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Russia soon to view two space transport projects - source

MOSCOW, November 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's rocket and space corporation Energia has developed six projects for new manned spacecraft, two of which will be submitted to Russia's space agency in the near future, a source said Wednesday.

"Two of the most attractive projects for spacecraft as part of a reusable manned transport system could be submitted to the Federal Space Agency in the near future," the spokesman said.

Russia has been developing the Clipper, a six-man spacecraft similar to the U.S. space shuttle, designed to replace the Soyuz and Progress launch vehicles in making regular flights to the International Space Station and even the Moon and Mars. It is proposed the craft will carry two professional astronauts and up to four passengers, compared to the Soyuz's three-member crews.

The projects also envisage innovations such as an orbital transfer vehicle and a cargo container with an increased payload capacity of 12 metric tons, as compared to the current two tons.

In December 2006, Anatoly Perminov, the head of the Federal Space Agency, said the agency planned to start construction of the new Clipper in 2012.

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