On the way of Sergey Pavlovich Korolev. Modern Russian manned project. Part 2. Rocket

    To be continued. The first part is here.

    In this part, we will consider our mission to the moon. To simplify the task, I decided to disassemble only manned missions.

    To better understand the current option, let's look at a bunch of blocks designed to be sent to the moon, but in Earth orbit.

    Here are presented: the manned spacecraft Federation, block D to enter the orbit of the moon and the upper stage (tentatively KVTK-2), which is necessary to send the complex to the moon.

    If you replace the Federation in this ligament with a lunar lander, then it can be successfully delivered to the orbit of the moon. Well, after docking it in the lunar orbit with the "Federation" we get a full-fledged complex for the astronauts landing.

    Moreover, it is in this case that we are following the path of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. While he was not forced to switch to a single-launch flight scheme to the moon, he considered options with several connections for a long time. Then everything was conveniently arranged under the H1 rocket with a carrying capacity of 75 tons. When they decided to switch to one launch, it was urgent to force the rocket to 92 tons, and still the complex was very difficult to tie up to the very end, it had problems with the mass.

    The current Russian version is partly close to “Scheme 2” from Korolyov’s proposals.

    Korolev was sure that it was the assembly in orbit of the Earth or the Moon that the future should be in this direction, and that the elements would soon be assembled in orbit - both by docking from separate modules, and by manual assembly of large-sized structures by astronauts. If you look at the ISS, then Korolev was absolutely right.

    It was he who then put a lot of effort into the development of automatic docking systems, overcoming the powerful resistance during its creation, thanks to which we had a similar system in 1967. This is the fact that it was for the single-launch lunar mission that it was no longer needed! For example, in the United States it appeared only in the current, 2019 year.

    Here is what Korolev himself said on a similar occasion in 1965: a

    recording from the pre-flight conference Voskhoda-2.

    We will return in our time. We determined that for a flight to the moon, it is necessary to have a complex weighing about 90 tons in the Earth’s orbit. How to deliver it there? You can, for example, assemble in orbit. If we had a carrier with a carrying capacity of 50 tons, it would be possible to launch a ship with block “D” into orbit with one launch, an accelerating block with another, and dock them in orbit, obtaining the desired complex.

    It is seen that in this embodiment, the maximum carrying capacity of the carrier is determined by the maximum mass of the candy bar. In this case, the upper stage. If the mass is less, then in theory it is possible to go to refueling in the Earth’s orbit, but the overall complexity of the mission is already growing disproportionately, and reliability is decreasing.

    A smaller medium has a lower price and a greater demand in other programs. Because of this, for a long time, we were considering just a scheme with a docking in the Earth’s orbit. The advantages of such a scheme were broken up by a simple fact: where can I get a carrier with a carrying capacity of 45-50 tons?


    I am sure that now many have remembered our carrier "Angara", which just promised a fairly large range of loads due to the modularity of the design.
    And it was her who was sometimes painted in this appointment. Example:

    Just on the left is the “Federation” with block “D”, and then a hydrogen booster block to bring the ligament to the moon. Obviously an option for docking in the Earth’s orbit. Alas, this was only an estimate. It soon became clear that the Angara-A5, even with a special stage, was not suitable for this.

    Unfortunately, this rocket began to be developed in a very difficult time, when many decisions were made on the basis of certain restrictions, which are now of little relevance, and it turned out to be very far from ideal.

    The main idea of ​​a modular approach in the design of the Angara launch vehicle family was to try to make several universal modules from which to collect carriers of different payloads.

    Relatively speaking, if a single-module rocket can put one ton into orbit, then by connecting three rockets we get three tons, five rockets - five tons. The assessment is conditional, since it is best to have the last stage for each medium, but in a first approximation it shows the line of carriers.

    The idea is not new or even unique. Long before the first launch of Angara, Delta-4 flew into space, built using this approach, and now the heavy Falcon has already been added to such carriers.

    The problem is which specific dimension to choose for single-module media? Alas, this issue was not solved in the best way when developing the Angara. The developers wanted to close the size of the rocket with all the available niches in the market, but use as much of the finished equipment as possible. Much later managed to change, but the parameters that were laid down in the 90s remained.

    The result was such a line: "Angara-A1", "Angara-A3", "Angara-A5", "Angara-A7"

    It would be nice if the light Angara-1.2 would be the most demanded, and the heavy Angara-A5 could be assembled on demand from used elements! Alas, just Angara-A5 is now much more needed: only it can completely replace Proton in such an important direction as launches on GSO. Moreover, it is the most complex, and so far much more expensive to manufacture than Proton.

    I well remember the sad commentary on the first “A5” take-out (on the left is the Zenit launch vehicle for comparison).

