Chinese cosmos nightmares
In the previous chapter, we analyzed in great detail and with illustrative examples the basic postulates of the great Russian design school, which also work perfectly in space design. However, you need to know one nuance. The fact is that the accents here are placed in a slightly different hierarchy, and you can perfectly guess why.
The military space industry is significantly different, say, from the tank or weapons industry. The cosmic processes of celestial mechanics are those processes and speeds that are difficult for us to imagine, just as it is difficult to see a bullet fired from a rifle, and it flies at a speed of “only” 800 m / s. But in order to "fire" Gagarin into orbit, you need to give him a speed 10 times higher than the speed of a bullet! It is easy to say "add", you still need to make sure that it does not turn into a mess. Upon returning to Earth, Yuri Alekseevich showed his famous smile and gave interviews.
Therefore, it is not surprising that in space technology, reliability has become a top priority, and by a large margin. Agree that if there is a breakdown in the aforementioned T-34 or Il-2, this is fixable, even for an aircraft, but if there is a slight "roughness" in the rocket, it almost always leads to the death of astronauts. Safety, reliability, simplicity - everything in the Korolev rocket is subordinated to these concepts, from engines, numerous backup systems and ending with the famous emergency crew rescue system (CAS).
The protruding escape hatches on the Soyuz have become a kind of "commodity brand", like a radiator grill on a BMW. Evil tongues, in order to pour at least some fly in the ointment into the "Soyuz", rant about the "imperfect" indicator of the rocket - about the ratio of the ship's mass to the payload. In general, this can be disputed, but the point here is completely different. The American cosmonaut, flying in the "seven" to the ISS, absolutely spit on any relation of any "mass", the most important thing is that the "priceless mass" of his body should be delivered to the orbital station intact and safe. The same can be said about the American infantryman, who is not at all happy with the poor accuracy of the AK-47. But he is very worried that his Vietnamese "colleague" is "pouring" bullets from "Kalashnikovs" on him, being in the sand, in the mud, in the water. Well, and then the Vietnamese buries himself in the ground, using a bayonet-knife instead of a shovel and not even bothering to remove it from the machine gun, it's more convenient. And the Marine, if he survives, will shoot from his M-16 in an air-conditioned shooting range and tell about the good accuracy of his automatic rifle.
It is necessary to admit, not without pride, that Russia is now a de facto monopoly of manned space flights. Here is the result for you, as a consequence of reliability and simplicity. As the American cosmonauts like to say enviously, they "confidently trust the Russian Vanya with a wrench."
With the Americans in this matter, everything is clear, but with the Chinese, not very much. And therefore I propose to briefly understand the progress of space affairs with our "comrades from the Celestial Empire."
The space program of the "Middle Empire", as always, is of a cosmic scale, right up to the landing of a man on the Moon and an extensive Martian program. We, of course, are interested to know the real state of affairs, and the Chinese have done a lot over the past decade, but these achievements, on the one hand, are impressive, and on the other, they raise many questions. However - about everything in order.
After two unsuccessful space programs for manned flights, in the third program, the Chinese still managed to get their own "Gagarin". In 2003, the Celestial Empire became the third power in the world to independently send a man into space. In 2008, China already had its own "Leonov" - a Chinese cosmonaut went into outer space. Four years later, they got a "Chinese Tereshkova". Moreover, unlike Valentina Vladimirovna, the Chinese girl, with two more of her astronauts, “managed” to dock to the Chinese orbital module. Well, and finally, in 2013, a Chinese lunar rover began to drive around Mother Moon. At first glance, everything is impressive, but then the question arises about the price of this success.
The point here is not the cost of launches, although I will immediately say that our G7 has been driving the Americans for more than one year, it has nothing to worry about, you will understand why. The problem is the cost of human life.
For obvious reasons, the Chinese space program is informationally woven of white spots and closed by the fact that it has generated a lot of pseudo-scientific gossip, to the extent that the Earth is entangled in an orbit like Saturn in rings, consisting of dead Chinese astronauts. The question is not in white spots and rumors, but in the fact that the Celestial Empire is launching its astronauts into orbit on a kind of launch vehicles. We will dwell on them in more detail.
