precise than that of uncontrolled parachutes.

This brings to mind the fact that Russia has to depend on a foreign country, Kazakhstan, for its manned space program. This adds more complexity to the United States' manned space program once the Space Shuttle is retired: not only would the United States have to maintain good relations with Russia to maintain its manned space program, but it also needs to hope that Russia is on good enough terms with Kazakhstan.

Not that having all the infrastructure for a manned space program in one's own country would necessarily help. Russia and Kazakhstan were once part of one country, after all. It could get complicated for NASA if Texas really were to secede from the union and took the mission control center with it ...