Spiral was started about 1962 after proceeding work by Korolev and Myashashev into cruise missiles, boost-glide and orbital spaceplanes. Spiral was to be a X-20 size spaceplane (See comparison - 27K). Different booster configurations were considered including a Soyuz type booster and air launch from a Mach ~5 aircraft (together called Project 50-50 (9K)). MiG was to build the craft which measured 8 meters long, 7.4 meters wide, 3.5 meters high and eventually weigh 10,300 kg.
Work at MiG's special section at Dubna began in 1967 to build the EPOS test vehicles. Some were 1/2 an 1/3 scale and designated 105.13 (hypersonic analog), 105.11 (sub-sonic atmospheric tests), 105.12 (supersonic tests). One of the Sprials unique features was its wings were folded up nearly vertically until after reentry when they would be folded down into a conventional delta-wing type aircraft configuration.
Its mission has never been explained fully but could have been a space bomber or recon platform, ASAT weapon or manned ABM interceptor. By about 1969-70 wooden mockups were rocket launched to evaluate some aerodynamics before burning up on reentry. By 1976 the 105.11 was tested in flight several times. It was equipped with a RD-36K jet and began take-off and landing tests on its own. Later it was drop tested from a Tu-95K bomber. By Sept. 1978 flights of the 105.11 ended when the craft was damaged on landing. But by 1976 governmental support for the project was fading and the shift to support for a Buran exceeded Spiral support. Several test pilots had flown the craft by then.
In the same period there have been reports of similar proposals for space planes from NPO Lavochkin, the Chelomei KB and Sukhio's T-100/101 plane has been reportedly tied to work on a first stage for a space plane. The MiG special branch working on Spiral was transformed into the Molnyia NPO which later built the Buran orbiters. To save time they used the Spiral design in the Kosmos spaceplanes launched in the 1980's BOR-4 to test the Buran thermal protection system. The design was also used by NASA Langely in their HL-20 project. NASA claims it really originated the design but has declined to explain just how they did this when the Soviets began flying their design in the late 1960's.
The 105.11 prototype is on display at the Air Force museum in Monino near Moscow. It's usually over looked, but many photos have been published over the last few years in Spaceflight, Av. Week and Aerospace America and more in Russian publications.
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