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European Manned Spacecraft

uk 75

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In the 1960s Europe began an ambitious space launcher development programme. Given the resources and technology of the ELDO nations, could they have launched a manned capsule by the 1970s.
The US Skylab and Apollo/Soyuz rendezvous and later on the Soviet Salyut could have been visited by such Euro capsules.
1973 and the Oil shock might have frozen such a programme but up until then Europe was booming and could easily have afforded Euronauts
 

Hobbes

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ELDO thought about manned spaceflight as far back as 1964. There were plans for a rocket named ELDO-C or Europa IV, with a payload of 7-10 tons. This used a modified Blue Streak first stage, new LH/LOX second and third stages, and either solid boosters, or liquid boosters derived from Blue Streak. The collapse of ELDO ended this.

CNES considered a manned capsule in ~1975. This was quickly dismissed because spaceplanes were seen as a better solution. Early studies into what became the Hermes project started in 1976.
 

uk 75

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Thanks Hobbes.
I suppose if the US had paid more attention in the 60s to post Apollo Skylabs, a European capsule would have had somewhere to go.
Once the Shuttle offers a space taxiride with Soyuz as a minicab backup there is no real point in a European manned spacecraft.
 

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In the 1980s, ESA was working on 3 major projects: Hermes, the Columbus module for a manned space station (which eventually became the ISS), and the MTFF (Man-tended free flyer), a platform that had a pressurized section where astronauts could set up experiments. This was to be flown to several times per year for experiment swaps, and be unmanned the rest of the time.
 

Dilandu

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In the 1960s Europe began an ambitious space launcher development programme. Given the resources and technology of the ELDO nations, could they have launched a manned capsule by the 1970s.
The main problem would be a booster.
 

Hobbes

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ELDO's downfall was lack of cooperation between the member states resulting in systems that didn't work well together. Solve that, and Europa IV wouldn't have been overly ambitious: it was mostly incremental improvement of existing stuff. The hydrogen engine was new, but (as Ariane 1 showed) well within European capability.
 

Grey Havoc

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ELDO-C / Europa IV could have been very useful indeed, especially since Blue Streak's utility as a launch vehicle had already been proven (it was the only part of ELDO-A / Europa-1 that consistently worked).
 

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Did Hermes dictate the A5 design?
 

Hobbes

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Yes, to an extent. ESA was already planning an upgrade to Ariane 4 to increase its payload, using a new upper stage and a larger payload fairing. This snowballed until they had to replace all of Ariane 4 with a new design. Part of this was to accommodate ever-heavier satellites, but Hermes also drove this growth. Ariane 5 was also basically man-rated in anticipation of Hermes flights.

a decent overview of the evolution of Ariane 5 can be found here: http://www.capcomespace.net/dossiers/espace_europeen/ariane/ariane5/developpement_1979_92.htm
 
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