"We might be able to do this without a dime of NASA's money." - Charles Miller, President and CEO of Constellation Services International, July 2004.
The longest serving manned spacecraft in the world, the versatile Soyuz was originally conceived in Sergei Korolev's OKB-1 design bureau for the Soviet effort to explore the Moon at the beginning of the 1960s. However, long after the Moon race was over, the Soyuz has continued ferrying Russian crews to orbit for well over three decades. Robust and dependable, the Soyuz has served as a taxi and lifeboat for the International Space Station. One key the the spacecraft's longevity is its standardized, modular design which is easy to update. Companies such as Constellation Services International (CSI) have proposed using advanced versions of the Soyuz for cargo resupply to low Earth orbit (LEO) and satellite retrieval and repair missions well into the 21st century. The first private circumlunar flights may soon be made by CSI using modified Soyuz spacecraft. With the addition of a “logistics module” to provide additional habitation volume, docking radar and communications system designed to work at lunar distances, and a more powerful rocket motor with enlarged propellant tanks, the Soyuz will finally fulfill its "lunar destiny". Later, fully reusable versions of the “Advanced Lunar Soyuz Taxi” (pictured above and at left) could routinely ferry cargo and passengers on trips lasting up to two weeks.
The four-inch long model pictured above was built using a 1/144 scale plastic Soyuz from an "Armageddon Space Station" kit.