By Academician Vladimir UTKIN, Director of the Federal State Unitarian Enterprise "Central R&D Institute of Mechanical Engineering", Russian Aerospace Agency; Alexander OSADCHENKO, Cand. Sc. (Technol.), deputy department head at the same enterprise; and Pavel BRASLAVSKY, department head at the same enterprise
For decades our country had to tackle an all-important task-to develop new kinds and types of weaponry. But today we have to cope with a quite different problem - how to get rid of the enormous war arsenals, missiles in particular. Scrapping several hundred missiles (ground- and sea-based) is a very costly undertaking that involves ecological hazards to boot. Yet putting them to peaceful uses is a good way out: say, by employing them as spacecraft booster rockets. Thereupon these rockets will burn up in the upper layers of the atmosphere. Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak...
One of the initiators of the idea to convert missile complexes to peaceful uses was the Central R&D Institute of Mechanical Engineering based in the town of Korolyov just on Moscow's doorstep(*).
Today it is involved with feasibility studies of corresponding conversion projects and drawing up proposals toward their realization in Russia's federal aerospace programs. This is only a part of the Institute's work which includes research and experiments in setting up appropriate complexes for peaceful uses only as well as marketing-that is, exploring a potential space hardware market in this country and abroad. The Korolyov Institute draws upon a wealth of experience in designing booster rockets modified from military intercontinental
* See: A. Morozenko, V. Shutov, "Korolyov, Capital of Russian Cosmonautics", Science in Russia, No. 1, 2000.-Ed.
ballistic missiles (like Cyclone, Cosmos). The large pool of the latter and their good technical condition will make it possible to implement this idea within a short time, in just two or three years.
Back in the early 1990s other research institutes suggested several projects for converting booster rockets of light and superlight missiles (silo-, ground- and sea-based; mobile, air- launched). The largest project of this kind is materialized in the Dnieper, a booster rocket conceived by the international aerospace company Cosmo-tras (which includes several R&D enterprises and organizations in Russia and in the Ukraine. This booster rocket was built on the basis of the liquid-propellant intercontinental missile RS-20 (also known as SS- 18). Equipped with a standard booster unit, such rockets can put as much as 4.5 tons of payload into low-earth orbits. The conversion job involves a number of modifications: for one, changing the work algorithm of the control system; if need be, increasing the length of the nose fairing; assembly of telemetric systems and adapters for the installation and separation of space vehicles. Such innovative modifications will allow to up the orbit of a carrier rocket to an altitude of 800 to 900 km. A thorough modernization of the booster unit will make it possible to increase the payload to 5 tons or raise the orbital altitude significantly (comparable to geostationary orbits and flight trajectories to the Moon, Mars, Venus). This can be done by increasing the fuel supply, installing new nose cones and propellant systems, repeat reswitching of a propulsion unit, and so on. Or one may use other, more powerful booster units (like, e.g., Breeze, Lift}. The main launching site for the Dnieper rocket is the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan equipped with experimental siloes and RS-20 launchup complexes. Baikonur is everything: the gantry scaffolds and measuring systems, launchup routes and sites designated for the fall of the spent and jettisoned stages of a booster rocket. Two other cosmodromes-at Plesetsk and Svobodny (Primorye Territory in the Far East), both within the
Russian Federation - can likewise be used for launchings, as shown by feasibility studies.
The Dnieper booster rocket had its maiden start in April 1999 at Baikonur, when it orbited the U SAT-12 satellite of the British firm SSTL. This is a safe and reliable rocket, relying on the good service record of the RS-20 rocket which has more than 150 successful launchups behind it. A program has been worked out to have the Dnieper launch several space vehicles of various designations simultaneously. At least two launchings like that will be carried out each year. The first one is scheduled for the latter half of 2000, with five foreign satellites to be put into orbit: MegSat-1 and UniSat (Italy), SaudiSat-IA and IB (Saudi Arabia), and TiungSat (Malaysia).
Another major research institution-the State Aerospace R&D Center named after M.V. Khru-nichev (based in Moscow) - specializes in a kindred area. The Rokot carrier rocket developed there is equipped with a jet-assisted takeoff unit from the intercontinental ballistic missile RS-18 (SS-19) and the booster unit Breeze. The latter makes it possible to lift up to 1.9 tons of the pay-load to a 200 km-high orbit, and as much as 1.2 tons to an altitude of 1,500 km. This system was first employed in 1994 at Baikonur when it put into orbit a communication satellite. It will go into commercial operation soon. To begin with, the Rokot will launch into orbit replicas of two US-made Iridium communication satellites at Plesetsk, and afterwards at Baikonur and Svobodny.
Yet another state-run enterprise-R&D Engineering Amalgamation (based in Reutov near Moscow) - likewise took RS-18, specifically, its separation unit for the Strela booster rocket developed there. For the operational development of the prototype the designers changed the work algorithm of the control system, installed a new nose cone-cumtelemetry compartment, a universal distance piece, or spacer (a block containing, among other things, an orientation and stabilization propulsion unit) as well as a new nose fairing. Strela rockets are to be launched from Baikonur and Svobodny siloes; these carriers are capable of boosting into orbit payloads with a mass of up to 1.7 tons.
