Russia hopes to launch reusable
spacecraft in 2012
(RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Kislyakov)
does not sound likely that Russia will employ a reusable spacecraft in 2012
- but it is. On Friday, February 3, the Russian Space Agency is due to
announce the developer of a new Russian reusable spacecraft.
shortlist includes Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, Khrunichev Space
Center, and Molniya Science and Production Association. As the manned space
flight capability has been put on top of the national agenda, the winner will
have every incentive to deliver on its offers. Moreover, foreign players might
join in if the project proves successful. Director General of the European Space
Agency Jean Jacques Dordain has repeatedly made it clear that his organization
was watching the project closely.
move on with the times, we certainly need new designs of spacecraft that would
bring people to the Moon (and help sustain a human colony there) and eventually
calculate single-use launch costs necessary to complete such a formidable effort
is already a challenging task; frequency of orbiting will be as crucial as the
sheer total payload. Without reliable figures, a question arises: will reusable
technology be commercially viable?
answer is yes, but only if the frequency of its use is high enough. The
calculation that states single-use systems withstand cost competition against
reusable technology at five launches per year includes such collateral costs as
alienation of the land exposed to the fall of jettisoned parts (under five
launches per year, it may be temporary, with local population, cattle, and
vehicles to be evacuated from the riskiest areas). Alienation has never really
been a factor in this country because until recently decision-makers just did
not have to bother about evacuations, let alone full alienation and
corresponding economic pressure. In modern world, however, these costs are real
and have to be taken into account.
short, reusable systems win the race at minimum 75 launches within a 15-year
program, and save even more as the frequency of launches grows.
reusable systems under your belt, you need not produce a new rocket each time
you have a heavy load to orbit. In comparable space programs, reusable
technology requires five times fewer rocket stages, 50 times fewer central
hulls, and nine times fewer liquid-propellant second-stage engines, thus saving
probably one full single-use rocket’s cost on a program with a reusable launch
bulk of post-flight and turnaround MRO calculations for reusable spacecraft made
back in the Soviet times was based on bench and flight tests of the Buran
orbiter airframe with special heat protection coatings, strategic bombers, and
reusable liquid-propelled engines of the RD-170/RD-0120 class. According to the
research, turnaround costs were about 70% lower than the cost of a new
clear frontrunner is Energia, with decade-long Soviet expertise and the Mir
orbital station and the Energia-Buran orbiting system on its record. The Kliper
space shuttle, its own original design, not only offers an interplanetary
capability but can also make the backbone of a new – conceptually new –
reusable space transport network. Energia’s president Nikolai Sevastyanov
promised a Kliper maiden flight as early as 2012.
Energia wins the tender, he said, after a three-year “full flight
qualification,” the new shuttle will become the basic carrier for all manned
space missions. He noted low operational costs and health-friendliness among key
requirements as the shuttle would carry two professional space pilots – one
responsible for orbital operations, the other for landing – and four
non-professionals, researchers or space tourists.
landing, Sevastyanov said, would be possible at the Russian Baikonur Space
Center and French Kourou Launch Site; emergency landing will be safe enough at
many operational airports. The Kliper concept includes a prospect to develop
Energia’s huge tourism program, which offers a week at the International Space
Station and a flight around the Moon.
first full-scale mockup of the new Russian space shuttle was exhibited at MAKS
2005 air show near Moscow. The first impression was that the 10m/20cu m shuttle
offered much more space than the Soyuz, the Russian space research mainstay for
decades. The shuttle doubles the weight of the seven-ton Soyuz and has a payload
capacity of 500kg.
Energia also proposes another project developed by
its subsidiary Space Regatta Consortium. Its main advantage, Space Regatta CEO Vladimir
Syromyatnikov said, is that the design does not use heat resistant tiles that
killed the last U.S. Space Shuttle.
are currently working on a new spacecraft. It is going to be reusable, a hybrid
of capsule Soyuz-class and winged Buran-class vehicles. The new design should
ensure safer and more reliable space flights,” the executive said.
idea is that the new spacecraft acts most of the time as a conventional
Soyuz-class capsule, with wings folded and protected by a heat-resistant sabot.
As the descent vehicle heads back to Earth, the sabot is discarded, the wings
are unfolded, and the vehicle lands like an aircraft. The convergence between
the Soyuz and the Buran is going to give the new vehicle compactness and
interoperability with rescue systems along with advanced flight characteristics.
A lighter version is going to weight no more than seven tons, which will make
the new spacecraft compatible with Soyuz launch vehicles. Meanwhile, its heat
resistance capability, unlike conventional winged space vehicles, will be based
on an alloy coating, rather than tiling.
is a key advantage of the project. With a need for in-flight as well as
turnaround retiling, tiles are expensive and risky. What we need is a
breakthrough that will allow us to discard them altogether,” Syromyatnikov
spacecraft is going to be orbited like a capsule, while the landing procedure
will be the same as for a fixed-wing aircraft. This enables re-entry at an earth
escape velocity and safe landing after an interplanetary mission,” he added.
project is at the technology proposal stage.
Rocket and Space Corporation, a national space technology pioneer, named after
the first Soviet spacecraft designer Sergei Korolyov, was set up on August 26,
1946 and since then has contributed to almost all domains of rocketry and space.
Energia’s record includes the first-ever Soviet R-1 (SS-1A Scunner) and R-2
(SS-2 Sibbling) ballistic missiles, the first nuclear-capable design R-5 (SS-5
Shyster), and the legendary R-7 (SS-6 Sapwood) intercontinental missile from
which civilian-use launch vehicles were later derived. Energia played a key part
in the launch of the first-ever built satellite in 1957 and the first Gagarin
manned space mission in 1961.
first space station Salyut 1 was also an Energia project. The corporation
contributed to national (Voskhod,
Vostok, Kosmos, Soyuz) and international U.S.-Soviet (Soyuz-Apollo) manned space
programs and automatic research missions to the Moon, Venus, and Mars.
developed the Proton and Zenit final stages, Yamal advanced telecommunications
satellites, and tested the Energia-Buran concept. The corporation made dozens of
manned Soyuz and cargo Progress spacecraft and was a key developer of the Mir
orbital station, which worked for 15 years and earned Russia volumes of
knowledge on long-term space flights.
Energia is a contributor to the Sea Launch international space effort and still
makes the Soyuzes and Progresses, which are currently the only gateway to the
Khrunichev Space Center, an important player on the modern space technology
market, was set up on June 7, 1993 as a convergence of aircraft and space
production facilities, Khrunichev Engineering Plant and Salyut design bureau.
The two institutions had been responsible for the UR-100 and UR-200 ballistic
missiles, all Saluyt orbital stations, and all the Mir modules.
Khrunichev specializes in heavy (Proton-K and Proton-M) and light (Rokot) launch
vehicles, and the Briz-M and Briz-KM final stages. It is also the key contractor
for the Russian segment of the ISS currently consisting of the Zarya and Zvezda
modules. One of its latest developments is the Yakhta concept, a general-purpose
compact space platform, and Monitor, an Earth remote sensing spacecraft.
is a member of the modular launch vehicle Angara program.
is a leading aircraft research and production company set up in 1976 under the
Buran project that led to the single flight in November 1988.
the 1980s, Molniya has embarked on the “flying space launch site” effort and
has developed the Molniya and Gerakl heavy-lift carrier aircraft. –0-