Encyclopedia Astronautica
Kosmoplan



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Kosmoplan - Mars
Kosmoplan - Mars reconnaissance version
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Kosmoplan profile
Kosmoplan landing profile
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Kosmoplan - 3 view
Kosmoplan - 3 view drawing - Mars reconnaissance, nuclear electric engine version
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Kosmoplan - cutaway
Kosmoplan - cutaway - conceptual drawing, showing air-breathing lander inside manoeuvring re-entry shell
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Kosmoplan variants
Kosmoplan variants - IS ASAT, US nuclear naval reconnaissance, earth orbit reconnaissance, Mars probe - all based on combinations of modular propulsion and re-entry vehicles.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Kosmoplan - Mars
Kosmoplan - Mars reconnaissance, nuclear electric engine version
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Kosmoplan - 3 view
Kosmoplan - 3 view drawing - Mars reconnaissance, nuclear electric engine version
Credit: © Mark Wade
Russian Mars orbiter. Cancelled 1965. Beginning in the late 1950's, Chelomei began studying use of his encapsulated cruise missile technology for spacecraft. A whole family of unmanned spacecraft, dubbed Kosmoplans, would be built using modular elements.

These would include highly maneuverable high performance storable liquid propellant engine modules; nuclear reactor modules for high power space applications; ion engine units for inter-orbital transfer and interplanetary flight; and re-entry vehicles permitting return of payloads from space with landing at conventional airfields.

Chelomei's design bureau originally designed cruise missiles, beginning with the 10X pulse-jet powered copy of the German V-1, continuing through a series of increasingly sophisticated designs in the 1950's. However it became apparent by the middle of the decade that the ballistic missile, for which no defense could be developed for decades, would win out over the cruise missile as a weapon system. Furthermore the ICBM opened up the possibility of exploration and colonization of space. Chelomei, invariably described as charming and ambitious, was anxious to be involved in the much more exciting arena of space flight. When Korolev's R-7 experienced a long string of launch failures in the summer of 1957, Chelomei was quick to criticize Korolev and ask to be put in charge of the development. But the decisive event in getting a piece of the space action was Chelomei's hiring of Nikita Khrushchev's son, Sergei, on March 8, 1958. This gave Chelomei sudden and immediate access to the highest possible patron in the hierarchy. He was rewarded with his own design bureau, OKB-52, in 1959.

Under Chelomei's direction the P-6 (SS-N-3 Shaddock) naval cruise missile was being developed. These missiles were made for long-term storage in environmentally-controlled capsules aboard Soviet warships. Chelomei saw that this technology could be applied to ballistic missiles and spacecraft as well.

Chelomei proposed use of this container approach for the UR-100 light ICBM, the Soviet answer to the US Minuteman. This most numerous of Russian ICBM's was a sealed unit, which could be stored fuelled for ten years before being fired within three minutes of launch command.

Beginning in the late 1950's, Chelomei began studying use of his encapsulated cruise missile technology for spacecraft. A whole family of unmanned spacecraft, dubbed Kosmoplans, would be built using modular elements. These would include highly maneuverable high performance storable liquid propellant engine modules; nuclear reactor modules for high power space applications; ion engine units for inter-orbital transfer and interplanetary flight; and re-entry vehicles permitting return of payloads from space with landing at conventional airfields.

These re-entry vehicles were of unique concept and consisted of a high-fineness oblique conical heat shield with petal-like maneuvering flaps at the base. These were capable of very large cross-range maneuvers (up to 3000 km) at hypersonic speed as well as controlled re-entry at very high velocities from planetary return trajectories. A similar configuration was tested by the US Air Force in the late 1960's as the Boost Glide Re-entry Vehicle (perhaps based on intelligence of Chelomei's design?). The external shell enclosed an adaptation of Chelomei's naval cruise missiles, a cylindrical fuselage with snap-out wings and a cruise turbojet. After re-entry, the conical shield would explosively separate at Mach 2. The internal craft would deploy its wings and turbojet air inlet, start its engine, and then cruise to a radio-guided precision landing at an airfield on Soviet territory.

This approach eliminated the very difficult hot structure problems encountered by other chief designers in their spaceplane designs of the same period. Since the hot heat shield would be jettisoned, the contents did not have to be designed to handle thermal equilibrium temperatures of 400 degrees or more. The same vehicle could also deliver a larger payload under a parachute, or a nuclear warhead.

