Credit: © Mark Wade
AKA: Article 105;Article 50;LKA. Status: Design 1965.
It consisted of three main components: the GSR reusable hypersonic air-breathing launch aircraft; the RB expendable two stage rocket; and the OS orbital spaceplane. It was abandoned in the 1970's in favor of the Buran, but development of the OS as a spaceplane to be carried aloft by less-ambitious subsonic launch aircraft continued, culminating in the MAKS design of the 1980's.
At the beginning of the 1960's Mikoyan GKAT OKB-155 began work on the Spiral combination aerospace system. In 1965 the advanced project was approved, laying out an ambitious work plan leading to operation of a regular earth-orbit-earth reusable transportation system by the mid-1970's. With Gherman Titov as its head, a Spiral cosmonaut training group was formed in July 1965 (Titov, Dobrovolskiy, Filipchenko, Kuklin, Matinchenko). This was modified on 2 September 1965 to Titov, Beregovoi, Filipchenko, Kuklin, Shatalov. Go-ahead to actually proceed with development of the manned orbital vehicle was given on 26 June 1966 and Lozino-Lozinsky was selected as project manager. A new cosmonaut training group was established in December 1967: Titov, Kizim, Kozelskiy, Lyakhov, Malyshev, Petrushenko.
The Spiral system consisted of three main components:
The GSR was powered by four turbo-ramjet engines, and two variants were planned. The conservative first variant would use kerosene fuel and accelerate to Mach 4 and 22 to 24 km altitude before releasing the RB+OS. The longer-term second variant would use liquid hydrogen fuel, which would allow it to reach Mach 6 and 28-30 km altitude before releasing the upper stages. The GSR would return to its launch base after completing its mission.
The layout of the GSR was that of a large arrow-shaped flying wing. Vertical stabilizers were mounted at the wingtips. The engine bay was under the fuselage, with high bypass engine inlets. On the top of the wing was the launch pylon for the OS+RB, with the nose and tail portions of the pylon enclosed by ogival fairings for aerodynamic reasons.
The RB rocket that would take the OS from the back of the GSR to orbit consisted of a two-stage rocket. The conservative early version would use Liquid oxygen/kerosene propellants; the later advanced version would use Liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen.
The OS orbital spacecraft was a flat-bottomed lifting body, triangular in planform, with a large upturned nose that earned it the nickname 'Lapot' (wooden shoe). It seems to have been a developed version of the Tsybin PKA orbital spaceplane design of the 1960's, which had the same nickname. . The nose design was found to greatly reduce afterbody heating during re-entry and was adopted by NASA in its HL-20 proposal of the 1980's. Again like the PKA, a unique feature of the OS were the variable dihedral wings. These were set at a 60 degree angle above horizontal during launch, orbit, and re-entry, where they served as vertical stabilizers. After becoming subsonic, dual electric actuators moved them to a horizontal position, where they served as wings, substantially increasing the lift of the spaceplane for air-breathing operations. The main body of the spaceplane had a sweepback angle of 78 degrees, and the wings, 55 degrees. The large vertical stabilizer had a sweepback of 60 degrees. Aerodynamic controls consisted of the vertical rudder, elevons in the wings, and air brakes mounted at the top rear of the fuselage.
The OS would be inserted into an initial 130 km altitude orbit by the RB, where only 2 to 3 revolutions could be maintained before orbital decay. Orbital propulsion consisted of a 1,500 kgf primary engine, with two 40 kgf backup engines. Orbital attitude control and translation were provided by two reaction control system (GDU) pods at the rear of the spaceplane flanking the backup engines. There were a total of six 16 kgf engines for coarse adjustment and ten 1 kgf engines for fine maneuvers. Fuel tanks for these system were located in the center of the spaceplane. All engines worked on N2O4/UDMH.
After completing its mission the OS would enter the earth's atmosphere at a high angle of attack. It was capable of large banking maneuvers in hypersonic flight. During re-entry the wings were held vertically in the aerodynamic shadow of the fuselage shock-wave. The load-bearing structure, like that of the US X-20, consisted of a network of struts and longerons. The outer skin was articulated to permit thermal expansion during re-entry. This light metallic heat shield was of jointed construction and attached at points to the load-carrying inner frame.