Chinese "Gagarin" can be congratulated not only on the fact that he became the world's third "national" cosmonaut. He became the number one astronaut on the planet who flew into space on a Heptyl. I will briefly explain what it is. Almost all liquid-fueled missiles in the world, military and civilian, use asymmetric dimethylhydrazine (heptyl) as fuel, and nitric tetroxide (amyl) as the oxidizing agent. These are extremely toxic, carcinogenic substances. Fuel tanks falling to the ground contaminate the surrounding area, not to mention the moments when an accident occurs on the rocket. True, when the country's defense capability is at stake, such "trifles" as ecology and oncology are ignored. Can you imagine what would have happened to the Green Peasants if they had attacked the most “democratic” spaceport in the world at Cape Canaveral on their ship, as they had previously boarded our drilling platforms? That's right, at best they would rot in some guantanams.
Moreover, this fuel has two main advantages in comparison with the kerosene-oxygen pair. The first is the possibility of long-term storage of the heptylo-amyl pair in the rocket. Agree that it is not very convenient to put a ballistic missile on alert, refueling it with kerosene and oxygen, and then drain it all if the launch is canceled. Another very important advantage is that "heptyl" launch vehicles are simple in design. The fact is that when heptyl combines with amyl, spontaneous combustion occurs, and the participation of the third component - the ignition system - is not required, which not only simplifies the rocket mechanism, but also gives the entire system a certain degree of reliability.
Let me explain with a simple example. Let's say the third stage of the rocket has entered space with a load of five satellites, and each needs to be put into an individual orbit. Let me remind you that when we drive in a car, changing the speed, the direction does not change, in celestial mechanics - on the contrary, by changing the speed, we change the orbital trajectory of the satellite. In short, the rocket engine must be switched on and off many times, which is not difficult for a "heptyl" rocket.
In general, even a single activation of subsequent stages on "kerosene" rockets is a headache for any designer. Judge for yourself: somewhere at a high altitude three components should be simultaneously switched on - kerosene, oxygen, ignition, and before this "happy hour" the rocket was beating in overloads, it was subjected to vibrations and God knows what else. The problem was so serious that Korolev developed a fundamentally new layout of the rocket stage blocks, which became classic in the world "kerosene" rocketry - the engines of the first and second stages of the rocket must be turned on simultaneously, that is, on the ground. When Sergei Pavlovich made sure with his own eyes that the first and second stages were working, only then did he go to the shed and continue to swallow validol.
As we can see, the Chinese did not get involved with headaches and heartaches, they solved the problem primitively, putting the astronauts on a dangerous ballistic missile that they produce. Cheap and angry, but for some reason everyone is silent about one serious problem of a moral nature - it is categorically impossible to launch a man into space on a "heptyl" rocket! And the point here is not in ecology and oncology, but in the fact that they are extremely explosive!
As you know, heptyl and amyl, when they meet in the combustion chamber, ignite without any "intermediaries". However, these two "temperamental guys", also without "witnesses", can "hammer the arrow" in any other place of the rocket (the main condition is the presence of unpressurized areas in the containers), and then a terrible explosion will occur. There are even simpler options. Let's say these two substances "run" along the beaten track again into the combustion chamber, but already of a different engine, of a different stage. It is not hard to guess that an unauthorized start of the engine will occur, but I have already explained how it "flawlessly" turns on. Then a monstrous execution will take place, which will impress even medieval inquisitors. First, there will be a strong blow "from below", then, for several seconds, the astronauts will be strongly squeezed, as if in a "Spanish boot", and then they will be overtaken by a "cleansing fire" in the form of an explosion, and as a result, nothing will be left of the astronauts.
So gossip about Chinese corpses flying in orbit is complete nonsense. I immediately recall the arguments of the "liberal experts" about the cost of the "Proton" and "Angara" launches. I just want to put this "market leader" in the "heptyl" "Proton" so that he can conduct a comparative analysis of the cost of his life.
And a very interesting question arises, to which we will give an equally interesting answer below. And the question is very simple: why is everyone silent !? There is no need to explain why we “took water into our mouths”. The fact is that the information segment in our military space industry is completely controlled by the "fifth column". And that's why the "philanthropic saviors of private Ryan" are silent, here it is more complicated. Maybe they themselves have a "stigma in the gun"?
