Russia unveils new spacecraft design

July 23, 2008 at 1:17 AM

MOSCOW, July 23 (UPI) -- The next generation of Russian manned spacecraft will use thrusters to provide a soft landing on Earth, the first official images of the design reveal.

The new space vehicle, which is to replace the Soyuz spacecraft now in use by Russia, was designed by the Russian company RKK Energia, which has spent two years designing it, the BBC reported Tuesday.

The British network reports that the reusable spacecraft resembles the United States' next-generation Orion spacecraft. The 18- to 20-ton Russian spacecraft is expected to carry six crew members into low-Earth orbit or four on missions to the moon, the BBC said.

The European Space Agency has been in talks with the Russian space agency Roscosmos about a collaborative effort on the next generation of space transport since 2006. The module is expected to use technology, including the propulsion systems, developed for Europe's unmanned automated transfer vehicle.

Russia may provide the launcher for the new manned spacecraft.

In May, the European aerospace company EADS Astrium unveiled its own model of a manned space vehicle

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