The R&D center Complex-Mit (the Moscow Institute of Heat
Engineering) is likewise involved with aerospace technology in line with its specialization. Its research staff has utilized elements of the mobile complex RS-12M (SS-25) to build booster rockets of the Start type. Say, Start-1 is an improved modification of a solid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile known as Topol. Yet another, fourth, stage and a space nose cone have been added to it. It can be launched from the mobile ground-based complex Topol modified for the purpose; the payload carried into orbit can be as much as 0.6 ton.
The first successful launchings of these booster rockets were carried out at Plesetsk in 1993, and in about four years later, in 1997, these boosters went into commercial operation at Svobodny when the Russian space probe Zeya and an American space vehicle for the remote probing of the earth were carried into solar synchronous orbits. Two other commercial launchings-of the Odin research satellite (Sweden) and the American vehicle for the remote probing of the earth, Early Bird-2-are next in line. Besides, experts are weighing the possibility of launching Start booster rockets from space-launch complexes abroad.
A large scope of work is carried out at the State Rocketry Center (Design Office named after
Academician V.P. Makeyev) in the town of Mias. It is concerned with the conversion of sea-based missiles to peaceful uses-namely, to employ them for putting small-size vehicles into circumterrestrial and suborbital trajectories. The first on the conversion list were RSM- 25 (SS-N-6) and RSM-50 (SS-N-18) submarine-launched missiles. Two carrier rockets appeared as a result of this work: the Zyb and the Volna. These rockets boosted special- purpose units into ballistic trajectory so as to develop a technology of obtaining materials under the conditions of short-term microgravitation. The commercial use of such hardware dates from 1995 when Volna orbited a thermal convection module for crystal growing designed by Bremen University in Germany.
Next came complexes under the coverall name Still, developed from RSM-54 (SS-N-23) submarine-launched missiles. The converted missiles can be launched both from Dolphin type submarines and from the Nenox testing range in the Archangel region up in the North. To begin with, a standard missile was taken and a 0.1 ton payload was placed into the warhead compartment. In this way the first version, Still-1, was born. Thereupon its warhead compartment was enlarged; a new aerodynamic nose fairing and an additional booster stage were mounted. So came Still-2, capable of boosting as much as 0.35 ton of the payload into orbit. The many-year service record of RSM guarantees a high reliability and safety of the Still complexes. The first commercial launching of the carrier rocket Still-1 from a Dolphin submarine was carried out in 1998. That took place in the Barents Sea. Two German-made research satellites, Tubsat-H and Tubsat-Hl(*) were carried into orbit. Yet another two launchings-ofthe German School-Sat space vehicle and the Russian Compass- Sire in order.
The longterm plans of the State Rocketry Center provide for developing powerful carrier rockets on the basis of the ballistic missile complexes RSM-52 (SS-N-20) and RSM-54- both submarine-based; nonmilitary modifications of air- and seaborne rockets will also be developed. The firstlings of this project are represented by the Typhoon, Aerocosmos, and Priboi, each capable of carrying into low-earth orbits spacecraft with a mass of up to 0.4, 0.95 and 2.4 tons, respectively.
According to some of the parameters (power, reliability, service life, payload and so forth), state-of-the-art booster rockets converted from military missiles can perform well in fulfilling most of the tasks of the federal space program of this country and in the commercial launchings of space vehicles built in other countries. This is particularly true of our Dnieper booster rocket. We stand to gain in economic terms too: by expert estimates, it costs half as much to orbit 1 kg of payload by converted models. They perform best in low-earth orbital communication systems as well as in the remote probing of the earth, meteorology and navigation. There are intriguing projects to employ ballistic missiles in global systems of swift rescue operations for those in distress in the ocean, in fighting tropical cyclones and the like.
The Russian Academy of Sciences, too, is highly interested in employing converted intercontinental ballistic missiles for basic space research. At any rate, the RAS Aerospace Council is closely concerned with that. The Council has set up an interdepartmental working group for drawing up appropriate suggestions. The group has filed 16 projects for a period of 2000 to 2005. Negotiations are underway on peace uses of ballistic missiles with such major foreign firms as Teledesic, Boeing, SSL, CTA, Lockheed, Orbital Sciences, Thiokol, Motorola (USA), Surrey Satellite Technology (Great Britain), BPD (Italy), Mitsui (Japan), OHB system, Daimler-Benz Aerospace, MAN Techno-logic (Germany), among others.
True, there are some obstacles in the way: for one, our rocket designers are strapped for funds. And on the other hand, foreign rocket firms are reluctant to have on the international market relatively low-cost booster rockets made in Russia. One way of coping with like problems is to launch joint ventures or sign contracts with foreign firms, provided the latter invest into a concrete project and take care of marketing. This is a correct approach, and it holds promise. Thus the Daimler-Benz Aerospace of Germany is cooperating with the State Aerospace R&D Center named after M.V. Khrunichev on the Rokot (Eurockot); the Canadian firm Arjuit Aerospace-with the R&D Center Complex-Mit on the Start project; the Thiokol Corporation of the United States- with the International Aerospace Company Cosmotras on the Dnieper booster rocket, to name but a few joint projects.
So, the holy motto-beat the swords into ploughshares-is being translated into reality.
* See: Yu. Markov, "Up into Space from Deep Under", Science in Russia, No. 4, 1999.- Ed.
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