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BURAN Orbital

Spaceship Airframe


Conversion of Space Techniques Helps NPO MOLNIYA

to Survive to Return to Space

Dr. Gofin M.Ya.
The main directions of conversion of technological achievements of NPO MOLNIYA obtained during creation of BURAN orbiter airframe and development of aerospace systems are considered. The ways of wide-scale application of NPO scientific and technological experience in different branches of the national economy, possible use of experimental and industrial base and organization of the products export to foreign markets are shown.

In two years after the first orbital flight of BURAN and of the first and unique in the world successful automatic landing of the orbit plane on the airfield, NPO MOLNIYA has encountered an unexpected situation. Financing under BURAN program were abruptly reduced, and there were no new governmental orders coming. In this situation, the administration of NPO was compelled to begin using aerospace technologies designed during creation of BURAN in commercial purposes.

The first step was taken as an attempt of full inventory of achievements in the field of new materials, technologies and others ‘know-how’ created in subdivisions of the Association in cooperation with academic and branch institutes of the country. The analysis of these developments, which have made rather a bulky album, has shown that NPO possesses about 240 most advanced manufacturing processes, approximately 130 types of progressive technological equipment and instrument and samples of 80 kinds of essentially new to Russia materials. The copyright certificates, which total number is over one thousand, protect the majority of the advanced designs.

All kinds of technological achievements of NPO can be divided into the following directions (sections):

  • designs, tests and software – with a number of developments 184;
  • materials - with a number of developments 88;
  • technology and equipment - with a number of developments 377.

Each section contains results of solved technological problems, list of enterprises - co-executives and co-developers and possible areas of application. Besides, in addition the sections contain the data about expected technical and economic effect of the development application, capabilities of experimental-industrial base further application and export of created products abroad.

A number of complex developments is protected by several copyright certificates. Thus, for example, equipment and methods of aerodynamic researches in tunnels acquired 5 copyright certificates. Techniques of synthesis of control algorithms - 3; basic principles of semi-natural simulation complexes construction, and also technologies of preparation and implementation of such simulation on the basis of a multi-computer complex - about 10 copyright certificates; development of manufacturing processes of cellular panels forming - more than 10.

We shall consider in more details some developments of NPO, which found application in the economic complex of Russia.

A Series of Airplanes of Tri-Plane Scheme

Under the initiative of General Designer of NPO MOLNIYA it has been studied the internal and external markets. Our experts have analyzed the design, industrial and financial capabilities and organizational specificity of the enterprise and required cooperation. They have studied the questions of operational efficiency of development and technical quality of the documentation of products. As a result NPO MOLNIYA has come to a conclusion that the active searching of real ways of increase of competitive strength of the domestic aircraft engineering is necessary, which now, in conditions of economic and organizational-technical difficulties, can be reached through essential increase of flight safety and fuel efficiency.

The analysis has shown that these both determining factors are provided with application of an aerodynamic tri-plane configuration. The application of this scheme gives a number of essential advantages of a plane – tri-plane in relation to an airplane of usual scheme. First, it is a high level of reliability and safety, especially in case of maneuvering at large angles of attack or exposure to strong atmospheric disturbances. Secondly, the tri-plane scheme provides a high load ratio, high lift-to-drag ratio and a number of other advantages. A series of projects of airplanes of such type is developed at the design bureau: MOLNIYA-1, MOLNIYA-100, MOLNIYA-300, MOLNIYA-400 and HERACLES with an effective load from 500 kg up to 500 tons.

The first implemented in metal of this tri-planes’ series is a light multi-purpose MOLNIYA-1 airplane. It has at the rear one reciprocating engine with a pusher propeller. Its overall dimensions: length of 7.86 m, wing span of 8.5 m, height of 2.3 m. The developments of the smallest in this series MOLNIYA-1 airplane and the largest - HERACLES - are awarded with Gold Medals of the Eureka-93 and Eureka-95 Universal Shows of inventions and industrial innovations (Brussels, Belgium). More detail data about this one of the most vivid examples of conversion of NPO MOLNIYA products are displayed in article ‘Tri-plane’ of this book.

The Automated High-rise Parking Place

The high-rise parking place with elevator system is intended for the cars’ storage in places with high density of building and at limited areas. The parking place represents a framework made of light-weighted metallic structures covered with profile sheet. Inside the building a special car-lift-manipulator is installed executing the rise of trays with automobiles. The parking place is of modular design by height, which allows building it harmonically into any urban landscape.

The area occupied by parking place is minimal (only 56 m2), whereas its capacity is up to 20 automobiles of Volga class or Volvo-940. The parking place can be manufactured in two designs:

  • surface version - on a concrete slab foundation;
  • underground version - in reinforced concrete well.

The application of high-rise parking place is most efficient in the places of intensive human flows, near offices, banks, airports, railway stations, stadiums, etc. Modification of parking place of this system allows also to organize high-rise storage of freights, such as containers, reservoirs, car bodies, etc., the first two such parking places are constructed in Moscow in Skakovaya street.

