Roscosmos, Russia’s government-owned space development corporation, has signed an agreement with a private company to create a new reusable cargo spacecraft. RBC broke the news of the plan by acquiring minutes from a Roscosmos meeting.
The documents show that the planned spaceship, the Argo, will have an estimated combined takeoff and landing cost of $9.8 million. It will be developed through a public-private partnership with the company Reusable Space Transport Systems (MTKS), which was incorporated in May 2019 near Moscow. The company’s CEO, Dmitry Kakhno, also leads a government energy company. MTKS shareholder Sergey Sopov said the Argo spaceship should be ready for use by 2024.
Russian aerospace experts said the Argo appears to be a response to the American company SpaceX’s Dragon reusable cargo ship. The popular astrophysicist Vitaly Yegorov estimated that one Dragon launch costs about $40 million, while Russia’s one-time Progress spacecraft costs $20 million to use. “Thanks to its multi-use capabilities, we can assume that the Argo will be cheaper,” Yegorov said. He added that Argo’s planned one-ton capacity is more than that required for the International Space Station, meaning that the ship could be used for a future Chinese space station or even for interplanetary missions.