Reusable spaceships

    A reusable spaceship is understood to mean such an apparatus, the design of which allows the reuse of the entire ship or its main parts. The first experience in this area was the Space Shuttle Space Shuttle. Then the task of creating a similar apparatus was posed by Soviet scientists, as a result of which the Buran appeared.

    In both countries, other devices are also being designed. At the moment, the most notable example of projects of this type is the partially reusable Falcon 9 from SpaceX with the returning first stage.

    Today we’ll talk about why such projects were developed, how they showed themselves in terms of efficiency and what are the prospects for this area of ​​astronautics.



    The history of space shuttles began in 1967, before the first manned flight under the Apollo program. On October 30, 1968, NASA turned to American space companies with a proposal to develop a reusable space system in order to reduce the cost of each launch and per kilogram of payload put into orbit.

    Several projects were proposed to the government, but each of them cost at least five billion US dollars, so Richard Nixon rejected them. NASA's plans were extremely ambitious: the project involved the work of an orbital station, to which, and from which, shuttles would constantly carry payloads. Shuttles also had to launch and return satellites from orbit, service and repair satellites in orbit, and conduct manned missions.

    The final requirements for the ship looked like this:

    • Cargo compartment 4.5x18.2 meters
    • Possibility of horizontal maneuver for 2000 km (maneuver of the plane in the horizontal plane)
    • Payload 30 tons into low Earth orbit, 18 tons into polar orbit

    The solution was the creation of a shuttle, the investment in which was supposed to pay off due to the launch of satellites into orbit on a commercial basis. For the success of the project, it was important to minimize the cost of putting each kilogram of cargo into orbit. In 1969, the creator of the project talked about reducing the cost to 40-100 US dollars per kilogram, while for Saturn-V this figure was 2,000 dollars.

    To launch into space, the shuttles used two solid rocket boosters and three propulsion engines of their own. Solid propellant rocket boosters were separated at an altitude of 45 kilometers, then brought into the ocean, repaired and reused. The main engines use liquid hydrogen and oxygen in an outboard fuel tank, which was discarded at an altitude of 113 kilometers, after which it partially burned out in the atmosphere.

    The first prototype of the Space Shuttlebecame Enterprise, named after the ship from the series Star Trek. The ship was tested for aerodynamicity and tested for its ability to land when planning. The first to go into space was Columbia on April 12, 1981. In fact, it was also a test launch, although at the same time there was a crew on board consisting of two astronauts: commander John Young and pilot Robert Crippen. Then everything went well. Unfortunately, it was this shuttle that crashed in 2003 with seven crew members on launch 28. The Challenger had the same fate - it withstood 9 launches, and on the tenth - it crashed. 7 crew members were killed.

    Although NASA had planned 24 launches each year in 1985, over the 30 years of using the shuttles they took off and returned 135 times. Two of them are unsuccessful. The Discovery shuttle became the record holder in the number of launches - it survived 39 starts. Atlantis withstood 33 launches, Columbia 28, Endeavor 25 and Challenger 10.


    Challenger, 1983

    Shuttles Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavor were used to deliver cargo to the International Space station and station "Mir".

    The cost of delivering goods into orbit in the case of Space Shuttles was the highestin the entire history of astronautics. Each launch cost from 500 million to 1.3 billion dollars, each kilogram - from 13 to 17 thousand dollars. For comparison, the Soyuz disposable launch vehicle is capable of launching cargo into space at prices ranging from $ 4,242 to $ 11,265 per kilogram. The Space Shuttle program was planned as self-sustaining, but in the end it became one of the most unprofitable.


    Shuttle Atlantis, ready for the STS-129 expedition to deliver equipment, materials and spare parts to the International Space Station. November 2009 The

    last Space Shuttle flight took place in 2011. On July 21 of that year, Atlantis returned to Earth. The last landing of Atlantis marked the end of an era. Read in detail about what you planned and what happened in the Space Shuttle program, read in this article.



    In the USSR, it was decided that the characteristics of the Space Shuttle allow them to steal Soviet satellites or an entire space station from orbit: the shuttle could put into orbit 29.5 tons of cargo, and lower it - 14.5 tons. Taking into account plans for 60 launches per year, this is 1,770 tons per year, although at that time the United States did not send into space 150 tons per year. It was supposed to lower 820 tons per year, although usually nothing came out of orbit. The drawings and photos of the shuttle made it possible to assume that an American ship could attack the USSR with nuclear ammunition from anywhere in the near-Earth space, being outside the radio visibility zone.