Let's figure it out. In 1961, the United States adopted the Apollo manned space flight program, and the Saturn spacecraft and launch vehicle of the same name were developed. One major problem arose. Until 1969, that is, before the start of the Apollo program, the Americans had to somehow "test" their "lunar" astronauts and solve many problems, ranging from manned spacewalk to the docking of space modules. The previous ship "Mercury" was clearly not suitable for these tasks. It was decided to create an "intermediate" ship Gemini, but here's the problem: it's already 1965, with the Saturn launch vehicle everything was complicated, and the Mercury launch vehicles (Redstone and Atlas) did not pull well his own ship, not to mention the Gemini. The "lunar" program, pompously advertised by Kennedy (already in "this decade" the Americans will land on the moon), was on the verge of collapse. The entire "free world" looked at America with hope, and while "progressive humanity", together with Khrushchev, reveled in space euphoria, the Americans decided to play dirty - "put Gemini" on the Titan ballistic missile.
As you may have guessed, the fuel and oxidizer for this rocket is the "explosive" pair of aerosine and amyl. Aerosin is nothing more than a mixture of the already familiar heptyl and hydrazine in a 1: 1 ratio. Thus, in just a year and a half, from March 1965 to November 1966, America sent 20 "aerosin" kamikazes into orbit. True, the winners are not judged, especially when such rates … Well, we need to draw three conclusions from this whole story.
First. The Americans owe their "lunar triumph" entirely, I emphasize, entirely to the "dirty" Gemini program. After all, you must admit that it is difficult to pose for housewives from the TV screen in a spacesuit if you have never gone into outer space in this spacesuit. Moreover, it is impossible to detach and attach a module in lunar orbit, if you have never done this, at least on earth.
The second conclusion is less original. The United States is working very dirty both in politics and in space, and we will be convinced of this not only below in the article, but also, I am sure, in subsequent events.
The third conclusion: “bloodthirsty Russians” who do not value human life are for some reason the only ones who led the space race honestly and did not even think about any nasty “tricks”.
But what about the Chinese, do they understand that they have taken a bad example from the "bad guys"? Of course, they understand, therefore, they are actively developing "human" launch vehicles. The most interesting thing is that they are called the same as "heptyl" - "Great campaign". How can a deer and a camel be called the same? It's not about the fuel, everything is different in these carriers, from the engines to the arrangement of the stages. Even the Americans did not "think of" such impudence. Here the answer is obvious: under one “brand” the Celestial Empire cynically wants to disguise a “gray speck” on the body of its astronautics.
China has learned one rule of politics well - it doesn't matter what you do and how you do it, the main thing is how you present it, rightly believing that the “delicate” moments will be erased from the memory of posterity. But the Russian language is a sacred language, for us “memory” and “understanding” are synonymous words. If we understand the essence of the problem, we will always remember this.
Completing the Chinese theme, let us also say that you cannot fly into space on some carriers, so the Celestial Empire developed, in particular, a spacecraft and an orbital module. True, she "developed" them with the "specifics" characteristic of the Chinese. The resemblance of the spacecraft to our Soyuz, and the module to the Salyut, was so striking that our overly humane president nevertheless decided to thin out the slender ranks of the space "fifth column" a little. Five employees of ZAO TsNII Mashexport went into the distance (not space, but taiga), four received 11 years each, and their director, Academician Igor Reshetin, “grabbed” 11.5 years in a strict regime colony. By the way, the PRC government asked Russia to release the employees and transfer them under their care. How they will "patronize" - you can guess, probably, will make them heroes of the nation. So, we are looking forward to what kind of our rocket the carriers "projected" by the Chinese will look like. In the meantime, American astronauts will never trust the Chinese Wang with a wrench. You now know why.
Priceless legacy of the Soviet Union
Exposing in the previous chapters the flaws of the military-space industries of other countries, I set myself only one goal: so that we do not look at the West, especially at China, admiringly and with a half-open mouth, ideas that the Soviet Union left us.
I will say right away that the touch is no longer left, but ideas remain. Now it is very important for us to determine the vector of development of Soviet space, and if we go in the right direction, then no Americans, Europeans, or Chinese with their expensive programs will reach us. After all, it is always true that if the turtle goes in the right direction, then it will be the first to reach the goal, and not a nimble hare, dully rushing in the other direction. We have clearly seen, and we will see further, that in the genesis of cosmonautics, as in evolution, there are dead-end paths where whole classes of animals die out. This suggests an analogy between dinosaurs and Shuttles. And here it is half the trouble that you return as a knight to the road stone, wasting a lot of material and technical resources and time, a tragedy if you go in the wrong direction again, and then you will probably not be able to go back again.
