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RLA-135 -

Credit: Mark Wade. 7,913 bytes. 136 x 480 pixels.

Family: Energia. Country: USSR. Status: Design 1974.

Glushko, new head of NPO Energia, briefed his new launch vehicle family to the VPK Military Industrial Commission on 13 August 1974. These met the requirements of the Ministry of Defence as described in 1973 in Plan Poisk and would replace the failed N1 and all existing launch vehicles. As required by the Ministry of Defence, they used only non-toxic, inexpensive Lox/Kerosene propellants; the various launch vehicles were modular, and used common engines and rocket bodies. The basic engine would be a four-chamber design with a vacuum thrust of 1,200,000 kgf. The modules had a gross mass of about 800 tonnes kgf each, were six metres in diameter and about thirty metres long.

The new design family was called RLA - Rocket Flight Apparatus.

The RLA-135 had a payload to low earth orbit 100 tonnes using two modules as the first stage and the RLA-120 core. This would begin flight trials in 1980 and allow a lunar expedition to be launched in 1981. It would also be used to launch the MKTS spaceplane.

Glushko insisted that a permanent lunar base and Mars expeditions in the 1980's were achievable. What was needed was a reliable heavy lift launch vehicle, and the RLA approach would achieve this. To base these plans on the N1 design would invite catastrophe. The RLA cluster method would allow the modules to be built in the factory and thoroughly tested individually without risking the entire launch vehicle. Total cost of the development program was put at 12.5 billion roubles.

The members of the VPK met the proposal with considerable scepticism. The final decision was that the plan had to be reworked. Brezhnev, Keldysh, and Ustinov would insist in the reformulation that the Lox/LH2 technology and capabilities of the US space shuttle had to be duplicated. The end result would be the Energia launch vehicle and Buran space shuttle, with which neither the military or the Soviet engineering community was happy.


LEO Payload: 100,000 kg. to: 185 km Orbit. at: 52.0 degrees. Liftoff Thrust: 3,300,000 kgf. Total Mass: 2,650,000 kg. Core Diameter: 6.0 m. Total Length: 45.0 m. Development Cost $: 12,500.00 million. in 1974 average dollars.

RLA-135 Chronology

1974 Aug 13 -


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