Encyclopedia Astronautica
VKA-23 Design 2



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VKA-23 1960 design
Credit: © Mark Wade
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VKA-23 1960
Russian manned spaceplane. Study 1957. Following the very critical review of the first M-48 spaceplane design by the expert commission, Myasishchev went back to the drawing board.

In March to September 1960 this work resulted in definition of two alternative configurations. The first alternative was an unconventional faceted shock-wave riding design (see VKA-23 Design 1). The second Myasishchev VKA-23 design was an elegant-looking, porpoise-fuselaged winged vehicle, similar to Japan's HOPE design of forty years later. In comparison to the faceted first design, this version had a greater fuel load, much greater orbital maneuverability, and dispensed with the landing skis.

Internal systems and construction materials were the same as Design 1. The spacecraft structure, build of steel and titanium, would have to endure sustained temperatures of 350 degrees C. The material selected to endure re-entry conditions could handle re-entry temperatures of 1,500 degrees C at peak heating load, cooling of 1,100 degrees C on landing. The thermal protection layer of the VKA consisted of tiles, composed of a silicium-graphite skin, within which were niobium alloy diaphragms injected with ceramic foam.

The single-pilot spacecraft was sized for launch to orbit by Korolev's Vostok booster. The cosmonaut was provided with an encapsulated ejection seat system, with a mass of 160 kg and exterior dimensions of 0.8 m x 1.8 m. The seat would accelerate at 25 G, ejecting the pilot within 2 seconds after initiation through a hatch of 1.0 m diameter. Equipment (navigation and guidance, communications, life support, electrical, telemetry) was kept to 600 kg. Useful payload was 700 kg. Equipment developed for Korolev's Vostok spacecraft would be used in the VKA-23, including the Zarya communications system.

The flight profile was as follows: to 11 km altitude the cosmonaut could use the ejection seat in the event of launch vehicle problems. Thereafter the VKA would separate from the booster. After a high angle of attack semi-ballistic re-entry, the vehicle would be maneuverable below 40 km. The pilot could eject from the spacecraft from the altitude of effectiveness of his parachute system: 3 to 8 km for the main chute, or 2 km for the reserve system. The second version of the VKA dispensed with the skid landing gear. The cosmonaut would eject from the VKA before landing and return separately to earth by parachute as in Vostok.

In October 1960 Khrushchev's downsizing of the Soviet military-industrial complex and Kremlin intrigues led to Myasishchev's design bureau being dissolved. OKB-23 became Filial 1 of Chelomei's OKB-52 and all work on the VKA-23 was stopped. Myasishchev left to become head of TsAGI (Central Hydrodynamics Institute). However the OKB-23 design team provided the experienced core for development of manned winged spacecraft by Chelomei under the Raketoplan project.

Characteristics

Crew Size: 1. Spacecraft delta v: 540 m/s (1,770 ft/sec).

Gross mass: 3,600 kg (7,900 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 3,000 kg (6,600 lb).
Payload: 700 kg (1,540 lb).
Height: 9.00 m (29.50 ft).
Span: 7.50 m (24.60 ft).

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
  • R-7 Russian intercontinental ballistic missile. The world's first ICBM and first orbital launch vehicle. The 8K71 version was never actually put into military service, being succeeded by the R-7A 8K74. More...
  • Soyuz Russian orbital launch vehicle. The world's first ICBM became the most often used and most reliable launch vehicle in history. The original core+four strap-on booster missile had a small third stage added to produce the Vostok launch vehicle, with a payload of 5 metric tons. Addition of a larger third stage produced the Voskhod/Soyuz vehicle, with a payload over 6 metric tons. Using this with a fourth stage, the resulting Molniya booster placed communications satellites and early lunar and planetary probes in higher energy trajectories. By the year 2000 over 1,628 had been launched with an unmatched success rate of 97.5% for production models. Improved models providing commercial launch services for international customers entered service in the new millenium, and a new launch pad at Kourou was to be inaugurated in 2009. It appeared that the R-7 could easily still be in service 70 years after its first launch. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Myasishchev Russian manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft. Myasishchev Design Bureau, Russia. More...

Bibliography
  • Matthews, Henry, The Secret Story of the Soviet Space Shuttle, X-Planes Book 1, Beirut, Lebanon, 1994.
  • Pesavento, Peter, "Russian Space Shuttle Projects 1957-1994", Spaceflight, 1995, Volume 37, page 226.
  • Petrakov, V M, O vklade OKB-23 V M Myasishcheva v prakticheskoe osushchecstvlenie idey K E Tsilokovskovo, Akademiya Nauk SSSR, Koissiya po razrabotke nauchnovo nasoediya K E Tsiolkovskovo, 1990/I16..

VKA-23 Design 2 Chronology


1960 September - .
  • VKA-23 spaceplane. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Myasishchev. Spacecraft: VKA-23 Design 1; VKA-23 Design 2. Following the very critical review of the first M-48 spaceplane design by the expert commission, Myasishchev went back to the drawing board. In March to September 1960 this work resulted in definition of two alternative configurations. The first alternative was an unconventional faceted shock-wave riding design (see VKA-23 Design 1). The second Myasishchev VKA-23 design was an elegant-looking, porpoise-fuselaged winged vehicle.

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