The problems of effective functioning of our rocket and space industry and, in particular, the choice of carrier for the exploration of near-earth space are aggravated. Judging by how the situation is developing, in the near future Russia will be an outsider in the development of the Universe.
The preparation of the Federal Space Program (FKP) is being completed. It is oriented for another 10 years of refinement of the Angara-5, bringing its carrying capacity to 34 – 37 tons and the beginning of flight tests in the 2024 year. The authors and defenders of this option are Roskosmos and GK NPTs named after Khrunichev, who have launched a broad advertising campaign that repeatedly exaggerates the capabilities of this launch vehicle (PH). But according to independent experts, even in the revised version of the "Angara" will not provide what is required.
Flown from the last century
The Angara's inherent disadvantage is a weak first stage and weight category that will lose relevance by 2020 year.
This is evidenced by a comparison with foreign developments, which will appear in the next five to six years.
Boeing plans to launch SLS (Space Launch System) super heavy rocket in 2018 year. In March, 2015-th successfully conducted the first fire test of solid-fuel booster engine for the first stage of this rocket. SLS capacity when installing two to four boosters (boosters) will be from 70 to 130 tons, which is almost four times higher than the limits of the "Angara".
At one time, the USSR made two attempts to create competitive super-heavy rocket launchers. The first relates to 1960 – 1977 years. During this period in the USA, the RV Saturn with the estimated payload mass of 118 tons (Werner von Braun) is being developed for the lunar program. In the USSR, they are working on the Н1 rocket (Sergey Korolev, Vasily Mishin). Americans make 12 trouble-free flights, including three manned flybys of the Moon and six successful landings on it (the first in the 1969). We get four explosions of the first stage.
The second attempt is made in 1976 – 1994, when “Energy” - “Buran” with a carrying capacity of up to 100 tons (Valentin Glushko) and “Space Shuttle” with a carrying capacity of 25 – 30 tons appeared. This time the USSR won a brilliant victory. In the first flight, "Energy" went with a mock-up of a military orbital platform (a Polyus object with a mass of 80 tons). The second flight of "Energy" in November 1988-th - the launch into orbit of the spacecraft "Buran" and its brilliant landing in automatic mode. The United States had nothing to answer, since the Space Shuttle was three times weaker than Energy.
Having spent enormous means and efforts, the USSR created five missiles - a reserve that would have been enough for three to four years. It remained only to reap the benefits of space dominance. But after the collapse of the USSR, the project was closed, and the reserve was dumped in a landfill, saying that for Energia there are no worthy tasks in space.
We first sent the enemy to a deep knockdown, and then failed to take advantage of it.
In an atmosphere of 90-x chaos, an enterprise was assigned a simple task to the enterprise of Khrunichev Research and Production Center: in the Angara, repeat the characteristics of its own Proton, replacing heptyl with oxygen. This was the first victory of the narrow departmental and private interests over the state ones. In 1994, by the decision of the then head of Rosaviakosmos, Yuri Koptev, and with the consent of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, the formerly appointed RK Energia after Korolev and the Makeyev City Center were excluded from the list of contractors of the Angara project.
As can be seen from the 1 table, despite the use of more high-impulse fuel, Angara did not manage to bypass the Proton grandfather by the main criterion - thrust-to-weight ratio and its already low value dropped another two times - from 15,6 to 7,1 percent. With a further reduction, the rocket simply does not come off the launch pad.
Insufficient thrust-to-weight ratio is a chronic deficiency of all stages of liquid-propellant rocket engines (LRE). When creating super heavy rocket launchers, this became a critical inhibiting factor and required a fundamentally new approach to the first stage.
The results of the work on the "Angara" lead to the following conclusions.
1. In no modification will it be able to protect our satellites and ensure Russia's full-fledged presence in space with the advent of the American SLS SL. Too unequal forces: "Angara" is not in the weight category. We need a jump - another rocket built on new principles. Only the solid propellant rocket engine (solid propellant rocket motor), the first stage SLS accelerator, is equal in mass to the whole “Angara” together with the payload and is more powerful than it by 25 percent. And there can be four such accelerators on the first stage.
2. By requesting the Angara-5 debugging for another 10 years, its developers have resigned to the fact that in its current state it cannot be considered as a ready carrier. But more than 30-year work on this rocket is unprecedented from the point of view of world practice. This is absurd, the deceleration of domestic rocket production. "Angara" in the last century was not enough lifting.
3. The PCF with “Angara” will be the last strategic mistake for the country, with the really impending threats and sanctions pressure on Russia.
Neither extreme nor guilty
We note in particular that the specialists and experts with whom the VPC newspaper works in no way consider Angara to be a bad rocket. The initial impulse for its development was flawed when, in 1992, we were aiming not at parity with the likely adversary, but at business in the interests of the more backward countries in this area. For South Korea, the launch of its first satellite on Angara engines is a giant step forward. An even greater success will be the opportunity to get a modernized analogue of the 35-tonne "Hangars". Perhaps this is precisely the source of the energy with which the Angara developers so aggressively push through it in the FKP, although this goes against the state’s defense tasks.
