Air Launch "Polyot"


Air Launch Aerospace Corporation (ALAC)

The Russian
Air Launch Aerospace Corporation (ALAC) was established as a successor to 1997 joint task group (Polyot Aviation Company and Khimautomatiki DB) to explore the possibilty of creating an air-launched system capable of placing satellites into LEO using the Antonov An-124 "Ruslan" as a flying launch pad.
The Russian Air Launch Aerospace Corp. has given a commercial presentation of its commercial launch system, called Polyot, which will deliver 3.2 - 3.7 tons payloads into low Earth orbit after being dropped from a Antonov AN-124 transport plan. The rocket will be powered by an NK-43M (high-altitude version ) first stage engine.
 The Air Launch System incorporates:
 Antonov An-124-100AL carrier aircraft (CA) as a flying launch pad;
«Polyot» two-stage Launch Vehicle (LV) with modified LOX/Kerosene NK-43M first stage engine and RD-0124 second stage engine; modified RD-0158 LOX/Kerosene upper stage booster.
The Air Launch Project development is carried out by top-level Russian aeronautical and rocket-and-space companies with the participation of the Ukrainian Antonov Aeronautical Scientific/Technical Complex (ASTC).
The Air Launch System major designers are:
ASTC - development of aviation systems, including carrier aircraft (CA) and CA ground maintenance and preparation facilities;
State Rocket Center «Academician V.P. Makeev Design Bureau» - development of LV systems, space systems and mission control center, including LV, USB and ground mission preparation and operation facilities;
State Research & Production Space Rocket Center «TsSKB-Progress» - development of the LV second stage (modified «I» booster of the LV «Soyuz-2»), and the LV «Polyot» manufacturing;
Kuznetsov Scientific & Engineering Center - NK-43 engine modification into NK-43M first stage sustainer;
Khimautomatiki Design Bureau - RD-0124 engine adaptation to the LV «Polyot» second stage operating conditions, and development of RD-0158 engine for upper stage booster;
NPO Automatics - development of the LV «Polyot» control system (based on the LV «Soyuz- 2» control system);
KBTM - development of ground and airborne mission preparation and operation facilities. S.A. Lavochkin NPO, «Motorostroitel» JSC, Aviastar UAPK, «Novag» NTP, and other Russian rocket-and-space companies will also take part in the Project development.


Another project to launch satellites into low orbit from the Vozdushny Start Corporation is planned. The project involves the launch of two-stage rockets with payloads of up to 3.5 tonnes from An-124-100 Ruslan heavy transport planes.
The first stage of the rocket would use a NK-33MN engine. The second state will use a modified version of the engine, which has for a long time been used in the Block-DM unit produced by Energiya. Both engines use fuel - oxygen and kerosene.
Vozdushny Start was sounded by the aviation concern Polyot (Voronezh), Energiya (Korolyov, Moscow region), Antonov Aviation Complex (Kiev), the Pilyugin Institute (Moscow) and Progress Rocket-Space Center (Samara).
Air Launch corporation had formalized agreements between its major participants in the period of August 1999 to March 2000. The corporation declared itself "ready for the job" in July this year. Among its major members are Polyet airline, Korolyev's Energia Rocketry-space corporation (RKK Energia), ANTK Antonov, TsSKB-Samara and Pilugin's scientific-production center, KB Khimavtomatiki design bureau, Moscow Energy Institute, Aviastar factory, Nikolai Kuznetsov scientific-industrial complex, KBTM (Design bureau of transport machinery) and Motorostroitel.
The Air Launch two-stage rocket booster shall be capable of placing a 3300 kg payload into low orbit with inclination of 63 degrees. The rocket will use well-tried components, such as the NK-33MN and 11D58M first and second stage engines respectively.

The August 4, 1999, decision of TsSKB Progress to develop a Air Launch aircraft-rocket system was a turning point in the life of the Yamal family. The corporation got an about 40% stake in Air Launch. In the framework of the project a two-stage Polyot should be developed to be launched from the An-124-100 Ruslan aircraft. The first stage (Unit 1) will have one NK-33MN engine. Compared to NK-33M its thrust should rise from 188 to 196 ton-force. The Yamal LV booster or Unit 2  (modified Proton upper stage with RD-58MFD engine) should serve as its second stage.