Application of Heat-protection Materials

Another example of conversion usage of the designed for BURAN Orbiter heat-protective materials is the production of laboratory resistance kilns. The heat-protection materials such as TZMK are applied in these kilns, which allows to reach the temperature of 1,250oС in 15 minutes. Such kilns are applied for chemical analyses, heat treatment of metals, in jeweler’s production, in art crafts for porcelain calcination, laying decorative coatings. All kilns are supplied with a high-precision control system with digital indication. The unique properties of TZMK materials have allowed to create a five-liter laboratory kiln with overall dimensions of 420  420  570 mm. The kiln is only 12 kg of weight, it is supplied from the mains of 220V consumes less than 1 kW of power.

Catalyst Furnaces

Their operation is based on catalytic (without open flame) decomposition of any type of fuel with heat emission. On the basis of this principle, together with MAI, Pulsar-1 catalyst heaters are produced, which have found application for heating greenhouses, garages, industrial and warehouse premises, and also for infra-red drying of paint coatings, automobile diesel engines heating, and, if ventilation is available, cabins of heavy trucks heating.

Elastic Heaters

One more example of conversion are the elastic heaters designed for BURAN Orbiter cockpit local heating and used now in medicine as heating pads for loose and liquid operating substances temperature maintenance, working rooms, automobiles, mechanisms and devices heating in conditions of low temperatures of Extreme North.

Steam Generating and Hot-water Boilers

Steam generating and hot-water boilers on the basis of small-sized cylindrical steam generators are of great interest. They are developed on the basis of modern achievements in the field of thermal physics, operate on liquid and gas fuel, have an optimum thermal power up to 5 MW and low thermal inertia. Their mass-dimensions parameters are several times less than those of conventional steam generators. They are convenient in mounting and maintenance, have the best efficiency and find the increasing application for needs of the agriculture, emergency municipal heat supply, for development of oil deposits and natural deposits of sulfur, for steam and heat action on oil layers. Their advantages as compared to analogues are obvious: 4…5 times decrease of material demand, 7…10 times reduction of overall dimensions.

Equipment for Processing Fruit and Vegetable Raw Materials

The important direction of conversion development of NPO was the creation on its base of Aviaagroprommekhanizatsia inter-branch research-and-production firm for development, manufacturing and maintenance of universal complete sets of the equipment for processing fruit and vegetable raw materials. This direction of activities was approved at the meeting of Directorial Board of Association of agro-industrial firms of Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and Armenia. The purpose of the universal complete set of the equipment is a year-round processing of more than 20 kinds of vegetables and fruit, production of 36 kinds of ready products:

  • pickled vegetables and fruit, mushrooms, compotes;
  • vegetable canned food and lunch meals;
  • all sorts of jams;
  • vegetable and fruit juices.

Advantages of this universal complete set of equipment:

  • raw materials processing directly in the places of their cultivation;
  • sharp decrease of crop losses and transport costs;
  • low cost of raw materials processing and high economic efficiency;
  • ecological purity and no-failure operation of production;
  • technical and ergonomic characteristics at the level of the best foreign samples;
  • mechanization and automation of labor-consuming operations.

At development, manufacturing and maintenance of the universal complete set of the equipment, the new design and technological solutions first applied for BURAN Orbiter are used and the most recent technologies of raw materials processing, that provides excellence of ready production.

Wind and Hydro-power Plants

Creation of essentially new wind and hydro-power installations, agricultural facilities and other samples of civil products with application of ‘know-how’, designed at creation of orbit planes is one of promising directions of space technologies conversion.

The studies of environmentally appropriate, working in any latitudes, whirlwind solar-wind power plants with high service life parameters are carried out in Japan, USA and Russia today. Licenses on whirlwind or vortex plants are issued to Russian authors in 40 countries. Special licensed in Russia inertia-free flywheel hydraulic drives created for control units of BURAN orbit plane are applied in these installations. Whirlwind solar-wind power plants have the following advantages:

  • low materials demand;
  • simplicity in service and mounting;
  • no necessity for foundation.

In these installations not only the energy of wind flows (which is actually the energy of the Sun) is used. But also there is applied thermal energy, accumulated by the airflow from the sole of the plant. Creation of the sets of high-power wind and hydroinstallations at the coast of water storage basins or in deserted regions will provide an opportunity to compensate the energy losses incurred because nuclear power plants construction was frozen.

Application of Cellular and Multi-layer Designs in other Branches of the National Economy

Designed to lessen the weight of BURAN Orbiter construction, multi-layer cellular panels acquire wide-scaled application in other branches of the national economy: aircraft, construction engineering, space-rocket, ship-building, radio, etc. With its low density (from 20 to 150 kg/m3), the cellular filler imparts the three-layer construction high rigidity, low weight, provides high technological effectiveness of manufacturing, perfect noise absorbing, heat-protective properties, excellent vibration strength. They are manufactured of aluminum, titanium and steel foils. Such fillers are applied as the basis of mirrors of large space telescopes, high-directional antennas of distant space communication systems. The most popular application the compositions of kraft paper, with impregnation with phenolics, which increases their mechanical characteristics, decreases moisture absorption and protects them against rotting, have found. The intermediate products with such fillers are widely used in light load-bearing structures of yachts, sporting boats, powerboats, windsurfing boards and other subjects of sporting stock, they are also applied as light-weighted building structures in building doors, walls, partitions, panels of sliding gates and rolling constructions, heat-protective bridging constructions, etc.

