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Space


Proton Launch Vehicle

A Russian heavy-lift Proton-M rocket was launched 08 June 2017 from Baikonur Cosmodrome, taking an American communication satellite into space. This was Roscosmos’ first Proton-M launch in 2017. The rocket, which carries the US communications satellite Echostar-21, lifted off Baikonur at the appointed time. Later, the Russian space agency confirmed Proton’s booster successfully separated from the rocket on its way to orbit. Roscosmos also released a video showing the spectacular launch in the middle of Kazakhstan’s steppe.

The launch broke a year-long pause in Proton-M operations. Production flaws of the rocket’s engines left Protons grounded for months, prompting a government inquiry. The Proton-M is the latest version of the workhorse Russian heavy rocket used to place satellites in low-Earth orbit. Echostar 21 is a geostationary communications satellite designed and developed by Space Systems/Loral. It will provide mobile phone coverage for European customers.

Proton booster with Yamal-401 communication satellite for the Gazprom energy corporation became a jubilee 400th one. The Russian space agency reported successful delivery of a European communication satellite to geosynchronous orbit 28 December 2014. The 401st launch of the Proton-M booster blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Proton-M booster rocket with European Astra-2G communication satellite, launched early on Sunday, delivered the payload to interim orbit. For the next nine hours, the Briz-M upper stage brought Astra-2G to its destined geostationary orbit at 36,000 kilometers. The satellite disconnected from the upper stage and entered the calculated orbit at 07:49 GMT.

A Russian Proton-M rocket with an advanced satellite on board crashed outside of Kazakhstan's territory on 15 May 2014, about nine minutes after lift-off. The Express-AM4R would have been Russia’s most advanced and powerful satellite. The crash was likely caused by a failure in one of the third stage’s steering engines. The launch went abnormal on the 540th second of the flight, when an emergency engines shutdown kicked in in response to the rocket deviating from its intended trajectory, the Russian Federal Space Agency reported after the crash. The third stage, which is called Briz-M, was approximately 150km above the ground at that moment and had some 40 seconds to go before deploying its payload into the orbit.

Proton-M rocket carrying a Mexican satellite into space exploded in the skies over Kazakhstan about eight minutes after liftoff. The Russian federal space agency Roscosmos, said a problem in the rocket's steering engines surfaced in the suborbital third stage of the launch. The last failed launch of a Proton-M occurred one year earlier and was also found to have been caused by a problem in the rocket's third stage. There had been six subsequent successful launches before the failure 15 May 2015. The Boeing-manufactured satellite was to have provided services for an array of government agencies, including disaster relief, rural education and other government operations. The Ministry of Communications and Transportation said the satellite was 100 percent insured.

THE NON-MILITARY LARGE LAUNCH VEHICLE ("D")

Overview, Supporting Facilities and Launch Vehicles of the

Soviet Space Program *

1976-1980

* Prepared by the late Charles S. Sheldon II and Geoffrey E. Perry M.B.E. Dr. Sheldon was the Senior Specialist in Space and Transportation Technology, Mr. Perry is a Senior Teacher at Kettering Boys School, England, and the leader of the Kettering Group of amateur satellite observers.

THE NONMILTARY LARGE LAUNCH VEHICLE ("D")

In the United States the time came when occasional needs for putting up large space payloads exceeded the capacity of existing varieties of military missiles, and hence the Saturn I and IB were created. They grew out of preliminary designs of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency Redstone Arsenal team headed by Wernher von Braun. Much the same need must have been felt in the Soviet Union, and they, too, have created their first nonmilitary missile vehicle for space purposes. Some Western analysts speculate it was first designed as a super ICBM to carry the 100 megaton city buster warheads that Premier Khrushchev talked about. In any case, its flight test program has been limited to space work.

THE BASIC VEHICLE, D SL-9

The first launch of a new large vehicle came in July 1965, with a payload named Proton 1, and said to weigh 12.2 metric tons. The payload replica was put on display and it had a cylindrical cross section of about 4 meters. When the payload was orbited, it was accompanied by a separated spent carrier rocket stage. Published Western estimates of this stage have ranged between 12 and 27.7 meters in length, and these different figures in turn have raised issues not fully resolved about the first three Proton flights.

The vehicle has not yet been put on public display, even though it has been flying for 10 years, nor has a complete photograph been shown. Motion pictures of launches, released in the last year or so tantalizingly show the upper stage and payload, and also the attachment points of strapped on boosters. In flight pictures are too fuzzy to do more than reveal that there are six boosters firing at the time of ascension from the launch pad at Tyuratam.

