Polyus

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Right ,

This was one of the biggest ( literally) attempts at creating an orbital weapons platform . What's more-
It was multi-role . From nuclear mines to orbital cannon, it had it all . Only problem- it never made it to space . Though the Energia launcher worked well enough , Polyus did an about turn and came crashing back to Earth . Here's something on one of those fascinating cold war conceptions.



Images from here


http://www.buran.ru/htm/cargo.htm
 

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blackstar

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avatar said:
Right ,

This was one of the biggest ( literally) attempts at creating an orbital weapons platform . What's more-
It was multi-role . From nuclear mines to orbital cannon, it had it all.

Actually, that's not the case. It was a laser system for shooting at American SDI platforms. The "mines" that some people reported were actually tracking targets. The vehicle that splashed into the ocean was a prototype of a prototype, and it would have taken at least two more launches before they launched an operational version. This information is in a Russian history that was released on the web a few years ago.
 

robunos

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for those interested, paper models of polyus, energia, and others here:-

http://www.cardmodels-r.narod.ru/index-e.htm

cheers,
Robin.
 
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the spacecraft could deploy both 'test targets ' as well as mines . and yes it doesn't seem that it actually carried any mines of any sort .. The system did have a mine launcher and an anti recoil exhaust system . The test targets were contained in a jettisonable dispenser ...

Moreover no laser module was found on the craft either .

The laser story may actually be part of another story-

That Gorbachev apparently banned any live weapon tests from this platform in case these were picked up by the Americans precisely when they were denouncing SDI

In any case you are probably referring to "unknown Polyus " by Kornilov.
 

archipeppe

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In any case you are probably referring to "unknown Polyus " by Kornilov.

Perhaps Flateric knows something more, and eventually could tell us, about this sort of "Soviet Death Star"....
 

blackstar

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avatar said:
In any case you are probably referring to "unknown Polyus " by Kornilov.

No, the Lantranov article:

http://www.spacebusiness.com/quest/back.htm

Vol. 14 No. 2 (Mailed May 2007)
- "The ‘Star Wars” Which Never Happened - Part II by Konstantin Lantratov, Translated from the Russian by Dr. Asif Siddiqi

Vol. 14 No. 1 (Mailed February 2007)
- "The ‘Star Wars” Which Never Happened - Part I by Konstantin Lantratov, Translated from the Russian by Dr. Asif Siddiqi
 

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It could be argued that the incredible haste with which this project was undertaken was part of Gorbachevs negotiation deploy. After all, surely it would be easier to get the Americans to scrap a space based SDI if the Soviet Union could already demonstrate a capacity to prevent or extremely limit its operation.

On the issue of the mines, I suspect that they were weapons for deployment in space against satellites rather than actual re-entry vehicles but that it just my hypothesis. I am also under the impression that a cannon was installed and the the system trialled some low observability techniques.

This system was really a concept trial, not even a prototype, just an effort to see what would and what would not work. An impressive idea nonetheless and one that along with space based SDI opened up the possibility of a genuine war in space.
 
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yeah the system did trial some low observable techniques. specifically it was coated in RAM and was supposed to have a Barium cloud generating system to confuse orbiting sensors.

Another great stealth feature was a laser communication system in order to maintain "radio silence'.


basically on paper it had everything . good fun.
 

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sealordlawrence said:
It could be argued that the incredible haste with which this project was undertaken was part of Gorbachevs negotiation deploy. After all, surely it would be easier to get the Americans to scrap a space based SDI if the Soviet Union could already demonstrate a capacity to prevent or extremely limit its operation.

On the issue of the mines, I suspect that they were weapons for deployment in space against satellites rather than actual re-entry vehicles but that it just my hypothesis. I am also under the impression that a cannon was installed and the the system trialled some low observability techniques.

Read the Lantranov article. He had access to a lot of people who built it. There is no indication that the project was part of a ploy by Gorbachev. If anything, it was the opposite and Gorbachev did not want it to go ahead.

Re the "mines"--read the Lantranov article.
 

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blackstar said:
sealordlawrence said:
It could be argued that the incredible haste with which this project was undertaken was part of Gorbachevs negotiation deploy. After all, surely it would be easier to get the Americans to scrap a space based SDI if the Soviet Union could already demonstrate a capacity to prevent or extremely limit its operation.