Kosmoplans were to be launched by Chelomei's equally modular family of 'UR' universal rockets, capable of both ICBM and space launch missions. Chelomei proposed variants of Kosmoplans for studies of the earth's upper atmosphere, television communications, meteorology, military photo-reconnaissance, naval radar and signals reconnaissance, and interception and destruction of enemy satellites. Civilian Kosmoplans would engage in exploration of near earth space and the planets. The same modular principles but larger re-entry vehicles would be used for manned interceptor combat Raketoplans. While the UR-200 rocket would be used for launch of smaller earth orbital Kosmoplans, a cluster of UR-200's would create the much larger UR-500 launch vehicle. The UR-500 would be used for launch of manned, lunar landing, and interplanetary Kosmoplan / Raketoplan designs.

In 1959, as Chelomei laid out these plans, he knew a tremendous struggle would be required to wrest a piece of the space program from Chief Designer Korolev. Korolev was interested in military projects only so far as they provided financing for his dreams of space exploration. He jealously wished to keep all manned, lunar, and planetary space projects to himself. But Chelomei had stacked the deck against Korolev by hiring Khrushchev's son as a lead engineer at his OKB.

The opening shot was contained in a letter sent by Korolev to the Central Committee of the Communist Part in January 1960. Korolev proposed an aggressive program for Communist conquest of space - entirely by Korolev's OKB. He pledged to place before the Central Committee in the third quarter of 1960 comprehensive plans for development of the new projects. This letter was followed by a meeting with Khrushchev on the subject on 3 March 1960. Korolev believed it would be truly possible with backing from the very top to have a large rocket in the USSR in a very short span of time. Unfortunately at the meeting Korolev made a slip of the tongue he would always regret, admitting that his plan had not been agreed among all of the Chief Designers. This resulted in Khrushchev throwing the matter back for a consensus plan.

By 30 May 1960 Korolev was back with a plan that now included participation of his rivals, Chelomei and Yangel. The consolidated plan included the following elements allocated to Chelomei:

  • Theme K - Development of unpiloted Kosmoplans for flight to Mars and Venus with return to earth and landing at conventional airfields. These would use new exotic chemical systems, low thrust nuclear engines (nuclear-plasma, ion, atomic hydrogen). The preferred variant consisted of the Kosmoplan re-entry vehicle + equipment section + ion engines on booms + nuclear reactor. Sub-variants with a total mass of 10 to 12 metric tons and 25 metric tons would be developed in 1965-1966. Draft project to be completed in 1962. This authority extended to design of combat orbital Kosmoplans with nuclear warheads for maneuvering re-entry after launch by GR-1 (UR-200) or GR-2 (UR-500) rockets. These would use the re-entry vehicle without the air-breathing lander + the liquid propulsion module.

  • Development of a 600 metric ton gross lift-off mass rocket using new chemical propellants for sending spacecraft to nearby planets. Draft project to be completed in 1962. This would become the UR-500 Proton booster. But it was likely that the actual primary purpose of this rocket was also not mentioned in the declassified document. The Proton was originally designed for the GR-2 (Global Rocket 2) requirement. The GR-2 was to be a kind of enormous multiple-warhead FOBS (fractional orbit bombing system). The payload of the rocket was to be six independently maneuvering nuclear armed vehicles. Each vehicle had a 1,500 kg 2.2 MT nuclear warhead. They would separate from the final stage, and make violent maneuvers using independent guidance systems to put each warhead in a different low 160 km altitude orbit. At the end of a 10,000 to 12,000 km journey along their separate orbital paths, the warheads would appear on US radar screens at the last moment with minimal warning. The total spread of the warheads would be 1800 km from left to right; two such global rockets could devastate America's major cities from coast to coast in an unstoppable first strike. The Kosmoplan re-entry vehicle would use aerodynamic horizontal and vertical maneuvering to penetrate enemy space defenses and be practically invulnerable.

  • Theme R - Manned Raketoplan spacecraft for orbital maneuvering flight and recovery at conventional airfields. Total mass to be 10 to 12 metric tons, total gliding range during re-entry 2,500 to 3,000 km. Unpiloted version to be developed in 1960 to 1961, followed by piloted version in 1963 to 1965. Satellite interceptor operational version to be tested in 1962 to 1964.

  • Theme US - Upravlenniye Sputnik - Naval reconnaissance satellite using P6 nuclear reactor. To be developed in 1962 to 1964. This variant use an active radar system to track American warships and would consist of the Kosmoplan nuclear reactor + equipment module + specialized radar equipment. This Kosmoplan variants went into service, but late to schedule.