    To protect against a possible attack, the Salyut and Almaz stations installed an upgraded automatic 23-mm cannon HP-23. And to keep up with the American brothers in militarized space, the Union began to develop orbiter rocket plane-reusable space system "Buran" .

    The development of the reusable space system began in April 1973. The idea itself had many supporters and opponents. The head of the Institute of the Ministry of Defense for Military Space made insurance and made two reports at once - in favor of and against the program, and both of these reports appeared on the table of D.F. Ustinov, the Minister of Defense of the USSR. He contacted Valentin Glushko, who is responsible for the program, but he sent his employee in Energomash, Valery Burdakov, to meet instead. After talking about the space capabilities of the Space Shuttle and its Soviet counterpart, Ustinov prepared a solution whereby the development of a reusable spacecraft received the highest priority. For the creation of the ship, the Molniya NGO, created for these purposes, was taken.

    The objectives of the “Buran” according to the plan of the USSR Ministry of Defense were: counteracting the actions of a potential enemy to expand the use of outer space for military purposes, solving problems in the interests of defense, the national economy and science, conducting military-applied research and experiments using weapons based on known and new physical principles as well as launching into orbit, servicing and returning to space of spacecraft, astronauts and cargoes.

    Unlike NASA, which risked the crew during the first manned shuttle flight, the Buran made its first flight automatically using an on-board computer based on the IBM System / 370. On November 15, 1988, the launch took place, the Energia launch vehicle launched the spacecraft into low Earth orbit from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The ship made two orbits around the Earth and landed at the Yubileiny airdrome.

    During the landing, an accident occurred that showed how smart the automatic system turned out. At an altitude of 11 kilometers, the ship made a sharp maneuver and described a loop with a 180-degree turn - that is, it sat down from the other end of the landing strip. Automation made this decision after receiving data on the gale to enter the most favorable trajectory.

    Auto mode was one of the main differences from the shuttle. In addition, the shuttles landed with the engine off and could not land several times. To save the crew in the "Buran" provided a catapult for the first two pilots. In fact, designers from the USSR copied the configuration of the shuttles, which they did not deny, but made a number of extremely useful innovations from the point of control of the apparatus and crew safety.

    Unfortunately, the first flight of the Buran was the last . In 1990, work was suspended, and in 1993 - completely closed.


    As sometimes happens with the pride of the nation, version 2.01 of Baikal, which they wanted to send into space, rotted for many years on the pier of the Khimki reservoir.

    You could touch history in 2011. Moreover, then from this story people could even tear pieces of casing and heat-protective coating . That year, the ship was brought from Khimki to Zhukovsky to be restored and presented at the MAKS a couple of years later.


    “Buran” from the inside


    Delivery of “Buran” from Khimki to Zhukovsky


    “Buran” at MAKS, 2011, one month after the start of restoration

    Despite the economic inexpediency shown by the Space Shuttle program, the United States decided not to abandon projects to create reusable spacecraft. In 1999, NASA, along with Boeing, began developing the X-37 UAV. There are versions according to which the device is designed to break in technologies of future space interceptors that can disable other devices. Experts in the USA are inclined to this opinion.

    The device made three flights with a maximum duration of 674 days. At the moment, he is making the fourth flight, the launch date is May 20, 2015.



    The Boeing X-37 Orbital Flying Laboratory carries a payload mass of up to 900 kilograms. Compared to the Space Shuttle and the Buran, capable of carrying up to 30 tons on take-off, Boeing is a toddler. But his goals are different. The start of the mini-shuttles was laid by the Austrian physicist Eigen Zenger, when in 1934 he began to develop a long-range missile bomber. The project was closed, remembering it in 1944, at the end of World War II, but it was too late to save Germany from defeat with the help of such a bomber. In October 1957, the Americans continued the idea by launching the X-20 Dyna-Soar program.

    After reaching the suborbital trajectory, the X-20 orbital plane was able to dive into the atmosphere to an altitude of 40-60 kilometers in order to take a photo or drop a bomb, and then return to space with lift from the wings.

    The project was closed in 1963 in favor of the Gemini civilian program and the military project of the MOL orbital station.


