Encyclopedia Astronautica
VKA Myasishchev 1957

VKA-23 1958 3 View
Credit: © Mark Wade
Russian manned spaceplane. Study 1957. The VKA (aero-space vehicle) was a 1957 Myasishchev design - a diminutive single-crew star-shaped spaceplane that could be launched by Korolev's R-7 ICBM.

Chief designers Myasishchev and Korolev had known each other well since World War II, when they were in the same sharashka (prison design bureau in the Soviet Gulag). They got along well and informally conducted studies in support of each other's projects. After Sputnik was launched Myasishchev began design for Korolev of a piloted vehicle for launch by Korolev's R-7 ICBM. This diminutive single-crew star-shaped spacecraft was called the VKA (aero-space vehicle). It would be maneuvered within the atmosphere by two high rudders. Its faceted shape was reminiscent of the much later F-117 Stealth Fighter and the concurrent Armstrong-Whitworth Nonweiler Waverider. The faceting of this and subsequent Myasishchev designs may have indicated a refined application of Nonweiler shock-wave riding principles. However they may also have been due to the necessity of calculating hypersonic aerodynamic characteristics by breaking the shape into a series of planes, or limitations in fabricating the heat shield materials. The much later F-119 flew faceted because the computational problem of an aerodynamically optimum rounded vehicle (in relation to radar reflection in this case, as opposed to hypersonic aerodynamics) could not be solved during development of the aircraft. These early informal studies were superseded by later officially-sanctioned designs.

Crew Size: 1.

Gross mass: 1,000 kg (2,200 lb).
Height: 3.50 m (11.40 ft).
Span: 3.80 m (12.40 ft).

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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...

  • 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 Myasishchev 1957 Chronology

1957 June 30 - .
  • First serious manned winged spacecraft design - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Myasishchev. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Spacecraft: VKA Myasishchev 1957. Summary: Myasishchev OKB-23 sketches first serious manned winged spacecraft design..

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