Soviet Solid Rockets - 1960s
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Chertok wrote that "Korolev and Sadovskiy had obtained a Council of Ministers decree to set up broad-scale operations on composite solid propellant. The State Institute of Applied Chemistry (GIPKh) was named as the head organization for the development of composite solid propellants. Vladimir Stepanovich Shpak was its director and chief designer. The search for formulas and the development of a technology for the industrial production of composite solid propellants spread out “from the southern mountains to the northern seas." Institutes, design bureaus, and factories were at work in Biysk, Perm, Moscow, Leningrad, Votkinsk, and in Krasnozavodsk on the outskirts of Moscow. New chief designers came forward for the first- and second-stage blocks. Each one dreamed of being the first to pluck a feather from the Firebird’s tail! Relations with NII-125 became strained, as the institute felt that it risked losing its leading role and insisted on continuing its work on large ballistite powder charges....
"Despite the successful results of the institute’s research, the industrial production of composite solid propellant having the necessary degree of effectiveness was lagging. Obtaining propellant with a high specific thrust, capable of retaining its elastic properties for many years, proved to be the most difficult problem. Chelomey, who had asserted that cracks would most certainly form in charges during long-term storage, making them unsuitable for use, was one of the influential and vocal opponents of solid-propellant missiles. It was not possible to detect the presence of cracks before launching, according to him. Therefore, we were supposedly risking “dropping” a missile carrying nuclear warheads on our own territory. The arguments were chilling."
The decree for the development of the RT-2 intercontinental solid-propellant missile dated 4 January 1961 came out before testing of the RT-1 (or 8K95) missile was completed. In the process of solving the ultimate task, two others were solved: from the three stages of the intercontinental missile, a medium-range and a “shorter” range missile were formed. The decree approved and accepted for implementation three interconnected solid-propellant engine designs that made it possible to create the following three mutually complementary missile systems:
- The silo- and ground-based RT-2 ICBM system comprising a three-stage missile operating on composite solid propellant with a range of at least 10,000 kilometers. The decree named Korolev as the missile system’s chief designer. The RT-2 missile was assigned the designation 8K98.
- A medium-range missile system — up to 5,000 kilometers — ground-based and using the 8K98 first and third stages. This missile was assigned the designation 8K97. Mikhail Tsirulnikov, Chief Designer at the Perm Machine Building Design Bureau was named chief designer.
- The RT-15 track-mounted mobile missile system, which could also be launched from a silo, had a range of up to 2,500 kilometers. This mobile-launch missile was assigned the designation 8K96. The 8K98 second- and third-stage engines were used for it. TsKB-7 was selected as the head organization for the development of the mobile system. The chief designer was Petr Tyurin. TsKB-7 (soon thereafter renamed KB Arsenal) had a great deal of experience developing artillery systems for the Navy.
Over the course of the design operations, it became clear that it was senseless to develop the 8K97 missile because the 8K98 provided a range of 5,000 kilometers when the guidance and control system was readjusted. Chertok noted that "The difficulty of project design lay not so much in the specific development of technical documentation for production, as it did in the mushrooming volume of things that needed to be coordinated between design bureaus located in different cities."
The first solid-propellant guided missile was the 9M76 missile [aka Temp OTR-22 SS-12 SCALEBOARD] adopted in 1966. It had motors with cartridge-loaded charges, forming a stagnation zone together with the body of the motor. The idea of creating the stagnation zone belonged to Pobedonostsev. In combination with the use of glass-reinforced plastic motor case shells, the presence of the stagnation zone allowed the creation of motors with an inert-to-propellant weight ratio close to 0.2. The transition to motors with case-bonded charges (the idea was borrowed from the Americans) allowed attainment of an inert-to- propellant weight ratio equal to 0.08.
The gunpowders on which the shells of the legendary "Katyushas" were flying were completely unfit for large missiles. They ideally dispersed the missiles, if their active part of the flight took seconds. But when it came to heavy missiles, in which the active site took dozens, or even hundreds of seconds, domestic rocket engines with solid propellant (RDTT) were not up to par. In addition, compared with liquid rocket engines, they had at that time an insufficient specific impulse of thrust.
Giving up removable case end closures and transitioning to monolithic composite cases with case-bonded charges made it possible to attain an inert-to-propellant weight ratio equal to 0.06 (0.94 mass fraction). At the same time, the filled volume of the motors was increased. This parameter reached values of 0.95–0.97, despite the fact that the requirements on the change of gas in flux as a function of the magnitude of the burnt dome remained practically the same; the curve of the gas in flux should be close to its mean value during charge burning. If there were any deviations from this rule, it was as a consequence of the optimization of the design parameters of the engine and not a forced measure.
Note that at this stage of the solid-propellant rockets the motors were built with submerged nozzles, movable nozzles, and once or twice folding nozzle exit cones at minimal loss of specific impulse, and the transition to the use of carbon–carbon materials for nozzle manufacturingwas realized.
