Kolyma's Shadow: An Alternate Space Race

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by nixonshead, May 11, 2014.

  1. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

    Apr 13, 2007
    Syracuse, Haudenosaunee, Vinland
    Where does the name "Rhene" come from?
  2. Imperator Maximilianius Banned

    Dec 13, 2014
    She was a nymph in Greek Mythology.
  3. Michel Van Well-Known Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Liege Belgium Europe
    I had turn on the brightness of monitor, to see that
    Thx for note E of Pi
  4. Astronomo2010 Well-Known Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    great teasee, this is one amazing timeline , Cant hardly wait for the next part .
  5. nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    Thanks guys, glad you’re enjoying it!

    To be honest, they were probably riding their luck a bit with no major accidents during the Dynasoar atmospheric test programme. This leads to a degree of overconfidence which, combined with the dangerous nature of space travel in general, makes some fatalities, unfortunately, almost inevitable.

    As for the impact going forward - we’ll see ;)

    Indeed, as e of pi explained, there is the Mk.I Dynasoar glider (basically the OTL Dynasoar) which carries one pilot, and a Mk.II glider that deletes the payload bay to fit in a crew of three (though a couple more could probably squeeze in in a pinch). I generally use “Dynasoar” to refer to the complete Glider + Mission Module. MMs can vary considerably between missions, but the initial Glider procurement is for just five airframes: Diana (the Atmospheric Test Vehicle, not spaceworthy); Aura and Rhene (Mk.I gliders); Athena and one we have yet to meet (Mk.II gliders). At some point, I’ll update the Vehicles section of the Wiki to provide more details on these, plus the other US and Soviet spacecraft.

    Sorry for the darkness of the image. It was a gloomy topic, but I have noticed a tendency for some of my recent renders to come out too dark when viewed on various devices. I’ll try to stay on my guard against this in the future.

    I should also take this opportunity to thank Michel Van for the use of his Perry Rhodan comic cover art in the image, which I failed to properly acknowledge on the original image I uploaded (I’ve since corrected this - I’m a firm believer in credit where it’s due!). You may remember his fantastic image from Part-II. To add a bit of character to young Bobby’s room, I colourised his “Al Williamson” version (with Michel Van’s guidance on Thora’s exotic looks) and added it to the scene. It’s at a very oblique angle in the final render, so here’s the full version:


    Indeed. With less publicity (or the need to court it) than OTL’s NASA spaceplanes, the Air Force started out being a bit more playful naming their ships. “Diana”, the Dynasoar ATV, got her name due to the similarity with the sound “Dyna”, combined with a pilot’s preference for feminine names. Diana was the Roman goddess of the hunt (associated with the Greek goddess Artemis, whom you may have met elsewhere…), so I decided to go for mythological names for the other ships. However, Roman myths justs didn’t seem to fit, so I started digging around Greek mythology as well.

    The next I named was Aura, a type of spirit associated with breezes, a class of Celestial Nymphs (rather fitting for a gliding spaceplane).

    Rhene is named for another nymph, in this case a lover of Hermes, who is of course the Greek version of the Roman god Mercury - see what I did there? ;)

    Athena is the daughter of Zeus and the Oceanid Nymph Metis. She is the Greek goddess of wisdom and is associated with the Roman goddess Minerva - just as the Dynasoar gliders are associated with the Minerva launch vehicle. Also, it’s a nice name :)

    All four of those gliders were named in Part-II. We’ll meet the final, fifth glider in an upcoming post, so I’ll hold off telling you her name for now. (Of course, if between now and then someone suggests a really good name, I reserve the right to shamelessly steal it :D)
  6. Simurgh Well-Known Member

    Apr 10, 2014
    Excellent update (+drawing) as always. It always amazes me how much you put into your story for it to have such quality.

    It may be slightly off-topic, but there is a Perry Rhodan quest that some of you may be interested in reading and/or participating. Given the obscurity of the universe it's not the most popular on the site but as Nixonhead is here, the quality is excellent and I hope some of yourselves find you enjoy it. Although you may not have experience with the quest format, I hope it isn't off-putting for you.

  7. Michel Van Well-Known Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Liege Belgium Europe
    Thanks :D

    With 2785 issue Perry Rhodan is gigantic piece of literature, even the compact reedition is now on Book #128, (need additional 243 books to reach Issue 2785).
    in over 50 year history of the series explore EVERY aspect of Sci-Fi and fantasy and social topic.
    it start as mixture of Agent/Sci-fi thriller about discovery of a alien spaceship on moon, to become a fine Space Opera in style of Lensmen or work of A. E. van Vogt or Heinlein.
    the rise of Mankind under united Earth, it Star Empire and it's fall and rise of New Free mankind and it rolle in there Univers were the forces of Chaos, of Order and Life fight under each other
    on technology they went so far, the authors had to downgraded the Technology levels in Perry Rhoda universe.