On the issue of the mines, I suspect that they were weapons for deployment in space against satellites rather than actual re-entry vehicles but that it just my hypothesis. I am also under the impression that a cannon was installed and the the system trialled some low observability techniques.

Read the Lantranov article. He had access to a lot of people who built it. There is no indication that the project was part of a ploy by Gorbachev. If anything, it was the opposite and Gorbachev did not want it to go ahead.

Re the "mines"--read the Lantranov article.

Have read the Lantranov article and frankly it is less than difinitive. ::)
 

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sealordlawrence said:
Have read the Lantranov article and frankly it is less than difinitive. ::)

Read it again - it's more then definitive. Lantratov was working at Khrunichev (ZiKh) at the time. All the aspects of the program are described in such details that to the present moment article didn't appear in any Russian published media - editors are panically fearing it would cause aftermath with unpleasant long hours talks to guys at Lefortovo FSB pretrial detention centre.

Skif-DM (Demonstrator Mock-up) was, as Blackstar said, 'prototype of prototype' (or, more correctly, 'demonstrator mock-up'). It was destined, in short, to test:

- launch of very big payload on unsymmetric launch vehicle, its aerodynamics, dynamics, separation, etc.
- combat 1 MW CO2 laser targeting system (while no operational laser was onboard, of course)
- hence it has those jettisoned targets, which had barium plazma generators imitating satellites RCS or ICBM exhaust plumes), experiment was 'hidden' under umbrella of 'new rendezvous and docking technologies' - Lantratov kidding that this more resembles 'new high-speed undocking technologies'
- stability of the laser support structure made of hi-tech composites,
- spacecraft stabilisation after laser shot (= expressive amount of exhaust gases), CO2 was substituted with xenon and krypton - (for 'atmosphere experiments' - CO2 pollution would be direct hint for US intel what the hell these tests are).

Skif-D1 (more close iteration of operational orbital killer, but w/o laser again) would be launched later and was almost build, but it never happened. Skif-D2 was to be a true OV prototype.

Moreover, due to USSR Government widely proclaimed ant-SDI position, Gorbachev and powerful group of Politburo pushed cancelling of most military experiments - no targets deploy, for example.
 

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Greetings,

Article on Polyus, incl. pictures, drawings (amongst others, a cutaway attributed to Vadim P.Lukashevich), etc., at http://www.astronautix.com/craft/polyus.htm

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Denmark
 

blackstar

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Lauge said:
Greetings,

Article on Polyus, incl. pictures, drawings (amongst others, a cutaway attributed to Vadim P.Lukashevich), etc., at http://www.astronautix.com/craft/polyus.htm

The Lantranov article represents later information and is more comprehensive.
 

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Where in the Pacific Ocean did Polyus/Skif fall? Was it too badly smashed up to be recovered/exploited?

I recall that the prog 'Strike Force' on Russian TV Channel One broadcast a show in September 2007 about Soviet military space efforts. It claimed that modified Buran space shuttle was to carry BOR-4 type nuclear strike vehicles. The Buran was supposedly to 'dive' to 80km altitude to launch up to 15 of these aerospace strike gliders at the US. Much as is described at http://www.buran.ru/htm/spirit.htm

The show mentioned Skif/Polyus/Mir-2 laser battle station (and the complementary Cascade rocket station) as part of this great 'star wars' effort begun in 1976 and claimed that after Polyus failed, Gorbachev moved to shut down the military space effort saying it was a waste of resources. On the show, Maj-Gen Vladimir Gudilin of RKK Energia maintained this was 'a lie of the first order'.
 

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Cascade (one with missiles)

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,3189.msg29357.html#msg29357
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,3189.msg29394.html#msg29394
 

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*Free* Buran.Ru Earth orbit screensaver with multiply spacecrafts, including Polyus launch and Skif operational battle laser station in action.

http://www.buran.ru/htm/scr_en.htm

scr_v109n.gif


scr_v110n.gif
 

blackstar

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flateric said:
*Free* Buran.Ru Earth orbit screensaver with multiply spacecrafts, including Polyus launch and Skif operational battle laser station in action.

http://www.buran.ru/htm/scr_en.htm

scr_v109n.gif


scr_v110n.gif

I get a message saying that the domain is expired.
 