It can be stated that scientists, engineers and other workers of the defense research and manufacturing community demonstrated their creativity and technical competence, providing wonderful results in their work on missile systems and their components. Flight control systems were undoubtedly developed based on results obtained during the design and development of liquid-propellant rocket engines. The possibility of regulating the injection of liquid-propellant components into a combustion chamber and using additional small engines for control enhanced the creation of guided missiles.
Firing range tests of the RT-2 missile system began at the State Central Firing Range at Kapustin Yar in November 1966. The first launch was a success. The VPK, MOM, and the Strategic Rocket Forces command were so swamped with fulfilling production plans, construction of hundreds of new silo launchers, and putting the missile systems of Yangel and Chelomey on combat duty that the missed deadlines for the beginning of flight development tests on the 8K98 did not trouble them much.
Work was being conducted at the Ministry of the Defense Industry on medium-range missiles under the leadership of the talented scientist and inventor Aleksandr Nadiradze. By 1967 mobile-launch solid-propellant missiles were being developed by the as-yet obscure Chief Designer Nadiradze who worked in the Ministry of the Defense Industry. The first Soviet solid-propellant strategic intercontinental missile appeared seven years after the first American one.
Chertok wrote "Having seen for himself advantages of solid-propellant missiles, Ustinov, who was still Central Committee Secretary, did everything possible to develop a new organization—the Institute of Thermal Technology—whose general designer was Aleksandr Davidovich Nadiradze. Nadiradze, who went on to become an academician and was honored twice as a Hero of Socialist Labor, was not about to compete with Yangel and Chelomey, who had sheltered their missiles in silos. He placed his missiles on wheels, thus giving rise to the mobile launch systems, i.e., “land-based submarines.” It was assumed that during a “contingency period” the self-propelled missile launchers would leave their hangars and roll out in directions that were unknown and unexpected for a potential enemy before launching. This, rather than a fortified silo, would save them from a possible nuclear strike."
It can not be said that the Ministry of Defense did not attempt to tackle solid-propellant and mobile missile issues. The complex 8K96 with a solid-fuel medium-range rocket (the index of the launcher - 15U15) developed at the Arsenal Design Bureau (chief designer - Petr Tyurin) was successfully tested at the Kapustin Yar test site in the late 1960s.
Without explanation of the reasons for the arming of the Soviet Army, the complex was not adopted. Approximately at the same time, the 8K99 complex with an intercontinental missile developed at the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau under the guidance of Mikhail Yangel was piloted at the Plesetsk training ground.
Unlike the 8K96 missile, the 8K99 missile (launcher index 15U21) had a mixed configuration - the first stage of the rocket was solid fuel, the second - liquid. The initial period of flight tests was marked by a series of failures, and therefore the relevant government decision flight tests were terminated. Mikhail Yangel was allowed to shoot the remaining missiles, however, despite the fact that about 10 more launches were successful, the fate of the complex was predetermined.
At the same time, Sergey Pavlovich Korolev, who fundamentally refused, in contrast to Mikhail Yangel and KB Chelomey CB, from the transition to liquid-fuel missile technology to heptyl and other "poison", made an attempt to compete with them in combat missile issues. The 8K98 (8K98P) rocket complex was developed with a three-stage solid-fuel intercontinental range rocket (launch weight 51 tons). Let and with some difficulties, the complex passed flight tests at the Plesetsk training ground in the test department under the command of Colonel Peter Shcherbakov.
On November 4, 1966, at 11 o'clock Moscow time, by the combat calculation of the Separate Engineering and Testing Unit under the command of YA Yashin, with the technical supervision of the test engineers and the main specialists of the Polygon, the launch of the RS-12 missile was launched. Flight tests of the RS-12 rocket after modernization continued until January 1972, and fifty-one launches were carried out. During the test duty, the test department carried out one hundred and forty-two military training missiles of this class.
Complex 8K98P was adopted by the Soviet Army and deployed mainly in the missile division near the town of Yoshkar-Ola. However, the mass production of 8K98P missiles was minimal - about 60 missiles. Minobshchemash did not make any further attempts to return to the solid fuel (until the end of the 1970s) and mobile (ground) topics.
And with the full skepticism of the Ministry of Defense and the neutral indifference of the Ministry of Defense ("not our profile"), Alexander Nadiradze sets himself and the team the task: "Creation of a mobile ground complex with a solid-fuel intercontinental range missile with a monoblock warhead."
To develop control systems for Nadiradze's mobile missile systems of medium and then intercontinental range, for which Ustinov fought, it was necessary to use the experience and capacity of the main management organization of the Ministry of General Machine-building [MOM], the Pilyugin NIIAP. Ustinov provided this optimal solution. Thus, the monopoly of General Machine-building on the creation of strategic missile systems of medium and intercontinental range was violated. It turned out that the head organization of the MOM for control systems - NIAP together with other MOM instrumentation plants - was obliged to work for the Ministry of Defense Industry [MOP], the head ministry for the Nadiradze missile systems. And this despite the fact that Pilyugin went "above the head" in orders for Mishin, Yangel and Chelomey. But that was not all. For Pylyugin, no one "twisted his arms." He voluntarily agreed to work for another ministry without asking for approval from his minister. These events that caused the dissatisfaction of IOM with Pilyugin's behavior.
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