    For moment Perry Rhodan is confronted with Judges comming from 70 billion years from future.
    They confront him with criminal charge for mass murder he will commit in future
    in same time they proclaim there laws/Ideology, what the Milky Way civilizations are submit by force...
    the moral dilemma for Rhodan, the Judges want to establish a cosmic Utopia, even on price of mass murder if necessary...
  8. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

    Aug 20, 2010
    Reno, Nevada USA
    Obviously I'm missing out on something big OTL; I get excited over canons that amount to a single year's TV episodes.:eek:

    But don't forget, here in the "Kolyma's Shadow" timeline PR has not yet been around half a century!

    I had to page back to p 16, and find post 306 which is canon post 10 of Part II, and the last canon post that cites any actual dates. (The new "teaser" does have a date in it--the publication of a Reader's Digest story, obviously the better part of 2 decades after the events it relates. So not a currently relevant date anyway). The last time we looked and had a clear timestamp, it was November 10, 1966 and Neil Armstrong safely flies a Dynasoar to orbit.

    So at the moment when poor young Bob Karski drops his copy of Star Captain Rhodan, it is presumably still the latter half of the Sixties, I'd guess sometime before summer 1967, maybe not even that year yet. There's only been a few years for the Rhodan canon to accumulate, even granting it is probably going on two tracks (American comic, German novellas published as pocket books) to double the fun.
  9. Michel Van Well-Known Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Liege Belgium Europe
    Mid 1960s that's first climax in Perry Rhoda series with "The Master of the Islands" storyline.

    During first contact with race of Haluts, Rhodan discover a Star Gate, a machine build from Suns!
    That's entryway to Andromeda Galaxy, but other side is deathly Trap-system that Rhodan and his crew almost killed.
    Installed by Overlords of Andromeda Galaxy "The Master of the Islands" and there rule is simple:
    "You obey us or you're Race will be Exterminated" and Rhodan find allot of destroyed solar systems by them.
    Rhodan realizes the danger for Mankind, if those Overlords notice the Star Empire in the Milky Way.
    To make matter worst the Overlords and there higher subordinate are of Human origins !
    and in that mystery play the Haluts a important role...

    "The Master of the Islands" was huge turning point in Series, the Sales skyrocket beyond anything else in history of German Publishing
    The Editor of Series start reissue of the Series for new readers, a Novel edition who set in Series and spin off Series "Atlan" (850 issues)

    But in second half of 1960s the series face Danger from all sides
    it's Chef author K.H. Scheer got sick what let some problems in series and to make matter worst
    1968 German Leftist TV journalist made a "Report" about Perry Rhoda with interview with Series Creators K.H. Scheer and W. Ernstling
    The Fan were schockt as the Report came on TV: the Interview ripp out of context and Rhodan series portrayed als NAZI IN SPACE and the Fans as maniacs worship a SS Cult...

    yeah sure a US american how landed first on Moon save Mankind from Nuclear War
    turn Earth in United states of Earth and has to build a Star Empire to deal with danger of the Milky Way, in order to protect Mankind.
    that to much fascistic US Imperialist in eyes of German Leftist critical about the Vietnam War...

    For K.H. Scheer it was too much with increase health problems he stepped down as chef author after Issue 650 and Wilhelm Voltz take over.
    Voltz manage to transform the Series and prevent the discontinue, His vision let next climax in Perry Rhoda series in end of 1970s.
    but there allot of POD were the Series could end premature
  10. nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    Thanks, Simurgh! The drawback of course is the increasingly lengthy gaps between Parts, but I hope the end product is worth the wait.

    Incidentally, I’m delighted to say that Kolyma’s Shadow has received nominations in this year’s Turtledove awards in the “New World War 2 (1933-1945 AD)” (as the PoD is in 1940) and “Wikiboxes/Other Artwork” categories. Thanks! Nominations are still open until 16th January, so feel free to nominate again, especially if you have an image from this Timeline (or indeed one of the others I’ve illustrated) you’d particularly like to put forward (it’s unclear if individual artworks or entire collections can be nominated). Don’t forget to vote when the time comes!

    Thanks for sharing! I must admit I’m still only exploring the very fringes of the Perry Rhodan universe (which as Michel Van has pointed out, is probably vaster than any other SF franchise in history), but I’m hoping that as my lamentably poor command of German improves I’ll be able to delve deeper into it. English-language spin-offs such as you’ve linked to are a pleasant gateway drug for me :)

    Indeed, and as Michel Van has pointed out, there are potential dangers for the series. Aside from the cultural impact of no Apollo moon race, the late ‘60s were a very turbulent cultural period. In Germany, the early ascension of Brandt and the SPD to the Chancellorship may affect things a bit in terms of the timing of cultural changes, but I imaging a lot of the same general trends will materialise as the post-war generation comes of age.