The fields of application of cellular fillers are interesting. Laying special coatings and catalysts on their ramified internal surfaces allowed to use them successfully for environmental protection including as agents neutralizing the discharges of obnoxious industrial smoke gases, exhausts of automobile engines and gas-turbine installations.

The serious fire, which happened on KAMA Plant of auto engines, which resulted in great material losses (up to two billions dollars), prompted our developers an idea of creation of flame extinguishers for fuel and oil pipelines, and other systems with combustible fluids and gases.

Cellular fillers installed as radio filters at enterprises of a radio-electronic industry allow to clear air of ‘radio-garbage’.

Armor for Vehicles and other Especially Important Objects

The experience of development of especially strong glazing of pilots’ cabin and devices has helped with development of a transparent armor for vehicles and stationary objects. It may be banks, offices, pickets and orderly rooms for law-enforcement bodies, exchange offices, cashier offices, cottages, apartments, etc. The protection is guaranteed against any kind of portable rifle weapon including automatic gun KALASHNIKOV and sniper rifle DERGUNOV shooting with bullets with steel shell and steel thermally strengthened core.

The development of transparent and opaque armor has allowed for the first time in Russia to create an armored vehicle of VIP class on the basis of Ford Explorer car with plastic fuel tank protected according to the aircraft techniques and installed in a armored cell. The development of armored vehicle wheels protection is interesting, too. The disks of wheels are equipped with special insertions of polymeric composite materials. This allows driving for a distance of 80 km (at speed of 100 km/h).

Other aerospace developments are used in the car: a system of emergency fire suppression, bumpers of ram type made of titanium stainless steel, toned glass, autonomous system of life-support, global navigational system, cellular space communication, etc.

Experience of Conversion of Enterprises – Co-developers of BURAN Orbiter

Wide circle of research-and-production enterprises, associations, branch and academic institutes which participated in cooperation on development and creation of BURAN Orbiter together with the head association - NPO MOLNIYA strive to apply the developed for BURAN program materials, technologies and constructions in the national economy. VIAM, OBNINSK NPP TEKHNOLOGIA, NII GRAFIT, and others were especially successful in this direction. Thus, for example, the developments of ONPP TEKHNOLOGIA are applied in manufacturing ceramic temperature measuring covers for continuous temperature control of aluminum, chlorhydric components at production of chloride aluminum. This development may by applied to observation and measure glasses operating under pressure, parts and units of polymeric composite materials of IL-96M, IL-114, TU-204, TU-334, SU-29/31 and other airplanes, thermal-stable three-layer platforms for Russian satellites of banking communication system, skins and cowlings of Proton rocket launcher, heat-resistant utensils of household purpose.

In conditions of market economy, ONPP TEKHNOLOGIA carries out active searching in other branches of the national economy. It is working on application of its developments: heat-resistant furnace lining for manufacturing stomatology units and tubing insulation for gas wells located in the zones of permafrost; panel, beam and tubular load-bearing structures on the basis of polymeric composite materials (PMC) for car and trucks bodies, high-speed trains, railway cars and underground cars, sea crafts and airplanes, and also for power modules of PROTON class rocket launcher; panel and tubular constructions of PMC with a high degree of shapes and sizes stability intended for application in space environments in the structure of radio telescopes and communication satellites; car devices and units with application of TER-9128 electric insulation compound; ceramic bearings with high index of service life for aircraft, chemical, machine tool industry, coal and oil industry for chemically hostile environments of operation within the temperature range from -196 to +900oС; ceramic cut-off rings for slab-producing plants of horizontal type with temperature of operation up to 1,750oС; glazing of a railway transport; ceramic articles for metallurgical and chemical combines.

Application of Methods of Computer-aided Design in other Branches

Creation of BURAN orbiter would be impossible without a wide implementation of computer-aided design methods based on computer technology, machine tools with numerical program control and various databases application.

A complete re-equipment of the Association in the field of computerization was accomplished during 6…7 years. The level of design automation reached 50%, 20% of information was transferred to a production plant without construction drawings or drafts in the form of databanks.

For automated drawing-free manufacturing heat-protection plates of BURAN the through design-production process was created and deployed on the basis of paperless technique.

During the process of conversion of space computer technologies the developed software, machine tools and marking-measuring machines acquired application for high-precision forming of panels-shields, covering the surface of reflectors of large-sized radio telescopes antennas.

Accumulated at creation of BURAN reusable orbiter experience can be widely and with high technical and economic effect used at creation of new products in different branches of the national economy. These branches are aircraft and rocket manufacturing, space activity, shipbuilding, motor industry, atomic engineering, medicine, ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy, in radio, electric, chemical and other industries.