[FPSPACE] Alexeyev/Sukhoi Albatros

jameseoberg at comcast.net jameseoberg at comcast.net
Tue Jul 26 19:32:02 EDT 2016

Superb analysis, it's extremely satisfying to have lived long enough to see these threads collected, collated, and placed in perspective. We had no hope, during those years, of ever actually obtaining such a clear retrospective view. Thank you all! 

----- Original Message -----

From: "Bart Hendrickx" <bhen at telenet.be> 
To: "fpspace" <FPSPACE at mail.friends-partners.org> 
Sent: Tuesday, July 26, 2016 2:32:19 PM 
Subject: Re: [FPSPACE] Fw: [New post] Sidebar: Alexeyev/Sukhoi Albatros 

A Soviet spaceplane called Albatros was indeed described in the Dutch space magazine Spaceview back in 1976. However, it was described not as a sea-launched vehicle, but as a two-stage-to orbit system consisting of a supersonic transport aircraft and a shuttle vehicle riding on top of it. In fact, the description pretty much matched that of the Spiral spaceplane system that the Russians worked on in the late 1960s-early 1970s. A similar concept for a Soviet shuttle vehicle had also been given by Peter James in his 1974 book “Soviet Conquest From Space”. Although both James and the Dutch author(s) overestimated the size and capabilities of the shuttle vehicle, they got the basic Spiral concept right. 

James may have been given garbled information about Spiral by Gennadiy Dementyev at the 1969 IAF congress in Argentina. Dementyev (the son of Minister of the Aviation Industry Pyotr Dementyev) was deputy chief designer for Spiral at the Mikoyan design bureau. I don’t know if the Dutch author(s) got their information from James’ book or arrived at a similar conclusion through other sources. As far as I can recall, they did not refer to James’ book in the article. 

Bart Hendrickx 

From: FPSPACE [mailto:fpspace-bounces at mail.friends-partners.org] On Behalf Of geert 
Sent: dinsdag 26 juli 2016 4:09 
To: LARRY KLAES; FPSPACE listserver; FPSPACE at mail.friends-partners.org; Jakob Terweij 
Subject: Re: [FPSPACE] Fw: [New post] Sidebar: Alexeyev/Sukhoi Albatros 

I remember either Jaap Terweij or Maarten Houtman did an article on Albatross in our Dutch magazine Spaceview. Might even have been before 83 but I am at sea at the moment so cant access my archieve and the actual Spaceview magazine but I guess Jaap will know. 

Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone. 

-------- Original message -------- 

From: LARRY KLAES < ljk4 at msn.com > 

Date: 7/18/16 09:40 (GMT+06:00) 

To: fpspace2 < FPSPACE at mail.friends-partners.org > 

Subject: [FPSPACE] Fw: [New post] Sidebar: Alexeyev/Sukhoi Albatros 

Sent from Outlook< http://aka.ms/weboutlook > 

From: False Steps < comment-reply at wordpress.com > 
Sent: Thursday, July 14, 2016 8:44 PM 
To: ljk4 at msn.com 
Subject: [New post] Sidebar: Alexeyev/Sukhoi Albatros 

Paul Drye posted: " Rostislav Alexeyev built the latter part of his engineering career on ground effect, which is the demonstrable fact that a wing generates more lift and experiences less drag when it's in close proximity to the ground than it does while high in the air. " 
Respond to this post by replying above this line 

New post on False Steps 
[http://0.gravatar.com/avatar/07b3843cfaf31e11e5dbecaf397d6547?s=50&d=identicon&r=PG]< https://falsesteps.wordpress.com/author/pauldrye/ > 
Sidebar: Alexeyev/Sukhoi Albatros< https://falsesteps.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/sidebar-alexeyevsukhoi-albatros/ > 
by Paul Drye< https://falsesteps.wordpress.com/author/pauldrye/ > 


A conjectural diagram of the Albatros launcher, by Mark Wade of Encyclopedia Astronautica. Used with permission. 

Rostislav Alexeyev built the latter part of his engineering career on ground effect, which is the demonstrable fact that a wing generates more lift and experiences less drag when it's in close proximity to the ground than it does while high in the air. In general aircraft don't take advantage of it when cruising because of the increased risk—the ground is right there—in the event of something going wrong, but Alexeyev was an expert on hydrofoil design and felt that the problem was sufficiently mitigated by flying over water to be worth attacking. Between the Khrushchev era and his death in 1980 he built his largest ekranoplan ("screen plane"), the so-called "Kaspian Monster" (KM: korabl maket, "test vehicle") which met a watery fate in an accident not long after Alexeyev's demise. 

If you're the sort of person who's interested in Soviet crewed spaceflight you're probably the sort of person who finds Russian ekranoplans and hydrofoils interesting too, but you may be wondering where the connection is between the two that would cause the latter to show up on a blog devoted to the former. The intersection of this particular Venn diagram is the Albatros, outlined in a remarkable letter to the British Interplanetary Society's Spaceflight magazine, published in 1983. 

Long-time readers will recall that the Soviet space program was in disarray for much of the early 1970s, with 1974 being the year of crisis. Vasili Mishin was replaced by Valentin Glushko< https://falsesteps.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/chief-designers-1-valentin-glushko/ > as the man in charge, and officials higher than him forced a change in focus from Moon missions to a space shuttle and space stations. For a period of time everything was in the air, and as was endemic to the Soviet space effort various other empire builders tried to get themselves a piece of the pie. 

The design bureau of OKB-51 lurked on the edges of the Russian space program right from the very beginning, but never managed to convert its expertise in high-performance aircraft into any concrete projects. In 1974 they teamed with Alexeyev's Central Hydrofoil Design Bureau to make a claim on the shuttle project, as at the time it was not yet settled that the Soviets would emulate the American Space Shuttle closely to produce Energia< https://falsesteps.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/energiavulkan-the-last-big-rocket/ >/Buran (consider, for example, Glushko's MTKVP< https://falsesteps.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/mtkvp-glushkos-opening-gambit/ >, which also dates to the same time). Their proposal was named Albatros, and it's, so long as the source, space historian and writer Neville Kidger, got his Cold War information right, the only triphibious spaceplane ever proposed, requiring both water and air to get into orbit and land for its return 

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