    Yep, I’m currently keeping the date and other details of the Rhene accident close to my chest - that’s why it’s called a Teaser :D I can confirm though that the Rhodan canon is indeed running on two parallel tracks ITTL, the US comic-based stories and the German novellas, which are increasingly diverging over time. I am expecting sales of translations of the German versions to get a healthy boost in the US from readers of the comic graduating on to the more detailed stories of the novellas.
  11. Michel Van Well-Known Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Liege Belgium Europe
    It will have Huge impact on Germany West east and East Europe

    West Germany Turn toward Demokratie Social State under SPD.
    Brandt could Start early Dialog with East Germany as OTL.
    And his legendary Kniefall in poland Changes the Relation between
    West Germany and East from extrem hostly toward "we forgive you"

    But there is still One big game changer still left: the Vietnam war
    It had Huge impact in West germany and let To rise of terrorism there...
  12. Threadmarks: Part III Post #2: Proof of Concept

    nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    Good morning everyone. At the end of Part-II we left Neil Armstrong piloting the first orbital Dynasoar mission into orbit. Let's see how he got on, in...


    Part III Post #2: Proof of Concept

    10th November 1966 saw US Air Force astronaut Neil Armstrong circling the Earth aboard the spaceplane Aura on mission DS-6. Coming over two years after Armstrong’s last space flight as part of the joint Mercury-6/7 mission, the Dynasoar spacecraft represented a quantum leap in capabilities over the old capsules. Soon after reaching orbit, Armstrong began testing those capabilities by using the RCS thrusters of the Dynasoar glider and Mission Module to turn the ship in all axes. The ship displayed crisp control, which Armstrong reported as being far more responsive than Mercury. He next demonstrated Dynasoar’s ability to modify its orbit, using the Mission Module engines to raise his apogee by 60 km and shift inclination by just over 2 degrees. This ability was something beyond Mercury’s capabilities, and proved that the USAF could now match, and perhaps exceed, the on-orbit manoeuvrability of the Soviet Zarya and Orel spacecraft.

    With the basic capabilities of the Dynasoar spacecraft to manoeuvre and support its pilot demonstrated, day two of the mission saw Armstrong work to validate the system’s ability to perform a militarily useful function when he opened the doors of Aura’s small payload bay, exposing her top-secret cargo to space for the first time. On this first test flight, Aura carried a relatively simple visible and infra-red imaging system provided by the NRO, code-named EPOCH, which Armstrong was able to control through a workstation at the rear of his cockpit. Over the course of three orbits, Armstrong used EPOCH to image locations in North America from both directly overhead and at slant angles, allowing analysts on the ground to assess the images post-flight against targets with known characteristics. The payload bay also contained three smaller payloads (two Air Force, one NRO) containing components and materials being considered for use on future satellites which Dynasoar would test for the effects of exposure to space. This phase of the mission was kept top-secret, and Air Force press releases simply noted that Armstrong was engaged in unspecified “Tests of the craft and its equipment”.

    After three days aloft - almost ten times longer than the previous US space endurance record - Armstrong fired the Mission Module’s engines one last time and put the glider on a trajectory that would re-enter Earth’s atmosphere over the US Pacific coast. The Mission Module was discarded to burn up in the atmosphere, whilst the Aura glider was re-orientated to enter the atmosphere belly-first. Unlike on the suborbital test flight to Fortaleza earlier that year, this time the water wall cooling system worked flawlessly, maintaining a comfortable temperature inside the cabin as the ship plunged through the upper atmosphere. As the plasma sheath dissipated, Armstrong jettisoned the cockpit window heat shield and piloted Aura through a series of energy-dumping S-turns, before finally guiding her in for a triumphant landing at White Sands.

    In February 1967, Aura was followed into orbit by her sister Mk.I glider, Rhene. Piloted by Mercury-4 veteran Bob White, the DS-7 mission marked the first launch of a Dynasoar from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Launching into a 250 x 500 km polar orbit, Rhene carried in her payload bay a large deployable antenna designed to monitor Soviet air defence radars as she passed over northern Russia. As with Armstrong’s earlier mission, White’s electronic intelligence duties were kept secret from the public, although the Air Force did release a blurry video transmission of White inside his spacecraft to TV news outlets, after it had been screened for images of sensitive instrumentation. Most networks featured a ten-second clip of the video on the evening’s news bulletins, usually as the second or third-run story, but beyond that it failed to make much of an impact.

    Perhaps the most significant experiment of DS-7 was a first attempt to perform a “synergistic plane change”. On day four of the mission, White fired the manoeuvring engines of his Mission Module to lower Rhene’s perigee to just 80 km. As it entered the upper atmosphere, White used Rhene’s aerodynamic surfaces to pull her through a 0.2 degree plane change, before skipping back into space and raising his perigee again with a propulsive manoeuvre. The manoeuvre worked, but confirmed that for such minor corrections the propellant expended to compensate for the loss of orbital altitude due to drag was actually higher than if the entire manoeuvre had been made on rocket power alone.

    Rhene finally returned to Earth on day five of her mission, close to the limit for the fuel cells carried in her Mission Module. When making his final approach, the heat shield protecting the cockpit windows refused to jettison, and White was forced to make an instrument landing at White Sands with his visibility restricted to just the two side windows. This was a contingency that all of the Dynasoar pilots had trained for, and White brought his ship down to a successful landing despite his impaired view.

