RUSSIANS COULD HAVE BUILT A SPACEPLANE 30 YEARS BEFORE AMERICANS BUILT THEIRS
According to Ivan Obraztsov, scientific chief of the Moscow institute of applied mechanics, a Russian spacecraft-aircraft could have been built at least 30 years prior to the American-made space shuttle.
As by reports spread by American media, a U.S. company called Scaled Composites has been recently issued a license by the U.S. Agency of Civil Aviation to conduct flights of a first privately owned suborbital manned spacecraft dubbed Space Ship One. It?s reportedly capable of reaching an altitude of 100 km.
Academician Obraztsov claims that a design of a spaceplane was drawn back at the beginning of the 1970s by Soviet specialists. The spaceplane was designed to carry passengers and payloads at altitudes from 90 to 200 km at a speed up to 30 thousand km/h. The project never took off due to lack of financing.
Obraztsov said that the spaceplane with rocket engines could be successfully used for space tourism. ?Our estimates show that the vehicle can travel from Moscow to New York in just 50 minutes. A flight to Tokyo should take 53 minutes, and in 66 minutes the spaceplane should touch down in Sydney. ?The test flights of a prototype built in 1 to 25 scale has been a success. They confirmed the correctness of geometry and design of the suborbital spacecraft-aircraft,? said the academician.
If the project gets under way, the cost of deploying of one kilo of payload to a 200 km orbit will be around $300 for a single-stage vehicle and about $100 for a two-stage vehicle. Various designs of the spaceplane to meet the demands of space tourism are available. The design modifications will enable a group of passengers (from 6 to 1,000) seated comfortably onboard the vehicle to conduct long-distance journeys at an altitude of 100 km with the top speed up to 30,000 km/h, said Obraztsov. He pointed out that the g-load shouldn?t be dramatically high on such a flight. People should experience some sickly sensations the way they do when they take a ride in a high-speed elevator.
The spaceplane resembles a flying saucer. It has a rounded shape with two tail pylons. A crew and a payload will be located at the bow while the stern will be equipped with rocket engines. Obraztsov stressed that the vehicle is capable of operating both in manned and unmanned modes. The vehicle is 75 m long and has a takeoff weight of about 180 tons. As by design, it should be equipped with liquid-propellant rocket engines run on a mixture of liquid hydrogen an oxygen.
?The first stage of the vehicle will be equipped with six rocket engines RD-701 designed by Energomash research and production association. The engine can pull 120 tons of power density,? said Obraztsov, as reported by RIA Novosti News Agency.
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