The Kliper spaceplane was a proposed Russian reusable spacecraft intended for crewed missions to low Earth orbit (LEO), the Moon, and potentially Mars. Developed by RSC Energia, it aimed to be a successor to the Soyuz spacecraft and capable of transporting both crew and cargo to space.
Key features and concepts associated with the Kliper spaceplane included: Reusability: Designed to be partially reusable, enabling multiple flights after refurbishment similar to the Space Shuttle program. Crew Capacity: Planned to accommodate up to six cosmonauts for missions to the International Space Station (ISS) or other orbital missions.
Launch Vehicle: Intended to be launched atop a variety of rockets, including the Soyuz-2 and Angara rockets, depending on mission requirements. Mission Capabilities: Envisioned for missions to the ISS, lunar expeditions, and potentially Mars missions, providing a versatile platform for various space exploration endeavors. Landing System: Planned to return to Earth autonomously, with the ability to land on conventional runways, similar to the Space Shuttle, reducing the reliance on ocean landings.
The Kliper project generated significant interest and anticipation, but it faced funding challenges and shifts in priorities within the Russian space program. Ultimately, the project was shelved in the mid-2000s in favor of other initiatives, such as the continued use and development of Soyuz spacecraft and modules for the ISS missions.Despite its discontinuation, the Kliper concept and its design elements have contributed to discussions and ideas surrounding future crewed spaceflight and reusable spacecraft within the Russian space industry.