"The Black Russians 
and the Black Horses"
Chapter One
Polyus 1 on Energia ready for Launch
Image Courtesy Moylina Buran
Key Points:

1) The Polyus spacecraft, also known as Polus, Skif-DM, or 17F19DM, was a prototype orbital weapons platform designed to defend against anti-satellite weapons with recoilless cannon.

2) It was also equipped with a sensor blinding laser to confuse approaching weapons and could launch test targets to validate the fire control system.

3) It had the capability of deploying  Nuclear mines  through a special cannon.

4) Black matte painting for camouflage, probable stealth radar observing properties.

5) The laser device was not found on board, however. It had been replaced by a dummy of identical weight.

6) TASS originally reported that a 'mock-up' had been sent up by Energia (This would explain why the 60 ton Laser module was never recovered)

7) No member of the Reagan or Bush administrations ever admitted or revealed publicly any knowledge of Polyus. 

8) The US Navy made no statements about any attempts to investigate the wreckage of Polyus, which lies on the floor of the South Pacific.

"The superheavy launcher Energia left the cosmodrome of Baikonur for the first time on May 15, 1987. This launch was an event for the cosmonautic world because the creation of such a launcher opened new ways for the USSR. For this first flight Energia carriage the experimental apparatus "Skif-DM" 17F19DM, disguised under the official name "Polyus" Russian (means "Pole").

It would seem that Polyus is the Soviet response to the project "Star Wars" launched by the American president Reagan. It was to be in fact a laser space combat station. Finally, we know very few things about this apparatus and its real use. Officially it was intended to make scientific experiments in upper atmosphere." 
 - by Vassili Petrovitch

The Polyus spacecraft, also known as Polus, Skif-DM, or 17F19DM, was a prototype orbital weapons platform designed to defend against anti-satellite weapons with recoilless cannon. It had an FGB (the Russian acronym for Functional Cargo Block, similar to the Zarya FGB that was the first component of the International Space Station) space resupply tug, derived from a TKS spacecraft, attached to control its orbit. It was also equipped with a sensor blinding laser to confuse approaching weapons and could launch test targets to validate the fire control system.

Polyus was launched May 15, 1987, as part of the first flight of the Energia system.

According to Yuri Kornilov, Chief Designer of the Salyut Design Bureau, Mikhail Gorbachev shortly before Polyus' launch visited the Baikonur Cosmodrome and expressly forbid the on-orbit testing of its capabilities. Kornilov claims that Gorbachev was worried that it would be possible for the west to view this activity as an attempt to create a weapon in space and that such an attempt would compromise the country's leaderships' statements on the USSRís peaceful intent. [1]

For technical reasons, the payload was launched upside down. It was designed to separate from the Energia, rotate 180 degrees, then complete its boost to orbit. The Energia functioned perfectly, but after disconnecting from Energia, the Polyus spun a full 360 degrees instead of the planned 180 degrees. When the rocket fired, it slowed and fell into the south Pacific ocean.

Parts of the Polyus project hardware were re-used in Kvant-2, Kristall, Spektr and Priroda Mir modules, as well as in ISS Zarya FGB.

Defensive weapons

    * Radar and optical sighting system guided ASAT defensive canon.
    * Barium cloud generation system, to confuse enemy ASAT satellites.
    * Black matte painting for camouflage, probable stealth radar observing properties.
    * Communications possible through usage of laser communication link, allowing operation in radio silence.

Offensive weapons

    * Nuclear mines deployed through a special cannon.

 - SOURCE - Wikipedia

Polyus - Energia Launch
Stills from You Tube Polyus Launch

Nearly a disaster. Energia rocket first launch with Polyus.

Youtube Link

Youtube Link
"Soviet research into ground and space based laser weapons systems began in the 1960s. The Soviets actually built several ground based lasers in the 1980s which reportedly could destroy or interfere with satellites and aircraft. The space based laser system envisioned in this 1987 work was designed to destroy or incapacitate satellites and intercontinental ballistic missiles, but was never built."

Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)

March 15, 1987

Polyus Info Page Buran.Ru Cargo


" . . . He who Controls Space may well control the future of Mankind. We have a chance, through High Frontier, using existing technology to develop a space program that is absolutely necessary to our survival and that will give us a chance to move past the Russians to assure our own nation and freedom a future on this planet" - Newt Gingrich

"High Frontier" by General Daniel O.Graham (1983)

So according to Newt Gingrich... in 1983 the Russians were ahead of us in the High Frontier (Space)

Preparation and first flight tests of Energia rocket


An article entitled "Unknown Polyus" by Yuri Kornilov, Chief Designer of the Salyut Design Bureau, had appeared in the journal "Earth and the Universe", and it provided details about the construction and testing of the first payload for the Energia rocket, the "Polyus" spacecraft. While Kornilov invites the reader to "read between the lines" and points out previous Soviet mis-statements about the Polyus, he was under a security ban which would lead to a 10 years in prison if he reveals (Soviet) "state" secrets. His article continues to claim that weapons systems tests were peaceful experiments.


On March 23, 1983, United States President Ronald Reagan set forth his vision of "Star Wars", a shield intended to defend the United States against nuclear attack from any place on Earth. The leader of the Soviet Union, Yuri Andropov, immediately accused the United States of seeking to militarily dominate the Soviet Union, and it kept he also authorized the design of counter-measures, including Polyus. Andropov sought to bring about a treaty banning military weapons from space until he fell ill in June, 1983.

No member of the Reagan or Bush administrations ever admitted or revealed publicly any knowledge of Polyus. The US Navy made no statements about any attempts to investigate the wreckage of Polyus, which lies on the floor of the South Pacific.


 Preventing the Weaponization of Space

"Preventing the Weaponization of Space" that was printed in Nexus magazine in November, 2004.  In it we find an "Enemies List" that the U.S. government uses to keep the media and public in support of the Pentagon Budget.  The list, given to Carol Rosin by her colleague the famous German rocket scientist Dr Wernher von Braun, has the following sequenced manufactured threats.  Here we see:

America's 'Enemies List' to Sustain War Mode and Pentagon Budgets

1 - Soviet Union

2 - Terrorists

3 - Asteroids

4 - Extraterrestrials

Dr von Braun said none of these threats are hostile and all a lie.  He said all of this must be stopped and worked with Carol Rosin up until the time of his death by cancer in Alexandria, Virginia in 1977 to prevent the weaponization of space, just as President Eisenhower had warned about the threat of the military-industrial-corporate-academic complex to America's future in the early 50s.

On June 16, 1977, Wernher von Braun died in Alexandria, Virginia at the age of 65. He was buried at the Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia

"In 1987, the Energia rocket would do its first flight, taking to the space the heaviest satellite already sent, the Polyus. The Polyus was an enormous military satellite of 80 ton of weight. Photos of their interior or an official description of their systems were never disclosed. Polyus was finished in three years, hardly much more fast that any other Soviet project of so large resemblance. The launching was successful, but a problem in the system of guidance of the Polyus made it fall in the Earth before completing his first orbit. This failure would not have any interference in the continuity of the Energia/Buran program."

- by Vassili Petrovitch

Energia and Polyus

  Credit: RKK Energia

Left: Energia and Polyus in assembly hall   Right: Energia-Polyus  Energia-Polyus on pad

Russian Battle Station Polyus

Battle Station Polyus.

DefenseTech reported, some time ago, on the old USSRís Space Battle Station (or, communist Russiaís answer to Reaganís star wars program). More pictures are in a forum at Militaryphotos.net.

Called Polyus, it was ridiculously huge ó as with all things Russian. Sadly, (from a purely scientific perspective) DefenseTech reports ďit couldnít get itself into a working orbit, probably because of Ďa faulty inertial guidance sensor,í according to the Encyclopedia Astronautica.Ē

Who can tell what its capabilities were, but itís interesting that the Soviet space weapons system appeared closer to completion than the USís system. Of course, the fact that the Soviets were not able to build a new one and complete the program after the loss of the first one sort of confirms what everybody was saying about the communist economy all along (well, through the 1990s, after it had already become abundantly clear). Of course, itís possible that there are active Russian weapons in space now that we donít know about, but thatís what movies are for.


