DDE

Wrecking VISE HAVOC, or, Making the Venera program great again with Putin’s supervillainy

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Last Thursday Putin made his last state of the nation address this term. The unexpected second half of the address can be summed up as the following:

Spoiler

11134657.jpg

Among a menagerie of superweapons presented was the RS-28 Sarmat heavy ICBM with Yu-71 Avangard maneuvering reentry vehicles (surprising no-one) and a nuclear turbojet-propelled cruise missile (which, as far as past actions go, surprised everyone). These do present a tangible boon to Venus exploration, as I’ll detail towards the end.

First, some ground rules:

  • We’re talking about the missile and not about Putin; the thread slipping into political flaming will send us all off to the Gulag, so don’t do it
  • We, however, charitably assume that the retired KGB lieutenant-colonel isn’t lying

While the information on the turbojet is extremely sketchy, the past lack of evidence or international furore suggests it’s not a fallout-spewing death machine. One would expect broad-spectrum nuclear contamination above Scandinavia, both from a running Project Pluto jet and from crashed “hot” reactors. Instead, what we get is a burst of ruthenium in the Urals, and a minor, elisive spike of iodine-131 that USAF promptly threw its best CBRN recon platform at. Similar to the Moon landing, you wouldn’t expect the other side to keep quiet.

This is consistent with past Soviet developments, though. One is the reactor ejection and recovery system envisioned for the ASW variant of An-12, and the other was previously considered for the atomic Tu-95 - a closed-cycle jet with no exposure of the core to outside air. Lack of air inside the core makes operating the reactor immensely easier - NERVA designers got a lot of grey hair trying to factor in the neutron moderation properties of the propellant flow. This also means the nuclear turbojet can safely operate with media other than Earth air.

We know full well that turbojets can’t operate on Venus - chemical turbojets. Many KSPers have toiled with electric propellers on Eve, and some did resort to Project Pluto. Separately, Russia’s Venera-D probe is progressing at a snail’s pace, with the primary aim of building a lander that will last 24 hours. That... isn’t terribly ambitious. What if we injected some old-school Apollo coсk-jousting and armed Venera-D with a cruise missile?

Currently, studies of Venus atmospheric missions are dominated by advanced derivatives of VeGa baloon probes. These can last for a while depending on the power source, but they are at the mercy of the wind and the initial deployment location. A high subsonic cruise missile-derived drone would cover infinitely more ground throughout a lifetime comparable to most competing aerobots, with a reliable energy budget from its propulsion system.

The requisite core capabilities are implicit in the weapons systems being presented. Aside from the nuclear powerplant, the intercontinental cruise missile/loitering munition would have to be capable of advanced autonomouc operations and even threat charecterization, which is crucial because it would only get brief comm windows with Earth. Meanwhile, the Avangard MARV by necessity provides experience with aerodynamic deceleration in aggressive reentry modes, and with precise autonomous navigation and maneuvering in said reentry modes - a Venus aerobot won’t be able to rely on GLONASS.

So, does this cloud of fallout has a silver lining?

Edited by DDE
Accidentally used Reddit italics; added bold for TL;DR

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geography-travel-russia-moscow-kremlin-t

Every now and then Rusia loves to shock the rest of the world with pieces of mind-boggling armaments. They look inceredible on paper, and jaw-droppingly awesome after being built - when presented to public and foreign representatives. After that they tend to end as one-hit-wonders or museum pieces - because they usually are too expensive to mass produce, too complicated to operate reliably or simply too impractical to use.

So, i'd wait for something tangible, besides gloating of a stuffy shirt politician.

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59 minutes ago, DDE said:

Last Thursday Putin made his last state of the nation address this term.

Will last until death anyway.

 

I don't see anything close to Her Majesty's Spiffing on it. Unless he lives for another 40 years.

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I doubt this thing is closed cycle, but that wouldnt matter on both earth (since you would only fire it when ending the world) or on venus (propably the only place which gets more healthy if you spew radioactive waste all above it). Similar to Project Pluto it propably hasnt got past engine tesing in closed enviroments, but i doubt even that. My guuess is that it just exists on paper, similar to most aerospace projects that ambitious...

