17F19DM Skif-DM Polyus
The station "Skif-DM" (D - demonstration, M - mock-up) "Polyus" was conceived in July 1985 as a weight-and-weight model (GVM), with which the first launch of Energia was to be made. This idea arose after it became clear that the main load of the rocket - the orbital ship Buran - would not be ready by that time. Initially, the task did not seem particularly difficult - after all, making a 100-ton "pig" is not difficult. But suddenly CB "Salyut" received the wish-order from the Minister of General Mechanical Engineering: turn the "pig" into a spacecraft for carrying out geophysical experiments in the near-Earth space and combine the tests of the "Energy" and a 100-ton spacecraft.
In 1987, even had to take place the launch of this device, which was called "Skif-D". This was created in record time in the NGO Salyut. In July 1986, the plant under the leadership of AI Kiselev fulfilled its obligations. All compartments of the spacecraft were delivered to Baikonur. By January 1987, "Skif-DM" was filled with equipment. In early 1987, it was decided to demonstrate the combat capabilities of the spacecraft.
According to the current practice in Soviet space industry, a new spacecraft was usually designed, tested and manufactured for at least five years. But now we had to find a completely new approach. Instead, it was decided to use the ready-made compartments, instruments, equipment, already tested mechanisms and assemblies, drawings from other "products" as actively as possible. Machine-building plant. Khrunichev, who was entrusted with the assembly of the "Pole", immediately began preparing the production.
The analogue of "Scythian" without complex combat systems, for the evaluation of dynamic characteristics was the index "Scythian-D". Space station "Skif" for "Energia" 6SL was a mock-up. The model under the "Skif-DM" index had a length of 37 m, a diameter of 4.1 m and a mass of about 80 tonnes. The target module of "Skif-DM" housed experimental facilities for carrying out applied and geophysical experiments. The shooting of targets and their defeat from the side of "Skif-DM" was intended.
The spacecraft, almost 37 meters long and 4.1 meters in diameter, had a mass of about 80 tons and consisted of two main compartments: a service-function block (FSB) and a larger target module (CM). The FSB was only a slightly modified for this new task a 20-ton ship being developed for the Mir station. It housed control systems, telemetry control, power supplies and antenna devices. All devices and systems that could not withstand vacuum were located in a hermetically sealed instrument-cargo compartment (PGO). In the engine compartment, four engine engines, 20 orientation and stabilization engines and 16 precise stabilization engines were placed, as well as fuel tanks. On the side surfaces were placed solar batteries, which open after entering the orbit. A new large head fairing, protecting the device from the incoming airflow was first made of carbon fiber. The whole apparatus was painted with black paint for the desired thermal regime. Work was carried out to create the "Scythian" spacecraft, which could carry a laser cannon and provide it with energy. The device 17F19 "Scythian" turned out to be quite large and complex. NPO Astrophysics could not "lay" the laser cannons in the mass and energy sectors allotted to the Ministry of Defense and the NGO Energia. Work on the "Scythian" was slower than the military would have liked. 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 central part of the "Scythian" was an unsealed design, where its most important load was placed - a prototype of a gas-dynamic laser. Of all the different designs of lasers, a gas dynamical gas working on carbon dioxide (CO2) was chosen. Although such lasers have a low efficiency (about 10%), they are simple in design and well developed. The laser was developed by an NGO with the cosmic name Astrophysics. A special device, the laser pumping system, was developed by the design bureau, which dealt with rocket engines. This is not surprising: the pump system is a conventional liquid-fuel rocket engine. To ensure that when firing gas does not rotate the station, it had a special device of membraneless exhaust, or, as its developers called it, "trousers."
According to some sources, the laser was not planned for carbon dioxide, but for halogens, the so-called excimer laser.) According to official data, the "Scythian" was equipped with a mixture of xenon with krypton, and if we add fluorine or chlorine, for example, excimer laser (mixtures of argon fluor, kryptonchlor, kryptonfluor, xenonchlor, xenon fluor.
