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Government vaporware: In an effort to save money Russian engineers have designed a new cargo spacecraft to replace the Progress freighter.
Faced with latest economic problems, and the need to reduce the number of Progress cargo launches, Russia’s space agency Roskosmos made plans to cut the permanent crew of ISS cosmonauts from three to two people. However the full international crew on the ISS is supposed to include six people with half of it reserved for Russia.
To resolve this supply problem, Roskosmos ordered RKK Energia, its key contractor responsible for human spaceflight, to prepare a preliminary design of a bigger cargo ship by the end of this month. Engineers quickly put together this proposal that would combine off-the-shelf hardware with new technology. … The most important new feature of the proposed cargo ship will be the six-tank cluster to carry more than 1.8 tons of propellant to the station. It will simultaneously serve as a tanker for the space station while also feeding the ship’s own propulsion system. As a result, the new design provides significant mass savings in comparison to the current Progress ships, which need two separate sets of tanks for refueling and maneuvering.
The main engine for the new cargo ship will be borrowed from an existing satellite. Meanwhile, 28 small thrusters for orbit correction and maneuvering will be copied practically unchanged from the Progress.
They hope to fly this new freighter by 2020. I’m willing to bet anyone that this won’t happen.