MANNED SPACE CONCEPTS
A concept which examined re-engineering the Russian Soyuz spacecraft out of Carbon Fibre, developing a state of the art glass cockpit in the descent module, and making extensive use of microsensors throughout the spacecraft's 3 sections (the orbital module, descent module and service module). The Soyuz 2000 would have offered a good Assured Crew Return Vehicle (ACRV) for the International Space Station too. I first got the idea for this when sat in a Soyuz space capsule in Moscow, Russia in the early 1990's. Over the years, the concept was gradually refined, as I researched not only the Soyuz related literature, but developments in the aerospace and electronics industires.
Now superceded to some extent by the latest announced variant of the Soyuz, as well as NASA's Orion, and SpaceX's Dragon, Soyuz 2000 was designed to use MIL1553 as much as possible, the rad hardened version of the RS/6000 processor, and a very large area wrap around screen multi function display. Over time, a number of architectures were evaluated, with the prime goal becoming finding the most frugal electrical power requirements possible for the descent module, whilst still retaining the advances in the field of microelectronics.
The same landing system as the existing Soyuz descent capsule was retained, with solid rocket motors for retro rockets to cushion the parachute landing, since there is not really enough room within the Soyuz descent capsule mould line to fit sufficient propellant tanks and motors to perform a softer, hot helicopter landing.
The concept involved a complete redesign of the Orbital Module of the Soyuz, to use a cylindrical rather than spherical shape, to increase the volume available, and adding additional solar panels to the cylindrical orbital module, along with a propulsion system to enable autonomous on orbit operations of the orbital module (a mini space station). The Chinese modification of the Soyuz seems to have gone this route too. I'm sure many others thought of this modification to the orbital module too, since it is a fairly obvious progression.
The service module changes proposed involve building the structure out of carbon fibre, reducing the tankage mass through use of modern alloys, modern, state of the art solar arrays, lthium chemistry rechargeable batteries, and a complete revamp of the electronics infrastructure.
Revisiting the concept more recently, I spent some time toying with the idea of an inflatable, Transhab / Bigelow Aerospace style Orbital Module. I'm currently still working on this modification to the concept.