The secret project "Nudol" ("Hunters for satellites") has a rich background. Works on anti-satellite arms were conducted in Soviet times and quite successfully. It was our country that was the first in the fight against space attack, ahead of the United States on 17 years. It is useful to analyze that unique experience.
We were the first
The flight of the first artificial satellite of the Earth (AES) PS-1 (the simplest satellite) was the beginning of an active exploration of the nearest space not only for peaceful but also for military purposes. Everyone knows that the spacecraft (s) was Soviet, but very few people know about our leadership and in the creation of anti-satellite weapons.
We emphasize: our country was the first to take a step into near-Earth space, but it did not start its large-scale militarization. Even before this, the US planned to use space for strikes against the Soviet Union. Americans began to actively develop anti-satellite weapons in the late 50-x. In such a situation, the question of adequate response has become very acute.
17 June 1963, the fateful decision on the creation of an anti-space defense system (PKO). Its head element was the command post (KP) of the PKO IS complex (satellite fighter), which was designed to counter spacecraft hostile to us.
It took Soviet scientists and defense enterprises only five years to create the IS-M complex. Already 1 November 1968, he is the first in stories cosmonautics intercepted the target SV, and in 1972-m was taken into trial operation. Despite the primacy of the United States at the beginning of work on anti-satellite weapons, it took them 17 years to repeat a similar result. Looking ahead: only 13 of September The 1985 of the F-15 fighter with the ASM-135 ASAT rocket hit the inactive American scientific astrophysical target satellite Solwind P78-1.
Every year, fewer and fewer are those who made the complex and served in a separate building controlling space and the anti-space defense of the country's Air Defense Forces. Witnesses and participants of those historical events in the book We Were the First, which is being prepared for publication, tell about some secrets of the creation and use of these weapons.
Space without kamikaze
At the stage of creating an IP, there were several options for dealing with unwanted space guests. One of them, the most effective, is a megaton nuclear strike. But we, unlike the United States, immediately abandoned it because of its “harmfulness” for its funds. The United States conducted practical tests, but for the same reason did not begin to develop this area.
We did not go with the project (1961 – 1963) with an aircraft rocket, which was supposed to carry 50 kilograms of explosives. It was closed due to the inefficiency of the guidance system. The idea of Sergei Korolev to create a manned interceptor ship "Soyuz-P" was rejected because of the technical complexity and danger for astronauts. The decision to equip such a ship with space mini-rockets did not pass for the same reasons. One of the last unrealized projects turned out to be a space mine project, which suggested the launch into orbit of a permanent group of interceptor satellites. They could be in sleep mode and at the right time when flying near the enemy to be activated by command. But the plan was too expensive. In the end, won the option "Comet", which was carried out in record time. What was he like?
Already in May, the United States launched 1958 with a B-47 Stratojet bomber with a nuclear warhead Bold Orion bomber to test the possibility of hitting spacecraft. Work on this and other projects forced the Soviet leadership in 1960, 1962 and 1963 to take response decisions. The first two became the basis for creating systems:
missile defense (missile defense);
rocket attack warnings (EWS);
space defense (PKO).
And the third solution gave impetus to the creation of an IP complex, which included a command post, eight radar sites, two launch positions for launch vehicles, spacecraft interceptors with a charge of ordinary explosive.
Thus, the IP complex has become a means of real impact on enemy satellites. But all this appeared not by magic.
In order to implement government decrees, a powerful cooperation of scientific institutes and enterprises was formed in a short time. In particular, the OKB-52 (under the leadership of Academician Vladimir Chelomey) developed an interceptor spacecraft, a target (target) spacecraft and a launch vehicle. The Kometa Central Scientific Research Institute (the chief designer is Academician Anatoly Savin, his deputy is Konstantin Vlasko-Vlasov, Doctor of Technical Sciences) created the IP system, its ground-based and airborne systems, software, and individual automation elements. Many other defense companies worked at full capacity.
Surprisingly, then, without any import substitution in a short time, a KA-interceptor was created under the name “Flight-1”, launched on November 1 1963 of the year. In parallel with it - KA-target. She, despite the musical name "Lyre", could withstand the shelling of three space "killer" type "Flight". Overall, from 19, the tested 11 interceptor KAs proved to be workable.
In the summer of 1964, the station for determining the coordinates and transmitting commands (SOC and PC) to the control system KP system began operating. And in 1965, the country began to create a full-fledged rocket and space complex with a 11K69 PH.
Four years later, the state tests of the space control center (CSCP), more precisely, its first stage and informational interface with the OS-1 and OS-2 satellites detecting systems of the missile attack warning system and the control system of the IS PKO complex, passed. As a result, the GACC received the task of providing IP target designation. In December, the 1972 complex was put into trial operation.
All stages were bound by strict deadlines and control execution of government orders. There was no theft and corruption in the system, which these days accompanied, for example, the construction of the Vostochny cosmodrome. That is, that control system, at least in the defense industry, was much more efficient than the current “vertical”. And the planned economy allowed strictly to ask negligent managers of enterprises and business executives for disrupting tasks.
In the "top ten" in the second round
After a series of interceptor launches in 1978, the upgraded IS-M complex with a radar homing head (GOS) is being adopted. It is handed over to the Troops of the rocket-space defense and is placed on combat duty.
We emphasize once again: we were not the initiators of the militarization of outer space. We were systematically pulled into it.
After the United States refused the proposal not to create or test anti-satellite weapons, the USSR, nevertheless, imposed a one-sided moratorium on testing. The last successful interception took place on 18 on June 1982. The target satellite (Cosmos-1375) was hit by an interceptor KA (Cosmos-1379). And in 1993, Russia, as a gesture of goodwill, removed the IS-M PKO complex from service. All documentation about him is archived. As the first commander of the separate corps of the SCC and PKO (1988 – 1992) Lieutenant General Alexander Suslov notes, such is the heroic and dramatic fate of the IS-M PKO complex. During its operation, the 41 spacecraft was actually used, including two experimental Flight, 19 KA targets and 20 KA interceptors.
What was this weapon?
Some of the possibilities of the interceptor, which are open today, can be judged by the memoirs of Vlasko-Vlasov. According to him, the IP designed to destroy space targets at altitudes up to a thousand kilometers could hit them in the range from 100 to 1350 kilometers. The radar homing head (RLGSN), which replaced the original thermal one, captured an object at a distance of about 20 kilometers, and the radio fuse ensured a reliable detonation of the warhead at a distance of up to 18 meters from the target. These characteristics allowed attacking an uninvited guest from any angle.
The complex included a ground command and computing point in the Moscow region, a special launching pad at the Baikonur test site, a launch vehicle and the KA interceptor itself. The most important elements of the complex were the radar satellite detection units OS-1 (Irkutsk) and OS-2 (Balkhash) with powerful Dnepr radar.
Savin and Vlasko-Vlasov designed the original, compact radar station for determining the coordinates and transmitting commands to the interceptor, as well as remote receiving posts. The combat program was debugged at the computer complex.
The principle of operation was both simple and unique. After the detection of an enemy satellite in outer space, a launch was made. At the first turn of the flight, the target parameters were refined. The results of their processing in the form of commands were transmitted onboard the IC, which was already on the second turn, carried out a combat maneuver, the GOS detected the satellite, there was a rapprochement with it on the catch-up or head-on course, after which, in the homing mode, the charge was detonated and the target was destroyed with probability 0,9 – 0,95.
A special role in the serif of space targets and the issuance of primary coordinates was played by the space control system (UCSS), which was based on the OS-1 and OS-2 nodes. The SSS recorded all known space objects and revealed new ones, giving out information about the most dangerous ones.
High quality and reliability of products of those years deserves attention. There is undoubted merit of the bodies of military acceptance, which was, according to the memoirs of veterans, iron. Even at that level of technology, final products often served much longer than the established deadlines. Thus, the equipment of the IP system with the warranty period of 12 years worked 40 years, and it could have lasted longer.
The main achievement of the developers of the world's first satellite fighter is that the foundation of modern anti-space defense of Russia was created. Thanks to her, we got not only a good start, but also a durable umbrella to protect against an attack from orbit. Although it may be full of holes if you do not continue to develop.
Killers in orbit
It is clear that the United States conducted work in the same direction. Through trial and error, they made several anti-missile options, most of which, however, suffered a fiasco, despite significant financial spending. Over the ocean could afford it. But the mentioned launch of the ASM-135 rocket was the only successful one. In 1988, the program has been closed.
Today there are no officially deployed anti-satellite weapons systems. But there are no restrictions on its creation. The facts show that several states are actively working on this topic. Space intelligence and communications are the basis for modern concepts of warfare in general and the use of precision weapons in particular. Disabling the former inevitably leads to the loss of the latter.
According to some information, modern anti-satellite systems are being created in Iran, China, North Korea, the USA and Russia. Beijing conducted the first tests back in 2005 and 2006, and in 2007, he shot down his own meteo-satellite Fengyun-1С. In the same years, the Pentagon reported on the facts of exposure of American spacecraft to ground-based lasers from China.
But the leader of such works was and remains the United States. A missile-based Aegis missile defense system with the RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) missile has been adopted. It was such an 2008 in February that the failed US military satellite USA-193 was shot down.
There is reason to believe that the United States has also created systems that force enemy's spacecraft not to carry out work commands or send false ones. And in 90, stealth satellites were tested (the MISTY program), which cannot be detected by existing means. The head of the international network of amateur astronomers Canadian Ted Molzhan confirms the presence of such satellites.
All this suggests that the militarization of space is in full swing. The one who will be there first with a perfect anti-satellite weapon, and will own a space that can not be divided into borders and zones of influence, like the Earth. In this regard, the answer to the question of whether Russia needs to create a super-heavy launch vehicle that will be able to put combat platforms with laser and anti-satellite weapons into orbit is more than obvious.
But apparently, we have not yet formed a clear concept for either the super-heavy rocket, or the creation of the latest anti-satellite systems as a whole.