    “Eh. They took one RD-171 from the Zenith, sawed it into four parts, put them on its block and assembled a rocket from them. ”
    Of course, according to the technical specifications, the Angara is much more perfect than the Zenith. In particular, the Zenit PN corresponds to the “A3” with three engines, but still the missile is unnecessarily complex in terms of the number of blocks, cyclogram, and much more. That means, and less reliable.

    What's worse, the “A5” is practically the maximum possible medium for this layout. It would seem that the maximum stalby "A7". If you recall the geometry, it is easy to understand that a maximum of six blocks of the same diameter can be hung on one block. But technically this is already difficult to do. The central unit is too small compared to the first stage. If you look at the diagram above, you will see that the central block is already drawn with a larger diameter. So, there is no unification, and we need to develop a central unit from scratch. Because of this, the A7 project was closed, the Angara-A5V LV with the last hydrogen stage was proposed for replacement, but it also falls short of the load required for lunar manned missions.

    Soyuz-5 and super heavy carrier

    Actually, the idea lies on the surface. What if we develop a universal medium, but with a block of a different size? It is absolutely ideal if the smallest possible block would have the dimension of "Proton" - as the most popular. Then, when assembling the modules, say, into three elements, we already get 66-69 tons in orbit of the Earth. For assembly in Earth’s orbit, this is already enough. And if you put together five modules, you don’t need to worry about the assembly: everything is displayed in one start, with a margin. That's exactly what SpaceX did when developing Falcon Heavy — they took the most popular carrier and got super-heavy.

    It was clear to us, as well as the problems of the Angara, because of which it was in limbo for so long. At the same time, we went through a lot of different research projects devoted to the choice of a new carrier within the framework of the initial restrictions, during which a lot of different options were considered. Here are some of the options from the mall named after Makeev.

    Here from the center to them. Khrunicheva.

    After that, for a more detailed study, an offer was selected from RSC Energia, where a single-block rocket received the Soyuz-5 index, and all the rest were assembled on its basis with a high level of unification. A bunch of six blocks in the first stage (five lateral and central) provided the carrier with a carrying capacity of about 88 tons, and when using hydrogen in the upper stage, the payload increased to 108 tons. These options were supposed to directly bring the "Federation" and the landing ship to the moon, followed by docking in orbit.

    This option was considered back in 2018, when it was decided to increase both the starting weight and the carrying capacity of the basic version.

    The Soyuz-5 launch vehicle still remained the basis, but an increase in the number of side blocks from five to six forced the central unit to be changed. The engine on it was changed from RD-171 to RD-180. Roughly speaking, the traction was changed twice, which reduced the unification between the side and central blocks, however, this need was due to the scheme itself. After this version, the capacity of the basic version increased to 100 tons, and with a hydrogen upper stage - up to 140 tons. It was this option, voiced at the end of April 2019, and was adopted as the base. This is really an important point, since the options for five and six blocks are very geometrically different, and before you start designing the launch complex, you need to know exactly which one will be selected.

    In our realities, there is one caveat that should be mentioned. The fact is that a stage the size of the first stage of the Zenith is almost the maximum possible size that we can deliver to the spaceport.

    Over the years, many suggestions have been made on the delivery of rocket and space technology elements to spaceports. They suggested rafting on water, delivering by wheeled transport, creating an air delivery system. But the plans remained on paper, heavy planes were the property of another state, and the only reliable way was delivery by rail. There are restrictions on the dimensions of the cargo: 3900 mm without stopping oncoming traffic and 4100 with a stop. “Proton” was inscribed in 4100 mm, Zenith in 3900. You can’t walk around very much. Perhaps the Soyuz-5 project won because all the blocks decided to pack into the railway gauge. If you look at other projects, you will see steps with large diameters. Four meters for heavy media is really small. I would like at least five.

    This has been clear for a long time. Based on these criteria, the Zenit rocket was also assembled - in particular, they developed a very efficient RD-171 engine, which was originally planned for a new carrier. Alas, his thrust began to limit the maximum mass of a single-block carrier.

    As a result of these restrictions, Soyuz-5 was able to increase from 12 tons, which Zenit had, to 17. Although this is not so scary. This medium fell exactly between Soyuz-2 (10 tons) and Angara-A5 (25 tons). Without it, we would get too big a step between the available RF carriers. Those loads that with a certain underload were implemented by Proton can also transfer to it. Moreover, if we manage to maintain the Sea Launch, Soyuz-5 will bypass the payload of even the Angara-A5 from Vostochny due to the better geography of the launch point at the GPO / GSO.

    By the way, if I’m sure of that, it’s that Soyuz-5 will definitely be brought up and, possibly, even launched in the agreed year 2022. There is already much to create. They plan to launch it from Baikonur, from the Zenith launch complex, so that at least for the first launches it does not need to be noticeably changed. Let's not forget that the launch complex is up to 60% of the work on the space-rocket system. The launch complex on Vostochny for Soyuz-5 is planned to be created later, as part of the construction of a super-heavy carrier.

