|Chelomei spaceplane - |
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The LKS consisted of a reusable winged spacecraft forward of an expendable payload section. Equipment or samples to be returned to the Earth would be moved to the payload bay of the LKS itself before re-entry using a remote manipulator arm. This arrangement was similar to that proposed later for the European Hermes spaceplane. The LKS itself had a shuttle-like configuration with double-delta wings, but twin canted horizontal stabilisers. It would be launched atop a Chelomei Proton booster.
Design was begun in 1975 and a draft project was completed in 1980. Kremlin politics again ensnared Chelomei and brought the project to a halt. In 1983 further development of the LKS was stopped. A group of unidentified saboteurs (possibly KGB) broke into the premises of NPO Mashinostroyeniye in early March 1991 and destroyed the mock-up. Chelomei was even subjected to criminal investigation for having engaged in design of the spacecraft without a specific enabling government decree.
From 1965 to 1975 Chelomei was kept out of Soviet spaceplane projects. But his enthusiasm for the Raketoplan concept never died, and covertly new variants were designed with revised layouts.
When studies of spaceplanes were initiated within the industry in 1975, Chelomei proposed to co-operate on the Buran project. But he could not agree to the selected design, which duplicated the dimensions of the US space shuttle. He proposed an alternative, a light spaceplane, which could be launched from a variety of platforms. The exiting Proton booster, Ekranoplan surface-effect aircraft, conventional aircraft, and land-based acceleration carts on rail were considered as launch platforms. Design approaches included jettisonable chassis and variable geometry wings. Chelomei collaborated with a long list of national institutes and design bureaux in these trade studies.
|Chelomei spaceplane - Chelomei spaceplane on Proton|
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After thorough analyses of potential configurations, Chelomei selected variant 2 (awarded USSR patent 188442). This had a launch mass of 25 tonnes, including 4 to 5 tonnes of payload and 2 tonnes of manoeuvring propellant. Maximum use was made of actual flight test data from the MP-1 and M-2 sub-scale Raketoplan vehicles flown in the early 1960's. Major spacecraft systems were off-the-shelf items developed for the Almaz / TKS space station (e.g. engine section, guidance elements, environmental control system, thermoregulation system, heat shield, reusable equipment). Two variants were proposed: an unmanned version, with a lifetime on orbit of one year, and a manned version with two to three crew, capable of ten days of operations in space.
Credit: © Mark Wade. 1,050 bytes. 329 x 117 pixels.
The LKS was equipped with a liquid rocket engine which was used for orbital manoeuvre, braking from orbit, and control in the initial re-entry phase. It could also increase the speed of the spaceplane on the landing manoeuvre in case of a missed approach or undershoot. The payload bay could accommodate all foreseen return payloads. The glider was capable of a 2000 km cross-range and had a landing speed of 300 km/hour. Tricycle landing gear consisted of a nose wheel and cantilevered skid main gear.
|Chelomei spaceplane - Chelomei spaceplane isometric|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 1,678 bytes. 303 x 162 pixels.
Chelomei's program plan envisioned launch of the first LKS within four years from go-ahead from existing Proton launch pads at Baikonur. In 1980 the 25 volume technical specification for the complete LKS system was completed, a full-size mock-up was built, and a 15 volume construction plan for a fleet of LKS orbiters was prepared. This was followed by a draft project for the complete RKK Proton-LKS system. Barmin's Spetsmash design bureau assisted in the system and ground facilities design. It has been said that the mock-up was built in one month and displayed to the military leadership in an attempt to get the Buran program cancelled.
In September 1983 a State Commission reviewed Chelomei's LKS on behalf of Minister of Defence V M Shabanov. The commission was headed by A P Aleksandrov of the Academy of Sciences and members included Ye A Fedoseyev (Minister of Electronic Industries), and G V Kisunko (General Designer Antiaircraft Systems).
|Chelomei R 3 view|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 4,790 bytes. 570 x 482 pixels.
But Shabanov and especially Kisunko were completely opposed to the LKS. They had staged the commission for the express purpose of burying Chelomei's proposal once and for all. Further development of the LKS was stopped. A group of unidentified saboteurs (possibly KGB) broke into the premises of NPO Mashinostroyeniye in early March 1991 and destroyed the mock-up.
Total Length: 19.0 m. Total Mass: 25,000 kg. Total Payload: 4,500 kg. Total Propellants: 2,000 kg. Total spacecraft delta v: 250 m/s.
A State Commission reviewed Chelomei's LKS spaceplane design on behalf of Minister of Defence V M Shabanov. Shabanov was completely opposed to the LKS, and had staged the commission for the express purpose of burying Chelomei's proposal once and for all. Further development of the LKS was stopped.
A group of unidentified saboteurs (possibly KGB) broke into the premises of NPO Mashinostroyeniye and destroyed the mock-up.