"Then the catastrophe occurs, the engines of reversals do not stop functioning although Polyus made its 180į rotation. Then the principal engine cannot give sufficient speed to Polyus to put itself into orbit and it continuous according to the ballistic trajectory and goes crashing in the Pacific Ocean in the same zone as the block of the 2nd stage of Energia to a 2.5-6 km depth.

Moreover other parts of Polyus were re-used, the nose cone was used for the apparatuses "Quantum - 2", "Crystal", "Spectrum" and "Nature", as well as the first element of the international space station ISS which was the electric block FGB "Paddle"."

- by Vassili Petrovitch

Russian Battle Station Polyus Moves to Launch pad
..Polyus on Pad 
Note 'Mir-2' written on side of Polyus - a clear indication that this was intended as the core of the Mir-2 station
Polyus Combat Satellite
Credit: © Mark Wade

Large-size cutaway drawing of the Polyus 1 space weapons platform.

Astronautix Polyus Page

Polyus Combat Satellite
Credit: Dr.Vadim P.Lukashevich 

Cutaway of the Polyus 1 space weapons platform. Russian version

Logo from Energia - Mars page

Russian Forum Page on Polyus


It is added: Mar 29, 2004 18:27    Title Of the communication: Polyus Docking Unit? 

The question still remains... Was the Polyus/Skif- dm equipped with an active docking unit? There is an in -flight illustration which shows it with a docking unit. However, the only technical diagram released shows it without any docking unit.

Does anyone here have definite knowledge of this?


David Rickman
Kosmos Enterprises
61 Evergreen Avenue
Asheville, NC 28806-1272

Telephone: 1 (828) 252-9268
Fax: 1 (509) 694-6080
It is added: Pn Fogs 29, 2004 22:20    Title Of the communication:   To answer with the quotation
Anyone who wishes to contact Me privately about Polyus/Skif- dm May do so by emailing Me directly at...




It is added: Mar 31, 2004 01:27

I have seen much reference to an article titled "Unknown Polyus" by Yuri Kornilov, Chief Designer of the Salyut Design Bureau which appeared in the journal "Earth and the Universe". Can anyone here tell Me where I can find this or have information on the date this article was released or contact information for the publishers of this journal?



It is added: Mar 31, 2004 20:44

The attachment point Of TKS was "inside" the "pole". So that your IMHO is erroneous.


It is added: Mar 31, 2004 21:24 

The length of the Skif- dm is much like that of the ISS Zarya module.

As for the docking unit... the TKS was versatile enough that it would have been quite possible to place an active docking unit on both ends; one attached to Polyus and the other for, lets say, docking to the Mir station.



It is added: Mar 31, 2004 23:06

I will recall that TKS consists of FGB and VA. At one end FGB - attachment point, on other - hatchway for the passage in VA and bracing struts VA. However, modules consist of FGB and additional sections. And in modules ("Zarya" and "Kristal") attachment points are placed precisely in the special sections.

However, (!) having attentively looked in to the images of "pole", we see that it have- after all the additional section ("it cut off engine installation"). I acknowledge honestly, earlier than 4 it it did not note and it was confident that at the "Polyus" stood only FGB. So that theoretically anything it interfere withd establishing to this it cut off "anotyuer soyuzovskiy" or attachment point and system "course".

Practically this most likely it could be intended for the subsequent "poles", and the first was without the attachment point. Although this, in addition imho.


It is added: Mar 31, 2004 23:46

There is another matter which until now I had not considered. The initial launch of the Polyus/Skif- dm complex was carried out by Energia. However, after separation with Energia, Polyus was to have turned around 180 degrees and fired it "orbital insertion" engines which were mounted on the Skif-DM's addition.

How much fuel would it have taken to complete this orbital insertion? Was there sufficient fuel in the additional external tanks for this or could some of this additional interior space have been used for this extra fuel?



