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Soviet Reusable Space Systems

There are no obvious selection criteria for a review of Soviet era 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.

At the dawn of astronautics, the issue of "Earth-Space-Earth" transportation was far from idle. They remain open and now, because relatively high the cost of disposable carrier rockets. One solution to this problem could become the creation of the aerospace system (AKS), i.e. launch of the orbital spacecraft (OS) from an airplane with a normal horizontal take-off and landing. The advantage of such ACS is the possibility of repeated use elements of the system. It was thought that reusability can significantly reduce the cost of transportation of goods to and from space.

Without significant energy costs the ACS allows going into the plane of the orbit with the AKS flight in atmosphere. The presence of parallax, i.e. non-zero distance between the take-off point and plane of the orbit, makes it possible to expand the "launch windows" during which the energy potential of the system can be used most effectively. And the availability in the system of a returned winged vehicle with a greater than ballistic aerodynamic quality, makes it unnecessary to wait when the plane the orbit will pass through a given landing point. Maneuvering in dense layers of the atmosphere, the crew of the OS in any case will land on the airfield.

The first manned spacecraft were wingless disposable apparatus. The reason was the lack of sufficient information on aerodynamics and flight dynamics of a winged spacecraft, especially in upper layers of the atmosphere. Unusual operating conditions required the use of materrials with the corresponding properties. Orientation to the creation of cruise vehicles posed a lot of unresolved problems and most importantly, it required a lot of time for testing, which both the USSR and the United States did not have. Both countries were forced to suspend the implementation of the first projects.

The idea of an airplane capable of flying, both in the atmosphere and in space exploration, was put forward at the beginning of the 20th century. Tsiolkovsky and F.A.Tsander. In the second half of the 1950s in TsAGI research began on the topic hypersonic aircraft - aircraft-type devices capable of flying in atmosphere and near-Earth space. It was assumed that the devices can reach speeds above M = 10 (about 3 km / s.) and altitudes more than 60km.

1956 - Tu-130

Tu-130In the years 1956-57, within the Tupolev Design Bureau, a department "K" was created (under the guidance of his son - Alexey) for work in the field of unmanned aerial and missile systems. In 1958 department "K" began work on the unmanned unmanned vehicle "DP" (Dalnie-rasstoyanie Planerizm long-range planing/gliding), consisting of a launcher (it was intended to use modifications of combat rocket R-5, -12, -14 or P-16) with a payload in the form of a gliding ["planed"] rocket-plane equipped with a thermonuclear warhead. The booster was supposed to launch the planning device to a height of 50-100km and give it a horizontal speed of up to 5.6 km/s. After the separation, the topplane performed the correction and flew to the target along the planing trajectory.

In 1959 Department began working design of the experimental prototype of the combat complex "DP" - an unmanned aircraft "130" (Tu-130). In the final form, it had a weight of 2050kg and relatively small dimensions: length - 8.8 m, wing - 2,8 m and height - 2,2 m. The Tu-130 was actually the main part of the ballistic missile system which was a rocket. Its wedge-shaped fuselage and a small wing provided the creation of a lift-force, which made it possible to sharply increase the firing range of the entire missile system in comparison with the usual G-ballistic fall. At the same time, the Tu-130 was calculated at a speed of about 3 km / s. which was already close to the orbital speeds (7.9 km / s.).

In pilot production, a series of five experimental Tu-130 were built, and in the 1960s the first glider was ready to equip and dock with a modified R-12. However, fate was that at this time the Soviets succeeded in creating Soviet ICBMs. According to the directive from February 5, 1960, work stopped. At this time the final version of the complex "DP" consisted of a three-stage LV of a starting weight of 240 tons. and the winged vehicle capable of delivering a thermonuclear warhead weighing 3-5 tone at a distance of 9,000-12,000 km.

1957 - Tu-136 Krasnya Zvezda

Tu-136Since 1957, the design bureau was working on the theme "Star" ("Red Star"). The device was the Tu-136, with the basis for its design was the experience gained in developing the unmanned TU-130. Its orbital version - "Sputnik" was intended for a flight around the Earth with a subsequent planning landing on the runway. The satellite "Tu-137" was intended for several orbits. Work ong the topics "Star" and "Sputnik" continued until 1963 without going beyond the sketch designtion. Within the framework of the "Star", a variant of the use of a rocket launcher, the first stage of which was a strategic supersonic aircraft ("135" or "139"), and the second stage - an air-launched ballistic missile with a rocketplane instead of a warhead.

