Imagined in 1974, the Alexeyev/Sukhoi Albatros was a Soviet space shuttle launcher project via a hydrofoil barge. Although it never saw the light of day, a YouTube channel has reconstructed what the launch of a shuttle could have been like.
This will also interest you
[EN VIDÉO] SpaceX’s Falcon 9 lands on a barge at sea SpaceX had already succeeded in bringing the first stage of its…
In the 1970s, the space race with space shuttles had an aftertaste of the Cold War. For the Soviets, it was certain: the American program aimed to take weapons into space! It was necessary to have at least its equivalent and this was Buran, a shuttle with a look very strongly inspired by the American shuttle, but also very different. But even before the launch of this program, the Soviets had imagined a totally crazy shuttle launch system.
This was the Alexeyev/Sukhoi Albatros program. Proposed in 1974, it would have made it possible to launch a space shuttle, from a hydrofoil launch base taking up space. vitessevitesse while moving on the water. The launch barge is believed to have been designed by Rostislav Alexeyev. He is the creator of the giant ground-effect aircraft prototype, the Ekranoplan. The space shuttle would have been manufactured by the aircraft manufacturer Shukhoï, famous for its fighter planes still used by the former Eastern bloc countries.
The Alexeyev/Sukhoi Albatros set would have had three floors. Named “Albatros Momentum Block”, the hydrofoil barge would have been 70 meters long and weighing 2,000 tonnes. On his of theof thewould have been fixed the Albatross, a sort of rocketrocket winged deltadelta 91 meters for 1,250 tonnes and equipped with a powerful liquid oxygen/hydrogen rocket. Still above, we would have found the space shuttle to propel. Sukhoi had planned to call it Albatros Raketoplan. It would have measured 49 meters for 320 tonnes and would have been equipped with its own rocket engine.
Specializing in the creation of videos showing the rendering of the flights of the strangest prototypes of machines ever to fly, the YouTube channel Hazegrayart has reconstructed a sequence showing the launch of the Alexeyev/Sukhoi Albatros assembly. © Hazegrayart
A project too dangerous
Concretely, it is the Albatros rocket which would have made it possible to gain the speed necessary for the barge to be able to emerge from the water and reach around 180 km/h. Then, theaéronefaéronef carrier would have detached to transport the shuttle to high altitude in order to separate from it. Just like current SpaceX launchers, each element would have been reusable. The rocket plane launcherlauncher was planned to return to earth by gliding, in the same way as the shuttle.
This project never materialized and it would undoubtedly have gone badly if tested because, beyond 113 km/h, the speed of a hydrofoilhydrofoil produces a phenomenon physiquephysique very dangerous. Due to the sudden change in pressionpressionthe elements of the hydrofoil produce an effect known as “ cavitationcavitation “. Water vapor is created which causes violent shock waves. In fine, the hydrofoil may be seriously damaged. It remains to imagine the result of this phenomenon on an imposing and very heavy rocket launch barge, which is not shown in a video rendering of an imaginary takeoff put into images by the YouTube channel Hazegrayat.
rewrite this content and keep HTML tags