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BURAN Orbital

Spaceship Airframe


Landing Complex for BURAN Orbiter

Yakhno V.A.
The questions of creation of BURAN orbiter landing complex (LC) on the Baikonur launching site including the Yubileyniy extra-class airfield and the ground-based complex ensuring automatic landing of the orbiter and its post-flight servicing are considered.

According to the Resolution of the Government of the USSR, NPO MOLNIYA alongside with the creation of BURAN Orbiter’s airframe was given to develop the landing complex (LC) for Orbiter. To accomplish this task, NPO MOLNIYA being the head developer of LC attracted a great many of organizations and enterprises of the industry, and research and design institutes of the Ministry of Defense. The 20th Central Design Institute of the Ministry of Defense was assigned the head design organization (Director of Institute Mr. Kudryavtsev Yu.V., Chief Engineer of the project Mr. Simonov S.M.). The construction was accomplished by Headquarters of Special Construction of the Ministry of Defense (Director Chekov N.V.).

After joint studies of the project statement and technical specification on the development of the complex, the membership of participants and schedule, terms and putting LC into operation were determined. Developers, manufacturers and suppliers of systems, units and equipment of the complex were also determined.

In accord with the technical specification, the landing complex was intended for accomplishment of the following principal tasks:

  • together with the means of the ground-based control complex and range measuring complex, provision of driving and landing of Orbiter;
  • post-flight servicing of Orbiter;
  • flights control of of carrier-plane, airplanes of military transport aircraft, flying laboratories and provision of their servicing;
  • loading and unloading cargoes from carrier-plane their transportation to the technical complex.

The Yubileyniy airfield of LC is:

  • by purpose and equipment with communication facilities and radio support of flights – special;
  • by the degree of equipment – permanent;
  • by technical characteristics of runway – extra-class.

The total area of LC is ~11,000,000 m2. The airfield is located in 45 km to the north of Tyura-Tam railway station in near-Aral steppe Kara-Kum. The airfield was put into operation and was defined as fit for all types of flying vehicles, which the landing of a Concorde supersonic passenger airplane with President of France Mr. Mitterran onboard has confirmed.

The tasks set to the landing complex for Orbiter determined its structure:

  • airfield;
  • service-technical building with facility N° 1 - Integrated command-dispatcher station (10 facilities);
  • park of ground-support vehicles for arrangement of service means of the aerodrome (16 facilities);
  • basic fuel-oil depot (19 facilities);
  • centralized fueling of airplanes;
  • technical zone of Orbiter with the site of propellant components drainage - 11 facilities;
  • garage set of special vehicles for arrangement of ground-based servicing equipment of general purpose (18 facilities);
  • engineering networks, service lines, high-voltage and low-tension lines, transmission network, water ducts, pipelines of heat supply, railroads and motorways;
  • barracks settlement;
  • complex boiler-house with storage of black oil.

The time-board system of communication and flights radio and lighting control and support including means of meteorology-service were placed inside the perimeter of airfield in the sites of aircraft system of landing, except for the distant radar group.

Technological systems were developed and allocated in the structure of the landing complex for provision of Orbiter landing:

  • ground-based part of the VYMPEL-N radio navigation system, landing and control of air traffic;
  • system of technological communication;
  • system of television monitoring;
  • complex of ground servicing equipment of the orbiter;
  • technological system of propellant components drainage from Orbiter;
  • lifting and setting facilities of weight-lifting capacity of 50 tons and 100 tons;
  • transport facility of weight-lifting capacity of 100 tons for Orbiter and bulky parts of launchers delivery to the technical complex;
  • communication facilities with crews of Orbiter and airplanes of the RASKAT-N system;
  • means of reception, processing, documenting and output of telemetry information within the frame of measuring complex.

The airfield is common both for flight vehicles carrying out flights and Orbiter’s landing maintenance service. Structure of the airfield practically does not differ from the existing airfields, except for the length and width of the artificial runway, which sizes are determined according to the requirements and capabilities of BURAN Orbiter’s control system. Runway allows to execute landing of Orbiter both in automatic and in manual modes from two directions with a magnetic heading of 60o and 240o. Coordinates of runway center: 46o03' N.Lat. and 63o14' E.Lon.

Runway pavement is made of reinforced concrete, its length is 4,500 m and its width is 84 m. A transversal profile of the runway is symmetrical dual-slope with the slopes of 0.01. Its distinctive feature is the total slope of 0.001…0.003 at surface roughness of a 3-mm gap under a measuring rod of a 3-m length. Along the contour of runway transient strips are made of fraction rubble, of a width of 3 m, and of a thickness of 30 cm, treated with bitumen to the depth of 8 cm and covered with asphalt-concrete. The end safety zones have size of 500 х 90 m from two directions, and the side strips of safety adjoin to transient strips of the runway and are of a width of 50 m along its whole length.

