The private spaceflight company Excalibur Almaz has obtained two partially completed Almaz space station modules from Russia and brought them to the company’s home base on the Isle of Man. The modules and Excalibur Almaz’ reusable return vehicles were developed by a Russian company in the 1970’s but were never flown. Excalibur Almaz hopes to offer week-long orbital space flights beginning as early as 2013, using the once top-secret Russian capsules and modules.
In 2009, EA reached an agreement JSC MIC NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) of Russia, the company that originally built the spacecraft, and purchased both the Reusable Return Vehicles rockets and modules for the Almaz space station. In the 1970’s, the RRVs went through nine flight tests, with two RRVs flown to orbit several times.
EA will work on updating the spacecraft to conduct crew and cargo space missions for private individuals, corporations, academic institutions and national governments.
In a press release, EA said the stations will be initially stored, followed by research, testing and possibly completion and launch to orbit.
“EA’s initial flights to orbit will be in the flight tested Excalibur Almaz Reusable Return Vehicles joined to and supported by service module living and working habitats,” EA said. “The space stations themselves are part of EA’s long-term business plan. It is not economically feasible to launch and sustain them on orbit until the company’s flight rate reaches six or more flights per year.”
EA Founder and CEO Art Dula said, “This is another significant landmark towards achieving our stated goals with continuing technical support from leading
The Almaz space stations are approximately 11 meters long and four meters in diameter; and are directly related to the module design used on the International Space Station as well as the earlier Russian Salyut and Mir space stations. Other unique features of the Almaz stations include the largest window ever developed for a spacecraft, boasting over two meters of panoramic view of the Earth and stars.
Source: Excalibur Almaz