[FPSPACE] Alexeyev/Sukhoi Albatros

Bart Hendrickx bhen at telenet.be
Thu Jul 28 14:53:51 EDT 2016


Thanks for confirming my suspicion, Dmitry. I guess the Albatros story is a nice example of how myths are born. Someone finds an obscure Russian article, starts speculating about its background (with the best of intentions), that speculation is then interpreted by others as being part of the original story and before you know it a relatively meaningless student project turns into a serious design bureau study. Especially in the Internet era stories like this can spread like wildfire, making it very difficult to track down the original source and separate fact from myth. The funny thing here is that S. Reznik, the Russian author who identified Albatros as a student project in 2007, apparently started believing himself that it was a real design bureau study after seeing the Albatros page on Mark Wade’s website.  A classic example of Western speculation being echoed back by the Russians.

 

Of course, another clue that Albatros could not have been a real design bureau study was that the Russian article was written in 1982, a time when articles on real Soviet shuttle projects would never have passed censorship. Not even the existence of the Buran programme had been publicly disclosed by the Soviet Union at the time. 

 

Bart Hendrickx  

 

From: Dmitry Payson [mailto:dpayson at mail.ru] 
Sent: donderdag 28 juli 2016 13:50
To: Bart Hendrickx
Cc: FPSPACE at mail.friends-partners.org
Subject: Re[2]: [FPSPACE] Alexeyev/Sukhoi Albatros

 

I exactly remember seeing this conference thesis in the blue paperback Nauka publication. Sinyarev was one of Bauman's original professors on rocketry, with his first fundamental textbook published as early as 1961. While this publication had initiated some agitation for a moment, it would be clear that it is a student design project rather soon.

Dmitry Payson

Четверг, 28 июля 2016, 0:41 +03:00 от "Bart Hendrickx" <bhen <mailto:bhen at telenet.be> @telenet.be>:

I briefly mentioned the sea-launched Albatros in the Buran book I wrote with Bert Vis in 2007. My conclusion at the time was that Albatros was nothing more than a paper study done by students at Bauman Technical University in Moscow.

 

The original Russian article where Albatros is described is called “Transportnaya kosmicheskaya sistema Albatros” (Transport Space System Albatros) and was a written by five authors (lead author G.B. Sinyarev). I have a photocopy of that with no source indicated, but during my research I found (can’t remember how) that it was published in a collection of writings called “K.E. Tsiolkovksiy i nauchno-tekhnicheskiy progress” published by Nauka in 1982. A further search then led me to a paper presented at the 31st Korolyov Academic Readings in 2007 by S.V. Reznik of Bauman University where Albatros is mentioned as a reusable space transportation system studied by students at Bauman. The abstracts of that paper are here (see p. 336) :

 

http://www.ihst.ru/~akm/14t31.pdf

 

The lead author of the article, Gennadiy B. Sinyarev, was indeed a professor at Bauman who lived from 1915 to 1991 :

http://energy.power.bmstu.ru/e02/100_Years/Sinerev.pdf

 

When the article was written in 1982, Sinyarev was 67, so I’m assuming he authored the article in his capacity as supervisor of the study (the co-authors being the students).

 

The article doesn’t mention any link with a design bureau. It is written in the passive form and appears to be the product of a study done by the authors themselves.  In Mark Wade’s description there is a lot of information that is not in the original article (e.g. that it was a 1974 study by the Sukhoi/Andreyev design bureaus and that it was supposed to be launched from the Caspian Sea), so I’m wondering where that comes from. Mark says his description is based on a letter written by Neville Kidger in “Spaceflight” in 1983 (which in turn must be based on Sinyarev’s article because the drawings are identical). I don’t have that letter,  so my best guess is that the additional information was just educated speculation on the part of Neville Kidger.

 

To confuse matters further, I’ve now found that S.V. Reznik (the author of the 2007 paper describing Albatros as a student project) mentions Albatros as a real design bureau project (1974, Sukhoi/Alekseyev) in another paper written in 2010 :

 

http://cyberleninka.ru/article/n/sravnitelnyy-analiz-konstruktivno-tehnologicheskogo-sovershenstva-mnogorazovyh-kosmicheskih-apparatov

 

His source for that is Mark Wade’s website…

Anyway, my best guess still is that Albatros was nothing more than a Bauman paper study. If it was a real design bureau proposal, I suppose we would have heard more about it by now. 

 

As for the Albatros described by the Dutch sleuths in 1976, that of course pre-dated the study mentioned above and may have been based on garbled information about Spiral. I don’t remember how the Dutch authors arrived at the name Albatros. I should have another look at their article.

 

Bart Hendrickx

 

From: FPSPACE [mailto:fpspace-bounces at mail.friends-partners.org] On Behalf Of Mark Wade
Sent: woensdag 27 juli 2016 21:18
To: fpspace at mail.friends-partners.org
Subject: Re: [FPSPACE] Alexeyev/Sukhoi Albatros

 

The drawing on my site is not 'conjectural' but rather based on the illustrations appearing in the source cited on my page on the Albatros:

 

Kidger, Neville, "The Soviet Shuttle (Letter)", Spaceflight, 1983, Volume 25, page 251.

 

My original article (posted August 1996!):

 

http://www.astronautix.com/a/albatros.html

 

It does not seem there is anything new in this blog post beyond my article, in turn based on Neville's. I am not sure it is related to the Albatros that Bart is discussing; I haven't seen that original. Alekseyev was only proposing the launch platform; the two-stage winged shuttle was by Sukhoi. It was odd that of all of the studies done leading up to Buran, only this one seems to have been publicly known to the west prior to the BOR-4 / Buran flight tests.

 

On the other hand I can't readily find any post-Soviet Russian source (e.g. Alekseyev or Sukhoi) bureaus that mention this design. The only current Russian sources are going back to my article, then back to Neville's. So did it ever exist? And if it did, wouldn't it have used an Ekranoplan rather than a hydrofoil (or maybe what was released in the West was a hydrofoil since Ekranoplans were so classified?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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