After losing most of its velocity, the wings would have been moved to the horizontal lifting position, and the OS would fly to a landing at a conventional airfield. For maneuvering the aircraft in the final landing phase and to provide a once-around capability in the event of a missed approach, a turbine engine, burning kerosene, was installed. The air-breathing propulsion consisted of a Koliesov RD-36-35K turbojet of 2,350 kgf with 500 kg of fuel, which amounted to 10 minutes of cruise at full thrust. In the orbital version, it would give the spaceplane a chance to 'go around' or divert to a secondary airfield in the event of bad weather or a missed approach (the US Shuttle was originally to have such engines, but they were dropped for weight reasons). The 176 kg engine was fed from a dorsal intake at the base of the vertical stabilizer. This intake was covered during launch and orbital operations; an actuator opened the housing once the spaceplane reached subsonic speed.
Landing was made on gear consisting of four skids, in a tail-dragging configuration, the long frontal skids deploying in a complex manner from landing gear bays mounted on the sides of the spaceplane above the heat shield.
The cosmonaut-pilot sat in an insulated escape capsule, which could be ejected free of the spaceplane in an emergency. This capsule was of Soyuz 'headlight'-shaped form. This would be catapulted from the OS, and had its own navigation system, braking rockets, and parachute allowing rescue of the pilot in all flight phases, including 'bail-out from orbit'. Normally the pilot had to climb into the spaceplane through a hatch above the seat.
Controls consisted of a conventional control column and rudder pedals, with separate controllers for the jet engine and the rocket engines. An automatic navigation and control system (SNAU) included an inertial navigation system and operated the aerodynamic or reaction controls according to the fight regime. Manual backup was available for the aerodynamic controls.
During the development phase three single-place experimental reusable prototypes of the OS would be built. These would be built in the same configuration as the Spiral OS, but have somewhat smaller dimensions, so that they could be orbited by a Soyuz launch vehicle. During the preliminary design of the OS, Korolev actually suggested that the test OS be towed into orbit by the launch vehicle (this was not as crazy as it sounds - it would eliminate the aerodynamic problems of mounting the asymmetric payload on the nose of the Soyuz; the OS was designed to resist re-entry temperatures anyway, so could be towed in the rocket exhaust; and it had advantages in case of launch vehicle failure). However the final arrangement had the spaceplane in the conventional location atop the launch vehicle.
For testing the OS in the subsonic terminal approach phase, aircraft-analogues were to be built, powered by a turbojet or rocket and air-launched from a Tu-95 bomber. Two were planned, one to be flown subsonic (article 105-11), and the other up to Mach 6 to 8 (article 105-12). The single reusable orbital manned prototype was designated article 105-13.
An important characteristic of the Spiral was its large usable payload, two to three times greater than that of a conventional launch vehicle of the same mass. Cost per kilogram of payload to orbit would be 3 to 3.5 times less. In addition the system, by using air launch, could reach any orbital inclination, maneuver in space, and return, even in adverse weather conditions.
The project plan for Spiral was as follows:
Interest in the project at higher levels of the Soviet hierarchy was difficult to maintain, due to the massive funding requirements, technical difficulties, and multi-year development program which could not promise quick results. After being advised that he was in command of a dead-end project, Spiral cosmonaut training group leader Titov left in July 1970. He was replaced by Filipchenko from January 1971 to November 1972, and then by Khrunov. Just before its dissolution in December 1973, the Spiral cosmonaut team consisted of Illarionov, Khrunov, Kizim, Kozelskiy, Lyakhov, and Malyshev.
