Encyclopedia Astronautica

Russian winged orbital launch vehicle. Sled launched, delta winged, single-stage-to-orbit, Lox/LH2 launch vehicle. 290 tonne and 550 tonne versions considered. Studied in tradeoff studies leading to MAKS. Release conditions: Piggy-back, 290,000 kg, Mach 0.5, zero altitude. Effective velocity gain compared to vertical launch 100 m/s. The wheeled sled would get the vehicle up to a velocity where the wings could provide lift, allowing lower-thrust engines to be used than in a vertical-takeoff design. This saved weight, but velocity losses during lifting flight to orbit almost cancelled the advantage, resulting in the approach being unattractive in comparison to pure vertical-launch or air-launch designs.

LEO Payload: 4,000 kg (8,800 lb) to a 200 km orbit at 51.00 degrees.

Status: Study 1988.
Gross mass: 290,000 kg (630,000 lb).
Payload: 4,000 kg (8,800 lb).
Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

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Associated Countries
See also
  • VKS RKK Energia's proposed solution to the Soviet government's MVKS requirement for a single-stage-to-orbit reusable aerospaceplane system was this 700-metric-ton, turboramjet/rocket mised propulsion design. Work began in 1986 but abandoned when the Soviet Union collapsed. More...
  • VTOVL The concept of a reusable single-stage-to-orbit Vertical Take-Off Vertical Landing (VTOVL) launch vehicle that would reenter and return to its launch site for turnaround and relaunch was first proposed by Philip Bono in the 1960's. The appealing simplicity of the concept has been offset by the technological risk in developing it. The problem with any single-stage-to-orbit concept is that if the empty weight of the final vehicle has been underestimated it will not be able to deliver any payload to orbit, or even reach orbit. Since weight growth of up to 20% is not unknown in aerospace projects, this is a very real threat which has made both NASA and private investors reluctant to invest the billions of dollars it would take to develop a full-scale flight vehicle. More...
  • Winged In the beginning, nobody (except Jules Verne) thought anybody would be travelling to space and back in ballistic cannon balls. The only proper way for a space voyager to return to earth was at the controls of a real winged airplane. More...

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

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