It is not surprising that against the background of events in Ukraine exciting every Russian person, such news could hardly attract attention. Meanwhile, if you think about it with brains, its importance can hardly be overestimated.
Spaceship "following the dream"
As already written above, our Russian media have let this news as it were, inter alia, in passing. For details turned to English-language sources. And here’s what I found on Space.com (I tried to translate as precisely as the difference in the turnovers of the English and Russian languages allows):
- A commercial space company will conduct the first orbital launch of its space aircraft (hereinafter referred to as a spacecraft) Dream Chaser in 2016, its debut will be unmanned, in order to confirm that the ship is able to fly to space with astronauts aboard.
On Thursday (January 23), the company announced that the launch of the Dream Chaser spacecraft (translated as “following the dream” or “running after the dream”), built by Sierra Nevada, is scheduled for November 1 2016. From the Cape Canaveral, Florida space center using an Atlas 5 booster.
Although the spacecraft - which looks like a mini-version of NASA's space shuttle shuttles - is, of course, designed to bring people and cargo into orbit, its first flight will take place without a crew, say Sierra Nevada representatives. They added that the test flight should pave the way for manned launches to the lower near-earth orbit in 2017.
“We expect that we will have a whole fleet of such transports, which are in many ways similar to shuttles with different purposes,” said Mark Sirangelo, vice president and project manager of space systems, at a conference held on 23 in January. - Some will be only passenger, some - cargo. Some will be freight, some will serve, and we also think that these transports will partly carry out scientific tasks. This is a multifunctional vehicle, we like to think of it as our “space SUV”, and we are very proud of it. ”
To prepare the reusable Dream Chaser for flights and its after-flight service, Sierra Nevada representatives also plan to use the technical capabilities of the NASA Space Center. Kennedy in Florida. It is noteworthy that the center also includes the construction and testing of the Orion ("Orion") spacecraft, intended for long-distance flights into space with astronauts aboard.
With the departure of NASA's space shuttles (shuttles) into the past in 2011, the space agency depends on companies such as Sierra Nevada, which, ultimately, have to solve the problem of delivery and return of US astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS). In the meantime, for the transportation of American astronauts and astronauts of the partner countries to the station, NASA is forced to buy space on the Russian space capsules Soyuz.
Sierra Nevada is one of several companies involved in building spacecraft for manned flights with the support of NASA as part of a commercial flight program. Other ships under construction are the SpaceX capsule Dragon (“Dragon”) from SpaceX, the space capsule CST-100 from Boeing and Space Vehicle (Space Transport) from the secret company Blue Origin (just so that readers laugh a little, I will translate its name - "Blue origin").
In the meantime, there is still two years to work on the Dream Chaser before its first orbital flight. Representatives of Sierra Nevada plan to carry out at least one unmanned launch of a spacecraft from the Edwards Air Force base, after which, for conducting manned test flights in the atmosphere, an ejection seat will be installed on it, says Steve Lindsey, program manager for Dream Chaser at Sierra Nevada.
Lindsey said that the orbital flight in November of the 2016 will be autonomous and unmanned and will probably last about a day before landing on the west coast of the United States.
“The transport (whose flight is scheduled for 2016) is almost the same as the one we will launch in about a year with the crew on board,” explained Lindsay. “We intend to test the operation of all the systems and subsystems on board before proceeding with the certification of manned orbital transport.”
On 2013, Sierra Nevada conducted the first three flights of the Dream Chaser in order to test the automated approach and landing systems. Although the test flight went smoothly, upon landing, the spacecraft left the runway (WFP), since due to a malfunction, its chassis was not at the right angle.
And what follows from this?
Alas, I must confess that I myself was once among those who, having learned of our opponent's refusal to use space shuttles, "rubbed his hands." He himself was glad that the Americans would have to buy (for big money) places on our launch vehicles. However, from such a stupid gloating, he was cured pretty quickly, but only now I understand, TO WHAT DEGREE it was stupid ...
In fact, as one knowledgeable person explained to me, our seeming gain was already initially a loss. After giving up (albeit for millions of cu) a place to an American, our country lost exactly one of its cosmonauts, which is quite significant for the crew of the space station.
But it turns out that there were only “flowers” ... Refusing from expensive and not quite safe shuttles, the United States got a kind of respite, which they used, as they say, to the fullest.
And the decision to give the development and subsequent construction of spacecraft to private offices (by the way, shuttles were also developed by North American Rockwell) turned out to be more than wise from their side. It is known that NASA will choose the BEST development as a result. It turns out that at the stage of the invention and construction of prototypes, their state treasury will save a lot.
But the most important thing is that every inventor, every developer will approach the matter differently, i.e. will not chase after someone, but will create its one and only. Well, well, about the “one and only” a little bit bent, but we see: two companies improve classical capsules (like our “Union”), the third went the other way and builds (more precisely, is already experiencing) a spaceship, and the fourth and all mystery covered in darkness.
After what I read, I turned to my source in Roscosmos with a faint hope of hearing about our developments in space planes. However, I was disappointed. The source said that he had not heard of anything like that.
And his answer can mean one of two things: we really do not have anything like this, or there is something, but simply arch-secreted.