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A lot of materials colleced all around the internet:

http://www.thelivingmoon.com/45jack_files/03files/Black_Russian_001.html
 

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Sentinel Chicken

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The January 2010 issue of Air & Space Smithsonian has an article on the Polyus-Skif and they suggest that the Zarya module on the ISS at the least is based on the functional block of the Polyus and at the most may even be based on or used components of a Polyus functional block flight spare.
 

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At the time, the payload was reportedly an engineering mock-up of Polyus, Russian for "Pole", a platform intended to carry an industrial-scale factory for materials processing and biotechnology. It was envisaged that such platforms would either be added to a future orbital complex or operate automonously and be visited occassionally for maintenance. Nikolai Gerasimov, head of the Salyut Bureau (part of the former Chemolei Bureau), said that Polyus could be used to deliver 40 tonnes of cargo to a station in low orbit. Dr. Vladimir Pallo, the platform's designer, said that it was essentially an enlarged version of the Mir base block with a mass of 80 tonnnes. Dr. Boris Gubanov, chief designer at the Energiya Bureau (formerly the Korolev Bureau), which was responsible for the new rocket's development (Energiya), said that it was to be used to launch elements of Mir 2, which was to be an elaborate facility equivalent to NASA's Space Station Freedom.

Source: The Story of the Space Station Mir by David Michael Harland, Praxis Publishing Ltd., 2005.
 

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Sentinel Chicken said:
The January 2010 issue of Air & Space Smithsonian has an article on the Polyus-Skif and they suggest that the Zarya module on the ISS at the least is based on the functional block of the Polyus and at the most may even be based on or used components of a Polyus functional block flight spare.

The article to which you refer appears to be online at the Air & Space Smithsonian web site:

"Soviet Star Wars" by Dwayne A Day and Robert G Kennedy III
http://www.airspacemag.com/space-exploration/Soviet-Star-Wars.html
 

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Triton said:
At the time, the payload was reportedly an engineering mock-up of Polyus, Russian for "Pole", a platform intended to carry an industrial-scale factory for materials processing and biotechnology. It was envisaged that such platforms would either be added to a future orbital complex or operate automonously and be visited occassionally for maintenance. Nikolai Gerasimov, head of the Salyut Bureau (part of the former Chemolei Bureau), said that Polyus could be used to deliver 40 tonnes of cargo to a station in low orbit. Dr. Vladimir Pallo, the platform's designer, said that it was essentially an enlarged version of the Mir base block with a mass of 80 tonnnes. Dr. Boris Gubanov, chief designer at the Energiya Bureau (formerly the Korolev Bureau), which was responsible for the new rocket's development (Energiya), said that it was to be used to launch elements of Mir 2, which was to be an elaborate facility equivalent to NASA's Space Station Freedom.

So the Polyus functional block was considered as a general space tug/delivery system like a more capable version of Progress? From the article I got the impression that Skif-DM was a highly cobbled together system that had two sections, the functional block and the purposeful block that would had the laser test equipment.

Oh, and which of the authors is a forum member here?
 

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Sentinel Chicken said:
So the Polyus functional block was considered as a general space tug/delivery system like a more capable version of Progress? From the article I got the impression that Skif-DM was a highly cobbled together system that had two sections, the functional block and the purposeful block that would had the laser test equipment.

Oh, and which of the authors is a forum member here?

Think of it as being like the service module of the Apollo. Propulsion and plumbing, not quite a tug.
When there were concerns about the Russian module being ready in time, NRL proposed using this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interim_Control_Module
http://www.silvereng.com/programs/icm.htm

I don't recall off the top of my head if this is the same as NRL's Bus One or not.
 

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Video of Polyus under assembly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBrvL0YdBi4&feature=player_embedded


Video of Energia with Polyus on the launch pad at Baikonur.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7XlK5DKNeM


Video of the launch of Energia with Polyus on May 15, 1987.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5o0zddL0FIM&feature=player_embedded


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmIBpMP0yE4&feature=player_embedded
 

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I have always been interested in this spacecraft but one thing puzzled me about it and a similar Soviet 'battle-stations', Power source.

