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In 1975, the French space agency (CNES) began considering a spaceplane. This spaceplane was to have some similarities to both the USAF DynaSoar and the larger American Space Shuttle.

Hermes evolved into a mini space shuttle by 1984. It was anticipated to carry a crew of 4 to 6, and be able to carry 4500 kg of cargo. The Ariane was the proposed launch vehicle. Hermes was too heavy for the Ariane 4, so CNES started looking for a uprated Ariane. The result was the Ariane 5.

Development costs increased and by 1985 CNES sought to continue under the purview of the European Space Agency. This was approved in November 1987.

As Hermes progressed, it was intended to service the proposed Columbus Man-Tended Free Flyer, a small ESA space station. The Challenger disaster also prompted many safety changes, resulting in more weight and further cost increases. Crew size was reduced to 3, and payload capacity reduced to 3000 kg (pressurized).

The first flight was planned for 1998, but by 1991 it had slipped to no earlier than 2002. In 1992, the Hermes was cancelled.

hermes_concept-sm.jpg (64606 bytes)
Hermes concept drawing - click to enlarge (Credit: ESA)

hermes_mockup_1991-sm.jpg (71969 bytes)
Hermes mock-up on display in 1991 - click to enlarge

hermes-cockpit-sm.jpg (69116 bytes)
Hermes cockpit - click to enlarge (Credit: ESA)


Page last modified: 11 February 2022 09:16:17.