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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Russian super-heavy rocket has the risk to remain unclaimed

State Corporation “Roscosmos” plans to equip the Russian space program the super-heavy class carrier. However, the method and timing of its creation and the purposes for which it will be built, raise questions. The very appearance of such a project – it’s wonderful, the only problem is that the new booster (PH) is likely to remain unclaimed.

In late August, the media reported that the Russian space Agency has started designing of a new super-heavy launch vehicle (LV). This is an example of good news for the Russian space industry. Super-heavy rocket is a vehicle for research and exploration of deep space, which, as is known, begins in lunar orbit. However, as the experience of the Apollo program,” the carrier of the “Saturn-5” with capacity up to 140 tons into orbit can successfully be used in the manned lunar program.

“According to the approved in this year’s “Federal space program until 2025, no flights of Russian cosmonauts nor the moon, nor the moon by 2025 will not be”

Thus, the decision to create a “shortage” says that Russia intends to leave low earth orbit, a prisoner which is more than half a century, and continue to follow the path set by chief designer Sergei Korolev and his associates, the main creators of domestic space victories.

Roscosmos also announced some key elements of the approach to the creation of such missiles. The first is the use of the RD – 171 engine, created on the basis of the RD-170, which, in turn, was developed for the program “Energy-Buran”. RD-171 has been used successfully in the launch vehicle “Zenith” and it has proven its reliability: after the fall of the rocket “Zenit-3SL” in the Pacific ocean 1 Feb 2013 it was established that the engine have no complaints, it worked normally, and the accident is caused by other reasons. Subsequently, information was received that the Russian space Agency has decided to opt out of the use of the Ukrainian “Zenith”, the benefit for the cost they approached the Russian “Proton”.

The second is to take the third step from the already flying “Angara”. According to General Director of RSC Energia Vladimir Solntsev, this will allow you to save money. A number of experts support this view, emphasizing that self-sufficiency “shortage” in General is very problematic, because there are few customers who want to send cargo into space.

Sun also believes that the creation of “shortage” for such a scheme is possible in record time – we are talking about five to seven years.” But is it? Experience of similar “Assembly” of new types of PH from items already in service media, Russia is almost none. But it is available to the United States. In 2004, when U.S. President George W. Bush announced his “Vision for space exploration, America has made the decision on creation of superheavy ROCKET “Ares-5”. According to the presidential plan, NASA should have been first actually to repeat the Apollo program, and then carry out a manned mission to Mars and to Mars. One of the key elements of the implementation of the “Vision” was “Ares-5”, in which NASA decided to use elements of the Shuttle main engines SSME (as an option was also considered tried and tested engines from the ROCKET “Delta-4”) and solid-fuel boosters SRB.

The most powerful launch vehicles in history kosmonavtiki 2010, President Barack Obama has ruled out the repetition of “Apollo” from NASA plans to alert the Agency to direct the preparation of manned missions to the Red planet. As in the case of “Vision of space exploration, Obama’s plan called for the use of super-heavy LV, so work on it continued. A slightly revised design “shortage”, it was called SLS, but the engineering approach to its creation remained the same – to use shatlovskiy SSME and SRB.

Thus, the U.S. is working to create a super-heavy carrier for 12 years, with the first flight of SLS is slated for late 2018, and not in a very difficult option. However, Russia intends to do the same job for half term – five to seven years. This means that the General Director of RSC “Energia”, mentioning the use of RD-171 and elements of “Angara” as a critical component of creating a Russian “shortage”, I forgot to mention the third, equally important component, namely, designed and built this media will be at the same rate, what space technology was created in the days of Sergei Korolev.

There is another suspicious point. SSME and SRB together with the shuttles made 135 missions into space. The SSME reliability rating is 100% and the SRB was 98.7% (in 1986 due to burnout of the solid propellant booster killed “Challenger”). Thus, NASA will use the SLS system, proven over 30 years of operation of the Shuttle. However, Roscosmos intends to use elements of still very raw in terms of running “Angara-A5”, which to date has made only one flight.

