A visit to the construction site with many secrets
Yet while they are there very quietly — four tremendous lightning rod, four floodlight masts, and between them a certain blue-yellow iron construction, similar to the fairground carousel. So looks from afar one of the most important cooperative projects. If all goes according to plan, this summer the surrounding area will shake the massive explosions and fiery storm. So after years of delays lasted a couple will start from the Kourou space center in French Guiana Russian rocket "Soyuz".
If you get closer to the launch site, we can behold the 30-meter pit. Her bottom has been concreted overgrown with moss, and in puddles seen some aquatic plants. There's a railing, but when you look down, can make your head spin. On the one hand, this glowing pit resembles a giant trampoline, which is made in order to avert strike and massive flow of exhaust gases. But while all this is more reminiscent unused pool.
Rotational energy of the Earth as free help at the start
Russian rocket launched from placed deep in the South American tropical undergrowth euro launch pad — is something new in the history of astronautics. This Russian launch pad in the tropics provides significant advantages. Then they get a natural aid at the start, from which they almost all have to turn away on their own classic Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
At the equator, the tangential component of the velocity has the best performance, because the distance from the Earth's axis here is the great. Because of starts here missiles require less fuel in order to overcome the attraction of the Earth, because they get a free rotational energy. Although Baikonur is located in the south of the former Russian Empire, it is at 45 degrees north latitude, while the Kuru — on the 5th, in other words, almost on the equator. At the start of the rocket "Soyuz" from the Spaceport in French Guiana, you can save about 45% of fuel. Because huge additional costs on logistics obtained justified.
The Europeans are also very interested in in order to attract Russian to work in Centre Spacial Guyanais (Guiana gallaktichesky center). All the same to build a launch pad for the "Unions" spent about 410 million euros. But why it was necessary to go to such costs? Just for the sake of friendship of peoples? At headquarters, the Euro Space Agency (ESA) in Paris in the main rely on the smallest in size and more than a cheap sister rocket Ariane. European gallakticheskoe ton worth 150 million euros, and you can use it to put into geostationary orbit about 10 tons of cargo.
This kind of orbit, for example, communication satellites are used in order to constantly be on the same point of the earth's surface. But almost always displayed now in orbit loads weigh significantly less than 10 tons. Because the "union", which are roughly half the price of rocket Ariane, can look and feel very much for those clients who own limited budgets for start-up communications satellites. An old Russian gallakticheskie horse into geostationary orbit three tons of cargo. This technique works well for the past 50 years.
At Euro Space Agency had two options, knows his manager, Jean-Jacques Dordain (Jean-Jaques Dordain) in the conversation with the reporter SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Either we develop medium-range missiles, or we start cooperation with Russian," — he says. Last but not least for political reasons the choice was made in favor of the second option. This meant that on the set in tropical bush heavily guarded facility will be built starting area on the model of Russian cosmodrome in Baikonur.
Construction of protective towers still pending
Russian they say about building in Kourou "improved copy." In fact cosmodrome in the Kazakh steppes almost one to one recreated in the tropical forests — including the two storage rooms, where at Baikonur removed unnecessary tables and chairs. But there is one major difference, over which the currently stubbornly construction workers, armed with various techniques. The fact that they are building will be like a big mobile garage. It is designed to protect almost 50-meter rocket from mokrovatogo and hot tropical climate.
This tower (also called gantry) is needed, and this is confirmed by numerous puddles on the site. Clusters of clouds on the horizon, also confirm the regularity of falling from the sky abundant rain flows. Because they have no experience Russian construction safety of the tower, ending its construction is constantly postponed.
Works under the launch pad for the "Unions" also proved to be very unprofitable, and they have become a prerequisite of long delays. Dig a hole in the town under the title Sinnamary (Sinnamary), including the introduction of explosives was for builders more complex than initially anticipated. The reason for this was the huge amount of granite. At the same time sturdy granite base beneath the launch pad is fundamental in order to support the weight of the rocket. One hundred percent fueled by "Union" weighs more than 300 tons. Yellow and blue design of steel pipes at the launch pad almost freely floating over gas operated mines.