The first careful drawing of the vehicle based upon these partial looks was done by Peter Smolders of The Netherlands. (40) He postulated that the general appearance was that of a scaled up A class vehicle with six instead of four boosters. Subsequently, closer study by Charles P. Vick and others in the United States builds a case for the same essential operation of boosters, but that these may be regular cylinders through most of their length rather than the tapered design used for the A class vehicles. There may be a brief transition at the upper end into a conical fairing to the point of attachment to the sustainer core rocket. (41) Vick's concept is shown in figure 14. Since ground observations of the orbital stage show it to be too short to be the core, this shows a final, insertion stage on top of the sustainer core. A more recent review by Clark has appeared in Spaceflight. (42)

When the first launch occurred the Russians heralded this vehicle as opening the door to many important space uses. These included the construction of manned space stations and unmanned flight to the planets. It was given a brief and non-explicit description, generally said to produce about three times the horsepower of the A vehicle.

If one makes the assumption that the same design philosophy was used, and this seems borne out by the limited looks provided in Soviet films, then the vehicle should be much like an A vehicle scaled up in volume threefold (or 1.44 times linear), with the likely change that the boosters are mostly cylindrical. Holding to the same proportions, the basic vehicle sustainer core should be about 40.7 meters long. The combined thrust of the core plus six boosters should be on the order of about 1,542,000 kilograms, or close to 220 metric tons of thrust for each engine. Any simple threefold scaling presents contradictions. If one assumes the A vehicle would lift 3,000 kilograms, the D vehicle should lift about 9,000 kilograms. If the A-l and A-2 lift in the range of 4,725 to 7,500 kilograms, then the D-l should lift about 14,175 to 22,500 kilograms. The first three Proton payloads were 12,200 kilograms, not an ideal fit for the D or D-l. The fourth Proton at 17,000 kilograms was in the right range.

If the estimated length of the accompanying orbital rocket for the early Protons was 27.7 meters, that is too short to be the sustainer core which may be 40.7 meters long, if operating in the "A" class burn sequence. The problems with both weight lifting capacity and

length tend to minimize the chance that the first Protons were put up in the same fashion as Sputnik 1 through 3. We have to allow for the possibility of a D version but the case is not strong. Vick prefers the notion that the core vehicle is ignited at altitude rather than at ground level. But he suggests that if this long stage went into orbit, it might weigh enough to explain the relatively low payload weight of the first three Protons.

What I failed to understand at the time with the various bits of open source information was that Proton-D was as Dr. C. S. Sheldon II had previously suggested based on a multi tanked first stage in a very similar design approach to that of the Saturn-1 booster first stage structural design. It was further complicated by not understanding the size of the second stage and its relationship to the subsequent designs developed. Although the final four stages design was understood it was not as clear that it used a further smaller third stage above a then lengthened second stage from the original D design concept. The both tapered and cylindrical strap-ons and the uncertain length of the taper added to the uncertainties. Subsequently more imagery from Salyut-1 film did indeed indicate the lengthened more cylindrical strap-ons we know today before full imagery of the booster was released. The perception that the core first stage was a second stage was both wrong and tended to complicate if not blind the analysis to reality.

cpvick

THE VEHICLE WITH AN ADDED STAGE, D-l

If the D vehicle was to demonstrate its potential in more ambitious flights, it needed one or more added stages, and, as discussed, may have had an additional stage from the outset. Applying the proportions of the A-2 interplanetary stage and scaling up three-fold, its 8 meters should be about 11.6 meters on the larger vehicle. This is compatible with the 12 meter length assumed by the Royal Aircraft Establishment in its publications. Vick's speculative concept of the D-l configuration is shown in figure 15.

One notes that the Saturn I with a first stage thrust of about 680 metric tons would put up 9,072 kilograms of payload, and the Saturn IB would put up closer to 18,500 kilograms. Considering the first stage thrust of the D class vehicles as perhaps 1,542 metric tons, then at the same level of efficiency and same use, the D class vehicles should have the potential to put up payload weights in the range of 20,570 to 41,950 kilograms. In fact, one must scale this back both because there is no evidence for the Soviet use of LOX-hydrogen fuel in upper stages and because the launch site is less favorably located than Cape Canaveral. In addition to that is the Soviet design philosophy which tries to offset heavier structures for launch vehicles with more thrust, this combination being at the expense of payload weight.