    Boosters Titan to launch X-20 into orbit


    Layout X-20

    In the USSR, in 1969, they began to build the BOR, an unmanned orbital rocket plane. The first launch was carried out without thermal protection, which is why the device burned down. The second rocket plane crashed due to unexploded parachutes after successful braking on the atmosphere. In the next five launches, BOR did not enter orbit only once. Despite the loss of devices, each new launch brought important data for further development. Using BOR-4 in the 1980s, thermal protection was tested for the future Buran.

    Within the framework of the Spiral program, for which the BOR was built, it was planned to develop an accelerator aircraft that would rise to a height of 30 kilometers at a speed of up to 6 speeds of sound in order to put the orbiter into orbit. This part of the program did not take place. The Ministry of Defense demanded an analogue of the American shuttle, so the forces threw at the Buran.


    BOR-4


    BOR-4

    If the Soviet Buran was partially copied from the American Space Shuttle, then in the case of Dream Chaser, everything happened exactly the opposite: the abandoned BOR project, namely the missile version of the BOR-4 version ", Became the basis for the creation of a reusable spacecraft from SpaceDev. Rather, the Space Chaser is based on the copied HL-20 orbital aircraft.

    Work on the Dream Runner began in 2004, and in 2007 SpaceDev agreed with the United Launch Alliance to use Atlas-5 rockets to launch. The first successful wind tunnel tests were in 2012. The first flight prototype was dropped from a helicopter from a height of 3.8 kilometers on October 26, 2013.

    According to the designers' plans, the cargo version of the ship will be able to deliver up to 5.5 tons to the International Space Station, and return up to 1.75 tons.

    In 1985, the Germans began to develop their version of the reusable system - the project was called Zenger. In 1995, after the development of the engine, the project was closed, since it would give a benefit of only 10-30% compared to the European Ariane 5 launch vehicle.


    Aircraft HL-20


    "Dream Chaser"

    In place of the one-time "Soyuz" in Russia in 2000 began to develop a multi-purpose spacecraft "Clipper". The system became an intermediate link between the winged shuttles and the Soyuz ballistic capsule. In 2005, in order to cooperate with the European Space Agency, a new version was introduced - the winged Clipper.

    The device can put into orbit 6 people and up to 700 kilograms of cargo, that is, it surpasses Soyuz in these parameters by two times. At the moment there is no information that the project is ongoing. Instead, the news is about a new reusable ship, the Federation.


    Clipper multipurpose spacecraft

    The Federation manned transport ship should replace the manned Soyuz and Progress trucks. They plan to use it, including for flying to the moon. The first launch is scheduled for 2019. The device will be able to stay in autonomous flight for up to 40 days, and when docked from an orbital station, it will be able to work for up to 1 year. At the moment, the development of conceptual and technical projects has been completed, the development of working documentation for the creation of the first stage ship is ongoing.

    The system consists of two main modules: the return unit and the engine compartment. The work will apply the ideas that were previously used for "Clipper". The ship will be able to deliver up to 6 people to orbit and up to 4 people to the moon.


    Parameters of the Federation apparatus

    One of the most notable reusable projects in the media at the moment is the development of SpaceX - the Dragon V2 transport ship and the Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

    The Falcon 9 is a partially returned device. The launch vehicle consists of two stages, the first of which has a system for returning and vertical landing on the landing pad . The last launch was not successful - on September 1, 2016, an accident occurred .

    The reusable manned spacecraft Dragon V2 is now being prepared for safety testing for astronauts. In 2017, they plan to carry out an unmanned launch of the vehicle on the Falcon 9 rocket. The


    reusable manned spaceship Dragon V2

    In preparation for the flight to the Mars expedition to the United States, the reusable Orion spacecraft was developed. The assembly of the ship was completed in 2014. The first unmanned flight of the device took place on December 5, 2014 and was successful. Now NASA is preparing for further launches, including with the crew.


    Aviation, as a rule, involves reusable use of aircraft. In the future, spacecraft will have to have the same property, but a number of problems, including economic ones, have to be solved for this. Each launch of a reusable ship should come out cheaper than the construction of a one-time ship. It is necessary to use such materials and technologies that will allow restarting the devices after a minimum repair, and ideally without repair at all. Perhaps in the future, spacecraft will simultaneously possess both the characteristics of a rocket and an airplane.

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