"The whole weight of the rocket is held by 4 points — explains the ESA officer Jean-Claude Garreau (Jean Cluade Garreau). When the rocket starts to rise, iron masts depart. This is because it looks as if the flower opens. Construction itself may seem archaic by some European engineers. But the 1700 successful starts justify its reliability.
Revolving count in Russian, the French team — will it work?
Frenchman Garro controls the first start of the "Union" by the ESA. Even from the standpoint of language is already a challenge. Russia are preparing for the start of the Russian language, while the safety of the flight is controlled by the French. "They will be able to understand each other", — the representative of ESA hopes. In any case, free Garro says in Russian.
Other assumptions are also made in such cooperation is not normal. Both parties are partners, this is understandable. But they do not trust each other. This is evident in the location of the launch pad "Soyuz" space center on the ground, covering an area of 700 square kilometers. "The French specialists from the judgments security insisted that this object was at a distance from the main complex," — stressed the head of the Euro Space Agency Dordain. Interview takes place under a canopy. Because at this point there is a rain. Streams of water with such force drumming on the roof of a lead that can not be heard even own his own voice.
Because of the existing latent mistrust of the new Russian starting The complex is located far from existing facilities in Kourou. "When we were in 2002 for the first time came here, there were only tropical undergrowth — says Dordain. — Here we had to get on the military terrain vehicles on tracks. " Now here on the orange-red soil laid a new road surface. Yet stepping stones "Soyuz" fenced Stitching wire, iron bars with through her shock. Placed around the perimeter of several
protected crossing pt. On each of them need to show a pass. Between them ply watchmen from foreign legion — on the track and all-wheel drive cars.
"With any collaboration has defined borders," — said the head of the press service of Arianespace Delépine Mario (Mario de Lepine). His company will be engaged in the commercialization of starts "Unions" in French Guiana. "It's better when every man for himself" — vigorously declares this man of small stature from French Guiana. Customers wishing to launch their satellites, and make a bet on the rocket Ariane, would support this view.
Entry without permission from the Russian strictly prohibited
Russia continues to hold its particularly principled launches at Baikonur, and after some time they will be able to launch missiles from the new spaceport East, located near the border with China. In Kourou to meet Russian distrust of Europeans creating separate zones at the launch complex "Soyuz". Not far from the launch pad placed a bright room filled with Kondyukov. Here in the horizontal position is painted in gray color rocket, which is not only the head portion. ESA staff and guests, much to my surprise all are free to inspect. But anyone who wants to go to the area where the head of the rocket is installed, must be issued by the Russian resolution. On the door in French and in Russian is written: "Russian Log without permission is strictly prohibited."
Despite the difficulties, both sides are doing everything to ensure that this project was a success. First trial to begin on April 1. Initial start-up period is dependent on when the goods will be ready right. If all goes according to plan, the first "Union" to be launched this summer, having on board the two satellites of its own navigation system Galileo. Located in a special bunker range control center installed the latest computers. The equipment with which Harry and his Russian colleagues will be kept under control start, already in place. "I'm in the first gulag, if there are problems," — says the Frenchman with a grin.
It is unlikely that this will happen, and strong system of "Union" will govern with his own task. Even if one or two engines fail, rocket, yet reach its goal. According to the latest or so they say people who know in this case.
Will there ever be time-tested Russian gallakticheskaya equipment installed in Kourou, be used to send a man into space? "There are no plans yet — says the head of ESA's Dordain. In any case, Europeans will have to izderzhat is a lot of money. Including the fact, to ensure the presence of warships, which in the case of a poor start to the astronauts would have to catch the water.
Someday. Could be. "I never had the voice of" — notes Dordain.