    After their first Orel mission in July 1966, the Soviets had failed to follow up with more Raketoplan missions. Though Shelepin was pleased to be able to point to Orel as having beaten the Americans to fielding the world’s first spaceplane, he did not have Khrushchev’s drive to seek publicity for its own sake. Shelepin’s main concern at this time was consolidating his grip on power, ensuring that the “Collective Leadership” established after Khrushchev’s ouster would be firmly “collected” under the Party he now chaired. His main rival for power was his erstwhile ally, now Chair of the Council of Ministers, Leonid Brezhnev, and Shelepin quickly moved to sideline his former comrade and ensure the support of the bulk of the Politburo. In particular, Shelepin made sure to get the Red Army on-side, and to that end began a large ramp-up in military spending. Both Shelepin and the new Chairman of the Supreme Council of the National Economy, Dimitry Ustinov, felt that the cuts to conventional forces under Khrushchev had been a grave error, and they immediately set about reversing this trend. Khrushchev’s regional economic councils were summarily disbanded and resources that had gone into expanding the civilian economy were diverted back into tank and jet production. Tentative talks with the US on limiting the deployment of nuclear weapons were cut off and a new programme of expansion of the Rocket Forces was begun. Anyone who raised a voice against this course of action was liable to receive a visit from one of Vladimir Semichastny’s KGB officers.

    For the Soviet space industry this surge in defence spending was for the most part a considerable boon. Yangel in particular found his resources expanding as he was charged with doubling the production of long- and medium-range combat missiles. Funding for Mishin’s military communications and spy satellites was also increased, and the development of his military space station programme (now re-named “Chasovoy”, or “Sentry”, since its reallocation from Chelomei) was accelerated.

    In contrast, Chelomei’s OKB-1 was left short-changed. Ustinov had not forgotten the Chief Designer’s earlier arrogance, and funding for further Orel flights was curtailed, limited to a single mission in May 1967. This flight, piloted by Yury Artyukhin, used the same Orel spaceplane as Shatalov’s 1966 mission. This allowed Chelomei to claim another ‘first’ in re-usable spacecraft technology, but as a military mission it provided even less operational value than the first flight when the antennas of the primary ELINT payload became stuck and refused to deploy. Consideration was given to ordering Artyukhin to make a spacewalk to unstick the antennas - after all, what was the point of flying a manned spacecraft if not to take advantage of the adaptability of a human being? - but in the end it was decided that this would be too big a risk. Artyukhin had no co-pilot who could help him should he run into difficulties. Artyukhin was able to duplicate on a smaller scale DS-7’s synergistic plane change manoeuvre, shifting his orbit by a tenth of a degree through aerodynamic forces, but Soviet engineers quickly reached the same conclusion as their American counterparts that such manoeuvres were of limited value. With his jammed antennas leaving him unable to fulfill his primary mission of monitoring US Navy radars in the eastern Mediterranean, Artyukhin was ordered to return to Earth after two and a half days aloft. To add insult to injury, the Orel’s jet engine again failed to start in mid-air, leaving Artyukhin to glide the plane down to an unpowered landing. Whilst the Soviet media reported the mission as another triumph for Socialism, amongst the military leadership the old joke “Chelomei builds crap” was becoming less and less funny.

    Chelomei’s suffering only became worse in June, when Mishin launched the twin spacecraft of Kosmos-52 and Zarya-8. A re-try of the on-orbit rendezvous mission previously attempted with Zarya-6 and Kosmos-45, this time cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov was able to pilot his ship to a successful docking with the unmanned target vehicle after a three-day orbital chase. Leonov then used Kosmos-52’s engines to raise the orbit of the joined spacecraft by fifteen kilometres. This achievement was not only a minor propaganda coup for Mishin and the USSR, but it also proved the techniques and equipment that would be needed in support of the Chasovoy space station. When Leonov returned to Earth at the end of his five-day mission, he was met at the landing site by Mishin himself, who embraced the cosmonaut and gave him a slug of vodka from a hip flask in celebration.

    In the US, the managers of the Dynasoar project had hoped by this stage to have been able to demonstrate the re-use of one of their Mk.I gliders. Unfortunately, upon their return to Earth Aura and Rhene were both found to have suffered more severe stress from re-entry than had been anticipated. In particular, some sections of the Rene-41 skin on the upper surfaces of both gliders were found to have warped slightly. Although the distortion was not enough to have caused any problems on their first missions, there was concern that repeated re-entries could result in a break in the hull, and so it was decided that the affected areas would have to be replaced between flights. In addition, detailed inspections of the entire spacecraft were carried out to ensure no other unexpected damage had occurred. All this led to a delay in the return to flight of either of the two Mk.I gliders, and so it was the Mk.II ship Athena that was the next Dynasoar on the pad.

    Launching from Cape Canaveral on a Minerva-22, mission DS-8 was the first multi-man launch for the US, with pilot Pete Knight joined by Paul McEnnis and Edward Karski. To support the enlarged crew, the DS-8 Mission Module carried almost a tonne more consumables than on either of the Mk. I missions, as well as 200 kg of externally mounted experiments for exposure to the rigours of space.

