60 Years. TsAGI — to the Universe: BOR Unpiloted Orbital Rocketplane
4 March 2021
The Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute named after Professor N.E Zhukovsky participated in research of a number of aerospace systems. Successful flight of the legendary Vostok 1 spaceship triggered the interest in the subject and increased the amount of research. One of the major projects was BOR, an unpiloted orbital rocketplane, as a part of Spiral aerospace system.
The project works started in 1966 in parallel with the development of the Spiral spaceplane in TsAGI, Mikoyan Design Bureau, and Gromov Flight Research Institute. In addition to the transport configuration with a small cargo module, the main military modifications of orbital planes were developed, such as photo-reconnaissance and radio-reconnaissance orbit aircraft, aircraft-carrier destroyer, and space interceptors. TsAGI made a great contribution to the development of the system by performing laboratory research, model tests and full-scale orbit aircraft model wind-tunnel tests at the Institute facilities.
The outcomes made it possible to determine the aerothermodynamic characteristics of the orbital airframe with a high degree of reliability. They, in turn, became the initial data for the developers of various systems of the winged vehicle.
The BOR series included five vehicle types. Not all launches were successful; however, the fourth flight of BOR-2 orbit rocketplane in February, 1972 was a success. The flight program was fully completed, and the space vehicle was recovered by means of its protection.
In the late 1970s, active work started on another large space project, the Buran reusable space system. Two configurations were initially proposed for it: the first one was similar to BOR orbit rocketplane, the other one was based on Space Shuttle orbiter; the latter concept became the basis for designing Buran. As a result, works related to Spiral were abandoned in 1978 and all the efforts were hurled into Buran. BOR program was re-oriented to flight tests of analogue vehicles. The experience, which was obtained during its design, manufacturing and flight tests, served as a qualitatively new stage towards new reusable aerospace systems.