Underfunded from the beginning, the project was finally reoriented to a simple test of the analogue systems without using these as the basis for a flight system. This was now designated EPOS (Experimental Piloted Orbital Aircraft) and would be flown by Soviet Air Force test pilots rather than cosmonauts. In February 1976, with the beginning of work on Buran, the project was effectively ended except for the test of the subsonic 105-11 article already built. The 105-11 incorporated the airframe and some of the systems of the planned orbital version
Initial flights of the EPOS used its own jet engine to take off from unpaved airstrips, with wheels attached to the forward skids. On 11 October 1976 the MiG 105-11 EPOS made its first flight, taking off from an old dirt airstrip near Moscow, flying straight ahead to an altitude of 560 m, and landing at the Zhukovskii flight test center 19 km away. One year later, on November 27, the first air-drop launch from a Tu-95K (used previously for Kh-20 air to surface missile tests) was made from an altitude of 5,000 m, with landing on skids on a beaten earth air strip. The eighth and final flight was made in September 1978, ending in a hard landing which resulted in the spaceplane being written off. All flights were made by test pilot A. G. Festovets. The eight flights were considered sufficient to characterize the spaceplane's subsonic aerodynamic characteristics and air-breathing systems.
Work on Spiral assisted in development of the Buran spaceplane. The BOR subscale spaceplanes built for Spiral were used to test heat shield materials developed for Buran. These BOR-4 unmanned orbiters were equipped with braking engines. After a circuit of the earth, the spacecraft would deorbit, perform a gliding re-entry, followed by parachute deployment, splashdown in the ocean, and recovery by Soviet naval forces. Compared to the Spiral MiG 105-11 EPOS configuration, the BOR-4 had a flattened, wider body with a much smaller vertical stabilizer. The cruise-back turbojet of the 105-11 seems to have been eliminated, and the canted stabilizer tips were cut off at the Mach angle, a MiG trademark.
Although officially the Spiral spaceplane was cancelled, evidence remained that instead the project continued. It may be that the decision was taken to use the Spiral OS configuration for a larger manned orbital vehicle for launch from the Zenit booster (see Uragan Space Interceptor).
Crew Size: 1.
The MIG-105 EPOS (Experimental Passenger Orbital Aircraft displayed at the Monino Air Museum outside of Moscow.
|Spiral 3 view|
Spiral 3 view drawing
Credit: © Mark Wade
Spiral MiG-105-15 drawing
Credit: © Mark Wade
|Mig-105 back view|
Mig-105 back view close-up
Credit: Stefan Wotzlaw
|Mig-105 back view|
Credit: Stefan Wotzlaw
Recommendations made by Kamanin's space unit included:
The three-day conference hears papers describing advanced military concepts, including quantum generators, orbital aircraft, air launch of manned spaceplanes, and so on. Studies show that orbital aircraft would be more effective than ballistic missiles in attacks against small-size targets on the earths surface (such as ships, ICBM silos, etc). Nine ICBM's would be needed to destroy such a target, as against only two orbital aircraft. Kamanin's opinion: a lot of talk, but no action.
Ministry of Defence Decree 'On military space programs for 1964-69, including the R spaceplane' was issued. The decree was issued by Defence Ministry Marshal Rodiono Yakovlevich Malinovksiy. Included in this plan were new versions of the automatic Zenit, Morya-1 (US series) spacecraft, the Spiral spaceplane, the Soyuz-R manned combat spacecraft, and others. Chelomei's Raketoplan spaceplane was cancelled.
Titov and Kamanin visit LII to review the status of simulator construction. The engineers haven't had any time to even consider trainers for winged spacecraft. The Soyuz trainer will only be completed by July 1966, and the trainer for the new Voskhod configuration is still on paper only. Simulators for manned lunar or planetary flights have not even been discussed yet. It is clear that Kamanin is going to have to go up the chain of command to Dementiev and Smirnov to get resources allocated for the work to be accelerated.
In 1965 the advanced project of the Mikoyan Spiral aerospace system was approved. The ambitious work plan indicted operation of a regular earth-orbit-earth reusable transportation system by the mid-1970's. With Gherman Titov as its head, a Spiral cosmonaut training group was formed (Titov, Dobrovolskiy, Filipchenko, Kuklin, Matinchenko) to train to fly the spaceplane.
Gagarin, Belyayev, and Leonov are preparing for a meeting with Brezhnev. Nothing controversial is to be raised. The real issue now is to develop a winged, manned orbital spacecraft, and a winged booster stage for space launches. This will be essential to future manned military activities. Mikoyan's MiG bureau has been working on the orbital spaceplane, and Tupolev the winged booster stage. Titov, Filipchenko, and Matinchenko and a few other cosmonauts will coordinate with Mikoyan on development of the spaceplane design.