  • Theme IS - Istrebitel Sputnik - Anti-satellites - the Ministry of Defense was to decide by July 1960 whether to develop an R-7 launched system for annihilation of enemy reconnaissance satellites. Chelomei was later authorized to proceed with this project. The Chelomei IS ASAT would use the Kosmoplan maneuvering bus and be the first variant to fly. He planned for launch of the production model on the UR-200. But this was cancelled and production ASAT's flew in the late 1960's, launched by Yangel Tsiklon rockets.

Chelomei was authorized by Decree 715-296 of 23 June 1960 'On the Production of Various Launch Vehicles, Satellites, Spacecraft for the Military Space Forces in 1960-1967' to complete a draft project on unpiloted Kosmoplans. Chelomei managed a first flight test of a subscale unpiloted version of the Kosmoplan / Raketoplan re-entry vehicle on 21 March 1961.

The Kosmoplan's UR-200 (8K81) launch vehicle was approved for production on 16 March and 1 August 1961 by the Central Committee and Politburo. The UR-200 was designed not only to send a thermonuclear warhead over a range of 12,000 km, but also to orbit all of the Kosmoplan military variants: the IS ASAT; the US nuclear-powered naval intelligence satellite; and the Kosmoplan combat re-entry vehicle. The Kosmoplan and UR-200 draft projects were completed in July 1962. The rocket's technical characteristics would be similar to those of Korolev's R-9 and Yangel's R-16. Trial flights of the ICBM version ran from 4 November 1963 to 20 October 1964.

Approval to proceed with the UR-500 (8K82) was provided in the Central Committee decree of 24 April 1962. The draft project UR-500 was completed in 1963. The fundamental technological problems of the project had been solved by the end of 1964. In the early fall of that year, Khrushchev and the political leadership of the country visited Baikonur. Chelomei with great pride guided Khrushchev around a dummy UR-500 installed in its launch gantry at the new launch complex, presented the heavy transporters for the launch vehicle and showed a scale model of the launch silo planned for the combat version. Khrushchev's comment was 'what should we build - communism or silos for the UR-500?" It was clear that Khrushchev was not very supportive of the military version of the UR-500.

On October 13, 1964, Khrushchev was ousted from power. The new leadership, under Brezhnev, was adverse to all projects Khrushchev had supported. These included those of Chelomei and his OKB-52. An expert commission under M V Keldysh was directed to examine all of Chelomei's projects and make recommendations as to which should be cancelled. Keldysh found that Yangel's R-36 universal rocket and fractional orbital bombing system was superior to Chelomei's UR-200 / Kosmoplan combat re-entry vehicle. The UR-200 and Kosmoplan were accordingly cancelled. The IS and US Kosmoplans were redesigned for launch by the R-36. The UR-500 development was continued, but only in the 8K82K space launch version for sending the surviving Raketoplan, the LK-1 manned circumlunar spacecraft, around the moon.

The LK-1 was in turn cancelled in late 1965 as Korolev finally regained control of all manned lunar projects. The military Kosmoplans went on to greater success. The IS anti-satellite, US nuclear naval reconnaissance both went into military service. A derivative of the US for detection of US ship positions using passive radio techniques saw long service with the Soviet military. And the UR-500K became the Proton rocket, Russia's most successful commercial launch vehicle.

AKA: K.
Gross mass: 12,000 kg (26,000 lb).

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Russian Rocketplanes The story of rocketplanes and spaceplanes in the Soviet Union was one of constant setbacks due to internal politics, constant struggle with little result. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • UR-200 Russian intercontinental ballistic missile. Universal rocket designed by Chelomei to cover the ICBM, FOBS, satellite launch vehicle, and spaceplane booster roles. Flight tested in 1963-1964 but cancelled in favour of Yangel's R-36. More...
  • UR-500 Russian orbital launch vehicle. The original UR-500 two stage configuration was designed as a monster ICBM. It was flown four times from 1965, but never deployed as an operational missile. The design was succeeded by three and four stage versions for launching of large payloads into space. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Chelomei Russian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Chelomei Design Bureau, Reutov, Russia. More...

Bibliography
  • Vetrov, G S, S. P. Korolev i evo delo, Nauka, Moscow, 1998.
  • Afanasyev, Igor, "Kosmoplan", Krasnaya Zvezda, 26 August 1995..
  • Siddiqi, Asif A, The Soviet Space Race With Apollo, University Press of Florida, 2003.

