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"Topol" will fly into space
Material posted: Publication date: 16-09-2016
A few days ago the Russian defense industry has proposed another project for the modernization of existing Intercontinental ballistic missiles, transforming them into launch vehicles for space launch vehicles. Changed the layout of the complex was already shown to the leadership of the military. In the foreseeable future, the original offer can go up to the practical implementation and use of available missiles in a new way.

A few days ago the Russian defense industry has proposed another project for the modernization of existing Intercontinental ballistic missiles, transforming them into launch vehicles for space launch vehicles. Changed the layout of the complex was already shown to the leadership of the military. In the foreseeable future, the original offer can go up to the practical implementation and use of available missiles in a new way.

As reported by national media in the context of recent international military-technical forum "Army-2016" Moscow Institute of thermal technology (MIT), one of the main domestic developers of strategic missile weapons, demonstrated by the delegation of the military Department, headed by defence Minister Sergei Shoigu materials for a new project. New development of MIT involves some change in the missile complex RT-2PM "Topol", after which he can solve the problem of the withdrawal of the spacecraft into orbit. As stated, such a proposal may have significant economic and practical effect.

Launcher complex "Start". Photo

The essence of the proposed project is that removed from duty and debited the strategic missile forces missiles should not be sent for recycling. Is this product 15Ж58 should be some changes with the help of which they can get a new "specialty". In the coming years similar older missiles may be of great interest for potential customers, and also for the armed forces of Russia. The fact that in the next few years, the strategic missile forces plan to fully withdraw from complexes "Topol" in view of the expiration of the operation of the missiles. The proposal of the Moscow Institute of thermal technology, in turn, will allow you to obtain from write-missile useful, and also save money on their disposal.

Recall mobile missile system strategic purpose of the RT-2PM "Topol" was adopted in 1988. Serial Assembly of equipment and missiles of this complex lasted from 1984 to 1994. At the beginning of the two thousandth were completed testing an improved system RT-2PM2 "Topol-M". He soon entered service in mobile and silo versions. Parallel operation of two systems is still ongoing, but the age older system imposes certain restrictions. Moreover, the absence of production and expiry of operation leads to the fact that in the next few years, the strategic missile forces will be forced to completely abandon the "Poplars", replacing them with newer systems.

Such plans of the military Department brought the issue of disposal of remaining in the army missiles. In addition, on 20 June this year, the resolution of the government establishing a new order disposing of weapons and military equipment. In accordance with the resolution, the troops and the industry needs to look for the most effective methods of disposal of existing products, and simple destruction should be considered as an exceptional measure in case of the absence of any alternatives. In the light of such directions of the management of the country the use of decommissioned missiles in a new role can be a convenient and advantageous solution to the problem.

Details of the project of modernization complex "Topol", which turns the missile in the carrier spacecraft is still unknown. In the press mentions only that the defense Minister showed a mobile missile launcher, adapted for use in a new role. Other details, for objective reasons, have not been reported. Thus, the technical design of the new project remains unknown, and can only make certain assumptions.

It should be noted that the missile complex RT-2PM is not the first time got the chance to become appliances, not intended for strategic deterrence, but to launch spacecraft. The possibility of creation of the carrier rocket on the basis of products 15Ж58 been considered since the late eighties, and eventually led to the creation of a full-fledged project. In the early nineties of MIT presented the carrier rocket "Start", which was a redesigned version of the missile complex "Topol". The project was proposed the use of prefabricated parts, which, however, were used in different composition and in different amounts.

The project "Start" meant the use of ready-made steps of the rocket complex "Topol", but now it was proposed to build a rocket with a larger number of stages, allowing to improve the basic characteristics to the desired level. In one programme was developed three launch vehicles: "Launch", "Start-1 and Start-1.2 characterized by various design features, particularly the number of steps and options of payload delivery. All versions of the rocket have been tested in practice, however, to a relatively massive use came only as a set of "Start-1".

Project "Start" in the first version it was intended to build five rockets from units based on the elements of the missile complex "Topol". The increase in the number of steps was achieved with equipment of the rocket in several stages of the same type. A five-stage rocket kept the diameter of the base product is 1.8 m, but differed in the greater length of 28.8 m. the Launch weight increased to 60 T. the Parameters of the missile were allowed to bring in low earth orbit a weight of 570 kg.