One of the oldest and at the same time least known projects was the Tupolev Tu-136, a small space shuttle developed in the late 1950 as a counterpart to the US Dyna-Soar. The Tu-136, conceived under the Zvezdá program ('star'), was a small shuttle from 7.5 to 9 tons and used technologies initially created for the Tu-130 (DP) unmanned ballistic aircraft. Like the Dyna-Soar or the Spiral, the Tu-136 could carry a single cosmonaut, although it was also capable of carrying out unmanned missions, mostly because at that time the effects of microgravity on the human organism were unknown. . These missions would be mainly dedicated to intercepting enemy satellites, including the Dyna-Soar, or carrying nuclear weapons. To perform these tasks it was equipped with two liquid fuel engines that, added to an alar surface of 38 square meters.

The Tu-136 was designed to be put into orbit with a medium-powered rocket with a capacity of ten to twenty tons in low orbit. Since at that time there were no pitchers of these characteristics, Tupolev considered developing his own rocket. In a first test phase, it was expected to be able to launch prototypes on atmospheric flights equipped with solid fuel engines using Tupolev Tu-16 aircraft and from R-5 and R-14 missiles on suborbital flights. A prototype called 136/1 would be transported by a Tu-95K aircraft to check the aircraft's gliding capabilities in subsonic flight and below ten kilometers in height similar to the MiG-105 of the Spiral program. Another prototype was called 136/2.

To verify the characteristics of the hypersonic flight, the results of the flights of the Tu-139, an unmanned aircraft designed in response to the X-15 rocket aircraft, would be used. At a later stage, the Tu-136 would use a hypersonic aircraft as the first stage (a Tupolev Tu-135 or a Tu-139), while the second stage would be a ballistic missile, a scheme also suggested for the Spiral program under the name of 50-50. It was soon evident that it was necessary to expand the autonomy of the Tu-136 -one or few orbits-, for which the Tu-137 variant, nicknamed Sputnik, was designed for longer flights.

The Tu-136 would not move forward when the Soviet authorities decided to assign the construction of the Spiral program shuttle to the Mikoyan-Gurevich design office. Needless to say, the part of the project related to hypersonic flights would soon be forgotten due to the associated technological complexities.

1958-60 - Tsybin PKA Lapotok

After launching the first satellite to the near-Earth orbit, the question arose of human flight into the space. How to start it was clear - a rocket. And in the matter of returning from outer space variants were possible: uncontrolled descent in a capsule along a ballistic trajectory or controlled in a winged vehicle.

At the request of Korolev, for the R-7 missile, the OKB-256 aviation OK P.Tsybina developing draft design (approved May 17, 1959) of the planing spacecraft (PKA - planerism kosmicheskii apparat). The PKA had a trapezoidal wing and a normal tail fin. The structure was formed into the aerodynamic "shadow" of the fuselage wing. With a total weight of 4.7 tons. and landing - 2,6 tons, the device had a length of 9.4 m. wingspan 5,5 m.height of the plumage 4m. and the width of the fuselage is 3 m. The crew was 1 person.

The estimated duration of flight life reached 27 hours. The project envisaged an orbit with a height of 300 km with the help of the "Vostok" booster. After the orbital flight the PKA would returns to Earth, planing in dense layers of the atmosphere. At the beginning descent device, using the lifting force of the bearing body, braked to speed 500-600 m/s and from a height of 20km glides with the help of a divergent wing, folded "behind the back" for protection against aerodynamic heating. After the tests performed in TsAGI revealed that the heat loads significantly exceed limits, emerging technical problems and successful tests of "Vostok" spacecraft determined the termination of work on the PKA.

As is well known, Sergei Pavlovich for the first spacecraft "Vostok" has chosen a scheme that is simple, reliable and requiring the least time and money for experimental testing. In addition, the campaign launched in those years against military aircraft in favor of rockets affected many aviation OKBs. The Tsybin bureau was closed down shortly after the draft project was completed. Tsybin and his staff transferred to the Myasishchev bureau in October 1959 (which was working on the VKA-23 winged spacecraft project). The Myasishchev bureau was closed and staff transferred to Filial 1 of Chelomei's OKB-52 bureau in 1960. Tsybin's work on the PKA was passed to the Mikoyan bureau and formed the starting point for the design of the Spiral spaceplane.