As with other systems of the new Russian “shortage”, we only know that, according to Solntseva, “the use of hydrogen circuits for the first and second stages of the media is not considered”.

Purpose, under which is laid a super-heavy rocket, is also not yet clarified. As emphasized by the sun, plans call for “by the turn of 2025 to come up with a media that will allow to realise all of our ambitions on the moon program”. But the problem is that these ambitions are not included in any programmes of Roscosmos. The original intention, announced about a year ago, provided for the commencement of flights of the Russian cosmonauts on the moon in the heart 2025. There were two largely mutually exclusive (including for financial reasons) variant: construction of the lunar station and the creation of a lunar base. However, according to the approved in this year’s “Federal space program until 2025, no flights of Russian cosmonauts nor the moon, nor the moon by 2025 will not. As for the period after 2025, it covers only a single document of the Russian space Agency: “the Main provisions of the principles of state policy of the Russian Federation in the field of space activity up to 2030 and beyond”.

In a “Memorandum” prepared by the staff of the space cluster of SKOLKOVO Technopark, pointed out that “… the policy framework up to 2030” “a clear, clear mission of Russia in space” is not generally defined. According to the authors of the “Memorandum,” data Bases…” contain “full set” of provisions that do not allow for the document to draw practical conclusions about the directions of the national space activities” – too many goals, they are stated in vague terms. “Thus, the strategic plan that was based on a clearly defined mission of the country in space in the XXI century, Russia is missing,” they concluded.

According to the source in Roskosmos, if Russian cosmonauts will fly to the moon and to the moon, this will not happen until 2035, and then only provided that by the time the plans of Roscosmos, will not undergo another radical revision. And it is quite likely given the fact that at least from the point of view of funding of civil space activity loses its priority.

At the end of July the Ministry of Finance informed the Board of the state Corporation “Roscosmos” on the planned reduction of major programmes of outer space activities of Russia in the years 2017-2019. The average level of reduction of government funding is 15%. But in early August it became known that the Russian space Agency plans to reduce the number of the Russian crew of the International space station. Instead of three cosmonauts in the Russian segment at the same time will be two.

The official explanation of the Russian space Agency is that the crew of three were calculated on a fully completed Russian segment of the ISS. Alas, this segment is still not enough yet three modules: the multipurpose laboratory module (MLM), the node module (UM) and scientific and energy module (NEM) that was to be become part of the ISS in 2013-2015, but are unlikely to be docked to the station until 2018. However, many experts generally doubt the feasibility of their joining the ISS: being designed for decades of operation, they will last in space not more than six years since 2024, the station will be de-orbited.

Formally rational explanation is not needed three cosmonauts where you can do two contrary to the experience of operating space stations. The fact is that as they wear (and ISS fly almost three years longer than “the World”, which, as we recall, served in orbit for 15 years), increasing the time that should be spending the astronauts on the maintenance of the complex. Accordingly, the third crew member can not be superfluous, if the Russian space Agency wants astronauts on Board the space station doing scientific experiments and not just “spinning nut”.

Thus, the plans of the Ministry of Finance to reduce the budget of the Russian space Agency and Roscosmos – to reduce the permanent Russian crew of the station did not reflect the optimization of space activities, as the desire to “tighten the belt” on the already under-resourced civil space program. It remains to be seen how stripped-down space, the Russian budget will allow you to create super-heavy rocket.

“All this is very sad, – said the newspaper VIEW Professor Leonid Gorshkov (formerly one of the chief designers RKK “Energy”), commenting on the plans of Roscosmos “shortage”. It’s like a huge waste of effort and money to prepare for the journey, not knowing whether it will be held. Why? Really for the sake of another “cut” the budget?” However, it is possible that Roscosmos are really committed to the idea to create super-heavy rocket, however, without a clear understanding of what it was for, she will be destined to share the fate of its predecessor – heavy “Energia”, has made just two flights in the late 1980-ies, and then forever move on the pages of the history of world cosmonautics as a prominent but unused project.


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