An indication of the capacity of the D-l is provided by Konstantin Feoktistov who quotes a maximum diameter of 4.15 meters and a length of about 13.5 meters for the payload. (43)

In the first half of 1967 came two Kosmos launches, 146 and 154. These were given routine announcement by the Russians, but British optical measurements showed a carrier rocket in orbit larger than the interplanetary stage of the A-2 rocket, and smaller than the possible 27.7 meter length associated by some estimates with the first Proton launches. The payloads were estimated at 14.2 meters in length by 3 meters in diameter. One must recognize that a small number of readings of an indirect nature which make some assumptions about shape and surface must render all measurements that are made very tentative. The British estimate at the time was that the payloads in question might lie in the 18,000 to 27,000 kilogram range. These numbers would square generally with use of the D-l launch vehicle. (44)

What we do not know is whether these flights performed their missions as intended in low Earth orbit, or were intended to fire probe rockets (making them D-l-e) into some further trajectory. In a well reasoned analysis, Grahn and Oslender arrive at the conclusion that the natures of the two missions were completely different. (45) Considerations of the maneuvering of Kosmos 146, the transmission frequency and signal characteristics suggest that it might have been a thorough flight test of the Soyuz propulsion system in preparation for the Soyuz 1 mission which was to follow 5 weeks later. On the other hand this cannot be reconciled with the view that it was a large object launched by the D vehicle. The orbital parameters of Kosmos 154 were shown to be close to those of the Earth parking orbits of the later Zond series of lunar flights.

In November 1968, Proton 4 was launched into orbit, and seemed to be accompanied by a 12-meter spent rocket casing. The Russians announced a weight for the payload of 17 metric tons, reasonably close to the Western estimate of 18 metric tons for the D-l.

The first Salyut space stations also put up by the D-l seem to have had a weight of about 18.6 metric tons. With reports that they are likely in the future to grow to a weight of closer to 25 metric tons, this might still be within the capacity of the D-l, but pushing close to the possible upper limit.

At the end of 1976 the D-l was used to orbit two satellites in the Kosmos series which were recovered after only one orbit. Kosmos 881 and 882 were followed in 1978 and 1979 by two more pairs, Kosmos 997 and 998 and Kosmos 1100 and 1101. Trevor Williams suggested that these were reentry tests of winged vehicles. (46) Responding to this article, Grahn suggested that the two payloads were not identical. (47)

WITH PROBE ROCKET ADDED, D-l-e

During 1968, several Zond flights were made into deep space and around the Moon, some to return to Earth for successful recovery. These were identified as capable of carrying men. Of the known vehicles, only the D-l with added stage should have the capacity to carry a crew on a circumlunar voyage. The pictures which ultimately were released of the Zond 4 through 8 series showed a craft which looked like a Soyuz without its work compartment but with a high gain antenna for long range communications. Because the Soyuz weighs about 6,570 kilograms, the Zond may be in the same range, but more probably lower such as 5,800 or even 5,300 kilograms saving weight on the work compartment but carrying added maneuvering fuel. Vick's version of D-l-e appears in figure 16 although the launch-escape tower depicted owes more to the ASTP vehicle than to that shown in a Soviet picture of what might well be a ground test of the system.

The D-l-e vehicle came into further use in 1969 for the un-manned lunar flights starting with Luna 15. Only occasionally have weights been announced. Luna 16 was listed as having landed 1,880 kilograms on the Moon, which is generally compatible with what one would expect. Since the Russians have announced an A-2-e payload of 1,640 kilograms sent to the vicinity of the Moon (Luna 11) and 1,180 kilograms sent to the vicinity of Venus, then a three-fold increase with use of the D-l-e would give 4,920 kilograms and 3,540 kilograms respectively. In fact the D-l-e likely does better. For lunar flights, it probably can carry a payload in the range of 4,820 to 6,500 kilograms (more likely between 5,300 and 5,800 kilograms); and for planetary flights to Venus or Mars, depending on the year it can probably deliver between 3,500 and 5,000 kilograms. These numbers square with the announced weights for Mars 2 and 3 at 4,650 kilograms. The D-l-e is now used to place communications payloads, in the Raduga, Ekran and Gorizont series, into 24-hour circular geosynchronous orbit close to a fixed position over the Equator.