It is added:  Apr 01, 2004 21:30

It read here in Lukashevicha: http://www.buran.ru/htm/cargo.htm

the "article" with an overall length of almost 37 m and with a diameter of up to 4,1 m, with a mass of about 80 t consisted of two basic sections: smaller - functional- official block (FSB) and larger - purposeful module (TSM). FSB was the long ago mastered BY KB "salute" and only a little modified for this new task 20- ton ship, very nearly the same, what were the transport ships of supply "Kosmos-929, -1267, -1443, -1668" and the modules FSB was the long ago Were here placed control systems of motion and by onboard complex, telemetric control, command radio communication, the guarantee of a thermal condition, power supply, separation and discharge of fairings, antenna systems, control system of scientific experiments. All instruments and systems, which do not maintain vacuum, were located in the airtight instrument- cargo section (PGO). In the section of engine installation (ODU) were placed four sustainer engines, 20 engines for orientation and stabilization and 16 engines of precise stabilization, and also tanks, conduits and the valves of the pneumo-hydraulic system, which operates engines. The solar batteries, which are revealed after injection into orbit, were placed on the sides ODU.
In T+92shch s at the height of 155 km was produced the first firing of four engines of correction and stabilization DKS by thrust 417 kg. the time of the work of engines it was planned with 384 s, the value of the first pulse 87 m/s. Then into T+2220 s began the disclosure of solar batteries on the functional- official block "Scythian- dm". Maximum opening time SB was 60 s.
Removal "Scythian- dm" completed at the height of 280 km by the second start four DKS. It was produced into T+e'0shch s (3145 s after separation from RN). The duration of the work of engines was 172 s, the value of pulse - 40 m/s. The calculated orbit of apparatus was planned with the circular height of 280 km and with the inclination of 64.6 degrees.

Error in proposal "on the sides ODU were placed the solar batteries, which are revealed after injection into orbit". In actuality on PGO (FGB).


It is added: Apr 01, 2004 21:40

You will focus attention on the phrase: "...All instruments and systems, which do not maintain vacuum, were located in the airtight instrument- cargo section (PGO)".
This can be understood as that that ODU was nonhermetic. I.e., not about what passage of the cosmonauts through the attachment point in PGO it could go speech.


It is added: Apr 01, 2004 22:03

AAA of Pisal(a):

You will focus attention on the phrase: "...All instruments and systems, which do not maintain vacuum, were located in the airtight instrument- cargo section (PGO)".
This can be understood as that that ODU was nonhermetic. I.e., not about what passage of the cosmonauts through the attachment point in PGO it could go speech.

Excellent observation. Another consideration I have... With all of the engines placed on the ODU section and none placed on the Polyus, wouldn't it be very difficult to orient this vehicle properly during an active docking maneuver? IF ANYTHING, THE POLYUS WOULD HAVE HAD A PASSIVE DOCKING SYSTEM, IN WHICH CASE IT WOULD HAVE HAD A TUNNEL LEADING THROUGH THE OF ODU SECTION INTO THE OF PGO (IMHO).

Another observation... Tyuis same illustration which shows Ployus with an active docking system also show the Skif- dm module without any radiators. This configuartion also lacks the additional solar panels normally located covering the upper external tanks on the FGB module. Confused Very curious.



It is added: Apr 01, 2004 23:40

It decided to again re-read paper sources.

1) the given higher quotation with http://www.buran.ru/htm/cargo.htm in reality is copied Lukashevichem from the journal "Earth the universe" Confused (however, this only gives information authenticity);

2) In The album Of s.Umanskogo "Carrier rockets. Spaceports." there is a not bad figure of "pole". It is practically identical to figure from "z.i v.", but is absent attachment point. Since figure very large, it is possible to examine some details. Radiators actually be absent Smile . The engines of correction and rapprochement on FGB be absent, some holes are drawn at their place. Then there are 4 engines on ODU. Between them are located two blocks of the approach engines and stabilization, the same as on usual TKS. But here their place on FGB occupy some simplified blocks - 3 nozzles in the radial direction.

Well and the most interesting. Prepare. Smile
In both figures there is no antenna of guidance with the jointing! Its rod is beautifully drawn, even opened to operating the position, only there is no here parabolic antenna on it Smile .