It's just that we all know perfectly well that outer space is, first of all, the security of the state. Therefore, in order to go in the right direction, you need to clearly imagine what the vector was up to this day and what "bumps" the world cosmonautics has filled itself with. The history of astronautics has clearly shown that no one teaches this story. After all, any chess player will tell you that the analysis of mistakes in a lost game is much more valuable than a game won.
Now let's understand the directions of world cosmonautics, especially since it will be very easy for us to do this now. The reason for this is that our main competitor, the United States, having buried its reusable spacecraft program, and with it manned space exploration, has just returned to that roadblock. It is interesting for us to know in which direction the "American mustang" rode, to assess whether it is correct, and to decide for ourselves whether to follow this "horse" or go our own way, knowing that it is he, like a biathlete, a penalty loop.
Next, we will decide which "space powers" we will consider. With China, everything is clear. They need to create a "human" rocket, even if they copy it (guess who?), But it is not so fast, especially the engines, this is not some kind of orbital module to "mess with". By the way, we have tried and will continue to try not to touch satellites, ships, orbital modules and so on, because without launch vehicles, all this is nothing. In short, the Celestial Empire will definitely not dominate space in the next 20 years.
We will also ignore the European Union, if only because they have no manned space exploration at all. We will talk about Ukraine later, but on another occasion, it, of course, is also swept aside. We will not even touch on other "powers" for obvious reasons. The United States remains.
Now we need to think about what this "breakthrough rocket" should be. Here we will begin to delve into the legacy that the USSR left us in more detail. I must say right away that this is not some folio or "testament of Peter the Great to descendants" - this is a triumphant project of the Energia family of super-heavy launch vehicles. This transformer rocket, assembled on a modular basis, could launch cargoes from 30 tons (Energia-M) to 175 tons (Vulcan-Hercules) into orbit, and that was not the limit! It became clear to everyone that one single rocket, based on two modules (the support block of the 2nd stage and the side block of the 1st stage), is capable of capturing an obscenely giant segment of the delivered cargo into space. But there is one problem: this "giant segment" is in little demand. Therefore, when the 100-ton "Buran", which was the main cargo for this carrier, "ordered to live a long time", then "Energia" also jumped into the "grave" after it. Everything is logical here: it is unprofitable for BelAZ to carry cargo that the Gazelle can handle. True, the modular principle of production turned out to be tenacious, the blocks of the 1st stage ("Zenith") still fly perfectly, therefore "Energy" can be "reanimated" in five years. Moreover, even at the stage of Energia's design, the idea of transferring the modular principle to the more demanded segment of the cargo delivered to orbit was in the air, namely from 2 to 35 tons. A whole galaxy of heavy, medium, light and even ultralight missiles can go to "retire". Moreover, the weight segment and the nature of the cargoes make it possible to create a booster rocket based on one module! Judge for yourself, there is no longer any need to mount the Buran on the 2nd stage support block, now the 1st stage side block will play the role of the support block. So our scientists came up with the idea of creating a universal rocket module (URM). Now comes the fun part. The Americans have also come to the universal module, but this is where our roads diverge.
Thus, by the method of elimination, we came to the conclusion that the world space race boils down to a confrontation between two global space projects based on the modular principle of the production of launch vehicles - the Russian Angara project and the American project Falken by SpaceX. By comparing these projects, we can determine which one went the wrong way. Moreover, knowing the postulates of construction from the previous chapters, it will be easy for us to do this. First, we need to decide what, from a design point of view, the ideal module should be. We will not open America here if we say that the module should be easy to manufacture and operate, and this, in turn, means that the power section of the module should be simple.
Now we should be puzzled by the question: what gives the maximum simplicity of the power unit? The power section is simple if it is provided with one engine, and a simple engine is obtained if it is with one nozzle. Everything is as clear as daylight. The more unnecessary elements we remove from the system, the simpler the system will become, hence, more efficient. I don't want to repeat myself anymore. For example, let us compare the Falken-Khevi rocket and our version, similar in terms of carrying capacity, Angara A7.
