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EADS Astrium unveils European manned spaceship


It's been a great week for space geeks, what with the Phoenix Lander doing its Mars sniffing and toilet drama at the space station. Meanwhile, over in Europe, EADS Astrium Space Transportation is showing off a manned version of its Automated Transfer Vehicle (also known as the Jules Verne). This space vehicle has already been used to bring equipment to the International Space Station, but new designs reveal that Germany, France, and Italy are on board to retrofit the vehicle with seats and touch screens for humans. There's just one little problem -- the Jules Verne can't return non-humans (let alone humans) to Earth safely yet. Astrium is hoping to get the stage flying by 2013 on top of the Ariane 5 rocket in time for the end of the American Space Shuttle program in 2010, when it would replace it as the largest-payload space transport.

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