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Suborbital Cabin

Korolev Suborbital M

Korolev Suborbital M
East German drawing of designs for said to be considered for a Soviet suborbital manned spacecraft. OKB-1 considered such a spacecraft in 1956, but it was decided to go directly to the orbital Vostok design. The East German drawings seem to correspond to a rocket of about 2.8 m diameter (such as the R-7 or R-9 ICBM's) while the 1956 Korolev designs were for the 1.65 m diameter R-5A rocket. From left to right: A - Parachute recoverable design; B - Alternate parachute recovery design; C - Ballute recoverable design; D - Helicopter blade recoverable design; E - Winged recoverable design.

Russian manned spacecraft. In 1956 Korolev laid out an outline plan 'Fast Solutions for the Conquest of Space'. Phase I and II of the plan involved experimental manned sub-orbital flights aboard an R-5A single-stage IRBM.

Status: Study 1956. Gross mass: 1,350 kg (2,970 lb). Height: 5.00 m (16.40 ft).

Phase I would involve ballistic flights and included completion of draft projects for the following new systems for the manned cabin:

  • Pressurized cabin with life support system
  • Cabin stabilization system
  • Parachute system for landing of cabin
  • Emergency escape system
  • Guidance system
  • Engine Unit with throttleable rocket engine
  • Radio system with two channel transceiver
  • Radio locator beacon to allow recovery forces to locate cabin after recovery
  • Central control system

In addition the following new or modified systems would be required for the rocket:

  • Modification of rocket the rocket into a launch vehicle for a ballistic payload
  • Cabin separation and parachute system
  • Guidance system modifications
  • Electrical distribution system and unpressurised equipment section

Manned flights were to occur in two phases, starting out at lower speeds, then working up to higher speeds and altitudes up to the maximum capability of the missile.

Phase II would involve creation of a draft project for a manned gliding vehicle. Additional development work required beyond phase I would include:

  • Further modification of the cabin and life support system
  • Stabilization system to allow stable gliding flight
  • Revised escape system
  • System for active control of the glider during descent
  • Revised engine unit

There was no evidence these designs were taken any further. Drawings were released in an East German magazine in the 1980's purporting to show Korolev OKB-1 suborbital configurations (see above), but these seem to be for a rocket of much larger diameter than the 1.65 m R-5A. However in the end Korolev decided to move immediately to Phase III of his plan - a manned orbiting spacecraft, and not waste time on Phase I and II.

The R-5A was developed for a series of flights in 1958 to test 'artificial comet' release of chemicals at altitude for use on future lunar missions, and biological (dog) payloads. But these tests used a narrow-diameter payload section similar to the IRBM warhead and very different from the planned manned designs. The payload on these missions was 1350 kg to a 450 km altitude.

Crew Size: 1.


Fast Solutions Phase I In 1956 Korolev drafted a plan for 'Fast Solutions for the Conquest of Space'. Phase I of the plan involved ballistic manned sub-orbital flights aboard an R-5A single-stage IRBM. Although R-5A tests with dogs began in 1958, manned flights on the R-5A were not taken to the flight stage (despite rumors in 1959 of cosmonaut deaths in suborbital flights). Korolev decided to move directly to manned orbital flights using the Vostok spacecraft and R-7 booster.

Family: Manned spacecraft, Suborbital. Country: Russia. Launch Vehicles: R-5. Agency: Korolev bureau. Bibliography: 283.

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