Over the past decade, outer space has been mastered at a gigantic pace – more than 1,000 spacecraft annually. Private companies created by prominent entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Joseph Bezos, Richard Branson and others are playing an increasingly important role in this. Science & Space LLC, a young Ukrainian private company that declared its activities in the space industry 2020, also offers its own project.
If former states spent huge sums of money on creating space technology to confirm their own superiority, then the “new” space has significantly reduced the cost. Instead, it requires the accuracy to launch the payload into orbit, the creation of economical, reliable and environmentally friendly rocket and space systems (RSC). The priorities are reuse, mobility and rapid readiness of RKK for a new assignment, customer-oriented launch service and profitability in the project.
The Soviet Union, along with the United States, was a world leader in intercontinental ballistic missile defense. At present, the number of countries mastering rocket technology has increased significantly. Many strive to join an elite club and invest heavily. A major role in the creation of the “missile shield” in the Soviet Union was played by the development of the Yuzhnoye design agency and the YuMZ series factory in Ukraine. From 1962 to 2021, 163 Ukrainian-made launchers were launched from six space ports around the world, putting 380 satellites into orbit in the order of 25 countries, mainly for military purposes.
In Ukraine, various rocket and space systems were developed by fire dynamics – mortar launch. One of them was a combat railway missile system (BZHRK) with a modified RS-22 missile fired from a railway platform. The principle of postponing mortar is based on RSC GreenSpace. The development of the military complex was taken into account by the team, behind which both experience of the Soviet rocket and space complex and service in the Soviet Union’s rocket and space forces. But the newly developed RKK involves the reuse of stages – the same solution that Elon Musk came up with when they returned the first steps of rockets.
Mobile reusable rocket and space systems can reduce the cost of launch. Although they are in themselves more expensive than disposable rockets, the advantage is that the rocket is not thrown during launch, but is used repeatedly. The team moves away from the use of complex and expensive space ports and realizes that neither Ukraine nor even many European countries can afford the construction of a new Baikonur. The philosophy is to carry out launches in different parts of the world to solve logistics issues for the customer by optimizing the mass of the payload to be launched, and safety by locating flight routes outside populated areas, which is important for Ukraine.
The global technological revolution in the creation of spacecraft (SC) has significantly reduced their size and weight with virtually no loss of capacity. And if earlier launches of spacecraft were the privilege of the most developed and rich countries, now there are many independent developers who create relatively inexpensive spacecraft with little mass and different purposes. For example, for monitoring the earth’s surface, communications, special purposes, scientific experiments, air traffic control.
Given the appearance on the market of a large number of spacecraft, to ensure the convenience of their launch in the world, requirements are introduced (first for ultralight ones) to standardize mass, dimensions, installation interface, connection, etc. And the launch into orbit near Earth has become possible with small rockets. All of this began to place strict demands on spacecraft users for the launch of launch vehicles in terms of cost, accuracy in launching the payload into orbit, and launch speed. And since small rockets can in principle not provide a cheaper launch than heavy launch vehicles, the trump cards for the first launch speed are an individual approach to each space mission and even the ability to “bring” the launch pad closer to the customer. Launch cost management ensures that the launch vehicle can be reused.
The configuration of GreenSpace RSC (launch vehicle launch vehicle, payload mass to be launched, geometry, fuel components, “cold” reusable sustainability engines, manufacturing technology and future prospects for their development and application in other projects), adopted the basis for an analysis of market requirements and development costs , cost start. The features of the territorial distribution of Ukraine and other European countries, from which it promises to launch, are taken into account. Suspension vehicle stages are characterized by: the use of non-toxic fuel components, maximum use of composite materials for the manufacture of structures, including high-pressure fuel tanks, the use of additive technologies for structural parts of sustainability engines with a pumpless fuel supply system.
The launch vehicle is designed to launch a payload weighing up to 200 kg in elliptical and circular orbits, including the sun synchronous, in the altitude range of 500 km and above. This corresponds to the requirements for launch support for spacecraft that can be developed in ESA member countries, Ukraine and other countries for various commercial purposes.
Due to the growing commercial demand for launching small spacecraft into outer space, the RSC ultralight project will be commercially successful with competent development, marketing and government support. Such an RSC is capable of ensuring the launch of all Ukrainian spacecraft. The implementation of the GreenSpace project will allow Ukraine to take a position in the market for launch services through its own RSC.
The implementation of the RKK GreenSpace project requires a relatively small amount, much smaller than similar systems. According to preliminary estimates, the cost of research and development will amount to EUR 22 million. Given the creation of the RSC, primarily in the interest of the players in the “new” space, the optimal system for its financing will be a private-public partnership. First and foremost by attracting private investment. Minimal state support is sufficient, for example by providing fixed guarantees for the purchase of launch services and / or co-investment in the renovation of the industrial area at one of the airports (it can be used to integrate the space complex and its telemetry equipment to control launches).
Sustainer engine parts manufactured using additive technology can withstand temperatures up to 4000 ° C. This will enable long-term and repeated use of rocket engines. They will run on environmentally friendly fuel – highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide + ethanol – which will burn at low temperatures.
To brake and return the starting craft’s step closer to the starting point after the engines have been switched off, the remaining high pressure gas will be used. The steps are dropped with a parachute, picked up by helicopters and reused after minimal inspection, docking of stairs and new payload mounted.
To control the launch vehicle in flight, the performance of modern low-mass navigation systems, with sufficient reliability and functional capability, developed on the element base using MEMS techniques, will be used. The navigation system uses data verification according to the parameters of global navigation systems.
The plans are to carry out launches of the launch vehicle both on the territory of Ukraine and other European states. Therefore, the project involves close international cooperation. For operational launching of a launch vehicle with a given slope of the payload launch path, the ground equipment must be mobile in order to be able to move to the point where the technical base is located in the shortest possible time.
It is possible to launch a launch vehicle from the Yagorlytsky Kut Peninsula (Ukraine), the second stage will go over an altitude of 100 km (state air border) at a distance of less than 300 km from the starting point, ie. Borders of the Republic of Turkey. The first stage lands at a distance of no more than 90 km from the starting point over the Black Sea (captured by a helicopter). The second stage returns from space according to the landing program to the starting point (captured by a helicopter). In an emergency, the second stage will fall in the uninhabited zone of the Sahara Desert, at the northwestern tip of the Republic of Sudan – we hope to reach an international agreement on this issue.
Promising are launches of LV from space ports across the Atlantic to a solar-synchronous orbit used for the Earth’s remote sensing satellites.
The implementation of the RKK GreenSpace project will contribute to the technical development of the Ukrainian aviation industry, defense industry and transport systems (mainly on gas / hydrogen fuel). The requirements for the technology for the production of rocket technology will be reduced to the general technical level. The presence of modern technology in Ukraine will strengthen international cooperation in the development of rocket and space systems and will contribute to Ukraine’s positioning at the international level as a state with modern space technology.