Technological tracking of works on creation of the Yubileyniy airfield of launching site and its construction was executed by the 26th Central scientific research institute of Ministry of Defense. Director of institute - Udaltsov V.S., Deputy Director - Pavlov Yu.A, Head of Department - Dolinchenko V.A.

In total, the builders had to construct a complex of more than 140 buildings and facilities, 26 sites of communication facilities and radio support system. In t5he complex were also included 8 offset sites beyond the complex perimeter and remote from it from 6 to 58 km, to make over one hundred kilometers of sewerage system.

For organization of construction of buildings and facilities, development, manufacturing, delivery, tests and put into operation of systems, units and equipment of landing complex, three stages of LC creation were determined. These stages were logically entered into the general direction process of creation and working out of BURAN Orbiter as a whole. The first stage – landing of the VM-T carrier-plane, delivering airframes of the Orbiter and bulky bays of the ENERGIA rocket launcher from the manufacturing plants to the BAIKONUR launching site. The second stage – carrying out the range flight tests of the BURAN Orbiter. The third stage – completion of creation of the landing complex in complete volume of its readiness to flight tests of the ENERGIA-BURAN system.

At the first stage the necessary for landing of VM-T carrier-plane parts of airfield, radio and lighting control and support equipment and means of communication were put into operation. As a result, the system components from manufacturing plants to the technical complex were delivered for assembly and flight tests performance including four Orbiter’s airframes and all necessary element for the rocket-launcher launch. Bulky components were unloaded from the carrier-plane to the transport facility and were delivered to the technical complex allocated in 25-km from the landing complex.

At the second stage, the tests of systems, units and equipment providing drive, landing and after-flight servicing of BURAN Orbiter were conducted. These tests were fulfilled strictly in the definite sequence, first, - the autonomous tests, then overall tests of all components of the landing complex. As a result of these tests, the assessment of the systems for conformity to individual technical specifications of the main tactics and technological characteristics was accomplished. The operational documentation and crew preparedness for full-scale works were checked up.

The third stage is one of interdepartmental tests. Results of which confirmed the complete readiness of the landing complex for the launch of the ENERGIA launcher and BURAN Orbiter landing. These tests were performed under conditions, most closely approximated to the real, battle details, which have passed the repeated training. Driving and landing were worked out with application of the TU-154 No. 83 Flying Laboratory, on which the onboard equipment similar to Orbiter’s equipment was installed. TU-154 No. 83 Flying Laboratory made flights along the designed glide path of the Orbiter landing, beginning from the flight above runway at a minimum height of safety and till landing. To work out the means of after-flight servicing in a design point of Orbiter stop after run on the runway, technological mockup of the Orbiter was set up. The scheduled time of Orbiter’s undercarriage wheels cooling with gaseous nitrogen and thermostatic control of the airframe with the help of specially created devices with a large consumption of cooled compressed air was accomplished with observance of time parameters. All ground-based means of after-flight servicing were executed in mobile version with the purpose of bringing them close to Orbiter from the site of waiting arranged at a safe distance near the runway. The control of battle teams was exercised from the integrated command-dispatcher station equipped with all necessary types of communication and means of television observation. By the nominal communication channels, the information dialogue with flight control center including transmission of the television image was carried out.

The positive conclusion on the results of interdepartmental tests of the landing complex as a whole was the basis for signing the Act of the Complex readiness for BURAN system.

Engineers and designers of NPO MOLNIYA, among who Mr.: Trufanov Yu.N., Studnev V.V., Koshkin D.I., Nekrasov O.N., Lekhov P.A., Palagin M.A., Kozbenko D.G., Yakhno V.A., Lobanov Yu.I., Shepelev V.V., Lyakhova V.A. and many others took part in the works on creation of landing complex for BURAN Orbiter.

The created landing complex for BURAN Orbiter, one time used according to its purpose, could not yet show all its potentials included in its systems, units and equipment. The technological versatility of LC requires professional knowledge and experience of specialists, which are called to provide its operation. Unfortunately, insufficient financing and organization and also the shortage of aviation specialists in the Military Space Forces of the Russian Federation resulted in disabled condition of landing complex. The significant investments of State Space Scientific Production Center named after M.V. Khrunichev were required for renovation and updating of components parts of complex, the Yubileyniy airfield, which specialists of NPO MOLNIYA with their cooperation have gratuitously supplied.

The new owner and user of the landing complex, Russian Space Agency, should not only keep it, but also find its rational application in the interests of the national economy of the Russian Federation, countries of CIS and foreign countries. It is needed to ‘unload’ the budget of Russia in a part of payments to the Republic of Kazakhstan for the rent of BAIKONUR launching site and for LC maintenance. By the intense work of technical and engineering employees of many organizations and enterprises the unique aerospace object – the landing complex for BURAN orbiter was constructed, equipped and tested in the BAIKONUR launching site.