Our rocket launches with 7 engines, the American one - with 27! The question immediately arises, how are the Americans going to make an engine four times cheaper than ours? Probably, their workers earn four times less or they work four times more productively. We'll talk more about the vaunted American performance at SpaceX, but in fact the question is serious. After all, it is obvious that two engines, all other things being equal, are more expensive than one of the same power, let alone four. It is clear that the declared cheapness of launches is a low-grade bluff, which our “fifth column” meekly “hawked”. The most surprising thing is that the commercial component is not so bad. The real nightmare is the constructive component of this problem. If history had taught their designers anything, they would certainly have wondered why their "lunar" rocket turned out to be successful, but our analogous N-1 - not?
In the case of "Saturn-5" 5 engines start simultaneously. But our designers had to “be smart”, there was no time to create more powerful “engines”, so we had to put 30 engines instead of 5 in our “lunar”! What rocket do you think it is easier to synchronize their work on, which rocket is more controlled - with 5 engines or when there are 6 times more of them ?! The answer is obvious. No matter how our clever heads “fought”, but on the H-1 it was not possible to eliminate the unfolding moment, strong vibration, hydrodynamic shocks, and so on. It's hard to resist fundamental design principles! But ours, of course, had nowhere to go, money was not really considered then, but why don't our overseas colleagues understand this? After all, the engine is the beginning of the beginnings, the soul of the rocket, and such things are no joke. In order not to reproach the Americans for being stupid, let's say that they do not fully understand the severity of the problem, especially since it is not as simple as it seems at first glance.
To fully illuminate this key issue, let's take a closer look at what the RD-191 is - the engine for the "Angara". This engine is nothing more than a "quarter" of the legendary engine, the most powerful engine ever created - RD-170. As I wrote above, the RD-170 was used on the 1st stage module of Energia and Zenit. As the president of RSC Energia, Vitaly Lopata, said, "one hundred seventy" outstripped American engines by at least 50 years!
The complexity of its creation underlines the fact that its development was carried out for 8 years. I will also say that a "transitional version" was created, which is the "half" of the RD-170, - the RD-180. An interesting story has turned out with this "engine" too. So that the "adapter" does not remain a laboratory exhibit, they began to sell it to the USA for their Atlases. Moreover, Yeltsin (with a hangover, probably) gave them all the rights to use the RD-180, including its production! The creator of these engines, academician Boris Katorgin, warned the Americans that they would need at least 10 years to reproduce them. As always, the cowboy arrogance took its toll and they declared 4 years old. Four years have passed, and they say: indeed, six years are needed. Then another eight years were announced. As a result, 18 years have passed, and "things are still there."
Now let's think about it. We produce three engines - RD-191, RD-180 and RD-170, respectively, with one, two and four nozzles. Most of the units for their production (including the unique combustion chamber) are, for obvious reasons, the same. It is not hard to guess how this will affect the cost of manufactured products. The conclusion suggests itself unequivocally: "Angara" has an unsurpassed engine, both technically and economically.
Concluding, in my opinion, this very important topic, we cannot ignore the question, why did America at one time manage to create a powerful "lunar" engine, and now SpaceX is "shoving" anything into its "Folken"? The fact is that when the "lunar" F-1 engine was created, the NASA budget was more than 4% of the federal budget, now it is 0.5%, that is, in percentage terms, it has decreased by 8 times! The same can be said about the number of working people in NASA: then it reached 400 thousand workers, and already in 1988 this number was equal to 52 thousand, that is, again 8 times less. I will not fool you with dollar comparisons due to the impossibility of comparing the then and today's currency.
In any case, the difference between the "space" budgets is the same space. I repeat, then everything was at stake, but now, in order to at least "clone" the RD-180, they only need to spend more than a billion dollars on test benches, according to the same Katorgin!
What were they hoping for? Maybe Boris Nikolayevich would have sold them the stands on the cheap? However, in other aspects, the Americans are quick to "think". Since May 2014, the conclusion of new contracts for the purchase of RD-180 has been terminated by court order, in connection with the claim of a competitor - SpaceX! This already looks like national masochism combined with corporate idiocy.
It must also be said that America's chances of making a "suitable" engine for the "Folken" out of the "lunar" F-1 were zero. The point is not even that the F-1 has not been produced for a long time, it was simply impossible to make a "half" or "quarter" out of it - Brown's engine was single-chamber, with one nozzle. In this regard, one is amazed at the technical foresight of our designers. So what, after all, can the Americans oppose the Angara? Only what they always succeed in is a powerful "fifth column". These "invisible fighters" who have obscenely flooded the Russian military space industry will be discussed in the next chapter.