    The engine of the first stage is also available, and this is usually the most difficult part. The diameter is spent. If anything can be a problem, it’s with a second-stage engine. Among the serial ones, alas, we do not have suitable traction. Do not put the ancient RD-108 of the beginning of the space age? The rest are either too weak or too powerful. For example, it would be good to put RD-191 on the upper stage (development based on RD-171). Great would be the unification! But he has a thrust of 200 tons, and about 100 are needed.

    While it is planned to put a heavily modified engine from the third stage of Soyuz-2 at the top step, its high specific impulse clearly bribes. But it is so well optimized for Soyuz that it scales poorly for heavier media. Recently, it was announced about the restoration by Energomash of the production of RD-120. This engine stood at the second stage of the Zenith and was previously produced in Ukraine. It may well be that they are recovering precisely with an eye on Soyuz-5. At least as an option, if Voronezh can not cope.

    As can be seen in the diagram, on the basis of Soyuz-5, it is already possible to collect super-tractors of 88 and 108 tons. The first for launching a Federation block to the Moon with a brake block, the second for sending a lunar landing ship into orbit of the Moon.

    What else do we have for this, and what needs to be created? It should be noted that for a carrier of 88 tons, the necessary engines are already available or will appear in the process of developing Soyuz-5.

    First of all, it is the acceleration engine RD-0146D.

    Basic RD-0146 did not fly, but passed all the tests. RD-0146D should be distinguished from the basic version by a high specific impulse and repeated switching on. If implemented, this engine will become the champion in specific impulse (470 s) among oxygen-hydrogen analogues.

    The only engine that needs to be developed from scratch here is the upper-stage engine for 140 tons super-traction. Product design under the RD-0150 index began about five years ago.

    Even more has been done for the "Federation", up to the development of individual components. You can arrange a whole exhibition at which to show what is ready. Like the exhibitions organized by NASA in the 60s under the Apollo program. Either stationary or mobile, by train - recently it has been fashionable. In my opinion, such an exhibition would be very useful in popularizing this area, since there is practically no informational support now. It would be really great if Roscosmos did something like that.

    Current Launch Schedule

    Now I’ll try to describe what our Lunar program looks like now. A kind of cut at the moment. I think it will be interesting to look at all these wonderful plans in ten years.

    Tentatively 2021-2024

    Development of the Soyuz-5 launch vehicle is nearing completion and its first launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome are underway. Last year, the model of the “Federation” was listed as the PN of the first launches (which was not a problem), but this year it seems that they tightened the screws and already say that the launches will take place already with the “Federation” ship, albeit in a test version . One of the flights of the "Federation" is promised to be held by the ISS.

    At the same time, the construction of the Angara-A5 and A5V ICs on Vostochny is ending. Moreover, they planned to use it for the moon, but in a peculiar way. The fact is that our method of delivering to the Moon’s orbit using the upper stage is good because the RB is not particularly important what to put into this orbit. As a result, with the presence of “A5B”, with relatively little effort, we will be able to deliver “Progresses” into orbit of the Moon, close to those that fly to the ISS.

    Launches of such "Progress-L" were carried out as part of our proposals for the international Getaway lunar station. They are not very necessary for our plans. Following Trump's recent announcement, plans for the American lunar program have also changed dramatically. In what version will the lunar station be and whether it will be at all, the big question now. Moreover, whether Russia will participate in the same project with America, in the light of the latest statements from the Pentagon about the ban on cooperation in joint launches, the question is even bigger.

    Also during this period, our automatic mission Luna-25 should fly, and if you are lucky, then Luna-26. Hope to succeed.

    I am sure that in these years everything will be relatively close to my forecast. I do not see pitfalls. A lot of hardware is in a high degree of readiness. In particular, the manufacture of tanks of the first Soyuz-5 has already begun. The

    question is the success of these missions. It depends on what will happen next.

    2024-2027 The

    main work that should be carried out during these years is the construction of the launch complex of a superheavy rocket at the Vostochny spaceport. In parallel, the Federation and Soyuz-5 statistics should be developed, and if we seriously set our sights on the Moon, the development of the landing module should begin. Perhaps this is the only element that is not noticeably moving.

    For this period, there was the launch on Angara of our gateway module to Getvey and, possibly, Progress-L, but, as I wrote above, now it seems that even in the USA they don’t know what version the station will be in.

    Well, again, several landings of lunar automatic vehicles are possible if the previous ones are successful.


    In ten years, we just have to finish building a new launch complex and start flying to the moon. Personally, I would really like to see this. I hope that although the plans will be postponed (they are always carried over), they will nevertheless be successfully implemented.

    In ten years we will know for sure.

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