Cannon for satellites, a blaster and a solar ship: curious and paradoxical projects
We live in a time when discoveries and breakthroughs are made every year. Countries compete among themselves for owning a palm in the military, space and other fields. Thanks to this race, mankind has received many useful and necessary tools and technologies that can be used in everyday life. But in history, there are also many projects that you cannot look at without a smile. Sometimes their authors reach the point of absurdity and comic, despite the multimillion-dollar costs. We have found for you a number of curious projects from the history of astronautics and aviation.
Blaster of the Soviet cosmonaut
And let's start with space projects. It is difficult to say how the American and Soviet military saw the “Star Wars” scenario, but they were arming the astronauts. The Americans included in the astronaut’s kit a knife called “Astro 17” (I wonder why 17? Perhaps there were other prototypes of space weapons.). And our military went much further than their opponents.
In 1984, the Strategic Missile Forces Academy developed a laser pistol - a compact weapon to protect orbital stations and turn off the observation optical systems of a potential enemy.
The developers found that for the calculation purposes a fairly small radiation power is sufficient. Therefore, pyrotechnic charges mounted in a 10 mm caliber cartridge were used as an energy source. As a result of ignition, an outbreak occurred with a temperature of several thousand degrees Celsius. The distance of an effective shot is about 20 meters. There were 8 rounds in the store. The blaster could not hit “manpower and equipment”, but could easily disable the optical elements of spacecraft and blind the enemy astronaut. The development was stopped in connection with the conversion of weapons, and a prototype was exhibited at the Museum of the Strategic Missile Forces Academy.
Gun for satellites
HARP is a project to launch small satellites into low Earth orbit using guns. More than 10 such installations of different sizes and calibers were built, but the largest was the installation, which was based on a battleship gun 20 meters long and 410 mm caliber. The trunk was increased to 40 meters and equipped with a system of extensions, so that this pipe bends less. The shell was a special shell container, inside which was a payload that had to be put into orbit. After the shot, the shell disintegrated, and the cargo flew on. Research and experiments lasted almost until the 1970s, and as a result, the project was closed. The payload could not be delivered into space, although the cannon threw 180-kilogram shells to a height of 180 km. Today, the gun is rusting near Barbados.
Some designs are not that funny - they border on insanity. In 1970, the American physicist Robert Crick, who had no idea of crazy ideas before, announced to the world the creation of the Sunshine. This "great invention" was to take samples of the solar soil. Yes, it’s soil. The inventor spent about one and a half million dollars on his project. It would be okay only for his savings - he took part of the funds from the treasury of his native university, and the origin of the remaining funds is really unknown. Now it’s hardly possible to establish whether it was a scam or insanity.
The determinant of biological life on the planet
During the creation of the Soviet automatic orbital station Mars-2, many problems arose, one of which was overweight of all the planned research equipment. It is said that Korolev personally engaged in the inspection of each device intended for this mission. He stumbled upon the drawings of a device designed to determine organic life on the planet and transmit this information by radio. Korolev decided to personally test it in action. The device was taken to the steppe near the cosmodrome and turned on. After some time, the device proudly transmitted that “there is no life on this planet”, after which it was expelled from the flight to Mars.
U.S. Navy Submarine Spaceship
In the 1970s, the U.S. military was very preoccupied with Soviet satellites, which helped warships navigate targets. To combat this danger launched numerous military developments. One of them was the brainchild of Fred Redding - a reusable underwater spacecraft based on submarines. It was planned to equip strategic submarines with ballistic missiles on board with similar pepelats. A spacecraft with an underwater launch was to go into orbit, destroy Soviet satellites and return back. It was believed that such a launch would not be perceived as a nuclear strike.
In developing this miracle of military thought, elements from existing ballistic missiles were taken. In size, it was supposed to fit in the launcher of a submarine. True, the project remained on paper: after all, even by modern standards, it is too fantastic and requires huge investments.
Flying Ram XP-79B
In 1943, the US Air Force approved the design of the fighter with an aerodynamic scheme "flying wing" and ordered the construction of three samples. The first two received rocket engines, but after the accident the third sample was equipped with turbojet engines. It would seem that such a thing?
This miracle of American military thought was unique in its own way. The Flying Ram is the first aircraft whose main weapon was ... a ram. It was planned that the pilot would easily cut off the wing or tail of an enemy aircraft. In case the ramming fails, 4 machine guns of 12.7 mm caliber were placed in the wings. To reduce the effect of overloads upon impact, the pilot was in a supine position, and the entire cabin was enclosed in a monocoque magnesium capsule.
In 1945, the remaining of the three samples was finally brought to mind and brought to the test site for the first independent departure. But here, the tests were delayed due to permanent damage to the chassis. The "flying ram" still took to the air, but after 15 minutes it fell into an uncontrollable tailspin and crashed. Further work on the XP-79B project was not carried out due to the apparent futility.
With planes capable of vertical take-off, people have been dreaming since the middle of the last century. Such devices, which do not need runways, could land in places inaccessible to "ordinary" aviation. The layout of the first jet aircraft with vertical takeoff, while using an air cushion created by the fan blades, was proposed by the Englishman John Frost back in 1947.
And only 12 years later, in 1959, the Canadian company Avro built the first prototype - the VZ-9V "Flying Saucer", which was immediately interested in the US Army. The device made its first towed flights in December of the same year. Then he was transferred to one of the US military bases in the strictest secrecy, and further development and testing were carried out under the heading "Top Secret".
In 1962, work on the VZ-9V was discontinued. Tests have shown that the UFO has a number of shortcomings: lack of stability, frequent problems with the power plant and control systems. The technology was considered unpromising and too expensive to implement. Unfortunately, and perhaps fortunately, flying saucers have not replaced modern aircraft.
The space industry also presented us with some curious developments.
M2-F1 - flying bath
In the late 1950s, Ames developed a model of an apparatus for the return of astronauts to Earth. She looked like a half-cone with a blunt nose and a flat roof. For directional stability, two keels were used. Thanks to good design characteristics, in 1961 NASA considered the possibility of using this device as a lifeboat for the Apollo ship. But the matter did not go beyond consideration.
Funding was closed, and then the project was developed by the efforts of some enthusiasts from NASA. They made a large-scale model and conducted a series of tests. I managed to knock out another $ 10,000 for development and get consent to test the finished model. Power framework "Baths" made of aluminum, and the body of plywood.
In 1963, taxiing tests began, which were also not entirely successful. The device was accelerated with the help of a Pontiac car, which one of the test participants helped to buy cheaply.
After the modernization of the device, the designers persuaded the director of the Dryden center to conduct an independent flight without the participation of a car. In 1963, the “bath” was towed by plane to a height of 4 km and uncoupled.
In general, the flight went well, but the results were not impressive. It is curious that the director of NASA found out about the descent of the "Flying Bath" only due to the request of the congressman, who, in turn, learned about it from the newspapers.
Total spent about 90 (!) Such descents. There were minor accidents, the device was being finalized, but the M2-F1 never visited space.
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There were a lot of inventive inventions in the 20th century; you can talk about them for a long time. It is important to remember that almost all of these developments are the fruits of the painstaking work of many scientists and engineers. And the mistakes made in the process helped in the future to avoid accidents and problems in other inventions. Therefore, smiling over strange devices or tools, remember that at one time some of them were a breakthrough in engineering and technical thought. Or could be.