1957-60 - Myasishchev MKA-40, M-46, and M-48 / VKA-23

In the years 1957-60, the aerospace vehicles MKA-40, M-46, and M-48 were developed by OKB-23 of V.Myasishchev. They were intended for use with the Korolev's R-7. The last version was called VKA-23 (Aerospace vehicle OKB-23) for the first time envisaged the use of tiled ceramic thermal protection. It had a a small wing of small extension with a 2 keel vertical fins on wing tips. The total weight of the device was 4.5 tons, with a length of 9m, span of the wing 6.5 m, the height of the keels was 2 m. The device was able to carry a useful the cargo of 700kg to orbits with a height of 400 km.

By March 1960 the design was calculated in detail. There were many variants of the rocketplane, but the company moved from aviation in favor of missiles, so put an end to these developments. KB Myasishchev and OKB-256 in the autumn of 1960 were redeveloped and became branches OKB-52 Chelomey. Myasishchev himself was sent to the post of director of TsAGI. Tsybin was transferred to work in OKB-1 as Deputy to Korolev. The design materials lay on the shelf in OKB-1.

1958 - OKB-52 MP-1

In the late 1950s in OKB-52 conducted work on maneuvering satellites for the military, and for inspection of enemy space objects. These were conical hypersonic capsules with aerodynamic surfaces for control on atmospheric site of descent. In 1961 R-12 missile was launched a scale model MP-1 long 1.8 meters weighing 1,75 tons with eight aerodynamic flaps. The booster lifted it to the altitude 200km, and it went further it on its own engines, reaching a height of 405 km. The device entered the atmosphere at a distance of 1760 km from the launch site at a speed of 3.8 km/s, after which it landed on a parachute. Two years later, a similar M-12 apparatus was tested, only with number of scutes reduced to four. The total in 1961-63 was 12 suborbital launches of scale models MP-1 and M-12.

1960 - OKB-52 R-1 / P-2

With the arrival of OKB-52 people from firms Myasischev and Tsybin began work on the rocketplanes. Projects were developed rocketplanes with a folding wing - unmanned R-1 weight 6.3t. and manned P-2 weight 8t. The standard flight trajectory should have included an elliptical orbit with perigee 160km. and apogee 290km. the total flight time was 24 hours. The load on the descent was only 3.5-4 Gs, in contrast to 9-11 on the descent of the the Vostok spacecraft. To launch the launch vehicles, two-stage LV A-150 with a starting weight of about 200 tons. After the removal in October 1964 from the leading posts of NS. Khrushchev (whose son Sergei worked in OKB-52) to work commission began to "investigate" the activities of OKB-52. The works were rolled up, all materials on the rocket-plan were decided to be transferred to OKB-155 A. Mikoyan, who had behind his back politically more long-lived patrons. There were also the materials on the PKA from OKB-1 were given.

1960 - MiG Spiral

So in the design bureau of A. Mikoyan the development of the aerospace theme under the conditional The name "Spiral", which was the first official large-scale program to create a manned orbital plane (OS). Research Institute Gromov tested the subsonic analog to the piloted manned orbital plane (EPOS) "Spiral". For follow the aerodynamic characteristics of EPOS "Spiral" and heat exchange processes when braking in the atmosphere, the program for index "BOR". According to the program "BOR-1, -2, -3" in 1969, 1974 test launches (sub-orbital) scale analogues of EPOS "Spiral". Starts models "BOR-4" and "BOR-5" were carried out already within the framework of creation of ITC "Buran".

In 1971 In the United States, the program to create a reusable transport-space (Space Shuttle). When the USSR Ministry of Defense realized that the program was "real" the military started talking about the need for an adequate response. The task was set: "To exclude the possible technical and military surprises associated with the appearance of potential enemy of the Space Shuttle, a fundamentally new technical means of delivery to near-earth orbits and the return to Earth of significant masses useful cargo". The development of various options for Soviet "response" began.

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