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by Konstantin MERINOV, Editor-in-Chief, Ugreshskye Vesti Newspaper, Dzerzhinsky
One of the country's leading R&D institutions-the SOYUZ Federal Center of Dual Technologies-is located within a stone's throw from Moscow-right behind the Ring Motorway which runs around the capital. It was on that historical site, called Ugresha (from the Old Slavonic word meaning "warming") that the Muscovy Prince Dmitry Donskoi founded the Monastery of St. Nicholas in the grateful memory of his victory over the Tatar hordes of Khan Mamai in 1380.
The historic monastery was destined to have a truly eventful and dramatic history. Jailed there was the schismatic leader, Archpriest Avvakum (1620/1621-1682) and it was used in the Time of Troubles as the residence of the notorious False Dimitry II (?- 1610) - pretender to the Russian throne and Ms accomplice Marina Mnishek. Later still the cloister was used as a jail for the participants of the "Copper" (Medny) (1662) and then "Streletsky" (1698) (of the streltsy palace guard) riots. The monastery was an established place of pilgrimages of Russian tsars. After the Socialist Revolution of 1917 the place was chosen for a collective farm called Labor Commune named after Felix Dzerzhinsky (the head of the Soviet Secret Police). Over the years the workers' settlement continued to grow and received the status of a town, named Dzerzhinsky.
The 1930s saw a dramatic industrial boom of the place which was chosen for factories of industrial ventilators and electrical equipment, radio equipment and a factory of machine tools which were all surrounded by residential quarters for the workers. Also built in Dzerzhinsky in those years was a sports stadium, a workers' club and technical schools.
1940 marked an important turning point in the history of Dzerzhinsky. It was chosen as the site of an ammunition factory which produced shells for the 82 mm and 120 mm mortars and shells for the famous Soviet Katyusha multi-rail rocket launchers. Submitted to the new center and its needs were most of the local factories and plants. In the summer of 1943 it accommodated what was called a Special Technical Bureau which focused its efforts and skills on the development of continuous production of different types of ballistic powders with the use of specially designed screw press conveyers. The successful introduction of this novel technology made it possible to nearly double the output of Katyusha rockets and artillery shells at that critical stage of the war with Nazi Germany.
And even despite the impressive results, organizational reshuffles went on also in 1944. The existing industrial facilities were used as the base for a new R&D center which developed new methods of production of nitroglycerin explosives. During the war years the local specialists, apart from ammunition production, continued R&D efforts aimed at the development of new types of rocket propellants and combination thereof for even more powerful types of missiles.
In 1947 the plant was reorganized into a R&D center (codenamed Center-125). In 1951 Academician B. Zhukov, a leading expert in what were called condenser power systems, was appointed its director. And it was he who initiated the development of a new generation of solid rocket propellants of increased power, a broad range of working temperatures and preset, and variable, rates of combustion.
In the late 1950s a team headed by Prof. Yu. Pobedonostsev designed, built and tested an experimental rocket motor with what was called multiple switching. At the same time work was started not only on the propellants, but also on the motor casings of Russia's first solid-fuel medium-range rocket RT-1. At the same time local experts solved a technical problem of outstanding complexity - the manufacture of propellant grains of 700 mm to 800 mm in diameter by the method of continuous worm conveyer technology. Special worm-presses were designed and new types of rollers and dryers were introduced.
The practical value of the original technical choice was fully demonstrated by the flight tests of the RT-1 rocket at the Kapustin Yar testing site conducted in 1962. Placed into active service in 1965 was the first operational-tactical solid-fuel missile complex called Temp-Cwhich was developed by the combined efforts of experts from the NII-125 and NII-1 R&D centers (the latter now is the Moscow Institute of Heat Engineering).
In 1966 the plant was again reorganized into the Scientific Research Chemico-Technological Institute and in 1972 it was transformed into the Soyuz R&D Amalgamation with the area of its work being the same as before. This is proved by the development of a mobile ground launcher (15-Zh-45) carrying a solid-fuel ballistic missile which is commonly known as the Pioneer (SS-20). It was put into service in 1976, and with its advent this country reached for the first time a strategic parity with NATO. But under the 1987 Agreement on the liquidation of medium and short- range rockets all modifications of the Pioneer are now being scrapped together with some other similar units. Incidentally, other "products" of the Center, including infantry missiles Tochka and Tochka-V as well as the operational- tactical complex Iskander-E have been spared the doom.