    Despite the careful preparations and the experience built up on the previous two launches, mission DS-8 almost ended before it had fully began. Following a successful lift-off and LRB separation on 2nd October 1967, the guidance system of the Minerva core stage began to drift from the planned trajectory. After an attempt by Mission Control to correct the problem failed, Knight took manual control of the booster and steered it back to the proper course. Less than a minute later staging occurred as planned, and the hydrogen-oxygen upper stage performed perfectly with no further input needed from Knight. The final orbit was just over two kilometres short of the mission plan, an impressive achievement for the world’s first manually piloted orbital launch. It was not to be the last such achievement of the mission.

    After four days aloft, the crew of DS-8 had demonstrated the ability to successfully live and work in the cramped conditions of Athena’s cabin. Now it was time to demonstrate their ability to leave that cabin. After all three astronauts had donned their spacesuits, the cabin pressure was allowed to slowly bleed into space until the interior of the ship was reduced to a vacuum. Paul McEnnis then opened the hatch above the pilot’s position and, with his two crewmates watching, pulled first his torso, then his whole body out into space. Still attached to Athena via twin tethers, McEnnis drifted against the backdrop of Earth as Knight took photos of America’s first spacewalker. After pausing for this photo-op, McEnnis quickly moved on to the primary objective of his space walk (or “Extra-Vehicular Excursion”, EVE, in the jargon adopted by the Air Force). From their position inside the glider, Knight and Karski passed a jointed, telescoping pole through the hatch, attaching it to a fixture on the rim of the hatchway. McEnnis pulled himself back to the hatch using his tethers, then proceeded to extend the pole (or “Mobility Assist Device”, an acronym originally suggested in jest by the astronauts themselves) along the outside of Athena, attaching extra segments from inside the cabin until the entire structure was almost nine metres in length. McEnnis then used “this Mad Pole” to pull himself along the ship to the Mission Module, with the aim of retrieving one of the externally mounted experiments for return to Earth. Unfortunately, the pressure inside his suit gloves hampered McEnnis’ dexterity to a far greater degree than anticipated, and after five minutes of struggling with the simple (on Earth) fixture mechanism, Mission Control decided to cancel the attempt. His exertions were causing McEnnis to burn through his oxygen supply at a faster rate than anticipated, so the call was made for him to return to the cockpit immediately. Frustrated, McEnnis obeyed, and five minutes later the three astronauts were re-united at the hatch. After a minor scare when it appeared the MAD might be jammed in place, blocking the hatch from closing, Knight was able to force the pole free and push it into space, before closing the hatch and repressurising the cabin. The next morning, the triumphant trio returned to White Sands as heroes.

    Paul McEnnis becomes the first American to walk in space, 6th October 1967.


    Special thanks to Shevek23 for his excellent analysis of the synergistic plane change.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
    Dlg123 likes this.
  13. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

    Aug 20, 2010
    Reno, Nevada USA
    I've been trying to estimate the lift-drag ratio of Rhene at 80 KM altitude. In a 500 x 250 km orbit, I figure it would take almost exactly 1000 m/sec delta V to turn the orbit by 7.6 degrees as specified. On the other hand, to lower the perigee from 250 to 80 would take only 50 m/sec at 500; if the turn in the atmosphere cost absolutely nothing it would only then be necessary to restore that missing 50 when the craft rises to apogee again. From this we can conclude that it costs more than 900 m/sec in aerodynamic drag to get the job done (and that having completed the turn, or in the middle of it, Rhene fired her rockets to make up that deficit so as to be able to return to 500 km altitude).

    But the turn costs the same in terms of applied delta-V at whatever altitude--well a bit more down low because (aside from speed lost to air drag coming down) Rhene is going faster at the low altitude--about 6 percent faster. So, in order to get enough aerodynamic "lift" sideways to turn through a 7.6 degree angle, which would require a net velocity change of 1060 m/sec, Rhene lost at least 900 due to drag coming down and going up (these will be pretty small contributions since the air is mostly a lot less dense on that path) plus the drag that occurred during the turn itself. Well, we can see that at any rate the lift/drag ratio is therefore higher than 1, which is something (hypersonic reentry capsules typically have optimum L/D in numbers lower than 1). But it clearly isn't even as good as 2.

    When reentry capsules are being designed the goals are quite different and so L/D well under 1 is perfectly OK for them. But it does mean it is not easy to get comparison to OTL hypersonic space planes--the STS, when it was in the speed range (nearly 8 km/sec) Rhene would have been in trying to do an efficient turn, would not be trying to do turns--but rather brake hard down to lower speeds. So it's hard for me to judge whether the Dynasoar, as a first-generation spaceplane, is just something of a lemon in terms of hypersonic aerodynamics, or whether actually it is already pushing the limits of the attainable in terms of efficient lift/drag at the very high Mach numbers involved in orbital speeds.

    I do know that supersonic designs can achieve rather better ratios than that, but these after all are going at Mach 3, maybe Mach 5--Rhene did the turn at Mach 26 or so.

    Another way to put it--if Rhene had achieved a lift/drag ratio as high as 2, and auxiliary drag due to the transit down from 500 to 80 km (and then back up again) slowed the craft as much as 100 m/sec, then still the maneuver should have saved 270 out of 1000 m/sec, 27 percent. And all turns of any angle would be cheaper in delta-V by that same amount--or really, more for harder angles, because the losses due to lowering the orbit and then enduring drag going down and coming up would be fixed, and the benefit gained on the turns would be greater in proportion.