P.S. The journal "Earth the universe" has its site. Address I do not remember, but in the past year 4 it found.
The figure of "pole" in the album is located on the bend, so that for kserokopiyu hardly will be succeeded in finding.

On this I conclude and desire to itself calm night, and to you the good time of day.


It is added: Pn Apr 05, 2004 14:37    Title Of the communication:   To answer with the quotation

I have a different illustration of the Polyus/Skif- dm. .....

Here is the image I have been referring to... 

You can see the active docking unit on the forward end. Also, as in both images, the radiators and upper wrap-around solar collectors are missing.



It is added: Apr 05, 2004 20:46 

Aha! That kartinochka itself, against the background of which sits Kornilov, only without Kornilov is turned to 90 degrees. Now all desiring can ascertain that the attachment point exists, but there are no butt antennas.

1) why is necessary lower power adapter?
2) not gas-phase whether laser was there (exhaust pipe from it - number 4)?

1) possibly, through it were transferred the efforts on RN?
2) apropos of laser. The theme of "pole" is discussed not for the first time, only information zero. About the laser they did already wear out first on the sgorevshem forum, then whether on the air base. Look, can, you will find. 4 this region I do not examine.


It is added: Apr 07, 2004 21:53 

I have a distinguished colleague who has a copy of a marketing Brochure for the Polyus station. He tells Me this brochure describes Polyus as a "man-tended" micro-gravity station for the manufacturing of drug and crystal production. The station would remain in orbit untended for months at a time, and then link up with Buran-class shuttles or Soyuz/Progress to resupply the station and recover products.

If anyone has a copy of this brochure, please notify Me. Wink

David Rickman
Kosmos Enterprises
61 Evergreen Avenue
Asheville, NC 28806-1272

Telephone: 1 (828) 252-9268
Fax: 1 (509) 694-6080




It is added: Apr 08, 2004 00:04 

Dada. It is good that they resembled. Pamphlet 4 it did not see, but the discussion, possibly, deals with TMP (technological production module).

In the same journal "Earth the universe" of #2/92 was the article V.V.Pallo "program KB" salute ", where including it was mentioned also about TMP. There was picture and pair of the pages of description.

TMP differs radically from the "pole". FSB had instead of ODU the docking module, clearly undertaken from the "Buran". Purposeful module in contrast to the "polyusovskogo" is airtight, equipped with the solar batteries (on FGB of battery also they remained) and with engine installation from the opposite side from FSB.

But, in my opinion, this even on those romantic times there was explicit fantasy. Glasnost in combination with the reduction of financing gave birth to at that time the avalanche of monstruoznykh projects for the purpose to obtain money although to anything. But from a design point of view, of course, it is very interesting to control the motion of the thought of developers.

4 about TMP he forgot entirely. So that we until today have already three designs of the apparatuses of the one-hundred ton class: "Polyus", TMP and the modules of station "Mir-2" (it does seem, this it was called GTK)?


It is added: Apr 08, 2004 06:47 

Development work on the laser battle station was transferred in 1981 to the Salyut design bureau and that of the laser weapon itself to NPO Astrofisika. The satellite, which was also given the name Skif, was finally manufactured by the Chrunichev mechanical engineers in moscow. It was to be launched on the heavy Energia rocket.

In 1983 flight trials of the approximately 60 ton laser device commenced on an Ilyushin Il-76MD heavy lift transport. At the same time research was being carried out on the propagation of laser beams in the atmosphere.

Following the assumption of power by Michail Gorbachev and US President Reagan's announcement of the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) programme, the Russians resumed their work on the space defence system. To test the laser battle station the dynamic "Analogue Skif- D" was built, while for the flight tests Energia finally assembled, at great speed, a model of the station known as Skif- dm (dynamic model). This station was 37m long and 4..1m wide, with a mass of 80t.

Skif- dm - also known as polyus - possessed four sustainers, 20 orientation and 16 stabilisation motors. It was planned that almost 20 military fundamental experiments and some geophysical experiments should be carried out with it. But just before the planned launch date, Gorbachev gave an important speech in which he explained that the arms race should not be allowed to be transferred to space. It was subsequently decided not to carry out any military experiments with Skif- dm.

