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ROROSAT US-A satellite GRAU index 17F16

The US-A satellite ("controlled satellite-active", GRAU index 17F16) was equipped with a two-sided lateral view radar providing all-weather and all-weather detection of surface targets. The low working orbit (which eliminated the use of bulky solar panels) and the need for a powerful and uninterrupted power source (solar cells could not work on the shady side of the Earth) determined the type of on-board power source - BES-5 "Buk" nuclear reactor with a thermal power of 100 kW (electric Power - 3 kW, estimated working time - 1080 hours).

RORSAT (radar ocean reconnaissance satellite) provide real-time tracking and targeting data to users in the vicinity of the target or non-real-time data to central control points. Iin this context, "real-time" means that the location of an American ship is known to Soviet monitors in the area the second the satellite picks it up. It takes longer ("non-real-time") if the Soviet ships aren't monitoring the satellite themselves and the information must get to them by way of a Moscow clearinghouse. How good was the Soviet RORSAT? A secret 1985 General Accounting Office [GAO] report says it "can probably detect destroyer-size ships in good weather and aircraft-carrier-size resident Reagan's "Star Wars" defense plan ships-or smaller ships in close proximity to each other-in rough seas."

The word "active" refers to the method of radarisation of the World Ocean - similar to a pencil (a cylinder with a pointed end), the satellite irradiated the surface of the ocean with its long antenna protruding from the aft part and received a reflected signal. Since the active locator required a significant amount of energy and had to function both under sunlight and in the shadow of the Earth, the designers decided to abandon solar cells. As a power source, they decided to use the BES-5 "Buc" nuclear power plant, which included a fast neutron reactor BR-5A. The heat generated by the reactor was converted into electricity not through steam, a turbine and a classic power generator (as it happens at nuclear power plants), And directly - using elements of thermoelectric materials.

The first satellite of this series, called "Cosmos-102" was launched in 1965 - though, instead of the reactor on board, there was a weight-and-weight model. Tests continued until 1975, when the US-A was finally adopted. The US-A locator had low resolution, and therefore the orbit on which it was to operate was determined quite low - only 265 km. At the end of the service life, the main part of the satellite burned in the atmosphere, and the reactor was taken to a high orbit, where there could be 200-300 years.

The average height of the working orbit is 265 km; The inclination of the orbit is -65 degrees; Weight - 4150 kg; Onboard power supply source - nuclear power installation; Electric power - 3,5 kW; Engine - LPRE of reusable inclusion.

September 18, 1977 from Baikonur successfully launched the spacecraft "Kosmos-954" - the active satellite MKRTS "Legend". For a whole month Kosmos-954 worked in space orbit, together with Kosmos-252. On October 28, 1977, the satellite suddenly ceased to be controlled by the ground control services. All attempts to orient him to success have not led. It was not possible to bring to the "orbit of burial" either. In early January 1978, there was a depressurization of the instrument compartment of the spacecraft, "Kosmos-954" completely out of order and stopped responding to requests from the Earth. An uncontrolled reduction of a satellite with a nuclear reactor on board began.

The Western world looked with horror at the night sky, waiting to see the falling star of death. All discussed: when and where the flying reactor will fall. "Russian Roulette" has begun. Early in the morning on January 24, "Kosmos-954" collapsed over the territory of Canada, covering with radioactive debris the province of Alberta. Fortunately for Canadians, Alberta is a northern sparsely populated province, none of the local population has suffered. Of course, there was an international scandal, the Soviet Union paid symbolic compensation and for the next three years refused US-A launches. Nevertheless, in 1982, a similar accident aboard the satellite "Kosmos-1402" was repeated. This time the spacecraft drowned safely in the waves of the Atlantic. If the fall had started 20 minutes earlier - Kosmos-1402 would have landed in Switzerland.

Fortunately, more serious accidents with "Russian flying reactors" were not recorded. In case of emergency situations, the reactors were separated and transferred to the "burial orbit" without incident. In total, 39 launches (including test) of the US-A radar reconnaissance satellites with nuclear reactors on board were carried out under the program "Marine Space System for reconnaissance and target designation", of which 27 were successful. As a result, US-A in the 80's reliably controlled the surface situation in the World Ocean. The last launch of this type of spacecraft took place on March 14, 1988.

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