    It seems the ratio was in fact something like 4/3 (or lower, considering that the outcome was spending more propellant than a turn on rocket thrust would have cost). Even getting it up to just 3/2 ought to have resulted in a small net benefit from the maneuver.

    Which makes me wonder--I had assumed that by the time the program is this far advanced, the hypersonic aerodynamic characteristics of the craft would be well known, and everyone in the program could simply calculate in advance that the maneuver would be a waste of effort. So why do it? I supposed it was to make certain innumerate brass hat generals shut up already by demonstrating to them that it doesn't pay.

    But could it be that actually, despite all the testing that had been done up to this point, the exact lift/drag ratio in those conditions was not known too precisely, and that there was a chance that the maneuver would indeed have saved some propellant after all? The L/D ratio does not have to be high to put the craft a little bit ahead of the game; if there were a lot of uncertainty about it, I guess this would have been a genuine experiment.

    One that could have worked out the other way then.

    I suppose if there was that much uncertainty about the characteristics of the craft in those conditions, then there would be a lot of it in other conditions too--which would make every reentry attempt a crapshoot.

    Therefore it looks to me like the engineers knew before this flight that the experiment would not show any improvement on direct orbital changes by rockets, and staged the whole thing to make the enthusiasts be quiet.
    Dlg123 likes this.
  14. nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    Indeed, Bradt as West German Chancellor will definitely have an affect on East-West relations… as will Shelepin as CPSU First Secretary. We’ll see some of those effects in upcoming posts.

    Well, I have to admit you’ve dug into this in a lot more detail than I did! In the course of researching Dynasoar I picked up on suggestions that a synergistic plane change would not really be worth the trouble (sorry, I don’t recall where now), hence I added that into the post with some (to my mind) reasonable figures. If however it turns out I was well wide of the mark, I’d be happy to ret-con this.

    A couple of things to consider though:

    1) Hypersonic research at this point has really only had practical experience with ballistic re-entry shapes, not a lifting shape - in fact gaining real data for this domain was one of the main justifications for developing Dynasoar. So whilst the engineers may suspect a synergistic plane change is not worth doing, they would still want to verify this by experiment when the opportunity arises.

    2) When considering Dynasoar’s L/D, don’t forget she’s still hauling that large, conical Mission Module at this point. The Dynasoar glider is optimised for large cross-range on re-entry with just the glider, so keeping the Mission Module attached (needed for orbital re-boost) is bound to have a negative impact on the aerodynamics.
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  15. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

    Aug 20, 2010
    Reno, Nevada USA
    Well, it probably is a tough thing to work. As I hope I implied clearly enough, optimum L/D in the ballpark of under 2, maybe even less than 1, might well be the best that can be done for orbital-speed aerodynamics. As you say--we don't really know do we!

    You said the performance was not superior to the option of simply doing the inclination change directly with rockets at altitude--which I calculated as requiring 1000 m/sec. (Can a Dynasoar of this generation do that? That's way better than a Gemini could do! It had better be able to or the whole experiment would at best have resulted in an unplanned early reentry). So we know the maneuver cost more than 1000 all up, some 100 of which would have been due to lowering the perigee at the beginning and then raising it again at the end, each 50 m/sec. So 900 or more were spent in the atmospheric maneuvering phase.

    But you don't say how much more! Presumably not a lot, or the delta-V the Dynasoar is capable of on rocket power would be rather incredible.

    Anyway even if there are improvements, such as integrating the tankage and engines into the aerodynamically optimized frame of a Dynasoar II to raise its atmospheric performance to theoretical limits, being able to do an inclination change with say half the propellent of doing it at altitude still won't mean being able to do it easily. It would still be a bugger of an expensive maneuver even at half the cost.

    As before, the best approach is to simply launch your ship into whatever inclination orbit you wanted it to be in in the first place. There's some cost associated with that but much less than changing it later!

    It remains difficult to think up realistic scenarios in which the ability to make these changes is very desirable.
  16. arkades Active Member

    May 13, 2011
    As I understand it, an orbit inclination change is useful for military actions.
    You launch at cap Canaveral at 20° so the soviet don't know what you are doing, then you go to Baikonour inclination at 50°, so you can intercept Russian satellites, study them on orbit, even pick them up and bring it back to earth (one of the objectives for the space shuttle, it might be viewed as an act of war).
    To me the main interest in this maneuver is for space combat.

    A non military use is when you have many space stations at different inclinations and you want to go from one to another.
    But in this case you need a massive space program (OTL apollo times 20).

