Energia Completes Design of Soyuz Replacement, Eyes 2017 Test Flight

PPTS-01RSC Energia announced that it has completed the design of Russia’s next-generation human spacecraft, which is intended to debut the same year that the Soyuz will reach its 50th anniversary:

The proposed spacecraft is commonly known as PPTS (or Prospective Piloted Transport System) and RSC Energia won the tender to build it in 2009. Initially, 2015 was named as the date of the first test flight, but that was then shifted to 2018. Now, [Energia Chief Vitaly] Lopota has brought the test date forward again.

“We are currently working on the first full-size model. The first test flights should take place in 2017,”  he announced during a press conference in Moscow….

Unlike the Soyuz, all parts of which can only serve for one mission, the PPTS is partially reusable. Its also expected to be able to deliver a higher payload, increasing the number of crew members from three to six. While the initial models will only be expected to reach orbit, like the Soyuz, more advanced models should be capable of reaching the moon, and possibly even Mars.

But will it get built?

Soyuz replacements have been touted since the 1970s and yet the reliable, if dated craft keeps flying, as its replacements get towed off to the space museums….

So far, only $25 million has been spent on the project. The actual implementation is likely to cost billions, while the 2018 date sounds optimistic compared to other similar programs.

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