A POSSIBLE D-l-m CONFIGURATION

In December 1970, Kosmos 382 was launched with only a routine announcement of its initial orbit, which ranged from 320 kilometers to 5,040 kilometers at an inclination of 51.6 degrees. Western observers noted that it had the same kind of man-related telemetry and frequencies as used for the Soyuz program and the other Kosmos flights starting with 379. But Kosmos 382 was different in its performance. It was maneuvered upward to 1,615 kilometers by 5,072 kilometers and then again from 2,577 kilometers to 5,082 kilometers. In addition, on the last maneuver, the orbital plane was shifted to move the inclination from 51.6 degrees to 55.9 degrees. This was something that involved energy expenditures for a payload, presumably large enough to carry a human crew that was beyond the capacity of any A-2 class vehicle. Consequently, it has been judged to be a version of the D-l. Since it used a platform launch technique, it left a spent carrier rocket and platform in the initial orbit reported by the Russians. Its subsequent multiple burns went beyond the performance of previous escape rockets. Hence one is led to the possibility of a D-l-m combination, with an improved maneuvering stage. Some people would suggest calling it a D-l-h, indicating that the upper stage not only maneuvered but demonstrated some special high performance.

If at some point the Russians bring in a new family of upper stages propelled by high energy fuels as the United States has done, we should see further increases in the lifting capacity of these A-2-e and A-2-m as well as D-l-e and D-l-m vehicles.

[This in fact turned out to merely be the second but successful flight test of the Soviet manned lunar programs Lunar Braking Module bloc-D stage for the Soviet “Lunar Cabina” Lunar Module of the N1-L3 program. Bloc-D in fact was used to complete the trans-lunar injection of the L-3 payload as well as break it into lunar orbit and maneuver it to a lower orbit and then the constant thrust powered descent to low altitude over the lunar surface where the LK took over to complete the single manned lunar landing on the Moon. The bloc-d was capable of conducting seven separate burns during its mission. It also helped lay the foundation flight demonstration for later GEO, GSO missions by Proton.]

References:

1. SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMS: 1976-80, SUPPORTING FACILITIES AND LAUNCH VEHICLES, POLITICAL GOALS AND PURPOSES, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN SPACE, ADMINISTRATION, RESOURCE BURDEN, FUTURE OUTLOOK PREPARED AT THE REQUEST OF HON. BOB PACKWOOD, Chairman, COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION, UNITED STATES SENATE, Part 1, Dec. 1982.

40. Smolders, P. L, L,. Soviets in Space, London , Butterworth Press, 1973, pp. 70-71.

41. Vick, Charles P. The Soviet Superboostere—l. London , Spaceflight, December 1973, pp. 457-471.

42. Clark, Phillip S. The Proton Launch Vehicle. London , Spaceflight, vol. 19, pp. 330-333, 340, September 1977.

43. Feoktistov, K. P. Znanie, seriya kosmonavtika i astronomiya, March 1980.

44. Flight International, London , Mar. 30, 1967 , p. 495.

45. Grahn, S. and D. Calender. Cosmos 146 and 154, London , Spaceflight, March 1980, vol. 22, pp.121-123.

46. Williams, T. Soviet Reentry Tests: A Winged Vehicle? London , Spaceflight, May 1980, vol.. 22, pp. 213-214.

47 Grahn, S. Double-Cosmos Launches, London , Spaceflight, Sept.-Oct. 1980, vol. 22, p. 329.

OVERVIEW, SUPPORTING FACILITIES AND LAUNCH

VEHICLES OF THE SOVIET SPACE PROGRAM

By Dr. Charles S. Sheldon II*

Proton Series SL-9, SL-12, SL-13

1971-1975

In the United States the time came when occasional needs for putting up large space payloads exceeded the capacity of existing varieties of military missiles, and hence the Saturn I and I B were created. They grew out of preliminary designs of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency Redstone Arsenal team headed by Wernher von Braun. Much the same need must have been felt in the Soviet Union , and they, too, have created their first non-military-missile vehicle for space purposes. Some Western analysts speculate it was first designed as a super ICBM to carry the 100 megaton city buster warheads that Premier Khrushchev talked about. In any case, its flight test program has been limited to space work.

1. The Basic Vehicle without Extra Stages, D

Proton SL-9

The first launch of a new large vehicle came in July 1965, with a payload named Proton 1, and said to weigh 12.2 metric tons. The payload replica was put on display and it had a cylindrical cross section of about 4 meters. When the payload was orbited, it was accompanied by a separated spent carrier rocket stage. Published Western estimates of this stage have ranged between 12 and 27.7 meters in length, and these different figures in turn have raised issues not fully resolved about the first three Proton flights.

The vehicle has not yet been put on public display, even though it has been flying for ten years, nor has a complete photograph been shown. Motion pictures of launches, released in the last year or so tantalizingly show the upper stage and payload, and also the attachment points of strapped on boosters. In-flight pictures are too fuzzy to do more than reveal that there are six boosters firing at the time of ascension from the launch pad at Tyuratam.