Kosmoplan Chronology


1958 March 8 - .
  • Chelomei's bureau acquires GSNII-642. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei; Khrushchev. Spacecraft: Kosmoplan. Ministry of Aviation Industry (MAP) Decree 293-140 'On subordinating GSNII-642 to OKB-52' was issued. On the same day Chelomei hired Nikita Khrushchev's son, Sergei, to work as an engineer in his design bureau. This gave Chelomei sudden and immediate access to the highest possible patron in the hierarchy. He was rewarded with his own design bureau, OKB-52, in 1959. This would lead to Chelomei being a key figure in the Soviet space program, even after Khruschev's ouster in 1964.

1959 During the Year - .
  • Kosmoplans proposed by Chelomei. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei. Spacecraft: Kosmoplan. Chelomei began studying use of his encapsulated cruise missile technology for spacecraft. A whole family of unmanned spacecraft, dubbed Kosmoplans, would be built using modular elements. These would include highly manoeuvrable high performance storable liquid propellant engine modules; nuclear reactor modules for high power space applications; ion engine units for inter-orbital transfer and interplanetary flight; and re-entry vehicles permitting return of payloads from space with landing at conventional airfields.

1960 January - .
  • Korolev proposed an aggressive program for Communist conquest of space. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev. Spacecraft: Kosmoplan. Summary: In a letter sent by Korolev to the Central Committee of the Communist Part, he pledged to provide a comprehensive plan by the third quarter of 1960 comprehensive plans for development of the new projects..

1960 March 3 - .
  • Korolev-Khruschev meeting on space plans. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev; Khrushchev. Spacecraft: Kosmoplan. Korolev believed it would be truly possible with backing from the very top to have a large rocket in the USSR in a very short span of time. Unfortunately at the meeting Korolev made a slip of the tongue he would always regret, admitting that his plan had not been agreed among all of the Chief Designers. This resulted in Khrushchev throwing the matter back for a consensus plan.

1960 May 30 - .
  • Korolev space development plan - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei; Korolev; Yangel. Spacecraft: Kosmoplan. Summary: Korolev revised his earlier, disapproved plan with one that now included participation of his rivals, Chelomei and Yangel..

1961 March 16 - . LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • UR-200 (8K81) launch vehicle development authorised. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Kosmoplan; IS-A; US-A; US-P; OGCh. An enabling decree was issued on 1 August 1961 by the Central Committee and Politburo. The UR-200 was designed not only to send a thermonuclear warhead over a range of 12,000 km, but also to orbit all of the Kosmoplan military variants: the IS ASAT; the US nuclear-powered naval intelligence satellite; and the Kosmoplan combat re-entry vehicle.

1961 May 13 - . LV Family: N1. Launch Vehicle: N1.
  • Soviet response to Apollo program - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei. Spacecraft: Kosmoplan; Raketoplan; Elektron-A; Elektron-B; LK-1. Soviet Decree 'On the Revision of Plans for Space Objects for Accomplishing Goals of Defence Designations--heavy boosters, course of work on Elektron, and suspension of work of work on the Kosmoplan and Raketoplan with continuation of new Raketoplan work' was issued. The decree set the end of 1965 as the date for the first launch of the N1. It also authorised Chelomei to stop work on Kosmoplan interplanetary probes and instead concentrate on a specific Raketoplan design - the LK-1 manned lunar flyby spacecraft.

1962 July - . LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • Kosmoplan and UR-200 draft projects completed. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: US-A; IS-A; Kosmoplan. Summary: Trial flights of the ICBM version ran from 4 November 1963 to 20 October 1964. Versions of the Kosmoplan would fly as the reactor-powered US-A and solar-powered US-P ELINT satellites and the I2P ASAT..

1964 May 22 - .
  • Kosmoplan and Raketoplan canceled, except for LK-1 manned circumlunar spacecraft. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Kosmoplan; Raketoplan; LK-1. Summary: Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On termination of work on the Kosmoplan and Raketoplan at OKB-52 and approval for the LK-1' was issued..

1964 October 13 - . LV Family: Proton; UR-200.
  • Khrushchev ousted from power. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei; Khrushchev. Spacecraft: Kosmoplan; OGCh; IS-A; US-P; US-A; LK-1. Summary: Brezhnev faction assumes control of Politubro. Brezhnev was adverse to all projects Khrushchev had supported. These included those of Chelomei and his OKB-52..

1964 October 20 - .
  • Final UR-200 launch. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Kosmoplan. Summary: The rocket had already been cancelled after the fall of Khrushchev..

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