- Concept Led By: European Space Agency
- Groups Involved: CNES, ESA, RKA
Hermes was one of the few spacecraft designs coming out of Europe in the 1980s that many felt had potential. The design came from the French Centre National d’Études Spatiales or CNES back in 1975, and later on by the European Space Agency. The idea of the design was to seemingly become larger than the NASA Space Shuttle while resembling the Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar. By 1985, CNES proposed that they continue the Hermes project, this time under the ESA. The goal was for Hermes to take part in a crewed spaceflight program, which would have launched using the Ariane 5 launch vehicle. By November 1987, the ESA approved the project and things were underway.
The plan then was to start with the pre-development phase, which lasted for 2 years from 1988 to 1990. As long as everything looked good, the ESA planned to clear it for full development. This is where issues occurred, as numerous delays and especially funding problems took place. By 1992, Hermes was completely canceled. Simply put, they could not put together a proper budget to do things and anything they cut would have hurt the performance of the spacecraft. It did not help that ESA’s partnership with the Russian Aviation and Space Agency or RKA meant that did not need to have an independent crewed spacecraft. In recent years, there have been talks about bringing the Hermes spacecraft designs back and creating something new completely under the new-look ESA.