Without a doubt, the Pentagon should feel a sense of deep satisfaction, watching Russia lead further and further away from the creation of modern super-heavy rocket launchers.
Since the closure of the Energy project, the threat to the United States has passed and they got a breather, which they naturally took advantage of.
After the triumph of the Saturn rocket launcher, American engineers realized that super-heavy rockets had a weak link - the first stage with LRE. It is all about the same lack of thrust at the start, which can not be compensated by the main trump of the LRE - a high single mass impulse. The way out was found in the application at the first stage of powerful large-sized solid propellant solid propellant accelerators - start accelerators, sometimes called booster engines.
In the 2 table it can be seen that the share of the hangars of the Angara, spent on self-elevation, is 91,2 percent, and only 8,8 remains for the entire rocket. In a solid fuel accelerator (TTU), this residue is 40,4 percent. That is, the effectiveness of TTU as a means of ensuring an energetic start is 4,5 times higher than the LRE.
Based on this property, the Americans since the 60-ies of the twentieth century, launched work on the creation of powerful sectional solid-fuel engines. These developments were implemented as TTUs consistently on the “Titan-4”, then on the “Space Shuttle”, and only after that the monsters of the PH SLS and the even more powerful family of the PH “Ares” with a payload from 25 tons on the “Ares-1” to 188 appeared tons on the "Ares-5". It was the use of the combined first stage (LRE + TTU) on the “Titan” and the “Space Shuttle” and the purely solid first stage on the “Ares” LV that made it possible to increase their load capacity in steps.
Following the United States, the European Space Agency countries followed, along with India and Japan. In the USSR, with a slight lag from the United States, work also began on a TTU for the 11А52 rocket, but the topic was closed in 1970, although the cost of it can be estimated as miserable, since the studies were in the "paper" stage. Today it is obvious that at that time another stupidity of a strategic level was made.
Squeezing "Angara" in the PCF promises the country, according to slogans, prosperity and peace. It is said, in particular, that this rocket guarantees Russia's presence in space for decades to come, blows up the global space market, is the best rocket of the Russian Federation in all the years ...
These spells were repeatedly repeated by very high leaders from the inner circle of the president. But all their words, independent experts are convinced, are as far from reality as the lecture of Ostap Bender given to chess players from Vasyukov.
The ultimate goal of the FKP with “Angar” is to raise its carrying capacity by 40 – 50 percent. Not only does this not give Russia any advantage in space, the achievement of this insignificant goal is carried so far (in the 2024 year it is only the beginning of the Angara A5 flight tests) that it will simply not be anyone to ask for failures.
On the question of who made the decision to make a bet on Angar, the highly experienced Yuri Koptev joked that 40 doctors of science took part in the April Scientific and Technical Council (NTS) of Roskosmos, who voted unanimously. No wonder. First, all 40 doctors are directly or indirectly subordinate to Roskosmos. Secondly, they do not want to repeat the fate of the 41 member of the NTS. A month before the vote, in their eyes, they easily, as they say, were dismissed from the post of the first deputy general director of the Khrunichev Research and Production Center and the Angara General Designer Yury Samokhvalov. Now the composition of the NTS for a long time insured against the appearance of dissent.
When forming the PCF, the following fundamental points are not taken into account:
ignored the requirement of the revised Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation on the development of means to counter possible non-nuclear threats from outside;
the fact that there is a critical gap between the capabilities of space rocket launchers at home and abroad is ignored, which will work against Russia in the next five to seven years;
the presidential demand, known from his conversation with the head of Roskosmos, is missed: “You have already promised a heavy RN, you need an extra heavy one.”
In connection with the above, it would be highly advisable to instruct military strategists and experts to make a medium-term technical forecast of the results of the upcoming confrontation between Russia and the United States in space, based on the characteristics of the Angara and the SLS, respectively.
Today, the country's armament is based on solid-propellant rockets. The exception is the cosmic RN. That is, the scientific and technical potential allows us to proceed to the domestic super-heavy RN based on new principles, taking into account world achievements.
The only new technology admissible on this path can be considered the creation of a large-size solid-fuel engine — an accelerator of start. Problem, matured and solvable. Throughout the world, this is seen as a way to increase reliability and carrying capacity, as well as reduce costs.
Following the adoption of the necessary political decision, the team should follow up on the development by the military of a short tactical-technical assignment, form cooperation of the design bureaus and institutions, present the general appearance of the missile, consider it by a special independent commission, and designate landmark deadlines and funding.
Considering the time trouble that has been created, the solution of technical problems should be accompanied by a clear organization of all levels of management and control, a resolute refusal of less urgent work.
Consideration of this problem should be redirected from Roskosmos to the state level. Target ministers, the VKS, the MIC, the Defense Council, the centers for strategic research and forecasts should organize a comprehensive and independent analysis of the problem in order to either put a solid base under the choice of the president, or offer a reasonable alternative solution that will meet the interests of the country, rather than Roskosmos.