Solar wings don't seem to be powerful enough for any meaninful laser weapon other than for dazzling or blinding another satellite. The massive solar wings of the ISS only produce enough powerful for only the smallest and most compact military laser systems today (such as the Avenger mounted system that is a 100kW laser). I would think a space-based laser system should have at least a 100kW system so who could they generate enough power? Space-based reactors come to mind but I dont believe any by the time the Polysus was launched were powerful enough for such a thing.

But to be clear, do we know for certain that the Polyus had an actual combat laser? Or was it just a targeting laser? I know there was another Soviet project that was being designed to have two variants, one laser one missile ( I believe it is referred to as Cascade). So how were these battle stations to be powered? I dont see how solar wings could provide adequete power without being huge (like the ISS).
 

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Eagle2009 said:
But to be clear, do we know for certain that the Polyus had an actual combat laser?

It did not. It was really a prototype of a prototype. It was supposed to test a few of the systems. But an actual prototype combat laser would not have flown until (I think) the third or fourth flight.

However, even if Polyus had succeeded, it is unlikely that they would have flown any more of them. Too expensive, and the USSR was falling apart.
 

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Eagle2009 said:
I have always been interested in this spacecraft but one thing puzzled me about it and a similar Soviet 'battle-stations', Power source.

Chemical Lasers don't have excessive power requirements, could have been an option.
 

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Perhaps but from what I have seen of Chemical lasers they are all very bulky systems. Examples of Chemical laser include the ABL and THEL, both weight thousands of pounds. Now you wouldnt necessarily need something as large but still..But you maybe right. The reason I was a little skeptical is because the Russians have more experience I believe with CO2 lasers which I dont think work in space do they?
 

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blackstar said:
It did not. It was really a prototype of a prototype. It was supposed to test a few of the systems. But an actual prototype combat laser would not have flown until (I think) the third or fourth flight.

Flateric answered it already in reply no.10
 

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Matej said:
blackstar said:
It did not. It was really a prototype of a prototype. It was supposed to test a few of the systems. But an actual prototype combat laser would not have flown until (I think) the third or fourth flight.

Flateric answered it already in reply no.10

So? The question was asked in post number 20. So I replied.
 

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blackstar said:
Matej said:
blackstar said:
It did not. It was really a prototype of a prototype. It was supposed to test a few of the systems. But an actual prototype combat laser would not have flown until (I think) the third or fourth flight.

Flateric answered it already in reply no.10

So? The question was asked in post number 20. So I replied.

<Sigh> Egos, and the fact that the Search Engine for most BBCode setups suck, aside:

It was supposed to test a few of the systems.

...Weren't those "few systems" determined to be just the basic flight control systems, and not even anything as complex as what would be needed for rapid targeting?
 

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blackstar said:
So? The question was asked in post number 20. So I replied.

Nothing significant, just that it was already answered, so its a bit more common to direct to the post, where the answer is, or to suggest to read the topic from the beginning.
 

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Eagle2009 said:
Perhaps but from what I have seen of Chemical lasers they are all very bulky systems. Examples of Chemical laser include the ABL and THEL, both weight thousands of pounds. Now you wouldnt necessarily need something as large but still..But you maybe right. The reason I was a little skeptical is because the Russians have more experience I believe with CO2 lasers which I dont think work in space do they?

Why wouldn't CO2 lasers work in space? The physics isn't different up there.
 

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blackstar said:
avatar said:
In any case you are probably referring to "unknown Polyus " by Kornilov.

No, the Lantranov article:

http://www.spacebusiness.com/quest/back.htm

Vol. 14 No. 2 (Mailed May 2007)
- "The ‘Star Wars” Which Never Happened - Part II by Konstantin Lantratov, Translated from the Russian by Dr. Asif Siddiqi

Vol. 14 No. 1 (Mailed February 2007)
- "The ‘Star Wars” Which Never Happened - Part I by Konstantin Lantratov, Translated from the Russian by Dr. Asif Siddiqi

Can anyone post these articles?
 

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http://www.spacehistory101.com/product_p/v141.htm

http://www.spacehistory101.com/product_p/v142.htm
 

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