Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-105 Orbital Aircraft Spiral

mig 105 1960s soviet space plane

Spiral MiG-105 :

The MiG-105 was part of a program known as the Spiral : a manned test vehicle to explore low-speed handling and landing. A Soviet project to create an orbital space plane. This was originally conceived in response to the X-20 Dyna-Soar military space project and may have been influenced by contemporary manned lifting body research being conducted by NASA’s Flight Research Center in California.

Spiral MiG-105 History:

EPOS Experimental Passenger Orbital Aircraft

The program was also known as EPOS (Russian acronym for Experimental Passenger Orbital Aircraft). Work on this project finally began in 1965, two years after Dyna-Soar’s cancellation. The project was halted in 1969, to be briefly resurrected in 1974 in response to the U.S. Space Shuttle Program. The test vehicle made its first subsonic free-flight test in 1976, taking off under its own power from an old airstrip near Moscow. It was flown by pilot A. G. Festovets to the Zhukovskii flight test center, a distance of 19 miles. Flight tests, totaling eight in all, continued sporadically until 1978. The actual space plane project was cancelled when the decision was made to instead proceed with the Buran project. The MiG test vehicle itself still exists and is currently on display at the Monino Air Force Museum in Russia.

Spiral MiG-105 Development:

Experimental Passenger Orbital Aircraft

The cosmonaut-pilot sat in an insulated escape capsule, which could be ejected free of the spaceplane in an emergency. Normally the pilot had to climb into the spaceplane through a hatch above the seat. Controls consisted of a conventional control column and rudder pedals, with separate controllers for the jet engine and the rocket engines. An automatic navigation and control system (SNAU) operated the aerodynamic or reaction controls according to the fight regime. Manual backup was available for the aerodynamic controls.

EPOS Experimental Passenger Orbital Aircraft

Spiral MiG-105 Engine:

The Mig-105 propulsion consisted of a Koliesov RD-36-35K turbojet ,  500 kg of fuel amounted to 10 minutes of cruise at full thrust. In the orbital versionof the Mig -105, the engine would give the spacecraft a chance to ‘go around’ or divert to a secondary airfield in the event of bad weather or a missed approach (the US Shuttle was originally to have such engines, but they were dropped for weight reasons). The 176 kg engine was fed from a dorsal intake at the base of the vertical stabilizer. This intake was covered during launch and orbital operations; an actuator opened the housing once the spaceplane reached subsonic speed.

Orbital propulsion consisted of a 1,500 kgf primary engine, with two 40 kgf backup engines. Orbital attitude control and translation were provided by two reaction control system (GDU) pods at the rear of the spaceplane flanking the backup engines. There were a total of six 16 kgf engines for coarse adjustment and ten 1 kgf engines for fine maneuvers. Fuel tanks for these system were located in the center of the spaceplane.


mig 105 plane

Spiral MiG-105 Specifications:

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 10.6m  (34 ft 9 in)
  • Wingspan: 6.7m (21 ft 12 in)
  • Wing area: 24m² (258ft²)
  • Armament: None
  • Empty weight: 3,500 Kg (7,716 lb)
  • Gross weight: 4,220 Kg (9,303 lb)
  • Powerplant: 14.70 kN (3,305 lbf)
  • Maximum speed: 800km/h (432 knots, 500 mph)

soviet space plane