Moscow (Spoof International News) The Head of the European Space Agency said last Friday that he was ‘confident' that his agency might be able to come up with funding to help out with the tentatively planned design phase and subsequent construction of Russia's next generation space ship.
Russia is hoping to begin the design phase on its reusable ‘clipper' shuttle soon, so that it can begin test flights early next decade. The new ship would take the place of the Soyuz, the workhorse of the Russian fleet, in service since the mid nineteen-sixties. "I've heard parts are getting really hard to find for Soyuz," said the head of the ESA, Jean-Jacques Souffle d'ail. "And perhaps more importantly, the Engineers that designed and built the original Soyuz are all dead already.
"We don't quite have enough technical expertise to build a reusable space craft ourselves, frankly. Having to rely on Russia is, how do you say…risky. A bit risky, I know. But we have no choice if we don't want to be behind the Americans, the Chinese, the Japanese, and the like.
"In the meantime, I've struck a deal with the American space agency, NASA, to purchase a used Space Shuttle, on…how do you say…approval. On approval. That means we get to try before we buy, as the Americans like to say."
"The fact of the matter is that we are not going to need shuttle Discovery for several years at the earliest," said the NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. "The idea of selling a used Shuttle came up at a White House meeting several months ago. In fact I think it was the President's idea.
"So by letting the ESA have Discovery on approval, we can recover some much needed funding, and we can let them ‘kick the tires' as it were. If they really like it after a mission, or maybe even two, we can finish the deal. Hopefully by then we'll have solved our foam issues and we can move on to our next shuttle mission. Without Discovery, of course.
"Heck, right now the ESA is depending on Soyuz, and that's like 15 years older than the Shuttle even! This is a fantastic opportunity for them," said Griffin.