Present and future crewed spacecrafts

There are a lot type of vehicles that carry humans, bicycles, cars, ships, planes and spacecrafts.

In this post I will do a brief description of the present spacecrafts and the future ones that hopefully will carry humans to space and beyond. I will include only spacecrafts capable of at least one orbit and are not a space station.

In service spacecrafts

Soyuz (URSS-Rusia) – “Union” – from 1967 – 132 launches

Originally designed by the Krorlyov Design Bureau (OKB), was the successor of the Voskhod spacecraft, as a vehicle capable for lunar orbit. The Soviet Union had planned for its manned lunnar program.

It is the most used spacecraft, the most secure and the one that had received the most updates as well as the most old that is currently in service. It shares the name with the legendary Soyuz rocket that delivered the first human to space.

Shenzhou – China – “Divine Craft”- from 1991 – 11 launches

Is the first and only one spacecraft used in the Chinese manned spaceflight program. The re-entry module and the configuration is similar to the Soyuz.

Shenzhou 5 mock-up (Hibiki Watabe CC BY 2.0)

Future spacecrafts


CTS-100 Starliner – USA

Developed by Boeing and Bigelow Aerospace and part of the NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program. The configuration is similar to the Orion and it is the most traditional project of the CCDev program.

Dragon V2 – USA

Is the evolution of the Dragon cargo spacecraft by SpaceX and part of the NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program.

Dream Chaser (the exception) – USA

Developed by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space System ¿subsidiary?, is the most different spacecraft of the NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program and the Commercial Crew Development program. It participate against the Dragon and CTS-100 Starliner manned spacecraft, but due to the more complex design and not meeting the deadlines, it was not selected.

Dream Chaser – ED13-0266-023 Credit: NASA

Hopefully, the development as a cargo vehicle is progressing at a good pace.  The origin and design of this spacecraft is a curious one, if you are interested, you can ask me further.

Federastia – Rusia – “Federation”

Is the new generation spacecraft for the Russian manned spaceflight program. It is the replace of the Soyuz spacecraft and it is partially reusable. It started as a European and Rusian collaboration (European Space Agency (ESA) and (Roscosmos)) but it failed. The RKK Energia (the same as Soyuz’s) is the developer of this spacefraft.

Orion MPCV – USA/Europe – Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle

The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle is the NASA’s next official spacecraft. Their objective is to make viable human exploration of Moon, Mars, asteroids and to send and retrieve crew and supplies from the International Space Station (ISS).

It has two main modules. The habitable one is the Orion Command Module, designed by NASA and built by Lockheed Martin. The Orion Service Module, which has the power and primary systems, is designed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and built by Airbus Defense and Space.

Other projects

China is developing his next generation spacecraft, but there is a little information about then (some prototype pictures) and no official name yet.

There are also more private companies that are developing their spacecrafts, like Blue Origin. But there are few reliable information on them (the funding capabilities are the most important factor in the success of a space project).



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