Russia’s space sector continues its plummet into crisis. As a result of the sharp decline of the proportion of commercial launches on the world markets and the disruption of the Vostochny cosmodrome’s construction deadline, the attempt to create a replacement for the Progress cargo spaceship has ended in failure.
A source in the rocket and space sector told RIA Novosti that the development of the TGK PG (cargo spaceship with increased payload capacity), which has been underway since 2016, has been frozen indefinitely.
The project was run by RSC Energy. The new cargo spaceship was intended to use a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with increased payload capacity, capable of launching into orbit 900 kilograms more than its predecessors.
In October 2017, the conceptual design was approved by the state corporation Roscosmos, but no further development has been done on it.
“It turned out that the cost of the new ship would be three times more than the price of manufacturing a normal Progress cargo ship, and the likelihood of failure in the new ship is significantly higher than in the tested equipment. In this connection, the decision was made to stop work at the stage of preliminary design,” the source told RIA.
RSC Energy’s report for the first quarter of 2018 says that although the schematic design for the ship was presented more than half a year ago, “no decisions to further develop this ship have been made yet”.
Earlier the company said that transition to use of the TGK PG would lower the number of transport ship launches to the International Space Station (ISS) and, correspondingly, the cost of putting loads into orbit. In addition, there were plans to use the new ship, which can carry more fuel, to take the ISS out of orbit.
At present, Russia launches Progress cargo ships with a cargo capacity of 2.6 tons to the ISS.
The Russian cargo spacecraft has a smaller capacity than the American Cygnus (up to 3.5 tons) and Dragon (up to 6 tons) ships, as well as the Japanese Kounotori (up to 6.2 tons). In addition, the Dragon is the only cargo ship that can bring cargo back down to earth (up to 3.5 tons).