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17F111 Cascade

Two orbital combat complexes were developed: 17F19 "Skif" - a system that provides for the use of lasers, 17F111 Kaskad ["Cascade"] - a system with a missile weapon. The "Cascade" system, which was designed on the basis of the base station of the Mir station, did not have a peaceful mission. It was designed to destroy rockets of satellites in high orbits. Special space-to-space missiles were created, which never had time to experiment. NPO Energia was the lead organization for the entire space-based anti-satellite and anti-ballistic missile program. The head company for the laser complex for "Scythian" was the "Astrophysica" NGO, the leading Soviet laser firm. The missile system for the "Cascade" was developed in the company of A.E. Nudelman, a well-known Soviet designer of weapons for aircraft and spacecraft. To put into orbit the "Scythians" and "Cascades" were supposed to be on the first (experimental) stage of the RN 8K82K "Proton-K", and later - the orbital ships 11F35OK "Buran". For a longer period of combat duty, each of the types of these satellites had the possibility of refueling, which the "Buran" ships were supposed to provide.

Under the program "Cascade", NPO Energia, in cooperation with AE Nudelman's firm, developed very effective space-to-space missiles for this device were developed. To test these rockets in orbit, it was decided to install them on cargo vehicles 11F615A15 "Progress". At the first stage in 1986-88, five flights of such ships were planned within the framework of the "Cascade" program. On the production base of Energia - the Experimental Machine Building Plant (ZEM), the manufacture of these ships under the aircraft numbers 129, 130, 131, 132 and 133 began. However, before the flight tests, it did not come to pass. Later the same ships but already under new numbers were altered and put into orbit for their original purpose - the delivery of goods to a manned orbital station.

In 1983, the United States announced the launch of work on the Strategic Defense Initiative, including its space segment. This served as a powerful incentive for accelerating work on the "Soviet SDI." The Skif and Cascade programs received strong political support, and therefore financial support. The fight against ballistic missiles proved to be too difficult a problem. Because the customer - the Ministry of Defense of the USSR - decided to start first developing effective anti-satellite weapons. It is much easier to disable spacecraft than to detect and destroy a flying warhead. In the early 1990s work on the program to create the device 17F111 "Cascade" were terminated.

Mishin had started feasibility studies for the development of space systems capable of striking ballistic missiles and military spacecraft at NPO Energiya back in the early 1970s. However, the organizationís primary subject matter had very much overshadowed these projects. Sadovskiy proposed involving the various departments and uniquely specialized control systems and computer science experts subordinate to the process of designing the military spacecraft.

Military space stations inserted into various orbits, including geosynchronous ones, formed the basis of the new programs. The stations would be equipped with facilities for round-the-clock surveillance of Earthís entire surface. One station or another was supposed to detect the launch of any missile or the insertion into space of any spacecraft and immediately transmit this information to the command post. The stations were equipped with various means of knocking out missiles during the boost phase, and if they didnít succeed, then they started hunting for warheads. When commands were received from the ground, military spacecraft were also supposed to be destroyed. It was proposed that platforms be equipped with powerful laser weapons and self-guided rocket projectiles to strike ballistic missiles and spacecraft.

Rough calculations showed that the guaranteed destruction of the enemyís primary missile forces, after they had been successfully launched from silos and submarines, would require the continuous alert status in space of as many as 20 heavy-duty military stations. In addition to the ground control complex for these stations, the launch vehicles, and all the miscellaneous equipment, a missile-defense system would be needed that would be many times more expensive than the entire nuclear missile shield in terms of volume of production and potential expenditures.




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