Proton rocket carrier: photo, characteristics, video

Proton rocket carrier: photo, characteristics, video

Cosmonautics at all times was the "trump card" of Russia and the reason for the pride of its citizens. Since the creation of the first satellite and the man who has been in space, we are accustomed to the rapid development of this direction, which is one of the most significant geopolitical arguments.


But the devastation in 90-s significantly slowed down the development of this industry. Fortunately, in recent years, the situation is beginning to change. A vivid example of this is the resumed flights of the heavy Proton-M rocket, which can put cargo into orbit, of record volumes.


The history of the creation of the carrier rocket


The peak of the development of the Soviet cosmonautics falls on the 1960 year. It was then that it became clear that the state needed a super-power launch vehicle that would be able to put even more cargo into orbit. Of course, the “first violin” in lobbying for these plans was not even won back by the official cosmonautics, but by the military, who felt the need for a powerful “truck” to accommodate heavy military loads in outer space.


In those years, both sides of the Cold War showed a serious interest in putting heavy-duty hydrogen bombs into geostationary orbit. Fortunately, the implementation of such suicidal steps was not the United States or the USSR did not reach, although the Proton-M rocket already existed.

Photo 1

Consider the immediate creation process. Development is entrusted to engage OKB-52, which was led by V.N. Chelomey. In order for this bureau to cope with the task and not miss the deadlines, it was necessary to include in the process many aviation design bureaus around the country.


The first prototype was created already in the 1962 year. The rocket was named "UR-200". In the period from 1962 to 1964, the 9 trial runs of modern technology were conducted simultaneously.


New prototype


Fortunately, they all went well, but even before the test flights began, in 1961, Chelomey himself insisted on creating a new prototype. According to the flights made, it should be 5 times heavier than the original version.


Initially, the creators wanted to go in the direction of "least resistance, combining the 2 missiles" UR-200 "and adding more 1 accelerating stage to the resulting design. But already preliminary calculations have demonstrated that the reliability of this design leaves much to be desired.


As a result, they decided to develop the UR-500 rocket, however, to simplify the calculations, the scientists decided on a compromise version: they used a sequential arrangement of steps in the role of the upper part, they used one for the UR-200. Of course, the original project has been substantially redesigned.

rocket "Proton-M" at the cosmodrome



With the development of engines specialists had to tinker. This is because, as a result of lengthy disputes, they chose a multi-block version of the 1 stage layout. This scheme allowed to fit into the technological spans of tunnels and bridges during the transportation of rocket stages, but imposed certain restrictions on the fuel used.


Traditional oxygen-kerosene vapor is practically impossible, since it would be necessary to significantly increase the size, and therefore poisonous asymmetrical dimethylhydrazine with nitro tetraxide as an oxidizer was chosen as fuel.


But Korolev demanded to use kerosene, as a result of which a conflict occurred with him. Before 1965, large-scale tests of the new power plant were carried out in conditions that were as close as possible to reality.

Subsequent story


In the domestic cosmonautics of those years, politics reigned. By the year of 1965, when the project was almost ready, the company was subjected to numerous inspections by personal order of L.I. Brezhnev. He distrusted the legacy of his predecessor.


Therefore, the creation of "Ur-200" was stopped. Fortunately, we managed to defend the 500 model. In the midst of 1965, the Proton satellite was successfully launched into orbit. He managed to get a signal only a few hours after entering orbit, so the launch was considered unsuccessful for a long time.


In the first publications of the press that appeared, they mistakenly called the rocket in the name of the satellite. Soon it got accustomed, therefore, only with 1965, the Proton-M appeared in the space program. Rather, instead of the index "M" appeared the prefix "K".


It has only been upgraded since 2001, when for the first time the cargo was thrown into orbit.


Key Features


Indicators of this amazing technology of the Soviet-Russian rocket production can not fail to impress. Layout - a three-stage. The very weight of the Proton A E M is 702 tons. The rocket allows you to output a geo-transfer orbit at the same time 6 tons of payload.