Edited by Elthy

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These new weapons are supposed to maintain the balance of power.  How worried should Putin be about the US antiballistic missile program's ability to neutralize Russia's current missiles?  

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44 minutes ago, KG3 said:

How worried should Putin be about the US antiballistic missile program's ability to neutralize Russia's current missiles?

Basically, they overexaggerate it by making the usual “that’s merely what they tell the public about” assumption. Some sources posit that the mere spectrum of Prompt Global Strike caused a major organizational refit that led to the Aerospace Forces. Similarily, the assumption voiced is that the US missile shield is either a) capable of being scaled up to completely neutralize Russia’s ICBMs, hence the increased effort to create weapons capable of using unconventional trajectories, and simultaneously b) is used as cover to build nuclear and conventional first-strike capability that would allow for a winnable offensive nuclear war against Russia, prompting the creation of unorthodox solutions like the “third-strike” Status-6 torpedo.

1 hour ago, Elthy said:

Similar to Project Pluto it propably hasnt got past engine tesing in closed enviroments, but i doubt even that. My guuess is that it just exists on paper, similar to most aerospace projects that ambitious...

At this point, the Pentagon has been tacitly confirming its existence - and the claims are of flight tests, with some anonymous sauces going so far as to claim multiple crashes of flight articles.

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Guys, I don't think this thread is supposed to be about the cruise missile, but rather the possibility of using a nuclear turbo/ramjet on Venus.

I will point out that, to the best of my understanding, chemical turbines could be used on Venus, you'd just need to bring both fuel and oxidizer. You'd lose the free oxidizer that Earth's atmosphere provides, but you still have Venus's atmosphere for inert working fluid, raising specific impulse far beyond what a rocket engine is capable of.

You still have to deal with Venus, unfortunately. At low altitude, you have crushing pressure and high temperatures that reduce the effectiveness of rockets and turbines, whereas at high altitudes, you have sulfuric acid hurricanes to deal with.

On the upside: you have a nuclear reactor for power, letting you work independent of the Sun, as well as high cruising speeds. Conventional turbojets running on something like MMH/NTO wouldn't have the endurance of a nuclear turbojet, and balloons, even with something like a solar-electric propeller, wouldn't have the speed or night-side capacities of a nuclear-propelled Venus craft.

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1 hour ago, DDE said:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

11134657.jpg

We know full well that turbojets can’t operate on Venus - chemical turbojets. Many KSPers have toiled with electric propellers on Eve, and some did resort to Project Pluto. Separately, Russia’s Venera-D probe is progressing at a snail’s pace, with the primary aim of building a lander that will last 24 hours. That... isn’t terribly ambitious. What if we injected some old-school Apollo coсk-jousting and armed Venera-D with a cruise missile?

Currently, studies of Venus atmospheric missions are dominated by advanced derivatives of VeGa baloon probes. These can last for a while depending on the power source, but they are at the mercy of the wind and the initial deployment location. A high subsonic cruise missile-derived drone would cover infinitely more ground throughout a lifetime comparable to most competing aerobots, with a reliable energy budget from its propulsion system.

The requisite core capabilities are implicit in the weapons systems being presented. Aside from the nuclear powerplant, the intercontinental cruise missile/loitering munition would have to be capable of advanced autonomouc operations and even threat charecterization, which is crucial because it would only get brief comm windows with Earth. Meanwhile, the Avangard MARV by necessity provides experience with aerodynamic deceleration in aggressive reentry modes, and with precise autonomous navigation and maneuvering in said reentry modes - a Venus aerobot won’t be able to rely on GLONASS.

So, does this cloud of fallout has a silver lining?

I would rename this thread Fission power jet engine and exoplanetary operations. Its just top-heavy with politics.  Neutrons are not a concern for autonomous vehicle, and the half-life is only 881.5 s  (15 min) its very difficult to put humans in harms way of the neutron outflow. What is the weight of this PL that you want to insert into Venetian atmosphere and what are its structural limitations. 

I don't see a political problem of launching an uninitiated fission based propulsion system to Venus. I don't think there will be meaningful international concern, and if they can demonstrate its function on Venus (and a more likely reason for doing it) would be to boost its threat value on this planet. This new poker game thats not about rocket science, so its difficult to take it seriously (I mean I had a serious problem with the way the news of Zuma trickled out, it appears the public is a tool in whatever PR game is being played). Putting all that aside you need to consider the aerodynamic issues.

