ACRV (Assured Crew Return Vehicle)

The ACRV (Assured Crew Return Vehicle) is effectively a space lifeboat attached to the International Space Station so that, in an emergency, the crew could quickly evacuate the station and return safely to Earth. This role, currently filled by the Russian Soyuz TMA spacecraft, was to have been taken up by the X-38, a small winged reentry ferry. However, budget cuts forced NASA to shelve further development of the X-38, leaving the future of the ACRV in doubt. Among the possibilities are that the present Soyuz could be retained for the job, or be replaced by a special ACRV Soyuz that has been under development for more than 30 years. Features that distinguish the ACRV Soyuz from the standard model are seats that can accommodate larger crew members and an upgraded onboard computer that assures a more accurate landing.