What's The Coolest Non-US Space Project?

Sure, the US is the country with a flag and tiny art gallery on the moon and that's great, but there've been some pretty amazing space feats achieved by other countries (well, mostly one other country). Most of the firsts in space (man, woman, dog, lunar impact, spacewalk, etc) weren't US, so what was the coolest non-us space project?


Now, because the set of countries who've even done anything in space is so small, I want to open this to projects that at least got to a serious planning stage. The European Space Agency had some interesting mini-shuttle proposals, for example, and even some African countries had some interesting and well-developed space-exploration plans.

But I think I have to go with an expected source for the coolest non-US space project, and look Sovietwards. They've had plenty of cool stuff they actually did, from scary (Almaz space stations with real guns on them) to ambitious, but the coolest has to be their planned manned spaceship to visit both Mars and Venus.


MAVR (for MArs-VeneRa) was to be a three-person spacecraft to undertake a Manned flyby of Mars, and then swing by Venus on the way home, because why not, they're out there already. The project went to a pretty advanced stage of design, with some variants including landers, some with nuclear electric propulsion, but all pretty doomed because they relied on the Soviets' failed N1 moon rocket for initial launch.


So, I know there's lots more good, crazy projects from outside America out there— what's your favorite?

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