Venusian atmosphere runs the gambit from 90 times that of Earths (at 550'C) to about the same temperature of earths (at an altitude that only jet aircraft can fly) to hypersonic airspace. The problem is that to operate in all of these requires an engine that is not very efficient in any of these or just one (like the SR-71, it was only efficient above Mach 1 and above 10 km). Again the engine they already show is quite heavy, and altering it to work under a large variety of pressures needs to be considered.

But we also have to test this thing in different atmospheres. PV = nRT. We can't forget this because a major impediment to craft function on Earth is the speed of particles in the air.

540px-MaxwellBoltzmann-en.svg.png

b45021278531b05d61e9e66b6b6ab93144e470d4

Sources- Wikipedia - Maxwell Boltzman distribution.

So that this gets into a problem at what altitude an how to switch between different jet engine stages, otherwise the engine is confined to a single layer, noting that the probability peak is going to be roughly the speed of sound at any given temperature and given that controlling the behavior of compression waves and bow-shock inside of a jet engine is of ultimate importance. 

The other problem is that heating and velocity are problematic to the aerodynamic forces. Although surface can tolerate high temperatures, because of the non-spherical shape aerodynamic surfaces are sensitive to expansion (on the high pressure side relative to the lower pressure side. Again you can make all this work if your engine is the payload. We are assuming the engine is not the payload but a means to an end.

800px-SR71_J58_Engine_Airflow_Patterns.s

330px-Inlet_shock_waves_at_Mach_2.jpg

Sources - wikipedia - Pratt & Wittney  J58 engine

One place that a dedicated high altitude engine may come in handy is on Mars, The problem on mars is comparable to the problem of flying at 25,000 meters. By comparable the martian surface pressure is 0.6 kPa and 25,000 meters on earth (SR71 cruising altitude) is around 2 kPa. IOW there is not enough surface pressure on Mars to keep a vehicle that is capable of jet flight at highest altitude on Earth alight. The problem is that the face pressure required to provide thrust would mean the vessel travels in excess of mach 5 (which is approaching entry speed from LMO). So that the engines we would use on mars would have to be redesigned to increase face pressure at low altitude. This might be useful on Mars during descent of the largest payloads because the engines can keep the payload alight by redirecting exhaust flow in a -vertical direction.

There are three problems to overcome, surface heating (benefitted by a blunt nose, the apollo heat shield as an example), surface pressure and redirection. The surface heating problem on mars is managable and on particularly large vessels (automated) can be overcome by using ION drives to remove potential energy prior to atmospheric insertion. Ultimately this removes kinetic energy at perigee but makes controlled descent difficult. Heat management becomes more of an issue with shallow re=entries, but this has the benefit of lower g-forces. I we could imagine having a low-weight nuclear engine and something that compresses air what  might be the benefit.

The problem on mars is that drag is magnitudes less per distance above surface than on Earth. One can think of this two ways, the first is that for any given altitude velocity is higher for an object with non-zero intertia with respect to time. A better way to think about it is that things need more time to slow down. To overcome the problem while falling is that one needs more time aloft to let drag take its effect. Such an engine could keep the craft higher for longer allowing more drag (effectively lowering the net vertical component of force). The problem is design and the redirect problem. Redirecting gases moving at Mach 1 to Mach 5 is not the easiest task in rocket science to deal with. Of course if we ignore most of the laws of mach physics we can design a jet engine as a thrust diverter, In such a craft moves in close to its periapsis it engages the thrust diverter causing gas to pile up in front of the spacecraft (or more specifically compressing like crazy around the walls of the craft by adiabatic heating and the jet itself is adding to the heat), in effect expanding the effective bow shock by magnitudes. Assuming that there is an effective cooling process, then the only remaining problem is dealing with the very high g-forces this would create, but at the end of the process the  vehicle would have progressively slowed and the jet engine could be released and allowed to fall as standard thrusters landed the craft. My doubts would be whether the benefits of jetting-retro would exceed the cost of carrying a spinning nuclear reactor to mars.

