Sunday, August 30, 2009

Space Spies & Soviet Era Spaceships to Fly Commercial Missions Now

Well, time to get back to the main focus of this blog - Aerospace Technology. Cruising through the website this weekend, I uncovered four articles that I thought were worthy of mentioned.

First was a recent posting by writer Tariq Malik about a commercial company going to re-use several Soviet-era Reusable Return Vehicle (RRV) that they used to fly up to their military space stations-the Almaz class space station in the 1970s.

Made up of two sections, the cone shape RRV can carry three people. A commander and two passengers. The RRVs will be updated with modern equipment and technology.

The announcement was made at the Moscow Air Show in Russia. Price per ticket has yet to be revealed.

That company, Excalibur Almaz Limited, based out of the Isle of Man, has managed to get a hold of several RRVs that were in storage.

Next, Robert Bigelow to the rescue to save Project Orion! He is proposing a "stripped" down version of the Orion capsule known as Orion Lite. He even had a private meeting with the White house-charted panel on the future of the space program.

Quoting that article: In a July 30 interview with Space News, Mike Gold, director of Bigelow's Washington office, said he believes a low Earth-orbit optimized version of Orion could be ready to launch atop a human-rated version of the Atlas 5 within three or four years — much sooner than NASA's discredited March 2015 target for the first crewed launch of Orion and its Ares I rocket.

Gold said the Bigelow capsule would have the same outer mold line as NASA's 16-foot (5-meter) wide Orion and possibly the same internal pressure vessel, but little else in common."

A unique twist to this proposal is the mid-air capture of the Orion lite instead of letting it splash down in the ocean. Quote: One of the biggest deviations from NASA's Orion design involves the vehicle's landing system. Whereas NASA plans call for Orion to make an Apollo-style splashdown in the ocean, Bigelow is considering midair retrieval as a safer and more economical means to land the spacecraft following atmospheric re-entry.

"Air-capture is a strategy that has been implemented many times in the past, but never done at weights as high as a capsule," Gold said.

Midair capture was used by the military during World War II to recover gliders and during the 1960s to catch film canisters dropped from Corona spy satellites orbiting overhead.

The third bit of news is now more than a year old. There was a documentary (that I never heard about sadly) about Soviet and American military space flight operations and proposed spaceflight activities. Photo attached to this post is from showing the MOL in action.

You really need to read this article and check out the website. Somehow, reading through all that - I was thinking about the Mattel 6" tall action figure known as Major Matt Mason. And the fact that the U.S. Air Force went to the trouble to have "blue" color spacesuits made for their cancelled MOL(Manned Orbital Laboratory-1965) and Dyna-Soar orbital interceptor projects. How do we know this? Because NASA uncovered them in a long-sealed room at Cape Canaveral, FL, by accident in 2005. The program was aired on PBS as "NOVA: Astrospies."

Finally, there was this article by Bill Christensen posted on February 15, 2006, entitled "Anti gravity Propulsion System Proposed."

Dr. Franklin Felber presented a paper at the 2006 Space Technology and Applications International Forum (STAIF) that was held in Albuquerque, NM, February 14, 2006.

Quote: Dr. Felber's paper states that a mass moving faster than 57.7 percent of the speed of light will gravitationally repel other masses lying within a narrow 'anti gravity beam' in front of it. This "beam" intensifies as the speed of the mass approaches that of light.

The link to his actual paper appears to be broken now. So I was unable to download it to read it in detail.

Ref. "Soviet-Era Spaceships to Fly Commercial Space Missions" by Tariq Malik, August 18, 2009. ( "Nevada Company Pitches 'Lite' Concept for NASA's New Spaceship." by Amy Klamper. August 14, 2009. ( "Space Spies Revealed in New Documentary" by Tariq Malik. February 12, 2008. ( "Antigravity Propulsion System Proposed" by Bill Christensen. February 15, 2006. (

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