The first stage diameter is larger than 6 meters, the third one is larger than 4. Taking into account the fact that toxic components are used as fuel, strict observance of all standards for the preparation of the missile itself, as well as the launching pad for it, is required.


And the launch cost is less than $ 100 million. For example, for the American-made Delta IV Heavy rocket, which is one of the main competitors of the Russian Proton-M, this figure is 265 million, which is 3 times more.


The sad statistics


This carrier could become famous not only due to the amount of output cargo, but also due to its dimensions. The fact is that the Proton-M rocket is known for a large number of unsuccessful launches. Moreover, this tradition began with its predecessor.


Of the four first launches that went from 1965 to 1966, one was already unsuccessful due to the 2 crash of the upper stage. But it was expected the opposite, since tests of this kind of technology of this kind are associated with a high probability of failure.


In general, there were approximately 47 cases when the launch of the Proton-M failed. Considering that, in general, there were four hundred starts, it turns out that only 89 of them are successful.


Known disasters


The accidents of this carrier rocket probably would not have caused such a wide public response (besides, abnormal situations constantly happened with Proton), although development of the domestic GLONASS system is linked to its launches.

Therefore, those 100 million dollars, which cost the start itself, can be considered miserable compared with the damage that the state could incur in the event of the loss of at least one such satellite. This was clearly manifested in 2010, when at the same time the 3 satellite of the GLONASS constellation went to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and not into orbit.


Then the damage to the state was about 3 billion rubles, not counting the cost of the rocket itself. After the accident (it is believed that it occurred as a result of mistakes during the refueling of the steps), many high-ranking "space" officials lost their posts.


In 2011, as a result of problems with the rocket engines, the unique Express AM4 satellite could not be placed in the correct accelerating orbit. She associated with the transition to digital television broadcasting in Russia. The device tried to save the whole world: telemetry stations were used all over the planet, but unfortunately, it was not possible to prevent the satellite from burning, what happened in the atmosphere.


Then the cost of damage was at least 10 billion rubles.

"Proton-M", delivery to the cosmodrome

Almost the same situation occurred in 2012 with two communication satellites. All because of problems that occurred in the fuel system. As a result, the missiles were launched into the wrong orbit. The technique was considered lost, as it was not possible to establish a connection with it. The cost of damage was about the same - 10 billion rubles. 


In the middle of 2013, the trouble with GLONASS continued. Three satellites exploded with a rocket. Conducted a thorough investigation. At this time, the sensors of angular velocities, which were installed with rotation by 180 ° from the normal position, were guilty. As a result, the carrier rocket went in the wrong orbit.


In May of this year, another Express satellite went to the bottom, which again buried plans for a fast transition to digital broadcasting.


Perspectives and conclusions


As a result of all the above cases, many bosses were dismissed from their posts. The state allocated about 2 billion rubles for high-quality preparation for the launch of these types of missiles. As a result, the cost of launching the 1 of the Proton (with all the losses) could be compared to the same as that of the American Atlas-5 rocket.

successful launch of the Proton-M rocket

But, be that as it may, the Proton launch vehicle is considered one of the most important pillars of commercial launches. It turns out that even with accidents, the price of launching into geostationary orbit is the lowest in the world, so Roskosmos does not have a shortage of potential customers and partners.


New rocket


Experts have long been saying that Proton-M will soon become obsolete. That's because today the active development of "Angara". This is a block rocket of a new generation, which will not only be cheaper than its predecessor, but also easier to manufacture. In the "Angara" will be used kerosene-oxygen engines. It can be launched from the Vostochny and Plesetsk cosmodromes without paying astronomical sums for renting Baikonur to the Kazakhs.


Despite such bright prospects, the Proton-M launch vehicle will probably be exploited for a long time, since the development of new technology is delayed.


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