The first careful drawing of the vehicle based upon these partial looks was done by Peter Smolders of The Netherlands.(16) He postulated that the general appearance was that of a scaled up A class vehicle with six instead of four boosters. Subsequently closer study by Charles P. Vick and others in the United States builds a case for the same essential operation of boosters, but that these may be regular cylinders through most of their length rather than the tapered design used for the A class vehicles. There may be a brief transition at the upper end into a conical fairing to the point of attachment to the sustainer core rocket. (17)

When the first launch occurred the Russians heralded this vehicle as opening the door to many important space uses. These included the construction of manned space stations and unmanned flight to the planets. It was given a brief and non-explicit description, generally said to produce about three times the horsepower of the A. vehicle.

If one makes the assumption that the same design philosophy was used, and this seems borne out by the limited looks provided in Soviet films, then the vehicle should be much like an A vehicle scaled up in volume three-fold (or 1.44 times linear), with the likely change that the boosters are mostly cylindrical. Holding to the same proportions, the basic vehicle sustainer core should be about 40.7 meters long. The combined thrust of the core plus six boosters should be on the order or about 1,542,000 kilograms, or close to 220 metric tons of thrust for each engine. Any simple three-fold scaling presents contradictions. If one assumes the A vehicle would lift 3,000 kilograms, the D vehicle should lift about 9,000 kilograms. If the A-l and A-2 lift in the range of 4,725 to 7,500 kilograms, then the D-l should lift about 14,175 to 22,500 kilograms. The first three Proton payloads were 12,200 kilograms, not an ideal fit for the D or D-l. The fourth Proton at 17,000 kilograms was in the right range. If the estimated length of the accompanying orbital rocket for the early Protons was 27.7 meters, that is too short to be the sustainer core which may be 40.7 meters long, if operating in the "A" class burn sequence. The problems with both weight lifting capacity and length tend to minimize the chance that the first Protons were put up in the same fashion as Sputnik 1 through 3. We have to allow for the possibility of a D version but the case is not strong. Vick prefers the notion that the core vehicle is ignited at altitude rather than at ground level. But he suggests that if this long stage went into orbit, it might weigh enough to explain the relatively low payload weight of the first three Protons.

[Dr. C. S. Sheldon had suggested in published literature that the Proton launch vehicle followed a design that was U. S Saturn-1 like in its first stage and second stage design in which the first stage core tank had instead of eight tank attached (had six strap-on tanks attached) to create the first stage. This in turn implied that the first stage of Proton “D” never attained orbit and that only the tandem stacked upper stages actually attained orbit in its various configurations flown. It further suggested that Proton-D did not operate like the A booster cluster sustainer core operated but was more like the US Saturn launch vehicle tandem stacked stages operation. Subsequent imagery released by the Soviets did in fact support this thesis as well as the subsequent upper stage design operation suggested in Soviet Proton Zond mission descriptions with the escape missions handled by a separate upper stage similar to the A-2-e mission operations.

references:

1. SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMS, 1971-75, OVERVIEW, FACILITIES AND HARDWARE MANNED AND UNMANNED FLIGHT PROGRAMS, BIOASTRONAUTICS CIVIL AND MILITARY APPLICATIONS PROJECTIONS OF FUTURE PLANS, STAFF REPORT , THE COMMITTEE ON AERONAUTICAL AND SPACE .SCIENCES, UNITED STATES SENATE, BY THE SCIENCE POLICY RESEARCH DIVISION CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, VOLUME – I, AUGUST 30, 1976, GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON : 1976,

16. Smolders, P. L. L., Soviets In Space, London : Lutterworth Press, 1973, pp. 70-71.

17. Vick, Charles P., The Soviet Superboosters—1, Spaceflight, London , December, 1973, pp.457-471.

2. The Improved Vehicle with an Added Stage, D-l

Proton SL-13

If the D vehicle was to demonstrate its potential in more ambitious flights, it needed one or more added stages, and, as discussed, may have had an additional stage from the outset. Applying the proportions of the A-2 interplanetary stage and scaling up three fold, its 8 meters should be about 11.6 meters on the larger vehicle. This is compatible with the 12 meter length assumed by the Royal Aircraft Establishment in its publications.

