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Russian Reusable Space Systems

There are no obvious selection criteria for a review of Rsussian re-usable spacecraft studies, nor is there any apparent upper limit to how many such studies might be included in such a review. Suffice it to say that such studies were quite numerous, and many were quite inventive, and one way or another all came to nothing. All lists are lies, and any list may be fairly criticized as too long, including insigificant items, or too short, neglecting important items.

About the time that Angara was selected to be the next heavy-lift Russian launch vehicle, the Central Research Institute of Machine Building was reportedly studying a concept for a partially reusable space transportation system. The 3-stage launch vehicle, named Norma, would use liquid oxygen and kerosene to power all main engines and would have a LEO payload capacity in excess of 75 metric tons. In the initial concept, stages 1 and 3 could be recovered and reused, employing many of the techniques envisioned for the advanced Energiya booster (Reference 301).

For several years a logical successor to the expensive Buran space shuttle has been the Multi-purpose Aerospace System (MAKS) based on a small spaceplane named Molniya and launched off the back of a modified An-225 aircraft. Conceived by the Molniya Scientific Production Association and the Zhukovskiy Central Aerohydro-dynamics Research Institute, MAKS is based on more than 30 years experience in developing reusable winged spacecraft under the Spiral, EPOS, BOR, and Buran programs. MAKS would be a 30-metric-ton-class spacecraft capable of manned (with a crew of two and an 8.3-metric-ton payload) or automated (with a 9.5-metric-ton payload) flight.

In the air-launched mode, the space-plane and a large propellant tank would separate from the An-225 at an altitude of nearly 10 km, and the spaceplane, using tri-propellant (liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen/ kerosene) RD-701 engines, would fly into a low altitude orbit. The overall dimensions of the space plane are 19.3 m in length and 12.5 m wing-span. Despite considerable international interest in the program, no commitment has been made, and a maiden flight is unlikely in this decade (References 306, 311-324). Alternative plans to launch the Molniya spaceplane atop an Energlya-M launch vehicle died along with that booster program.

In 1993 the Russian Space Agency initiated a research and development program named Orel to determine the feasibility of producing hypersonic engines to power a SSTO vehicle. Under the leadership of the Central Institute of Aviation Engine Building, scramjet evaluation testing began in November 1991 with the aid of S-200 tactical missiles launched from facilities near Baikonur. A second flight was conducted a year later with French assistance. Both missions tested the subsonic and supersonic (up to Mach 6) performance of the subscale, experimental engine. The near-term goal of the Orel program is to support a prototype SSTO designated the Tu-2000 which would have a take-off mass of 70-90 metric tons, a length of 55-60 m, a wing-span of 14 m, and would be able to carry a crew of two. The maiden flight of the Tu-2000 was not anticipated before the year 2010 (References 306, 321, 325-339).

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Page last modified: 09-07-2018 13:25:04 ZULU