On 15 May 1987 Energia was launched with the battle station on its maiden flight. After 460 seconds Skif- dm separated from the launcher only to crash into the Pacific shortly afterwards, its control system having failed. The laser device was not found on board, however. It had been replaced by a dummy of identical weight.

Device KA "pole":
1 - nose fairing;
2 - solar batteries;
3 - system of storage and supply of working medium;
4 - system of zero spin vyklopa ("pants");
5 - promising rendezvous and docking system KA;
6 - antenna of airborne radar;
7 - target


It is added: Apr 09, 2004 06:55 

Fragment from Gubanov:


In the communication TO TASS about the first launching of "Energia" it is noted: "the second step of carrier rocket derived into the calculation point of size-weight the mock-up of satellite... However, because of the nonstandard work of its onboard systems mock-up to the designated orbit did not leave and was given in the water area of Pacific Ocean ".

After this communication its history. During planning of the structure of rocket, sent for the first flight, the persistent thought prevailed: that the flight program, and following this the composition of rocket they must be simplified. Prompted the logic of the experimental finalizing of complex technical systems, i.e., step by step, with the sequential complication from one stage to the next, approach to the solution of purposeful problem. Simple computations on the basis of the principle of the smallest damage spoke for the simplified load for the first flight.

Mock-up was developed. It represented the cylinder with the ogive nose cone with a diameter of 4 m and with length about 25 m. on the external overall sizes it was the analog of future cargo hold. Mock-up was made from heavy-gauge steel. Internal sortings supplemented and was collected weight. Inside the mock-up - void. According to the flight program it had to be brought together with the second step of "Energia" in the water area of Pacific Ocean.

However, our opinion did not converge with the plans of the management of ministry and design project leader V.P.Glushko. They considered that the launching should be completed by the flight of real or polureal'nogo space object.

During July-August 1985 To o.D.Baklanovym and V.P. of Glushko KB "Salyut" and the plant im. Khrunicheva set the problem of developing of automatic spacecraft with the necessary systems, which ensure his injection into orbit and existence on it in the course of the month, with the possibility of conducting the number of experiments. Delivery time to the range is not later than August of 1986 critical Of d.A.Polukhin and A.I.Kiselev.

It was decided to the maximum degree to use the prepared sections and an instrument composition TKS (transport ship of supply) and "Scythian- dm" (promising automatic spacecraft of 100- ton class).

As early as 1981 KB "Salyut" created automatic spacecraft - station "Scythian", equipped with laser weapon according to the program of antisatellite defense of the type "anti-SOI" with the subsequent improvement - it was intended to equip with the laser system of defeat the nuclear head parts of the rockets. The laser onboard complex of the armament of "Scythian" was created in NPO "astrophysics".

The analog of "Scythian" without the complex combat systems, for the evaluation of dynamic characteristics had an index "Scythian- D". Space station "Scythian" for the "Enrgia" OF 'SL acquired model appearance. Mock-up under the index "Scythian- dm" had the length of 37 m, a diameter of 4,1 m and a mass of approximately 80 T. in the purposeful module "Scythian- dm" they were placed experimental installations for conducting the applied and geophysical experiments. It were assumed otstrel targets and their defeat from the board "Scythian- dm". 

Each Thursday Of o.D.Baklanov or O.N.Shishkin carried out operational conferences at The khrunichevskeye plant. During July 1986 the plant under the management Of a.I.Kiseleva fulfilled its obligations. All sections of automatic spacecraft were set in Baikonur. Until January 1987. "Scythian- dm" was saturated by equipment. All systems of apparatus passed the complete cycle of autonomous and complex tests.

In the beginning of 1987 it was solved the demonstration of the combat capabilities of automatic spacecraft not to produce. During February of the same year "Scythian- dm" it arrived for the jointing with the "Energia" to the maintenance area already with the corrected program of its flight. On board "Scythian- dm" capital letters on the non-machined surface wrote its new name "Polyus".

