Posts Tagged ‘missiles’

Soviet Star Wars

Posted: December 10, 2009 in nuclear weapons, Russia
Tags: ,

The launch that saved the world from orbiting laser battle stations
Air & Space Magazine

(This is a lengthy article but the most interesting to me is this last section…)
The rocket was rolled out to the launch pad and hoisted to the vertical launch position. Then, on the night of May 15, 1987, Energia’s engines lit and the giant rocket climbed into the sky. Whereas most launches from Baikonur head for an orbit inclined 52 degrees to the equator, Polyus-Skif traveled farther north, on a 65-degree inclination. If the worst happened, this heading would keep rocket stages and debris—or the entire Skif-DM—from falling on foreign territory.

The Energia rocket performed flawlessly, gaining speed as it rose and arced out toward the northern Pacific. But the kludged nature of the Skif–DM test spacecraft, along with all the compromises and shortcuts, spelled its doom. The satellite’s functional block had originally been designed for the Proton launcher, and couldn’t withstand the vibration of the Energia’s more powerful engines. The solution had been to mount the spacecraft with the control block at the top instead of down near the engines. Essentially, it flew into space upside down. Once the spacecraft separated from its booster, it was supposed to flip around to point away from Earth, with the control block’s engines facing down toward Earth, ready to fire and push the craft into orbit.

Skif-DM separated on cue, the spent Energia fell away, and the protective shroud over the front of the spacecraft separated. Then the entire spacecraft, as tall as a 12-story building, began its gentle pitch maneuver. Its tail end, actually the front of the spacecraft, swung up through 90 degrees, through 180 degrees…then kept going. The massive spacecraft tumbled end over end for two full revolutions, then stopped with its nose pointing down toward Earth. In the rush to launch such a complicated spacecraft, the designers had missed a tiny software error. The engines fired, and Skif-DM headed back into the atmosphere it had just escaped, quickly overheating and breaking into burning pieces over the Pacific Ocean.

http://bit.ly/812dtq

(This is interesting to me today because of the following, also about a failed Russian launch.)


Anyone for some Arctic roll? Mystery as spiral blue light display hovers above Norway
Daily Mail Online 10 Dec 2009

The Bulava missile was test-fired from the Dmitry Donskoi submarine in the White Sea early on Wednesday but failed at the third stage, say newspapers in Moscow today.

A Russian military source said today that ‘the third stage of the rocket did not work’. The Russian Defence Ministry, with characteristic secrecy, has so far been unavailable for comment.

The Bulava, despite being crucial to Russia’s plans to revamp its weaponry, is becoming an embarrassment after nine failed launches in 13 tests, prompting calls for it to be scrapped. In theory, it has a range of 5,000 miles and could carry up to ten nuclear weapons bound for separate targets.

A previous failure in July forced the resignation of Yury Solomonov, the director of the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology which is responsible for developing the missile. However, he is now working as chief designer on the jinxed project.

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute was flooded with telephone calls after the light storm yesterday morning. Totto Eriksen, from Tromsø, told VG Nett: ‘It spun and exploded in the sky.’ He spotted the lights as he walked his daughter Amalie to school.

He said: ‘We saw it from the Inner Harbor in Tromsø. It was absolutely fantastic. ‘It almost looked like a rocket that spun around and around and then went diagonally down the heavens.’

Read more: http://bit.ly/8vztPm

1987, 2009… looks like they haven’t quite perfected things…

DEBKA File 4 Oct 09
Excerpts:

dolphinsubsWestern naval sources report that Israel’s German-made Dolphin submarines have been heavily modified: its torpedo tubes enlarged to accommodate missiles, new electronics installed and its fuel capacity expanded to keep the vessel at sea for 50 days without refueling.

Israel is reported by foreign sources to have equipped the new Dolphin-class subs with Israel-made 1,500-km range cruise missiles carrying 200 kiloton nuclear warheads and 135-kilometer range US-made Harpoon missiles also fitted with nuclear warheads. These missiles, fired through the newly-enlarged 650mm-26-inch tubes, can reach Iranian coastal targets including its nuclear sites as well as naval, port and Revolutionary Guards facilities.

The Dolphins’ expanded fuel tanks enable them to cover distances of up to 10,000 kilometers from their Mediterranean home port (instead of 8,000 kilometers heretofore) and spend more time – up to 50 days – off the Iranian coast.

Their presence outside Israeli waters is a powerful deterrent to any surprise nuclear or conventional attack, endowing Israel with an instantaneous second-strike nuclear capability.

They are also very quiet and hard for Iranian sea hunters to detect.

http://bit.ly/125w1m

Shahab3MissileAl Jazeera 28 Sept 2009:

Iran tests Shahab 3 missile

Al Jazeera’s Alireza Ronaghi in the Iranian capital, Tehran, said: “The most important thing is that this Shahab 3 missile can reach targets as far as 2,000km. It’s the longest-range missile in the Iranian arsenal.”

“There are two solutions about Iran: one would be sanctions and the other would be military action. So [with regard to] sanctions, Iran is trying to prove that sanctions have not worked on the uranium enrichment programme,” our correspondent said.

http://bit.ly/rfMKB

Israeli Arrow II Missile SystemPhoto: Israeli Arrow II missile system. Israel developed the Arrow II in response to what it says is an Iranian missile threat [GETTY].

Excerpts from article:

“For all of its 61 years in existence, Israel has considered itself in a permanent war of survival. It has developed a national system which places great emphasis on its military and intelligence capabilities.”

“Iran is not yet in a position to launch a first strike against Israel. This is perhaps a key concern because Israel has a reputation for not allowing a first strike capability to develop.

“It has a record of destroying the Egyptian ballistic missile industry under Gamal Abdel Nasser, the late Egyptian president; destroying French-built Iraqi nuclear reactors outside Baghdad at Osirak in 1981, and interdicting the supply of arms moving through Sudan as recently as January this year.”

http://bit.ly/Ug3p7

JPOST.COM 21 Sept. 2009

Russian plans to deploy missiles in an enclave next to Poland (Kaliningrad) have not been shelved, the country’s top general said Monday, contradicting a comment made by a government official last week after the US announced it was dropping a plan to place land-based missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.

http://bit.ly/P2C7R

Since Obama’s announcement, Russia has cancelled the deployment of “new” Iskander missile complexes to Kaliningrad. Makes me wonder what type of “old” missile complexes may already be there. These missiles are nuclear-capable and Russia has lots of them scattered about.

Here’s what Pravda had said earlier about the possibility of a US European missile shield:

“Russia (previously) promised to take adequate measures in return and deploy Iskander missile complexes in the Kaliningrad enclave.” Read entire article here. http://bit.ly/dkR1l

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From Wikipedia re Kaliningrad Enclave:

BalticSeaMapKaliningrad Oblast is the most militarized area of the Russian Federation, and the density of military installations is the highest in Europe. Kaliningrad is a headquarters of Russian Baltic Fleet circled by Chernyakhovsk (air base), Donskoye (air base), and Kaliningrad Chkalovsk (naval air base).

Kaliningrad Oblast is a federal subject of Russia (an oblast) situated on the Baltic coast. The oblast forms the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, but it has no land connection to the rest of Russia. Since the fall of the Soviet Union it has been an exclave of Russia surrounded by Lithuania, Poland, and the Baltic Sea. Borderless travel to the main part of Russia is only possible by sea or air.

This political isolation became more pronounced when Lithuania and Poland both became members of the European Union and NATO, and entered the Schengen Zone, which means that the oblast is surrounded by the territories of these organizations as well.