Titov has really turned himself around. Since being assigned to the Spiral spaceplane project, he has become newly motivated and involved with the project. He has obtained training on the MiG-21, with 120 flight hours per year required in support of the programme. All of this in parallel with academic studies at the Zhukovskiy Academy.
Kamanin plans to make Popovich and Titov deputy commanders of cosmonaut detachments preparing for flight of the Soyuz 7K-OK and Spiral spaceplane. Leonov is back from a tour of France; Titov is preparing to go to Afghanistan, and Tereshkova to Armenia. But that night Titov does not come home - he is hanging out again with artists and other unacceptable types.
Kamanin organises the cosmonauts into the following training groups:
Titov visits Kamanin on leave from test pilot duties at Vladimirovka. Titov will spend a year training as a test pilot on MiG-21, Su-7, and Su-9 aircraft. He flies well, and has matured and changed for the better over the last two years. Kamanin has talked to him 3 or 4 times about his future plans. Titov has bound his future with the Spiral spaceplane programme. Additional Details: here....
The general staff's space plans are impressive - in 1968-1975 they foresee no less than 20 Almaz space stations, 50 military 7K-VI missions, 200 Soyuz training spacecraft flights and 400 Soyuz space transport flights. This is based on the assumption that the crew of the military space stations will have to be rotated every 15 days. That will require 48 transport spacecraft per year, implying not less than 30 ready crews with 3 cosmonauts in each crew (this in turn implies each each cosmonaut will fly a space mission 1.5 times per year). Since supplies will have to be delivered to the stations, that will require another 200 additional transport spacecraft launches. And all of this is aside from civilian Soyuz flights, L1, L3, and various other civilian spacecraft - implying a total of 1000 launches in the period. This will require 800 Soyuz-class launch vehicles, 100 Protons, and 10 to 12 N1 boosters. The inevitable conclusion for Kamanin is that most of the transport launches should be made by a reusable winged spacecraft, air-launched from an An-22 heavy transport. This is the goal of the Spiral project. By 1975 Kamanin sees a requirement for 400 active cosmonauts, organised in two to three aerospace brigades, supported by10 aviation regiments, and including the TsPK training centre -- altogether 20,000 to 25,000 men. 250 million roubles will be needed to build new aerodromes and facilities alone, all chargeable to the VVS. Total cost will run into tens of billions of roubles per year.
The booster was supposed to be launched by 1966, but there is no way it will be finished this year, and it is highly questionable it will even get off the ground in 1968. The N1 tanks are pressurised to 2 atmospheres, and can go up to three atmospheres in an emergency. In the enormous MIK assembly hall are three N1's - one 'iron bird' ground test model and two flight vehicles. The first roll out of the mock-up will take place in 1967, and the first launch attempt is still expected in 1968 (the first launch will not be attempted until the second and third stages complete stand tests. There is no test stand for the first stage, it will be fired for the first time in flight). An explosion would destroy the pad, requiring several years of repairs. There are two pads, but even that would not be a guarantee of the availability of the rocket due to the poor expected initial reliability. The N1 project is costing 10 billion roubles, not including considerable investment required by the military. To Kamanin the whole thing is a boondoggle, showing the necessity for development of lighter air-launched boosters. He believes there are many mistakes in design and construction, but Mishin, Pashkov, Smirnov, and Ustinov support these doubtful projects of Korolev and Mishin, instead of technically sound projects such as Chelomei's UR-700 or MiG's air-launched spacecraft. If Mishin thinks the current Proton/L1 reliability is only 0.6, then that of the completely unproved N1/L3 must be even less...
Plans for purchase of ten Soyuz spacecraft for the VVS are discussed. They next turn to Volynov's problems during the Soyuz 5 re-entry. The fault can be attributed entirely to the modular design of the spacecraft, requiring that two modules be jettisoned before re-entry. Vershinin declares that what was needed was a true KLA space flight craft, which would be winged, set toward orbit by aircraft-type booster stages, and could be recovered at a conventional air base borne on wings or rotor blades. Additional Details: here....
