On February 4th, Russian news agency RIA Novoosti published concept images of the first ever Russian hypersonic space drone. The Russian reusable aircraft is a single-engine drone designed for flying in the atmosphere and outside of it at hypersonic speeds.
It is the prototype of a promising reusable aircraft, developed by the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) for Roscosmos.
The following image shows a schematic of the drone’s launch into orbit and its return to the ground by way of parachutes.
As reported by the Skolkovo Foundation, the device will be equipped with its own engine for acceleration, and at the initial stage of the flight the carrier aircraft will be used, making the drone reusable.
It is assumed that the drone will be able to fly at altitudes of up to 160 kilometers at a speed of Mach 7 or take spacecraft into an orbit to an altitude of up to 500 kilometers. Each such device is designed for at least 50 flights.
RIA cited the general director of ISON, Yuri Bakhvalov who said that only Russian components will be used to manufacture the drone. The engine will be an upper class Briz-M – 14D30.
According to him, five test flights are planned in 2023. In these scenarios, the aircraft will not be used to carry out any strikes. Bakhvalov added that the drone could potentially be exported.
The project has received 25 million rubles in investment from the Project Technika Corporation, as well as 30 million rubles from the Skolkovo Foundation in the form of a grant.
The cost of the second stage of development is estimated to be 280 million rubles. It is assumed that a part of these funds will come from co-investors, and the other from Skolkovo.
In February 2018, the National Interest reported of Russia’s future MiG-41 fighter jet, which would also be able to fly at hypersonic speeds and in space.