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lapot.gif
Spiral
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Uragan / BOR-4
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VKA-23 1960 3 View
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Spiral Icon
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VKA-23 1960

VKA-23 1960 160 pixels
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VKA-23 1960
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Spiral
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Mig 105-11
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M-46B LB
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Spiral 2

The MIG-105 EPOS (Experimental Passanger Orbital Aircraft displayed at the Monino Air Museum outside of Moscow.
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BOR-4 Icon
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MIG 105 at Monino

The MIG-105 EPOS (Experimental Passanger Orbital Aircraft displayed at the Monino Air Museum outside of Moscow.
Spiral

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50-50 Soviet Shuttle

Program: Spiral. Objective: Manned. Type: Spaceplane.

Two years following the cancellation of Chelomei's R spaceplane after Khrushchev's downfall, manned spaceplane work was resumed in the form of a competition between the Sukhoi and MiG bureaux. Sukhoi already had a potential launch aircraft in development (the trisonic T-4), but in the end MiG got the contract. Work began as early as 1962 with the Mikoyan study "50-50". The design was also referred to as "Raketoplan". This envisioned a hypersonic air-breathing first stage that would accelerate to Mach 5.5. A second rocket stage with a one man winged orbiter atop it would then continue into low earth orbit. Liftoff weight was 140 tonnes. The original plan called for manned flights atop rocket boosters by 1970 and the first atop the hypersonic air breathing booster in 1977. This project was cancelled in 1969, then resuscitated in 1972, resulting finally in the Article 105.11 aerodynamic test plane, which flew eight times in 1976 to 1978. The 105.11, nicknamed "Lapot" after its resemblance to a wooden shoe, was built to verify the aerodynamics in subsonic flight. The turbojet powered craft was 8 m long X 7.4 m wide X 3.5 m high with a gross weight of 10,300 kg. The project was initially killed off (or 'went black' - see the next paragraph) in 1978.

At the time of the decision to proceed with the development of the US space shuttle, the US Air Force had a baseline shuttle mission, requiring that a manned spaceplane take off from Vandenberg, do something (attack, intercept, or photograph a target) in a single orbit, and have sufficient cross-range to land back at Vandenberg or Edwards. This requirement was essential in 1971 to the USAF's participation in the shuttle project, which resulted in NASA selecting a heavier delta-winged design. While the development of the Buran was underway (but many years behind) as counterpoint, it is known that the Soviet leadership was terrified by the military's reports of the US space shuttle doing 'bomb runs on Moscow' during one of the earliest military shuttle missions. This indicated a need for a shorter-term solution, and once again the whole issue of having a manned space interception capability came up. The evidence indicates that the project was resuscitated in response to USAF plans to launch polar orbiting shuttle flights from Vandenberg. The Pentagon insisted (and released artist's conceptions) by the mid-1980's that a version of Spiral was being developed as an interceptor for launch atop the new Zenit booster. It was redesignated Uragan, with the Nudelmann OKB developing a recoilless weapon for destroying orbital targets. The Uragan lifting body configuration was tested in the BOR-4 subscale vehicle on orbital flights (with ocean recovery) in the 1980's. Meanwhile, after fifteen years and billions of dollars, the USAF cancelled shuttle flights from Vandenberg. Not only was the launch pad built there probably incapable of launching the shuttle due to explosive gas buildup in the exhaust vents, but the shuttle orbiter itself ended up short on cross range and couldn't have made the required return to Vandenberg. As soon as the Air Force decision was made, the Soviets cancelled the Uragan and the cosmonauts in training for it went to the Mir program. The Russians still consider the whole matter quite secret and categorically deny the Uragan project even exited. However the Spiral design, studied by NASA in hypersonic wind tunnel tests in the 1980's, was so good that NASA adopted for its proposed HL-20 lifting body manned resupply proposal in the early 90's. Major Events: .


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Last update 11 January 1999.
Contact Mark Wade with any corrections, additions, or comments.

© Mark Wade, 1999 .