Apart from defense projects, specialists of the Center devote much of their time and attention to space projects. Back in the late 1950s, for example, they developed the first glass-plastic motor with thrust cutoff and a jet-brake solid-fuel motor codenamed VT- ILV. It was intended for the Vostok mission of Yuri Gagarin, but was finally rejected because of the prevailing prejudices against solid-fuel motors.
Later on, and thanks to the successful launches of RT-1 rockets, the experts' attitude to such motors was changed so that in 1965 the Cosmos-69 satellite, equipped with a VT-ILV unit, was successfully launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome and safely landed in the prescribed area. Subsequent modifications of the motor were used on other probes in the Cosmos series and also on the landers on the Moon and Mars.
And it should be pointed out at this point that most of the solid-fuel motors and propellant charges currently used in Russia are the products of the Soyuz R&D Amalgamation. The most important of
them are units for manned space probes (beginning from the Vostok and ending with the Soyuzes family). Suffice it to say that the Soyuz-TM space freighter is equipped with 19 motors of six different types with a total charge of over one ton.
As a matter of fact, however, these units belong in greater degree to the emergency rescue system of the spaceship - one of the unique "brand-name" products of the Center. The unit carries several motors with each of them performing its special function. First of all, there is the central rocket motor which performs the separation of the main stage from the carrier rocket in an emergency and propels it to an altitude sufficient for the activation of the parachute rescue system. Then there are the four motors which keep the craft on course during the rescue maneuvers. And, finally, there is a rocket motor which separates the landing module with the cosmonauts from the main stage. The dependability of this emergency system was demonstrated during the rescue of the Soyuz T-8 crew of the cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Genrikh Strekalov
One of the reorganizations of the main R&D center of Dzerzhinsky took place in 1994 when it was given its final status and named the Soyuz Federal Center of Dual Technologies. It now employs a staff of several thousand of R&D experts and engineers, including 14 Doctors and nearly 150 Candidates of Sciences.
The role of the Soyuz Center in the development of solid-fuel rocketry can hardly be overestimated. Its propellants and motors are used on more than 80 percent of this country's defensive and offensive systems. The Center has on its list more than 400 types of solid-fuel units for various kinds of ground-to-air, artillery and missile complex in the strategic and tactical categories, land and seaborn volley-fire systems and a whole range of anti-submarine, anti-torpedo and anti-tank ammunition. The pride of place belongs to the Topol system and its updated modification Topol- M. Descriptions like "unprecedented" and "the first ever" apply very well to the activities and achievements of the Center and its experts. It was they who pioneered the technology of what they call continuous production of ballistic powder with controllable parameters. The Center also pioneered the production of solid rocket fuel by the method of "free" casting for charges of different shapes and sizes, and initiated the technology of motor housings from composite materials. Its experts developed a solid rocket fuel on the basis of ADN (ammoniumdimitromide) - an ecologically pure high-energy oxidizer. The composition of its products of combustion approaches that of the plain air (20 percent oxygen and 40 percent of nitrogen and water vapour respectively), which broadens the range of its applications.
Today the Federal Center of Dual Technologies is cooperating with the Moscow Institute of Heat Technology in developing a Start * carrier rocket on a conversional basis. One
* See: V. Utkin et al , "Ballistic Missiles: Peaceful Uses", Science in Russia, No. 5, 2000 - Ed.
of the most valuable properties, inherited from its military predecessor Topol, is its mobility. The new space carrier received a high assessment of the international scientific community, including US experts, after the successful launch into a solar-synchronous orbit of the Russian-American Early Bird satellite. In the process of Start development it was possible to make an exhaustive assessment of the potential of individual engines and their charges.
Apart from the above, the Soyuz has been participating in the development of the International Space Station and flight tests will begin shortly of a new soft-landing engine for a rescue ship. The Center is also involved to some extent in the grandiose Marine Start Project.
Defense and space studies have always been and remain the main priorities of the Center. But a restructuring of this country's military-industrial complex which began in the late 1980s was accompanied by a reduction of its financial support and the scale of its main R&D activities. In order to deal with this crisis it was necessary to look for some new applications of the vast potential of its scientists and engineers. And it turned out that most of the R&D heritage of the Center can be channelled into science- intensive civilian production. This led to the development of what was called a special-purpose federal program for the development and introduction of dual-purpose technologies Spetskhimiya which later received a presidential status.