A 50 minute presentation is given on space plans. Russia plans to fly no less than six different types of manned spacecraft in 1969-1970 - the Soyuz, L1, L3, Almaz, Soyuz VI, and Spiral. This will result in a decisive answer to the American Apollo programme within two to three years. No N1 launch with the complete L3 lunar landing spacecraft is planned until 1970. Approval is sought for the VVS to buy 10 Soyuz spacecraft for continued manned military flights in low earth orbit. Otherwise between the second half of 1970 and during all of 1971 there will be no spacecraft available for manned flights Additional Details: here....
Kamanin makes a speech to the VVS Soviet, setting forth again plans for military research in space. His presentation shows how far the USSR is behind the Americans, and the need to regain the lead. He again proposes 10 to 12 military Soyuz flights beginning in the first quarter 1970. This will fill the gap until Soyuz VI and Almaz will begin flying in 1972. Kutakhov is categorically against these Soyuz flights but, under pressure from others, still agrees to form a commission to study the matter. Reference is made to a Ministry of Defence decree of 7 January 1969.
Kamanin reviews the Spiral manned spaceplane program with Goreglyad, Frolov, and cosmonaut Titov. Work on the KLA orbiter began in 1961-1962. In the following eight years Kamanin has tried to push the leadership many times to accelerate the project, but without result. Still, the work is proceeding, albeit very slowly. Mikoyan has decided the first phase of the project will use rocket launch only - the air-breathing winged first stage will only be introduced later. Afanasyev has finally responded to the project, only to declare that the KLA must be not only for military missions, but serve as a transport shuttle for civilian space missions as well. Dementiev is holding the whole project up because he doesn't want to overburden the aircraft design bureaux and factories. And Kutakhov won't push the program without Dementiev's support.
Kamanin has been working for seven years on operation and improvement of the TsEZ Central Experimental Facility of he VVS. This includes the Volchok trainer, which simulates launch to orbit; the centrifuge facility; and numerous special test stands. The facility employs 120 engineers and 300 technicians. Later the Spiral project is discussed by the General Staff. It has been two weeks since Kutakhov promised to clarify Minister Dementiev's position on the project, but he never did talk to him. What is Kamanin expected to tell the cosmonauts training for the program? He is also trying to get a flight plan and press kit together in preparation for the Soyuz 9 mission, but there is no Central Committee resolution allowing this work. The KGB and Central Committee want to keep everything secret.
The training plan for DOS#1 is reviewed. The station is to be launched by February 1971. Soyuz 10 and Soyuz 11 will dock with it and crew the station for two to three months, according to Mishin's plan. This however will slow down flight test of Bogomolov's Kontakt docking system for the L3. This was to have been ready by January 1970, but it is still not ready for flight. On the other hand, the completion of the DOS station within four to five months is not possible. There are currently 12 cosmonauts in training for DOS, and ten for Soyuz flights. Popovich heads a group of 22 cosmonauts training for Almaz; and Bykovsky heads a group on lunar issues. The new trainers and simulators are on schedule; the existing ones are being heavily used.
Meeting with the Spiral spaceplane cosmonaut training group. Mikoyan and Dementiev (son of the MAP Minister) have been working on this project for four years. Many in the leadership (Grechko, Zakharov, Krylov, etc) are against the concept and hinder the project in any way the can. Grechko considers it 'a fantasy' and Kutakhov does not support it energetically. Engineer-Colonel Sokolov-Sokolenik is the head of the unit (having replaced Titov, who is now in staff school). The United States has hundreds of flights on the X-15, which they have taken to 90 km altitude and 7000 km/hour airspeed. In the Soviet Union, all such work has been frozen for a decade.
Kamanin reviews the work of the training centre in 1970-1971. There are 12 cosmonauts training for DOS missions; 22 for Almaz; 5 for Spiral; and a 'group' for the L3. They have flown 5000 flight hours in jet trainers. During the last two years Kamanin has increased the number of trainers and simulators available; achieved 100% of the training plan; and met the physical training requirements (all cosmonauts must accomplish a 10 km run).
Kutakhov visits the cosmonaut training centre. He is still against the VVS being involved in manned spaceflight. He tells Kamanin that Kamanin's draft resolution on the use of space for reconnaissance, communications, navigation, and piloted flight is not appropriate for 1971 - more like 1980. In the evening, Kamanin talks to Nikolayev about Tereshkova's complaints. He claims that in seven years he has only had two or three of these blow-ups with her. He blames her in-laws for starting the whole thing and keeping the bad feelings going.
