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The competition heats up: The head of Energia, the Russian company that builds the Soyuz capsule, said this week at a space conference near Moscow that they are going to accelerate construction of a prototype of a next generation replacement, capable of launch four astronauts.
We have agreed with the engineers…. to reduce the time for construction and production of the first copy of this spaceship. Despite the fact that we have voiced and agreed on the first launch in 2021, we have set the task to build the prototype by 2019, and I think that we will succeed, ” Solntsev told reporters at the MAKS.
Take this with a grain of salt. Energia has proposed a number of different Soyuz replacements since 2000, none of which ever saw the light of day. At the same time, the situation in Russia has changed, and the government is now committed to financing a robust space program. Previously, Energia had to find private investment capital, which never arrived because, I think, investors did not trust the legal situation in Russia. They had no way of guaranteeing that they would own their shares. In fact, the recent take-over and consolidation of Russia’s entire aerospace industry by the government has proven those investor doubts entirely right.
At the same time, the increased competition in the launch industry and this government takeover might signal something real is finally going to happen.