Launch of Federatsiya spacecraft will bring Soyuz to retirement
– News of March 17, 2019 –
The Soyuz space capsule has been used for more than 50 years to send men into space. In the last 12 years, it was the only space vehicle that could do this, with its Chinese copy, Shenzhou. This will change even before the launch of Federatsiya. With the return of US manned flight capabilities, the Soyuz spacecraft’s flights are expected to be fewer.
According to Roscosmos, Federatsiya could be launched in 2022. The new Russian spacecraft is presented as a substitute for Soyuz, which should logically retire soon after. But it would not be surprising if Soyuz did not retire right away.
Federatsiya is a spaceship designed to go beyond the low orbit. It should therefore cost more to produce and launch than Soyuz. We know that the funding of the Russian space program is complicated. It would not be surprising, therefore, that Soyuz continues to serve the International Space Station while Federatsiya carries out more ambitious missions.
Soyuz showed its robustness and reliability. If Russia can not do better for cheaper, there is no real reason to retire. On the other hand, Roscosmos would have two industrial and logistic chains, one for Federatsiya and one for Soyuz, while the number of flights to be carried out should decrease. This seems huge to bear for the uncertain funding of the Russian Space Agency.
The fate of Soyuz may depend on the ISS. The space station will retire in the mid-2020s. The Russians have joined the lunar space station project, LOP-G. Soyuz will no longer serve much purpose. Federatsiya will become the Russian spacecraft to join the lunar space station, unless Roscosmos resurrects an old lunar Soyuz project.
Image by Roscosmos