One notes that the Saturn I with a first stage thrust of about 680 metric tons would put up 9,072 kilograms of payload, and the Saturn I B would put up closer to 18,500 kilograms. Considering the first stage thrust of the D class vehicles as perhaps 1,542 metric tons, then at the same level of efficiency and same use, the D class vehicles should have the potential to put up payload weights in the range of 20,570 to 41,950 kilograms. In fact, one must scale this back both because there is no evidence for the Soviet use of LOX-hydrogen fuel in upper stages, and because the launch site is less favorably located than Cape Canaveral . In addition and because the launch site is less favorably located than Cape Canaveral . In addition to that is the Soviet design philosophy which tries to offset heavier structures for launch vehicles with more thrust, this combination being at the expense of payload weight.

In the first half of 1967 came two Kosmos launches, 146 and 154. These were given routine announcement by the Russians, but British optical measurements showed a carrier rocket in orbit larger than the interplanetary stage of the A-2 rocket, and smaller that the possible 27.7 meter length associated by some estimates with the first Proton launches. The payloads were estimated at 14.2 meters in length by 3 meters in diameter. One must recognize that a small number of readings of an indirect nature which make some assumptions about shape and surface must render all measurements that are very tentative. The British estimate at the time was that the payloads in question might lie in the 18,000 to 27.000 kilogram range. These numbers would square generally with use of the D-l launch vehicle. (18)

What we do not know is whether these flights performed their missions as intended in low Earth orbit, or were intended to fire probe rockets (making them D-l-e) into some further trajectory.

In November 1968, Proton 4 was launched into orbit, and seemed to be accompanied by a 12-meter spent rocket casing. The Russians announced a weight for the payload of 17 metric tons, reasonably close to the Western estimate of 18 metric tons for the D-l.

The first Salyut space stations also put up by the D-l seem to have had a weight of about 18.6 metric tons. With reports that they are likely in the future to grow to a weight of closer to 25 metric tons, this might still be within the capacity of the D-l, but pushing close to the possible upper limit.

1. SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMS, 1971-75, OVERVIEW, FACILITIES AND HARDWARE MANNED AND UNMANNED FLIGHT PROGRAMS, BIOASTRONAUTICS CIVIL AND MILITARY APPLICATIONS PROJECTIONS OF FUTURE PLANS, STAFF REPORT , THE COMMITTEE ON AERONAUTICAL AND SPACE .SCIENCES, UNITED STATES SENATE, BY THE SCIENCE POLICY RESEARCH DIVISION CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, VOLUME – I, AUGUST 30, 1976, GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON : 1976,

3. The Improved Vehicle with Regular Upper Stage plus an Escape Stage. D-l-e

Proton SL-12

During 1968, several Zond flights were made into deep space and around the Moon. some to return to Earth for successful recovery. These were identified as capable of carrying men. Of the known vehicles, only the D-l with added stage should have the capacity to carry a crew on a circumlunar voyage. The pictures which ultimately were released of the Zond 4 through 8 series showed a craft which looked like a Soyuz without its work compartment but with a high gain antenna for long range communications. Because the Soyuz weighs about 6.570 kilograms the Zond may be in the same range, but more probably lower such as 5,800 or even 5,300 kilograms saving weight on the work compartment but carrying added maneuvering fuel.

The D-l-e vehicle came into further use in 1969 for the unmanned Luna flights starting with Luna 15. Only occasionally have weights been announced. Luna 16 was listed as having landed 1,880 kilograms on the Moon, which is generally compatible with what one would expect. Since the Russians have announced an A-2-e payload of 1,640 kilograms sent to the vicinity of the Moon (Luna 11) and 1,180 kilograms sent to the vicinity of Venus, then a three fold increase with use of the D-l-e would give 4,920 kilograms and 3,540 kilograms respectively. In fact the D-l-e likely does better. For lunar flights, it probably can carry payload in the range of 4,820 to 6,500 (more likely between 5,300 and 5,800): and for planetary flights to Venus or Mars, depending on the year it can probably deliver between 3,000 and 5,000 kilograms. These numbers square with the only announced weights for Mars 2 and 3 at 4,650 kilograms. The D-l-e has now also been used to place several payloads in 24-hour circular orbit close to a faxed position over the Equator.

1. SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMS, 1971-75, OVERVIEW, FACILITIES AND HARDWARE MANNED AND UNMANNED FLIGHT PROGRAMS, BIOASTRONAUTICS CIVIL AND MILITARY APPLICATIONS PROJECTIONS OF FUTURE PLANS, STAFF REPORT , THE COMMITTEE ON AERONAUTICAL AND SPACE .SCIENCES, UNITED STATES SENATE, BY THE SCIENCE POLICY RESEARCH DIVISION CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, VOLUME – I, AUGUST 30, 1976, GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON : 1976,

18. Flight International, London , March 30, 19G7, p. 495.

4. The Possible Used of a D-1-m Version

Proton SL-12

In December 1970, Kosmos 382 was launched with only a routine announcement of its initial orbit, which ranged from 320 kilometers to 5,040 kilometers at an inclination of 51.6 degrees. Western observers noted that it had the, same kind of man-related telemetry and frequencies as used for the Soyuz program and the other Kosmos flights starting with 379 which might have been launched by an A-2-m vehicle But Kosmos 382 was different in its performance. It was maneuvered upward to 1,615 kilometers by 5,072 kilometers, and then again from 2,577 kilometers to 5,082 kilometers. In addition on the last maneuvered, the orbital plane was shifted to move the inclination from 51.6 degrees to 55.9 degrees. This was something that involved energy expenditures for a payload, presumably large enough to carry a human crew, that was beyond the capacity of any A-2 class vehicle. Consequently, it has been judged to be a version of the D-1. Since it used a platform launch technique, it left a spent earner rocket and platform in the initial orbit reported by the Russians. Its subsequent multiple burns went beyond the performance of previous escape rocket. Hence one is led to the possibility of a D-l-m combination, with an improved maneuvering stage. Some people would suggest calling it a D-l-h, indicating that the upper stage not only maneuvered but demonstrated some special high performance.

If at some point the Russians bring in a new family of upper stages propelled by high energy fuels as the United States has done, we should see further increases in the lifting capacity of these A-2-e and A-2-m as well as D-l-e and D-l-m vehicles.

[This in fact turned out to merely by the second but successful flight test of the Soviet manned lunar programs Lunar Braking Module bloc-D stage for the Soviet “Lunar Cabina” Lunar Module of the N1-L3 program. Bloc-D in fact was used to complete the trans-lunar injection of the L-3 payload as well as break it into lunar orbit and maneuver it to a lower orbit and then the constant thrust powered descent to low altitude over the lunar surface where the LK took over to complete the single manned lunar landing on the Moon. The bloc-d was capable of conducting seven separate burns during its mission. It also helped lay the foundation flight demonstration for later GEO, GSO missions by Proton.]

Proton-K

The largest Russian launch vehicle in regular use is the Proton-K, used in a 3-stage configuration for heavy, LEO missions and in a 4-stage configuration for high altitude deployments. The former variant is capable of lifting 20-metric-ton-class spacecraft into very low altitude orbits of about 200 km, while the latter supports semi-synchronous (GLONASS), geosynchronous, and deep-space missions, such as lunar and planetary probes.

The Proton originally was introduced in 1965 as a booster for heavy military payloads and for space stations. It was designed by the Salyut Design Bureau and is manufactured by the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center in Moscow. The Proton is among the most reliable heavy-lift launch vehicles in operation, with a reliability rating of about 98 percent.

The first three stages of the Proton-K were originally developed by the Chelomei Design Bureau in the early and mid-1960's. Today, design and production responsibilities lie with the Khrunichev State Space Research and Production Center in the Moscow region. All three stages burn UDMH and N204 hypergolic propellants. The first stage is powered by six 11 D48 (RD-253) engines, the second stage by three 8D411 K (RD-0210) engines and by one 8D412K (RD-0211) engine, and the third stage by a single 8D48 (RD-0212) engine. The first stage engines were developed by the Glushko Design Bureau (now the Energomash Scientific Production Association), whereas the Kosberg Design Bureau (now the Khimavtomatiki Design Bureau) created the second and third stage engines.

The first stage includes six engines that are fed propellants from a single, center oxidizer tank surrounded by six outboard fuel tanks. At launch, the first stage engines combine to provide about 1.9 million pounds of thrust. The first stage, which measures about 68 feet long by 24 feet in diameter, burns out and is jettisoned two minutes, six seconds after launch at an altitude of 27 statute miles and traveling more than 3,700 miles per hour.

Four engines creating 475,000 pounds of thrust power the Proton's second stage, which measures 56 feet long by 13.5 feet in diameter. While the second stage is in operation, the protective fairing covering Zvezda for liftoff is jettisoned at three minutes, three seconds into the flight. The second stage burns for a total of about three minutes, 28 seconds and is jettisoned at about five and half minutes after launch. When the second stage is jettisoned, the spacecraft is at an altitude of about 86 miles, traveling more than 9,900 miles per hour.

The Proton's third and final stage measures 13.5 feet long by 13 feet in diameter, and is powered by a single engine that creates 125,000 pounds of thrust.

