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Orion flight challenges Russia to build its own spacecraft — expert

December 05, 2014, 18:28 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Former Russian cosmonaut Sergey Krikalev congratulated the US with the successful launch of the Orion spacecraft
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© AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

MOSCOW, December 5. /TASS/. A successful launch of the US Orion unmanned spacecraft will become a challenge for Russia to build a spacecraft of the same class, former Russian cosmonaut Sergey Krikalev, the deputy head of the Russian Central Research Institute of Machine Building, said on Friday.

“The fact that they launched a new spaceship is of great importance,” Krikalev said. “I know lots of people have been working on it. And so if they have resulted in a launch, let me congratulate them from the bottom of my heart. It is a huge step forward.”

Krikalev said with confidence that NASA achievement will certainly affect the other foreign space agencies.

“When we move ahead, it affects the others,” he said specifying that in the future new joint projects would be possible.

“We should look to their steps and to our steps and we will consider where and how we should cooperate and on which orbits,” the former Russian cosmonaut said.

“I strongly feel that our American counterparts’ success will spur development of a Russian manned spacecraft for outer space flights,” Krikalev said adding that “like any competition, on the one hand, we congratulate our partners and, on the other, it stimulates our development.”

Orion blasted off for a first trial run from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Friday. The unmanned mission will test how Orion will hold up while re-entering Earth atmosphere.

Orion equipped with nearly 1,200 sensors is expected to make two orbits of Earth at a distance of 5,800 kilometers, 14 times further into outer space than the International Space Station is. The spacecraft will reenter atmosphere at a speed of 32,000 km/h, enduring 2,200 degrees Celsius, although 11 parachutes will slow its descent to 32km/h near the Earth.

Orion is to splash 4.5 hours later after the liftoff in the Pacific Ocean, 960 kilometers southeast of the city of San Diego in California.

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