The carrier rocket "Start-1" had four levels and the so-called finishing unit, however, was built on the same principle as the underlying "Start". The length of the product was reduced to 22.7 m and diameter up to 1.6 m with a starting weight 47 t payload output to low-earth orbit was 531 kg. On the basis of "Start-1" was established "Start-1.2 characterized by some elements of the design. Characteristics almost not changed. An important feature of the rocket "Start-1" and "Start 1.2" was the ability to launch from a mobile launcher complex "Topol", which to a certain extent, simplified pre-launch preparation and operation of the system as a whole.

The first test launch of the carrier rocket of family "Start" took place on 25 March 1993. The product "Start-1" with a weight simulator payload has successfully completed the flight program. On 28 March 1995 was the second launch where the rocket used to "Start" with two companions and overall-weight layout on Board. The total payload mass amounted to 269 kg. due to the abnormal operation of certain rocket systems and satellites were destroyed in the separation step. March 4, 1997 first flew the carrier rocket "Start-1.2" successfully sent into orbit a military satellite with a weight of 87 kg.

From 1993 to 25 April 2006 there were seven launches of rockets of family "Start". It was used five products "Start-1", and one "Start" and "Start-1.2". For all runs, except the second, successful removal of the load into orbit. However, despite certain successes, a decade ago, the exploitation of complexes "Start" has been discontinued. One of the main reasons for this were the lack of payloads of missiles: a carrier with a payload of several hundred kilograms was not of interest for most customers. In addition, the complex "Start" had to deal with competitors in the form of other carrier rockets created on the basis of serial ballistic missiles.

The Rocket "Start-1". Photo

There is reason to believe that in the foreseeable future light bearers on the basis of missiles "Topol" or other similar products can enter the market and obtain a significant number of orders. In recent years, the creation of spacecraft has been some progress, the result of which, among other things, was the appearance of light and ultra light satellites whose mass may be only a few pounds. Thus, a new variant of the launch vehicle on the basis of 15Ж58 may be of interest to different scientific or educational organizations having the desire and the ability to send into orbit its own micro-satellite.

An important feature of the so-called conversion rockets is a relatively small start up cost. The company provides services for the conclusion of the spacecraft, in this case not to build the rocket from scratch, since as the basis for it is taken the finished product. Only required adaptation of design to new challenges, however, these studies in any case be much cheaper than full-scale construction vehicle. Thus, potential customers have the opportunity to make considerable savings. In the case of customers wishing to run small-sized lightweight unit, the simultaneous elimination of the orbit of a large number of satellites, which further reduces the cost of the services of a "carrier" for each individual customer.

Another advantage of a promising booster on the basis of the complex "Topol" may be the characteristic features of the mobile launchers. Unlike other launch systems, self-propelled launcher does not require lengthy pre-launch preparation, being able to perform all the necessary procedures in the shortest possible time and only by calculation. In the context of space launches that could lead to a significant reduction in preparation time to the conclusion spacecraft into orbit in comparison with other media.

As you can see, the proposed concept of the alteration of Intercontinental ballistic missiles as a means of placing a payload into orbit has many advantages that allow it to count on widespread use. Moreover, some such systems are actively being exploited. Thus, the future of the new project of MIT can be assessed with a certain optimism. However, at the moment it exists only in the form of preliminary studies and are not yet ready for real use. To complete all the work required will take some time, after which the first carriers of the new type on the basis of the missile "Topol" will be able to send into orbit a particular payload.

The main prerequisite for the emergence of a new project are the plans of the military departments, regarding the gradual withdrawal of complexes "Topol" from service in connection with resource development and end of shelf life of missiles. According to current plans, the latest systems RT-2PM will be retired in 2021. Thus, in the next few years, the industry and the Ministry of defence will have to determine the real prospects of a new proposal from the Moscow Institute of thermal technology, and to build appropriate plans for the work and the introduction of the carrier into operation. This means that new information about a project can appear in the near future, and the first launch of the carrier rocket can be expected before the end of this decade.


Kirill Ryabov


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