 

 

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So, let's assume we already have this nuclear-powered cruise-drone-missile streaking across Venus's sky. Now what?  It needs to fly fast to stay up - will there be enough time for it to gather reasonable amount of data from interesting areas? Also, if it dips too low, it will be vaporised. If it flies higher, all science we'll get will be about upper layers of the atmosphere - which we could get easier from orbiting probes or even balloons. So, what's the point of sinking a mound of money in this project?

Edited by Scotius
A typo.

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54 minutes ago, Scotius said:

which we could get easier from orbiting probes or even balloons. So, what's the point of sinking a mound of money in this project?

I agree. What's wrong with using balloons? Much of the remote sensing instruments used on weather and other Earth orbiting satellites could be mounted on a balloon probe and you can cover a lot of ground riding the winds. Venus' jetstreams are strong enough to allow a balloon to circle the globe every day or so. 

And remember that wind speeds alone aren't a problem, relative wind speeds and turbulence are. Here on Earth, many eastbound commercial airliner flights will intentionally be routed via the jetstreams to save time/fuel; the passengers aboard those flights generally have no clue that they are riding along in a 200-300 km/h river of air.

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Is this related to the topic.

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8 hours ago, Scotius said:

geography-travel-russia-moscow-kremlin-t

Every now and then Rusia loves to shock the rest of the world with pieces of mind-boggling armaments. They look inceredible on paper, and jaw-droppingly awesome after being built - when presented to public and foreign representatives. After that they tend to end as one-hit-wonders or museum pieces - because they usually are too expensive to mass produce, too complicated to operate reliably or simply too impractical to use.

So, i'd wait for something tangible, besides gloating of a stuffy shirt politician.

You either get something awesome but unpractical, or something awesome but to expensive to use. Expensive might be cost or you don't dare loose it like the queen in chess.

Later is not new, battleships was the first weapon system in this category. Has not been many major fleet engagements outside of ww2. 

And why is the cannon balls far smaller than the gun barrel :)

 
 

2 hours ago, PakledHostage said:

I agree. What's wrong with using balloons? Much of the remote sensing instruments used on weather and other Earth orbiting satellites could be mounted on a balloon probe and you can cover a lot of ground riding the winds. Venus' jetstreams are strong enough to allow a balloon to circle the globe every day or so. 

And remember that wind speeds alone aren't a problem, relative wind speeds and turbulence are. Here on Earth, many eastbound commercial airliner flights will intentionally be routed via the jetstreams to save time/fuel; the passengers aboard those flights generally have no clue that they are riding along in a 200-300 km/h river of air.

You could have an high flying drone airship. You can also have tethered blimps. US has used that a lot in Iraq and Afghanistan to observe an area. 

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56 minutes ago, NSEP said:

Is this related to the topic.

Note that this would work just as well on Venus, Titan and the gas planets. 
Use stored fuel once out of atmosphere, it should be possible to use this as an nuclear thermal rocket too.  Close intake and add reaction mass. 

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3 hours ago, NSEP said:

 

I wonder how effective this system would be if it has to meander around the atlantic ocean unmanned (meaning any sophisticated EMP could disorient it) and that what we know about it concerns putative crash data.

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13 hours ago, Starman4308 said:

but rather the possibility of using a nuclear turbo/ramjet on Venus

Interstellar comes with nucear ramjets, which work on eve and are great.

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10 minutes ago, DAL59 said:

Interstellar comes with nucear ramjets, which work on eve and are great.

To be fair, KSP's Eve does not model Venus's "oh god sulfuric acid hurricanes" quite properly. Eve is not nearly as bad as the real Venus for probe-murderizing capabilities.

It continually amuses me how, back before we measured the temperature of Venus, people thought it might be this awesome beach planet with balmy temperatures... versus now when we know the surface is basically a high-pressure, high-temperature, anoxic incinerator.

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Spoiler
9 hours ago, NSEP said:

Is this related to the topic.

Probably Kerbin is covered with radioactive spots? Otherwise how was it tested?

 

8 hours ago, magnemoe said:

And why is the cannon balls far smaller than the gun barrel :)

Self-gravity.

5 hours ago, PB666 said:

I wonder how effective this system would be if it has to meander around the atlantic ocean unmanned

Atlantic ocean? On Venus?