    Or maybe you came back from the moon/mars and you want to reach a space station whose orbit is in the wrong plane relative to your return vector ?
    Dlg123 likes this.
  17. valentina New Member

    Jan 9, 2015
    Subscribed! With the death of The Chief Designer the Space race would be really interesting :D. What will happen to Yuri Gagarin and to my namesake Valentina Tereshkova as well?
    I am really curious to read where you are bringing us :)
  18. e of pi Layers on Top of Layers

    Nov 27, 2008
    Halfway to Anywhere
    A big application if it had worked might have been for changing the ground track of polar orbits. Polar orbital imaging satellites are the main tool for satellite recon, but their orbits are predicable by the surveillee. Thus, they can arrange activities to occur "out of view" of the watching satellites. With the ability to do large orbital plane changes, you could change your ground track unpredictably for manned orbital recon and eliminate that weakness.

    As you say, a 7.6 degree burn is over a km/s of delta-v--way more than Dynasoar can manage propulsively (it's probably less than half that on engines). If the aerodynamics had worked out, it could have been valuable to create a 800+ km divergence in the ground track, and they lacked a lot of the understanding of high-altitude hypersonic flight that we have now to know that it wouldn't work out before the flight, just like they didn't know until they tried that manned camera operations were apt to be less-optimal than unmanned optical platforms.
    Dlg123 likes this.
  19. nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    Hmm. I’m now doing what I should have done before I posted, and run some more numbers. I don’t yet trust the quick-and-dirty spreadsheet I’ve set up for inclination changes, but just to go from 250x500km to 80x500km my numbers agree with yours, just over 50m/s. In my background notes I have the Mk.I Dynasoar with a total delta-v of 208m/s (based on the initial Mission Module design intended for Minerva-20, before weight growth meant it had to move to -22), so that's half its delta-v budget just on this plane-change attempt. Clearly that's no-where near the 1km/s you've pointed out we'd need. As we’re now launching on Minerva-22, I could upgrade the tanks and add propellant to give Mk.I up to around 500m/s delta-v, but not much more. (For comparison, astronautix.com gives Gemini a total delta-v of 98 m/s, though another source quotes as high as 323m/s).

    (Which reminds me, I really must get around to adding my Dynasoar numbers to the Wiki…)

    I'll take another look at what might be a realistic plane change, but if it's still looking unlikely, I’ll just have to ret-con the post to remove this section and we’ll just assume they high-forehead guys worked out on the ground that it wasn’t worth doing.

    Sorry for this screw-up (I think my biggest so far!) :eek:, and thanks for keeping me honest!

    As e of pi has already said, one of the stated reasons for trying a plane change was to make your overflight times unpredictable, so you could sneak up on a ground target before the enemy has a chance to move it, cover it in tarp, or otherwise conceal what he’s doing. If it could be made more effective than a pure rocket-based plane change, it could also perhaps be useful for multiple satellite inspection/intercepts, but if you only want to look at one specific target it’s best to go straight to the correct inclination. Similarly, for planetary returns it’s almost certainly easier to break directly into your target inclination - just shift a fraction of a degree over whilst still a few million miles away.

    Regarding retrieval, the payload bay of the Mk.I Dynasoar ITTL is far too small to consider such options (not that that will stop the Soviets worrying about it!). Also, the USAF would probably not want to risk such a mission in case the target is booby-trapped or otherwise defended. This was a serious concern even for satellite inspection missions IOTL.

    Glad to have you aboard, valentina! I’m afraid Ms Tereshkova has been butterflied out of her opportunity for space travel ITTL :( But Yuri is still involved. I’m guessing you might not have caught up with all the posts yet, so I’ll take the opportunity to point you towards the Wiki, which has links to all of the posts, plus background information.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2015
  20. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

    Aug 20, 2010
    Reno, Nevada USA
    Gosh now I feel bad. I certainly didn't mean to kill the mission, especially since it's valid.

    Here's a suggestion:

    1) obviously if the exact aerodynamic parameters of the spaceplane at the selected altitude and speed are not known in advance in great precision, it would be incredibly foolhardy to dive down and attempt a turn of a given amount, unless that amount were known to be within safe limits anyway.

    2) so instead, the plan is, do the dive, requiring a known delta-V (50 m/sec, times two to allow for restabilizing the orbit) so that costs 100 m/sec. Set aside 50 or 60 more for his final return to Earth. We're down 160. The pilot of course pays close attention to how much is lost during the dive toward the perigee, and deducts the same amount again from what reserve he has left; at some point he goes into a bank and brings up the nose for estimated optimum lift--unless that would put him near the heat or the G limit, but I daresay 80 km was chosen to be rather high to give good margin away from either. He's a test pilot; he knows the theory in and out and he's also practice flown this plane (at much lower speeds, in denser air) before, so he has some latitude to feel out the exact optimum. He banks as efficiently as he can, knowing how much fuel reserve he has set aside for this turn, watching the rate at which he is losing airspeed, and then levels off for minimum drag and fires the rocket to restore his energy and momentum when he has reached the limit. That puts him back in orbit with ample reserve to safely finish the mission.

    Then he and the ground control team take note of just how far he managed to turn, and compare it to what he could have done with the same net expenditure in high orbit, directly with no atmosphere involved.