The prototype of a space fighter with a laser cannon was built and ready for launch, at the first Energia rocket with the 80-ton Skif-D mounted on the side. By the first launch of the "Energy" "Skif" did not have time to complete development, so it was decided to launch the mock-up of the combat station, as the letters "DM" in its name - the dynamic layout - said. The launching module contained only the most basic components and a partial reserve of the working substance - CO2. The optical system of the laser at the first start-up was not, since its delivery was late. There were also special targets on board, which were planned to be fired from the station in space and to check on them the guidance system. On board the "Scythian-DM" in large letters on the black surface was written his new name - "Polyus", and on the other was withdrawn "Mir-2", although it had no relation to the peaceful orbital station "Mir". In late January 1987 the device was transported from the assembly and testing building at the 92nd site of the cosmodrome, where it was brought to the building of the assembly and refueling complex 11P593 on the 112A site. There, on February 3, 1987, "Skif-DM" was docked with the carrier rocket 11K25 "Energia" 6SL. The next day the complex was taken to the universal complex stand-start (UCSS) 17P31 on the 250th site. There started pre-launch joint tests. The Energia-Skif-DM complex was ready for launch only at the end of April. All this time since the beginning of February the missile with the apparatus has stood on the launch device. "Skif-DM" was completely fueled, inflated with compressed gases and equipped with on-board power sources. During these three and a half months he had to endure the most extreme climatic conditions: temperatures from -27 to +30 degrees, blizzards, sleet, rain, fog and dust storms. The first launch of a new system with a promising spacecraft seemed so important to the Soviet leadership that the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee Mikhail Gorbachev was going to honor him with his presence. Especially the new leader of the USSR, who took the first post in the state a year ago, was going to visit the main cosmodrome for a long time. However, even prior to Gorbachev's arrival, the leadership of the launch preparation decided not to test fate and insure against the "general effect" (there is such a property for any equipment to break in the presence of "high" guests). On May 11, 1987 Gorbachev flew to the Baikanur cosmodrome. On May 12, he got acquainted with samples of space technology, including military ones. As a result, the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, was very pleased with what he had seen and heard. The time of visitation-conversation with the guests was twice as high as envisaged. In conclusion, M.S. Gorbachev complained: "I'm sorry that I did not know all this before Reykjavik!"
On May 13, at the Officers' Palace, Gorbachev met with military and civilian workers of Baikonur. Gorbachev spoke for a long time, praised the employees of the cosmodrome and the creators of space technology. And he also said: "... Our course on peaceful space is not a sign of weakness. It is an expression of the Soviet Union's peaceful foreign policy. We offer international cooperation in the development of peaceful space. We are opposed to an arms race, including in space... Our interests coincide with the interests of the American people and the interests of other peoples of the world. They do not coincide with the interests of those who do business in the arms race, wants to achieve through space military supremacy... All kinds of ranting about protection from nuclear weapons are the greatest deception of peoples. It is from these positions that we assess the so-called Strategic Defense Initiative, which the American administration is striving to implement... We strongly oppose the transfer of an arms race into outer space. We see our duty to show the serious danger of soybeans to the whole world... "
On May 15, 1987 "Scythian-D" was put into orbit only to immediately burn up in the dense layers of the atmosphere. The device was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome. Two stages of "Energia" worked successfully. After 460 seconds after the start, Skif-DM separated from the carrier rocket at an altitude of 110 kilometers. Tests of the new LV "Energia" were completed successfully. But with the output device turned out not so "smoothly".
It should be noted that the station was attached to the rocket launcher backwards - so the peculiarities of its design required. After the separation, it was to turn on 180° and with its own engines to gain the necessary speed to enter the orbit. The maneuver of turning the Polyus spacecraft by 180° by the pitch and to the same by 900 along the roll, as was provided for by the ship's orientation program, was carried out on a regular basis. At the calculated moment, the march propulsion system automatically switched on, which was to inform the spacecraft of an additional speed of about 60 m / s, and bring it to an orbit 280 km in height.
Due to an error in the software, the station, having rotated by 180°, continued its rotation, the engines worked in the wrong direction and, instead of going into orbit, the "Scythian" returned to Earth. Skif-DM did not enter the given orbit and fell into the Pacific Ocean on a ballistic trajectory.
Failure to launch "Scythian-DM" played, perhaps, also a fruitful, peacekeeping role. Here is the opinion of the well-known expert on Russian cosmonautics Maxim Valadaslavovich Tarasenko: "... Due to the fact that the" Scythian "did not go into orbit, the US SOI program did not receive a powerful impetus for its expansion ... All these anti-missile space systems created in response to similar US developments would be a violation of the ABM Treaty. However, neither the American SDI nor its Soviet counterpart reached the stage of flight tests and, especially, the deployment of space-based missile defense.
"All exotic missile defense systems (laser, beam weapons, etc.) demonstrated their practical inconsistency as they worked out, and the relaxation of Soviet-American relations in subsequent years led to the fact that SDI was on the verge of total collapse. In 1989, the reduction of its tasks began to reach a realistic level of "ensuring global protection against limited strikes," and the war in the Persian Gulf in 1991 created a favorable socio-political environment for reorienting it to the idea of ??defense against missile strikes by third countries or terrorist groups."
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|