Now let us take a closer look at some of the priority R&D projects on the list of the Soyuz. For example, tests of certain brands of powder revealed that their combustion releases a substance which not boosts, but quenches fire. * As a result some aerosols were developed with high levels of such inhibitors on the basis of which it is possible to obtain highly effective systems for fires extinction which do not destroy ozone.
* See: Е. Zhegrov, "Aerosols Quench Fires", in this issue. - Ed.
Generators of such aerosols have been developed, called MAG and PURGA, which have been tested not only in Russia, but also in Germany, Austria, the United States, Australia and Malaysia and are now in commercial production. These units find broad applications in automobile and railway transport, cable tunnels and distributor units, at grain storage and processing facilities and suchlike fire-hazardous objects. The aforesaid aerosol generators have received more than 30 patents in this and other countries and won a Silver Medal at the Eureka-93 International Fair in Brussels.
Another important area of research pursued by the Center are medicinal preparations on the basis of nitroglycerin. One of the fruits of this research is a substance incorporated into the medicinal preparation Nitro-Nik used for the treatment of cardiovascular disorders. The drug has been successfully tested in some of Moscow's leading medical centers, and also produced on the same basis is a water-soluble preparation for intravenous administration. Clinical tests have demonstrated its high efficiency in cases of acute cardiac insufficiency and myocardial infarction. Also produced there is dialytic concentrate for artificial kidney machines in specialized hospitals and clinics of Moscow. All of these activities are embraced by the Federal Program "Science and Industry for Moscow Region Health-care 1999-2001".
Finally, a look at a very unusual sphere of activity of the Center- diamond production by explosive methods. Already functioning there now is a pilot plant with the capacity of up to 2 mln carats a year. Diamonds obtained by blast methods are a high-tech spin-off of our defense industry. They can be successfully used for producing structural materials, such as diamond-abrasive polishing-grinding tools on a polymer basis. These products have already received international recognition and in 1995 they won a Gold Medal at the Eureka-95 Brussels Show.
Among the most "earthly" products of the Center are powerful pulsed geophysical MHD complexes for in-depth prospecting for oil and gas. New apparatuses on solid plasma-generating fuel have provided the basis for the units called Ural, Khibiny and Pamir used for earth crust soundings in earthquake prognostication.
As has been pointed out, the Federal Center of Dual Technologies is a "multi-purpose" enterprise. In addition to the aforesaid products, its "menu" also includes high-temperature welding technology used in the repairs of refractory coatings of metallurgical and glass furnaces without closing them for repairs. And the Soyuz also supplies machinery for the application of road signs and markings made of thermoplastics (produced by Technoplast Center), not to mention fantastic fireworks for all sorts of celebrations.
Also located in Dzerzhinsky is another major state enterprise - fuel power station TETs-22 - which belongs to the Mosenergo network. The station of 1,250 thousand kW is the biggest in Russia and generates enough electricity not only for Dzerzhinsky, but also for the south-eastern districts of Moscow.
Also located in Dzerzhinsky is a municipal unit called Ekologiya Center which designs and builds tap water niters for all kinds of users, including schools and kindergartens. And there is also the Dzerzhinsky Plant of ferro-concrete structures which supplies what we call the fuel-energy complexes of Moscow, the Moscow Region and the surrounding areas.
The area of small and medium-size enterprises in Dzerzhinsky covers many fields of activity - from industrial production to commerce. The ALPLA factory, for example, produces molds for making plastic bottles and the Konkon firm produces windows and window frames from polyvinyl chloride. The Niva agricultural company supplies farm produce to local consumers. Established in the city in 1998 is an Association of minor enterprises which now includes a total of 20 firms. Their share in the municipal budget already exceeds 35 percent.
And there has been marked progress in the field of public education in Dzerzhinsky. 1999, for example, saw the opening of a local branch of the Dubna International University of Nature, Society and Man. An evening chemical college has been opened here with the participation of the All-Russia Chemico- Technological University (named after D. Mendeleyev), and local schools of higher learning maintain close links with other educational establishments in Moscow.
Published recently was a Declaration of Development of Dzerzhinsky in the new economic environment. The main strategy outlined in the Declaration calls for further consolidation of the city's status as one of this country's leading "naukograds" - the science cities of Russia.
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