Polyus (spacecraft)

Polyus (spacecraft)

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, shortly before Polyus' launch, Mikhail Gorbachev visited the Baikonur Cosmodrome and expressly forbade the on-orbit testing of its capabilities. Kornilov claims that Gorbachev was worried that it would be possible for Western governments to view this activity as an attempt to create a weapon in space and that such an attempt would contradict the country's previous statements on the USSR’s peaceful intent. ["Unknown Polyus" by Yuri Kornilov, Journal - Earth and the Universe http://www.astronautix.com/craft/polyus.htm"]

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. However, 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.


*Length: 37.00 m (121.00 ft)
*Maximum Diameter: 4.10 m (13.40 ft)
*Mass: 80000 kg (176000 lb)
*Associated Launch Vehicle: Energia.
*Intended orbit: 280 km, inclination of 64º

Defensive weapons

*Radar and optical sighting system guided ASAT defensive cannon.
*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.

ee also

*TKS-based spacecraft

External links

* [http://www.buran.ru/htm/cargo.htm Polyus page (in Russian)]
* [http://www.buran-energia.com/polious/polious-desc.php buran-energia.com Polyus page]
* [http://k26.com/buran/Info/Polyus/polyus-energia.html K26 Polyus-Energia page]
* [http://www.astronautix.com/craft/polyus.htm Astronautix.com Polyus page]
* [http://www.espacial.org/images/jpg/polyus.jpgPolyus and launcher pic]


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