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Space


SL-5 A-m/A-l-m - Polet

Late in 1963 and again in 1964, the Russians flew payloads with the name Polyot, and these were heralded as but the first ones of a large series. In actual fact, no more flights occurred with exactly the same characteristics, and the name itself was not used again.

The first spacecraft "Polet-1" and "Polet-2" that were maneuvering on the orbit in the world for testing military interceptors (1963-1964) showed the possibility of changing the altitude and inclination angle of the orbital plane. What was distinctive about these flights was that they came early enough in the Soviet program and were ambitious enough in performance for their being an application of the A vehicle. They were launched from Tyuratam. Each was advertised to have made extensive changes of altitude and also of orbital plane. However, the amount of plane change was not specified, and it is doubtful that it was very large. Neither flight left a separated carrier rocket in orbit as a guide to how extreme the subsequent maneuvers were of the final payload. So apparently the A-l or A-2 were not used for these launches, but some experimental maneuvering stage which remained attached to the payload. Either this combination did not work out as hoped, or the "m" stage subsequently has been incorporated into other hardware, to be discussed later.

[We now know that the “m” stage was in fact the Polet payload as a proof of principal ASAT stage flight test demonstration flown on the basic “A” booster that would later appear in the coming years as a revised F-1-m Tsyklon-2 payload third last stage of the Soviet ASAT program. The ASAT last stage was a separate enlarged payload different from the RORSAT payload and was really a derivation of the Tsyklon-2 with third stage being the payload last stage. Both ASAT and RORSAT required a longer Tsyklon second stage than that utilized by the standard SS-9 ICBM from which the Tsyklon was derived.]

There were two more engineering test flights which bore at least a partial resemblance to the Polyot flights. These occurred in 1965 and 1966 under the labels Kosmos 102 and 125. There were no separated carrier rockets accompanying the flights, and their location of perigee in the southern hemisphere suggested that their lunar type stages had been only sub orbital with an integral upper stage firing half way through the first orbit to put the apogee back in the latitude of the launch site. It is a temptation to consider this a further development of the use of the "m" stage, but without Soviet data, it is not provable. A review of the Polyot missions and those of Kosmos 102 and 125 has recently appeared in Spaceflight. (36)

[We now know that this was the initial flight tests of the F-1-m, Tsyklon-2 upper last stage flown on the “A-1” booster and payload shroud that were later flown as the RORSAT payload. The RORSAT last stage was different from the ASAT last stage payload and was really a derivation of the Tsyklon-2 with two stages plus the RORSAT payload spacecraft. Both ASAT and RORSAT required a longer Tsyklon second stage than that utilized by the standard SS-9 ICBM from which the Tsyklon was derived.]




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Page last modified: 03-06-2018 19:18:01 ZULU