Remembering the recent history with the submarine "Severodvinsk", I came to the conclusion that the latter is extremely unlikely. Then it was worth a couple of English newspapers to praise our submarine a little, as domestic media responded with a tenfold fanfare. In other words, from the finally completed construction of Severodvinsk, no secret was made. On the contrary, they used it for propaganda “to the fullest” (and they could at least remember that it was already built from 1993). Oh, about the spacecraft, it would be trumpeted even louder.
But we could be the first ...
Let's, a little (only in general terms, we have written about this many times) recall the story. Initially, the idea to reach space on an airplane was also called “flight in a spiral”. Looking ahead, the first Russian project in this industry was called “Spiral”. Its essence is that the orbital plane is launched into space, first by a hypersonic rammer, then by a rocket stage.
Apparently, such is the whim of fate, that our rivalry with the United States here, too, went along a kind of spiral. They refused any program - we seemed to pick it up.
As you know, it began with their project X-20 Dyna Soar space bomber (from Dynamic Soaring - Dynamic Take-Off), curtailed by order of Defense Minister Robert McNamara in 1963 (we note that its first manned flight was planned in 1966 m)
X-20 Dyna Soar
As soon as they refused, our project “Spiral” was launched. This is symbolic, but in the case of Russia-USSR, an almost ready experimental manned orbital plane was also buried by the Minister of Defense (Soviet, of course) Grechko, who wrote the resolution: “We will not engage in fantasies”.
Then again the American move - the Space Shuttle (we have repeatedly mentioned the space shuttle), whose development began in 1971.
Well, and this time we didn’t keep waiting for a long time with a decent answer, which was the Energy-Buran project.
At first glance, it may seem that Russia-USSR were always catching up. However, please note that in the case of the “X-20 Dyna Soar” several mass-dimensional models of the device were made and extensive scientific and technical research was conducted. But a smaller copy of the Spirals orbital plane on the scale of 1: 2 BOR-4 (unmanned orbital rocket plane) was launched into orbit (albeit, as part of the Buran project).
The shuttles were put on stream by the Americans, but ... The flight created under the leadership of the outstanding designer Gleb Evgenyevich Lozino-Lozinsky (by the way, he is the Spiral project manager) of the Buran passed without crew in an automatic mode using the on-board computer and the on-board software, in contrast to the shuttle, which traditionally makes the last stage of landing on manual control (entry into the atmosphere and braking to the speed of sound in both cases are fully computerized). This fact - the flight of a spacecraft into space and its descent to Earth in automatic mode under the control of an onboard computer - entered the Guinness Book of Records!
We can say that for them (USA) there was some gain in time, but for us - in quality. And the qualitative gap could well become a deep chasm, if not ... In general, let Gorbachev (and Borka-bloody - posthumously) and his comrades also hang an order for it.
To this we add that the only Buran flying into space (1988) was destroyed in 2002 during the collapse of the roof of the assembly and test building at Baikonur, in which it was stored along with the ready-made copies of the Energia launch vehicle. In such cases, it is always difficult to believe in "coincidences" and "coincidences" ...
12 May 2002 of the year at the cosmodrome "Baikonur" disaster struck. The roof of the test complex collapsed, resulting in the death of eight people. The complex "Energy" - "Buran" destroyed collapsed structures
In fairness, it must be said that the ideas embodied in Spiral and Buran were further developed in the Multi-Purpose Aerospace System (MAKS) project, launched under the guidance of the same Lozino-Lozinsky. This project received a gold medal (with honors) and a special prize from the Belgian Prime Minister at 1994 in Brussels at the World Salon of Inventions. In 2012, they even started talking about the resumption of work on MAKS. But we need those who are willing to invest in it, one state allegedly does not pull.
And how does this threaten us, and what can we do?
Joyless story turns out. They are in full swing test spacecraft, is about to withdraw into orbit. We have the only unique Buran device flying into space destroyed. A manned orbital plane designed by MAKS has not been built yet.
Here it will not be out of place to recall that the Buran was originally created as a military system, which, in response to the planned military use of American shuttles.
But, if for military purposes it was supposed to use shuttles, which were later discontinued, can we deny that modern Dream Chaser spacecrafts will be used for the same purposes? - Of course, the United States says that the appointment of this device is “exceptionally peaceful” (including a very fashionable space tourism), but the very possibility of installing weapons on them should not be rejected. And returning to the beginning of the article, we ask ourselves why, for “extremely peaceful” purposes, why should a whole fleet of such spaceships?
In general, it's time to seriously think that it was not too late when the strategic enemy will gain superiority also in space.
Moreover, our development is not completely lost. You say that development is not lost, but there is no money? Well, the United States is also not in the best position, but they find it for strategic needs.
Find, attracting interested individuals. I must say, for us this method is unacceptable. Our moneybags simply do not see the point of investing in defense (I hope no one will argue that the cosmos is the most that neither eat the defense) of the country in which they are not going to live. Their rich is another matter; they invest in the only country that will ensure their safety.
It turns out, we come to the same thing: while the incomes of the world's richest country will go to the construction of the palaces of the “rubland” (as well as palaces in other parts of the world), we will not see either rocket-plans or modern ones put on stream tanks and airplanes ...