58 minutes ago, Starman4308 said:

It continually amuses me how, back before we measured the temperature of Venus, people thought it might be this awesome beach planet with balmy temperatures

Some Like It Hot

Edited by kerbiloid

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18 hours ago, Scotius said:

…Also, if it dips too low, it will be vaporised. If it flies higher, all science we'll get will be about upper layers of the atmosphere - which we could get easier from orbiting probes or even balloons. So, what's the point of sinking a mound of money in this project?

It could dip into lower parts, take measurements and raise to cool off.

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9 hours ago, Starman4308 said:

It continually amuses me how, back before we measured the temperature of Venus, people thought it might be this awesome beach planet with balmy temperatures... versus now when we know the surface is basically a high-pressure, high-temperature, anoxic incinerator.

Beauty is only skin-deep.

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20 hours ago, Scotius said:

So, let's assume we already have this nuclear-powered cruise-drone-missile streaking across Venus's sky. Now what?  It needs to fly fast to stay up - will there be enough time for it to gather reasonable amount of data from interesting areas? Also, if it dips too low, it will be vaporised. If it flies higher, all science we'll get will be about upper layers of the atmosphere - which we could get easier from orbiting probes or even balloons. So, what's the point of sinking a mound of money in this project?

I think the whole point is that they get to test a nuclear powered cruise missile where it doesn't matter if it crashes.  If they tested it on earth and it crashed people would complain about the radiation or try to reverse engineer the thing if they could get their hands on the pieces.       

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9 hours ago, Starman4308 said:

people thought it might be this awesome beach planet with balmy temperatures...

Distance from Sun = 0.723 AU, so it's 273 * (1/sqrt(0.723) - 1) ~=48 K warmer than the Earth.
Also as the Sun is hidden by the clouds, surface temperature a little lower. ~40°C.
Covered with clouds - so vaporization from the ocean or bogs.
So it's obvious that the Venusian surface consists of nice summer beaches and misty swamps.

Probably, this is like the Earth's late-Paleozoic/ early Mesozoic era.
With huge insects, mollusca, probably dinos.

As we all know, Mars has an irrigation system visible from the Earth. And its plains change color season-by-season (obviously, there are plants).
So, a technologically advanced civilization lives there.
But we can see no activities, and Mars looks not very healthy. So, the Martian civilization is in crysis. We must help them and study its ancient wisdom.

As the humans evolved from apes and unlikely there was another evolution aside, probably the Martians are citizens of some forgotten Earth civilization like Atlantis or Lemuria.
But they are humans, and there are nice girls on Mars.

As that forgotten civilization could colonize that small, cold Mars, definitely there should be humans on Venus as well.
But technologically degraded. But they are humans, and there are nice girls on Venus.

So. A conclusion. While Mars is inhabitated by nice aristocratic princesses of atlantian origin, Venus is inhabitated by nice tribal princesses of atlantian origin.
Anyway we should fly there.

 

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26 minutes ago, KG3 said:

I think the whole point is that they get to test a nuclear powered cruise missile where it doesn't matter if it crashes.  If they tested it on earth and it crashed people would complain about the radiation or try to reverse engineer the thing if they could get their hands on the pieces.       

I think your factor of reliability of something that by all appearances is unreliable (despite its political utility) will not become more reliable on Venus.

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28 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:
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Distance from Sun = 0.723 AU, so it's 273 * (1/sqrt(0.723) - 1) ~=48 K warmer than the Earth.
Also as the Sun is hidden by the clouds, surface temperature a little lower. ~40°C.
Covered with clouds - so vaporization from the ocean or bogs.
So it's obvious that the Venusian surface consists of nice summer beaches and misty swamps.

Probably, this is like the Earth's late-Paleozoic/ early Mesozoic era.
With huge insects, mollusca, probably dinos.

 

No, its a transient polar paradise only until its a run-a-way greenhouse effect. The bugs (i.e proto-archeon-types) that formed in the venutian soil were incinerated shortly thereafter during the bombardment and thereafter their hydrogen atoms were blasted into space.

But if you want a certain figure to believe that there are green bare-breasted amazonian running around on unicorns just waiting for a megalomaniacal leader to show up as an escort on a nuclear ramjet driven U.a. beringianus (just as long as it never becomes a movie that I might see). :wink:

 

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