The leaders of the VVS meet to consider the role of the Air Force in space and Kamanin's draft resolution. Frolov wants to form a VVS regiment for Almaz operations. Molzhavtsev wants to emphasize full use of unmanned satellites for support of the VVS (communications, navigation, reconnaissance). Later in the meeting V V Kuznestov discusses with Kamanin plans for a planned Nikolayev-Tereshkova-Sevastyanov trip to Egypt in January 1971. It has to be planned around opening ceremonies for the Aswan Dam.
Kutahkov is now Kamanin's direct superior; Efimov has been sent to a command in Cairo. Two An-22 heavy-lift transports have crashed in Pakistan and the Atlantic (en route to Chile). Kamanin meets with Dementiev and Kazatov at MAP. DOS-7K and Almaz simulator problems and the Spiral spaceplane project are discussed. There is not even a firm program plan for Spiral. Dementiev says this is because of the coolness of Grechko and Kutakhov to the subject. They block any discussion of the matter by the Central Committee. Grechko has written on Spiral - 'this is a fanatasy. We must spend money on more concrete items'.
Kamanin discusses with Kutakhov the need for the VVS to back Chelomei rather than Mishin. As for the Spiral, the support of Dementiev, Afanasyev, Kalmykov, and Zverev have been lined up for the program. But Grechko is still blocking it. And Kutakhov is unwilling to challenge Grechko on the issue.
Kamanin manges to get to Zakahrov, who agrees to take the Spiral issue to the Military Soviet of the VVS. Leonov and Nikolayev review Kamanin's new draft decree to be presented to he Military Soviet. The DOS-7K is two weeks behind schedule for the planned 15 March launch date.
Kamanin reviews his public relations operations. In ten years the cosmonauts have made 6,000 speeches and gone on 200 publicity tours. Tereshkova is the most in demand. 30 documentary films have been produced, as well as hundreds of books and brochures. The Star City Museum had 13,000 visitors in 1970.
An article Kamanin has written on aircraft designer Ilyushin has been published in Pravda. Kamanin is impressed by a new book by Orlov on possible civilian medical applications of technology developed for spaceflight. Negotiations continue with the Military Soviet on the resolution on future manned military space projects.
The Military Soviet of the VVS meets from 10:00 to 15:00. Kamanin's draft decree is debated. The Apollo 14 launch has bolstered interest in Soviet spaceflight. Problems with the decree are identified, but solved. Kamanin is particularly happy that mention is made of good use of crewed spacecraft designs as opposed to total automation.
Kamanin has a meeting scheduled with Chelomei, but this is cancelled and he is called to another meeting with Mishin -- all to advance Mishin's agenda. Mishin complains that he doesn't know what the Almaz project is about. He claims Chelomei has spent half a billion roubles so far, and has nothing to show for it. Mishin, on the other hand, has two DOS stations ready to fly, done at a cost of only 80 million roubles. But Kamanin knows very well who has really wasted hundreds of millions of roubles - Mishin. Mishin produces his plans for DOS#3 and DOS#4 follow-on stations. These are to be copies of Almaz, delivered in 18 months. Mishin says he is building ten 7K-S for the spacecraft, despite the fact that Karas at GUKOS is not interested in manned spaceflight. Afterwards Kamanin tells Kutakhov to warn Chelomei that he must support the VVS' 7K-S and Spiral projects, if he wants VVS support for Almaz.
The space plan for 1971 has finally been approved. There are to be three space stations launched, manned by ten Soyuz launches and a total of over 12 different crewmembers in space during the year. But it is clear to Kamanin that the second DOS and first Almaz station will not really be ready this year. And there won't be more than two Soyuz and two TKS transports available by the end of the year. Ranazomov says that Chelomei's TKS, being designed to fly to the Almaz, will cover many of he same requirements of the Spiral spaceplane. He proposes that Mikoyan should collaborate with Chelomei on Spiral. Meanwhile simulators at TsPK remain underfunded.