the Pentagon has announced the next launch of a top-secret unmanned space Shuttle X-37B. It into orbit launch vehicle Atlas V ULA of the company, which uses the Russian RD-180 engines. According to the official, the mission of Shuttle – work on the conversion of solar energy into microwave radio frequency to provide unlimited flight time for drones and orbiting satellites. According to unofficial – anti-satellite weapons tests.
Work on space unmanned aircraft, NASA and Boeing are very actively started in 1999. However, military experts from the very beginning were confident that the program X-37B oversees the Pentagon, and the main destination of Shuttle – military.
at First it was said that this device is needed to repair satellites in earth orbit with altitude of 700 km, But in 2004 the program X-37B in USA classified. It gave the Pentagon And the Agency for defense advanced research projects DARPA.
Today, it is clear that the device is able to operate both air and space targets can maneuver at speeds up to Mach 20-25, “jumping” from orbit to orbit. To deliver from Earth to space and back small loads (at take-off weight of the spacecraft in 4989 kg, has a payload up to 900 kg). But the main task of drones for space – exploration and development programs prospective interceptor.
In space, such a device needs to inspect foreign satellites, and if necessary – to use against them anti-satellite weapons, or to protect themselves.
since 2010, X-37B in the interests of the United States air force made five experimental flights. The last record duration – 780 days. From his spaceship he returned in October of 2019, having made a successful landing at the cosmodrome on Cape Canaveral once orbited three secret small satellites.
Now the mini-Shuttle is scheduled to launch a satellite, FalconSat-8 with five experimental payloads that are designed in the interests of the United States air force Academy.
In recent years, the Pentagon has stepped up its work on weaponization of space. By the middle of 2020 in the United States need to complete the creation of a new type of armed forces — Space forces (United States Space Force). According to experts, X-37B is one of the weapons created for the new space forces of the United States.
Russia, too, could have such a device. Moreover, she began to create it much earlier than the States. Work on the same spaceship was conducted in Russia in 60-70 years of the last century in KB “MiG” on the programme “Spiral” under the leadership of chief designer Artem Mikoyan.
the Council of Ministers even prepared a resolution on the launch of the project, which was signed by almost all leadership, including the Minister of aviation industry, General engineering. But the Minister of defense Andrei Grechko refused to sign it. He was a marine and are poorly versed in space. On paper he put a resolution: it’s all fantasy, we do not need.
the Son of Artem Mikoyan – aircraft designer Mikoyan Hovhannes, who worked on this program, said “MK”:
By the time the defense Minister Grechko refused to sign the decree, which was to open wide the way for space exploration, my father has already held talks with Sergei Pavlovich Korolev in getting our spacecrafts to orbit using rocket “Soyuz”. Our space plane called “product – 105-11”. 11 – it means a subsonic option.
as the platform to launch the device was originally planned to use a plane-“razgorsek”, the speed of which the project was supposed to be 6-8 Mach (1 Mach is the speed of sound. – MK). But the plane-“razgorsek” so no one did.
“the Product 105-11” in the trials was suspended from the Tu-95KM. Total was 8 “approach”, one independent flight to another airfield and 23 of the joint flight under the Tu-95KM. In six cases, was been reset “product – 105-11” and made a flight.
But even after the defence Minister had abandoned the project “Spiral”, the designers secretly continued to work on it until the 1976-1977 years.
According to Hovhannes Mikoyan, in the cosmonaut training Center was even created by a team of 10 people led by Herman Titov, cosmonaut of which up to 1973 seriously preparing for the flight program “Spiral”.
-When in 1984 the Minister of aircraft industry, Ivan Silayev became acquainted with the program “Spiral”, – said Mikoyan, he said that the project was ahead of its time fifty years. Indeed, “product – 105-11” the world’s first was developed a number of unique technical solutions. In particular, for the first time created a special nose cone in the shape of a rounded cone. What aircraft was nicknamed “Lapot”. Later, this form became the prototype of the fairing of our reusable space Shuttle “Buran”, the work of our outstanding Soviet designer Lozino-Lozinski. Only the “Bast” fairing was made of molybdenum and niobium alloy, fastened to the body, and the “Buran” – ceramic tile directly on the machine. And if you now look at the us X-37B, it becomes clear that the shape of the fairing it – almost an exact copy of the Soviet “Lapot”.
And there is nothing surprising here, said Hovhannes Petrosyan, as the Americans from the very beginning very closely followed the Soviet designers to this device.
-Then, once started perestroyka, followed by complete collapse, says the designer. – Americans bought his drawings. Maybe stolen — I don’t know. But the drawings of the “bast” disappeared.
an expert in the field of aerospace defence, head of anti-aircraft missile troops of the special-purpose Command (2007-2009) Colonel Sergey KOTYLEV calls the American spaceship X-37B superweapon, the creation of which Russia is seriously lagging behind the United States.
-In the future American spacecraft will be able to work even with the use of hypersonic weapons, – the expert believes. – While the Pentagon has two such apparatus, which are displayed in turn in low earth orbit with an altitude of from 240 to 800 km. the Beginning of series production of the X-37B is planned for 2025, so we still have a handicap in 6-7 years to prepare your answer.