The maneuver of the turning of automatic spacecraft "Polyus" to 180 on the pitch and to the same to 90 along the bank, as it was provided by the program of the orientation of ship, it was executed regularly. However, the calculated process of "revolution" because of the error, placed in the flight program of mock-up, did not cease, but it continued. In calculated moment was automatically included the march engine installation, which had to report to automatic spacecraft additional speed on the order of 60 m/s, necessary for its output in orbit. In connection with the fact that the unwinding continued, automatic spacecraft, without having reached necessary speed, accomplishing complex somersault relative to ballistic trajectory, it cut into the waters of Pacific Ocean.


It is added: Apr 09, 2004 16:47 

I would like to know more about what Gubanov referred to as... of "chernoy surface." Why was the Polyus/Skif DM black? Was this vehicle testing a type of radar absorbing "stealth" material? If this is true then what of the lettering on its side? Was this lettering permanent or was this lettering itself a visual target? and what of the TKS? Was it also black? Many, many questions


Andrey Suvorov

It is added: Apr 09, 2004 16:55

No, the only reason was that the shell was made of reinforced carbon fiber and was not painted for weight conservetion


It is added: Apr 10, 2004 04:51

I think, and this is my opinion only (speculations), that the SKIF color was black because of nature of the oncoming tests - optical. Black color will prevent dangerous reflection of sun light from body of satellite.


It is added: Apr 10, 2004 08:36

This is a very interesting speculation. Does anyone know of any other instance where any previous satellite has used this black color? Also, if I am seeing the photographs correctly, the POLYUS and MIR-2 logos as well as the stripes are in silver color? This is very contrasting against the black. Was this just decorative or was there an intention here?


It is added: Pn Apr 12, 2004 17:31    Titles Of the communication:   To answer with the quotation
There appears an image on the NPO Molniya web-site...


In the upper left corner there appears to be a polyus class station but with additional solar panels and a mysterious spherical shaped object on the front.

NOTE: I have been informed by Dr. Vadim P.Lukashevich of NPO Molniya that the station in this image is from the artist imagination.



It is added: Apr 23, 2004 19:57 

One additional fact into the money box relative to the possibility of jointing "Polyus" with anything. It was separated from the "Enrgia", having an inclination of 65 degrees.
"Buran" launched into orbit itself with the inclination 51 degrees.
How, strictly, is determined the selection of inclination 65 or 51 degree? 


It is added: Apr 23, 2004 20:28

This was posted on FPSPACE 16 december, 2000 by Bart Hendrix...

I've checked on the intended inclination for Skif-DM/Polyus. Konstantin Lantratov Wrote In a 1997 article in "Novosti Kosmonavtiki" that the payload was targeted for a 280 km circular orbit at 64.6 degrees. Interestingly, Boris Gubanov (chief designer of the Energiya rocket) now says in his memoirs that it was 50.7 degrees (with a launch azimuth of 63.5 degrees).

He says that at some point there * was * talk of shifting to a higher inclination orbit to avoid the risk of parts falling down on foreign territory in case of a launch failure (more particularly Mongolia, China and Japan). Two possibilities were studied:
- launching directly into an orbit with an inclination higher than 55 degrees
- performing a "side maneuver" during launch (what I think is called a "dog-leg maneuvre" in english terminology)

The direct launch option was considered the best, with preference being given to a 65 degree inclination orbit. However, that would have decreased the mass of the payload by 5 tons and would have required all sorts of other modifications. According to Gubanov a launch into a 65 degree inclination orbit would also have made it impossible to fly the mission from mid-May to August, because that would have placed the impact zone of the strap-ons and the payload fairing right in the middle of the nesting area of the pink flamingo (a level of concern for the natural environment usually not displayed by the Russians with other launch vehicles....).

Because of all these factors and the fact that a launch failure resulting in an impact on foreign territory was considered unlikely, it was decided to stick with the 50.7 degree inclination.

I should caution that Gubanov only talks about the planned inclination while describing the events leading up to the launch of Energiya. Perhaps it * was * changed to 65 degrees at a later stage (and I'm inclined to believe what Konstantin Lantratov wrote). There seem to have been several delays in the launch that could have given the time to make the necessary modifications required for the inclination change. and with the launch having taken place on 15 May 1987, that would have been just in time before the closing of the "flamingo window"!

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