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VR190 - V-2 Piloted Space Missions

The creation of the V-2 rocket by the Germans was similar to the Chinese invention of gunpowder. The Germans created it as a "weapon of retaliation", but they did not at all discern its powerful space potential. V-2 vertical launches were carried out and this rocket was the first object created by man, which reached the boundary of outer space, taking off 180 km. However, the war was going on and the Germans had no time for space. After the war, the V-2 fell into the hands of the United States, the United Kingdom and the USSR. Both countries appreciated the potential of the rocket, which formed the basis of the first space projects of the two countries.

Engineers at the British Interplanetary Society in London decided this technology could help them realise their dream of building a spaceship, a dream that had been considered fanciful only five years earlier. In 1946, society member, designer and artist Ralph Smith put forward a detailed proposal to adapt the V2 missile into a “man-carrying rocket.” Smith’s Megaroc design involved enlarging and strengthening the V2’s hull, increasing the amount of fuel and replacing the one-tonne warhead with a man-carrying capsule. The rocket would not have been powerful enough to carry a person into orbit. Instead, the spaceman (and only a man was considered) would have been launched on a parabolic trajectory some 300 km above the Earth.

Having visited the Moscow First World Exhibition of Models of Interplanetary Vehicles, Mechanisms, Instruments and Historical Materials in 1927, Tikhonravov became interested in interplanetary flights and rocket flights. Since that time, he has been researching various issues related to this problem and practical rocketry. In 1933 (August 17), the country's first GIRD-09 rocket powered by a hybrid fuel designed by Tikhonravov flew from the Nakhabinsky test site. In subsequent years, already working at the RNII, he continued to build and launch rockets that took off higher and higher (rockets 05, 07, Aviavnito).

At the same time, he systematically delivered scientific reports, publications and popular articles on rocket flight into the stratosphere. Speaking at the first All-Union conference on the study of the stratosphere (Leningrad, 1934), he said that a stratospheric rocket can not only lift research equipment to a great height, but also “it is extremely important to lift with a rocket to such a height" (more than 30 km). He developed this idea in a report at the All-Union conference on the use of jet aircraft for the exploration of the stratosphere (Moscow, 1935): “The study of the stratosphere is not the ultimate goal of the development of rocketry. It is only to prepare technically in order for a person to rise first into the upper layers of the atmosphere, then leave it ... "

In the same year, in his article "On a rocket into the stratosphere," Tikhonravov notes that "we can and should talk about a man's ascent to a great height ... A man's flight on a rocket is quite possible." But he not only theoretically substantiated human rocket flight into the stratosphere. His colleague V.N. Galkovsky (who recently passed away) testified that in the second half of the 1930s Tikhonravov designed a rocket for human flight into the stratosphere. However, these works were suspended, the war began.

In 1944, a group of specialists from NII-1 MAP P.I. Fedorov, M.K. Tikhonravov, Yu.A. Pobedonostsev, N.G. Chernyshev and A.I.Shekhtman were sent to Poland to study German rocketry. After getting acquainted with the fragments of this technique, and especially with the engine of the A-4 rocket, Tikhonravov became firmly convinced that on the basis of such a rocket it is possible to carry out a man's flight into the stratosphere.

In 1945, Tikhonravov, together with Chernyshev, Ivanovsky, Shtokolov, Galkovsky and others, developed a VR-190 project for the flight of two pilots to an altitude of 200 km. It received the name “Tikhonravov-Chernyshev project”. There is no way to elaborate on all the misadventures of this project.

On May 13, 1946, a rocket and space program began in the USSR. The founder of the scientific school for the chemistry of rocket fuels, Chernyshev, in a memo addressed to Stalin, presents this VR-190 or Pobeda [Victory]. "We have developed a project for a Soviet high-altitude rocket to lift two people and scientific equipment to a height of 190 kilometers. The project is based on the use of units of a captured V-2 rocket and is designed to be implemented in the shortest possible time ..." In response to this, Stalin laconically remarks - "An interesting proposal - consider for implementation."

This project (it was named VR-190) provided for the solution of the following tasks:

  • investigation of conditions of weightlessness in a short-term free flight of a person in a sealed cabin;
  • study of the movement of the center of mass of the cabin and its movement near the center of mass after separation from the launch vehicle;
  • obtaining data on the upper atmosphere; checking the performance of systems (separation, descent, stabilization, landing, etc.) included in the design of the high-altitude cabin.

In the VR-190 project, the following solutions were first proposed, which have found application in modern spacecraft:

  • parachute descent system, brake rocket engine for soft landing, separation system using fire bolts;
  • electrocontact rod for pre-ignition of the soft landing engine, catapultless sealed cabin with life support system;
  • cockpit stabilization system outside dense layers of the atmosphere using low-thrust nozzles.

On the whole, the VR-190 project was a complex of new technical solutions and concepts, now confirmed by the course of development of domestic and foreign rocket and space technology.

The project was transferred in 1948 under the patronage of Korolev, who at one time worked on it in detail. The official data says that the project was further curtailed due to the fact that Korolev focused all the attention of the design bureau on the ships of the Vostok series, which, in principle, was a vehicle of a completely different level. The idea was born of using "academic" rockets for the flight of animals and for conducting medical and biological studies of the behavior of highly organized animals in the conditions of a rocket flight. One of the founders of Russian space biology and medicine, V.I. Yazdovsky, recalls that in the fall of 1948, at the initiative of S.P. Korolev, a meeting and conversation took place, during which Sergei Pavlovich invited him to take up the problem of preparing dogs for a rocket flight. V. I. Yazdovsky's candidacy was approved by the President of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, academician S. I. Vavilov and the Minister of War - Marshal A. M. Vasilevsky, since Lieutenant Colonel Yazdovsky was an employee of the Research Institute of Aviation Medicine. At this institute, he began working with a small team of specialists. In 1950, the USSR Academy of Sciences established a Commission for the Study of the Upper Atmosphere under the leadership of Academician A.A. Blagonravov. The work went on intensively in all directions, and already in the fall of 1950, during one of the firing bench tests of a geophysical rocket in its head compartment, the first "dog crew" - Tsygan and Dezik passed their tests. They passed these tests successfully. “The behavior of the animals and their condition were quite normal: they had all the developed conditioned reflex connections. The dogs made excellent contact with the experimenters ”(from the memoirs of V. I. Yazdovsky). So, the main preparatory work with the dogs was completed. The equipment was ready for the summer of 1951. The launch of the V-1B geophysical rocket, created on the basis of the R-1 ballistic missile, was carried out on July 22, 1951 at the Kapustin Yar test site. The purpose of the experiment was to study the vital activity of highly organized animals in a rocket flight. A thorough examination of Dezik and Tsygan showed that no changes in their physiological state were found, with the exception of a minor injury to Tsygan. The first rocket flight experiment of highly organized animals was successful. He laid the foundation for regular biomedical research in the conditions of first rocket and then orbital flight. Conspiracy theorists from astronautics claim that the project was further developed and allegedly even with its help they tried to send people into space. Thus the myth of the "zero cosmonauts" was born. For a long time, the project was classified as "top secret" and the general public found out about its existence only in 1994 , but most of the facts do not support this theory.

The fact is that the potential of the V-2 by the beginning of the 1950s was completely exhausted, and in fact it was never a space rocket. It was practically impossible to send a man into space on it using all life support systems and rescue systems. In addition, at that time Korolev was more interested in experiments with the first geophysical rockets of the USSR. P-1V , R-5A (V-5A, 5VA). With the help of these rockets, animals were sent into space for the first time.

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Page last modified: 12-08-2020 15:40:05 ZULU