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Soyuz Rocket with FAB-9000 Bomb: What is the Rogozin's Idea and Why It Tells a Lot About russia's Level of Astronautics

Illustrative photo: Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicle takes off from Plesetsk spaceport / Source: russian Ministry of Defense
Illustrative photo: Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicle takes off from Plesetsk spaceport / Source: russian Ministry of Defense
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The idea to "tape" a bomb onto a space rocket is indeed the best illustration of russian space science degradation over the past decades

The idea to drop a bomb on a big city in Ukraine by delivering it with a space rocket belongs to Dmitry Rogozin, former head chief of the russian Roscosmos state-owned space corporation, Bild reports.

The German media obtained phone recordings of Rogozin talking this idea over with Dmitry Baranov, director of the JSC Progress Rocket Space Center.

Read more: 1.5-Ton FAB-1500 Became a Guided Glide Bomb with UMPK Kit, russian Sources Claim

The plan is: to take a Soyuz space rocket, most probably the Soyuz-2.1 version designed to deliver spacecraft to orbit; implant a ready-made air bomb into the rocket, given the discussed parameters, they talk FAB-9000; and launch it along a ballistic trajectory onto a major Ukrainian city as a projectile from Plesetsk Cosmodrome spaceport in Arkhangelsk Oblast, russia.

In other words, to use a 51-meter high, 306-ton launch vehicle which takes USD 48.6 mln to launch, according to russian 2018 declarations, as a missile for a delivery of FAB-9000. The reason to choose FAB-9000 for this purpose are obvious – this is the biggest air bomb russia has in its arsenal.

No less important are the remarks by Baranov regarding the complexity of this task. He says that FAB-9000 is not designed to enter the dense layers of the atmosphere at a speed of about 6 km/s after a suborbital flight. There will be overheat problems (the surface temperature of space vehicles when entering the atmosphere rises to about 1500°С), he also notes that the army might have some specially crafted ammunition suited for this task.

FAB-9000 aerial bomb
FAB-9000 aerial bomb / Open source photo

Indeed, the non-aerodynamic, roughly-shaped FAB-9000 will rather simply fall apart during entry into the atmosphere solely due to its aerodynamic properties, let alone problems with "overheating", which in theory can be solved by applying ablative protection.

Then, there is the question of accuracy and guidance. This part would basically require a whole new development of a "bomb" that would be able to steer during the flight at truly hypersonic speeds, similar to the guidance and flight control systems employed in re-entry vehicles of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Without these components, the accuracy error will be around 100 to 150 kilometers.

Illustrative photo: Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket installed on launch pad at Vostochny cosmodrome
Illustrative photo: Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket installed on launch pad at Vostochny cosmodrome / Photo credit: SpaceWatch.Global

In summary, just take a ready space rocket and a ready air bomb, combine them together and launch on another country is just the right illustration for the mindset of Dmitry Rogozin who was in charge of the whole russian space industry throughout the four years he was the head of Roscosmos, and the level of degradation russia suffered in this field.

On a side note, Bild reports that the concept was presented to russian president Vladimir Putin on January 16th this year. According to Rogozin, "the great and terrifying" Putin liked the idea.

Read more: ​Sanctions are Working: russia Cannot Produce Satellites For Space Recon