    So--let's say he does accomplish 7.6 degrees, but only starting with the high end of delta-V you quote now: 500. Well you say maybe a bit more; say it's 560 and the 60 is set aside for final return. It will cost 100 to deorbit then reorbit later, leaving 400. Say just 20 of that is lost going down and another 20 is therefore estimated to be lost going back up, leaving 360 for the turn. This is how much airspeed he can lose doing it. Doing it at changing airspeed will complicate the math, but not a whole lot; his perigee speed is quite close to 8000, so we are looking at less than a 5 percent speed loss, a 10 percent energy loss.

    I don't know the thrust of the transstage engine but surely a test pilot can take 3 Gs or more; it would take just 12 seconds to regain the necessary speed then. I also don't know how powerful a lift he might generate at 80 km going almost 8 km/sec, again guessing in the 3 G ballpark (which is reasonable for the turn but perhaps not for the thrust) the turn takes 35 seconds, I think. Thus the net lift (specific lift, per unit of mass) is 30*35=1050, whereas the drag he observes amounts to 360, for a net L/D of 2.92.

    Now this is quite good, because the 500 he'd had available at 500 km altitude and holding there would only turn him 3.8 degrees.

    But let's say the experiment is still disappointing, because some people on the team thought the ratio would be even better, whereas even their optimistic numbers were a bit marginal for the missions hoped for. Or a lot marginal; the hope was, to improve the L/D in the light of data obtained in this and other missions, and then to be in the envelope for the missions they wanted to do. But even though everyone knows this mission is not a direct and final measure of what can be done--they hoped for more, transstage and all, with the result they get instead it looks like reaching the values in an operational fighter/bomber/scout spaceplane would be tougher than they thought.

    Now I still don't know if achieving an L/D of nearly 3 at that altitude, without burning up the ship and with bearable G forces (3 is child's play for a test pilot of course; it might have been higher or lower) is easy for the modern hypersonic engineer, or fantastically unattainable. I could argue it either way in my state of ignorance; I know that Barnes Wallis thought, in the 1950s, that getting ratios as high as 5 for a merely supersonic jet going Mach 4 or so would be a good achievement--but I don't know how much that was compromised by the need to make the plane perform acceptably well as a subsonic plane for takeoff and landing. I don't know if the attainable ratios continue to deteriorate as we push faster and faster past Mach 1, or if they level off or even start to improve in higher hypersonic regimes.

    All I'm saying is, your Dynasoar could do the mission you describe on the fuel budget you later supplied, if it had that L/D at 80 km and 7950 m/sec. And it definitely couldn't do better than half that at its 500 km perigee (and less at apogee).

    There is more fudging you could do--change the parking orbit for instance, I thought it ought to be more circular and lower; Apollo lunar missions had parking orbits just 180 km up, 100 nautical miles, right? Or was it 180 NM, which is 324 km? Either is lower--well, the latter averages about the same. That only knocks a few m/sec off the drop and re-orbit, and with somewhat lower orbital energy the turn would be a bit harder. The elliptical orbit exaggerates the amount it can turn under rocket thrust in high orbit, since it is going slowest at apogee--any "synergistic plane change" would penalize the aerodynamic turn a bit because it has to happen at a low perigee, and also we will lose something going down and coming up beyond the ballistic change in velocity necessary to dip down (and reversing that later). I probably underestimated when I guessed "20" but the higher the real figure is, the more efficient the Dynasoar was turning 7.6 degrees--maybe the L/D topped 3 or was even 4.

    It does not seem unreasonable to me that a spaceplane such as DynaSoar could indeed do these maneuvers and save substantially on propellent to change inclinations.

    It does seem unreasonable that it could do everything Air Force former fighter pilot generals would hope it could. They are too used to what their old planes could do, and haven't thought through the huge difference in speed between Mach 3 and Mach 26.

    Also a lot of those proposed missions strike me as rather scarily destabilizing. That's what the military would want of course, the capability of scaring Ivan white. Is it a bad thing though if doing so turns out to be prohibitively expensive?

    The mission to seize a rival power's satellite--I've heard of that, as something some people in the USAF proposed for STS!:eek: It had to do with the argument that the STS needed to be able to return to its polar launch site (Vandenberg AFB) within one orbit, and hence needed the large cross-range the DoD insisted on--the idea was they could launch, catch a Soviet satellite over some part of Earth the Soviets had no surveillance over, and land at the launch site without the Soviets ever having it pass over their territory where they might retaliate--actually I think the idea was to maintain deniability by never letting them record their own footage of the operation taking place. It would be an easy guess what happened but the Americans might challenge the Russians to give proof.

    Well, aside from the obvious danger the damn target is booby-trapped, that strikes me as piracy at the very least--piracy itself being an act of war.

    My guess is no one seriously wanted to do that mission, it was just talk to facilitate turf-grabbing. But very inflammatory talk.

    Well, OTL the Soviets were worried enough about what STS might do that they dropped their own spaceplane projects that ran on other lines and put their budget into developing Buran, and the Energia system to launch it. That I'm told pretty much bankrupted the Soviet space effort, leaving the post-Soviet Republic unable to fund it without massive cutbacks.

    So the idle edgy talk may have served a useful purpose after all, if the goal was to kill the other guy's space program.:rolleyes: