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archive:science:soviet.pre

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           The Soviet Space Program - the Next Five Years 

In response to the publication of "Soviet Military Power" by the DoD, and Aviation Week magazine's continuing predictions over the years, this DL entry takes a dissenting position, not based on classified information, but on a historical perspective of the Soviet space program, and projects past performance into the future. For those who have missed the above publications, their basic position is that the USSR is embarked upon three major projects, each rivaling our Shuttle program in scope and cost. These are: 1) A Saturn IB class booster that will used to launch a mini-shuttle, 2) A Shuttle with greater capacity than ours, and 3) A Heavy Lift booster, comparable in size to our Saturn V, that will be used to launch the a Skylab-sized core for a huge space station. All of these projects are claimed to be in their final stages of development, with first launch to come within a year or two. As a final spectacular note, the DoD publication claims that a Mars mission is being contemplated by the Soviets for the year 1992. Each of these projects pre-supposes the development of liquid hydrogen engines at least the size of the Saturn J-2 engine, and possibly the size of the Space shuttle main engine. As the Soviets have yet to demonstrate the use of even a Centaur-class LH2 engine, it has not yet been explained how the Soviets will develop this highly advanced technology in the next year. The actual Soviet practice over the years has been: 1) Use of non-cryogenic fuels whenever possible. 2) Use of assembly line techniques to develop economies of scale in production of both boosters and spacecraft. 3) Slow development of programs with evolutionary, not revolutionary steps, contrasted with the huge jumps that the US program has made such as between Gemini and Apollo, and Apollo and the Shuttle. 4) Thorough unmanned testing of systems before first launch. 5) Confusing public statements to disguise their real intent, and to cover their tracks in case of failure.

Based on these practices, the following predictions are in order for the year 1990: 1) Continued use of Salyut, but with modifications. These could be a) use of a multiple docking adaptor to allow several cargo vehicles to dock simultaneously, b) regular crew rotation, with Salyut occupancy near 100%, c) use of Soyuz orbital modules left attached to Salyut to increase living space, and d) permanent attachment of Star modules to increase living space, provide more electrical power, and to provide more on-board equipment. 2) Use of a small LH2 engine on either the A class booster or Proton to increase payload of cargo missions or size of Salyut. 3) Development of a Dyna-soar class shuttle, coupled with development of a LH2 engine to allow a vehicle of 50,000+ lbs, including engine weight with the Proton booster. This is doubtful, as launch of a Star module without the minishuttle would result in greater payload capacity. 4) Use of more sophisticated EVA equipment, such as a MMU, to allow cosmonauts to maneuver more freely in open space. 5) Continued use of ICBMs as launch vehicles, possibly the SS-18 in the near-term. This could become the new J Class vehicle, with orbital capabilities rivaling the A class, with easier launch operations, and greater reliability. (This is not to be confused with the all-new J-Class vehicle postulated by the DoD, with a payload of 30,000+ lbs). Coupled with a LH2 stage, the vehicle could be more powerful than any booster except the D class. As this vehicle has already been proven, conversion to space use could be rapid, once the decision is made to do so, possibly after an arms agreement with the U.S. 6) Of course, longer stays in orbit, up to 365 days. 7) More female cosmonauts, but an all-female crew is unlikely. 8) Continued exploration of the planets through unmanned probes. 9) Cosmos 2000 (at least!). 10) Rumors of an impending Mars flight by the Soviets, of a heavy lift vehicle, and a heavy shuttle. 11) Statements by the Soviets that they plan on a Cosmograd, that colonization of the planets is a goal, and that they will build a shuttle. In other words, more of the same. 

/data/webs/external/dokuwiki/data/pages/archive/science/soviet.pre.txt · Last modified: 2001/11/04 03:42 by 127.0.0.1

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