The fourth stage of the Proton-K is produced by the Energiya Rocket and Space Corporation (formerly the Korolev Design Bureau) and utilizes liquid oxygen and kerosene derivatives as propellants, much like the original Sputnik launch vehicle. The main engine is restart able and is known as the 11D58M (RD- 58M). The fourth stage comes in two major variants: the Block D without an independent navigation and guidance unit for deep-space missions and the Block DM with such a unit for most Earth orbital missions. Three models of the Block DM are now in use for semi-synchronous missions (11S861), for normal geosynchronous missions (11S86), and for heavy geosynchronous spacecraft (11S861-1).The last was first used in 1994 for the maiden flight of the Gals spacecraft.

During the 1993-1994 period no 3-stage versions of Proton-K were flown, but 19 flights of the 4-stage model were conducted. All were successful except the mission of 27 May 1993 which failed to achieve orbit due to propellant contamination in the second and third stages. The vehicle returned to flight the following September (References 259-276). Four launch pads for the Proton-K were built at Baikonur (Complexes 81 left and right and 200 left and right), but only two were operational at the end of 1994. The other two were undergoing major overhauls.

One of the principal topics concerning the Proton-K launch vehicle in recent years has been its entry into the international commercial launch services market. An agreement between the US and the Russian Federation was finally reached in 1993 to allow limited use of Proton launch vehicles for commercial geosynchronous flights through the year 2000. In all, nine Proton missions to GEO (including the previously approved INMARSAT 3 contract} were allowed if the cost was not less than 7.5% below the international market value and more than two missions were conducted in a 12-month period. Three LEO missions of US Iridium spacecraft were also permitted, but other LEO commercial contracts were subject to future negotiations and mutual agreement.

Marketing of Proton launch vehicles was to be handled via the newly formed Lockheed-Khrunichev-Energia joint venture. By the end of 1994 no commercial Proton launches had been undertaken, and the first such mission was unlikely before the spring of 1996. Meanwhile debates concerning the raising of the numbers of GEO launches and how to count the leasing of Russian GEO spacecraft often became heated (References 277-286).

Before the US-Russian deal had been ironed out, Russian officials had already committed to a modernization of the nearly 30-year-old launch vehicle. The new Proton-KM launch vehicle will eventually be able to place 23.7 metric tons into LEO and 4.5 metric tons directly into GEO. With a standard Block DM fourth stage the Proton-KM will handle 3-metric-ton GEO payloads (compared to a 2.5-metric-ton limit for the Proton-K), but a new liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen fourth stage will permit carrying the heavier 4.5-metric-ton spacecraft. In addition, new shrouds with larger volumes, some as large as 120 m3, will also be available.

Other elements of the modernization program include a new guidance system, more efficient energy and propellant management procedures, more benign payload launch environments, and more accurate landing zones for sub-orbital stages. Proton-KM will also be able to use a version of Khrunichev's new Breeze upper stage or Lavochkin's Fregat as an auxiliary fifth stage. Plans also call for replacing most Ukrainian suppliers of Proton components with new Russian vendors. Tentative plans announced in 1992 to build Proton launch facilities at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome were later abandoned when a program for a new generation heavy-lift booster was approved.

Proton

Background Information
First Launch:
July 1965
Flight Rate:
13 per year (maximum recorded launch rate)
Launch Site:
Baikonur, Kazakhstan
Capability:
44,100 lb to LEO; 12,100 lb to GTO; 4,850 lb to GEO

History

  • Originally intended as a ballistic missile but converted to a space launch vehicle during development
  • Two, three, and four-stage versions were developed
  • Integrated by the Krhunichev state space center
  • Used to launch satellites into GEO, interplanetary spacecraft, and manned space stations such as Salyut and Mir

Description

  • Three or four-stage liquid-fueled vehicle
  • Stage 1 has six strap-on boosters with RD-253 engines burning N2O4 fed from the core stage 1 tank with UDMH fuel carried in the strap-on tanks, generating a total of 1,986,000 lb of thrust
  • Stage 2 has four RD-0210 sustainer engines burning N2O4/UDMH fed from stage 2 tank, generating a total of 540,000 lb of thrust
  • Stage 3 has one RD-473 engine with four verniers burning N2O4/UDMH, generating a total thrust of 142,000 lb
  • Stage 4 has one RD-58 burning LO2/kerosene, generating a total thrust of 19,100 lb

Profile

Length:
197 ft
Launch Weight:
1,550,000 lb
Diameter
22.6 ft
Liftoff Thrust:
1,986,000 lb
Payload Fairing:
24.6 ft x 12 ft




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Page last modified: 08-06-2017 18:27:40 ZULU