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simulation examining the performance of two new ceramic spoilers,
modified canard foreplanes, and the preliminary results indicated the
drag would be effectively damped. Still, he was determined to test that
design modification with a full run-up here in Number One, the massive
hypersonic tunnel that contained a ten-meter scale model of the

As he sat thinking, he neglected to acknowledge the arrival of the
project director, now advancing down the concrete steps that led from
the steel entry door.

"_Dobriy utro_, Doktor Androv." Taro Ikeda's good-morning greeting was
heavily accented. "_Kak pashaviatye_?"

"_Khoroshau_." Andrei Petrovich Androv nodded absently, still engaged
in his thoughts. "_Dobriy utro_."

"Today I have more good news," Ikeda continued as he headed for the
coffee urn. "My 0730 briefing included a report that during the night
our Tsukuba team completed a simulation of the aerodynamic performance
of your suggested modification all the way to Mach 25. Just as you
envisioned, leading-edge deformation and vortex bursts were reduced to
values well within the acceptable envelope." He looked back. "Which
makes me question whether we really need to proceed with this morning's

"Your SX-10 only tells us how a fuselage performs if airflows are
ideal," Androv replied. "At hypersonic temperatures and velocities air
doesn't behave predictably, like a perfect gas. Fluid dynamics models
can only give us approximations of actual characteristics." He glanced
up from the video control panel, his face determined. "It is my son,
Yuri, who will be in the cockpit of these vehicles, and my experience
is you never put your faith in simulations. In the hypersonic regime,
computer simulations are just guesswork, a shortcut not worth a
_drozhky _driver's fart."

"As you wish," Ikeda replied evenly, taking his first sip of coffee.

In truth, Andrei Androv did not dismiss simulations out of hand. He
knew their Fujitsu supercomputer was truly a marvel, capable of
replicating the aerodynamic characteristics of a given fuselage
component, modifying it, testing it, over and over millions of times,
iterating to the optimum design in almost the twinkling of an eye.

In every respect the high technology available here was astonishing.
Take their hypersonic wind tunnel. Its laser probes shone thin slices
of coherent light through the swirling air currents, revealing
complexities otherwise hidden amid whorls of turbulence. These data
were then enhanced through holography, which used the laser light to
create colored 3-D representations of the flow around the model.
Finally those holograms were fed into the supercomputer and analyzed
from all angles.

This project would have been impossible anywhere else on earth. But
here, the foreign team had created a feather-light hypersonic airframe
that used turbo-ramjets for horizontal takeoff and then changed their
geometry into fuel-injected supersonic combustion ramjets, or
scramjets, which combusted fuel and atmospheric oxygen using an
internal shock wave instead of conventional compressors to achieve
orbital velocity, Mach 25. It was his dream come true.

"Brief me again on the simulation." Androv turned back to Ikeda. "You
say you went all the way to our maximum design objective?"

"We ran through the entire flight profile in real time," the other man
replied. "There were no stability problems whatsoever. Either during
the power-up or during the switch-over to scramjet engine geometry at
Mach 4.8."

"Encouraging, encouraging." Androv turned back to his video panel as
the fans continued to accelerate. The violins of the A Minor quartet,
his favorite of all Beethoven's late works, washed over the room. "All
the same, we must run a complete sequence here for any design

He then fell silent, studying the screens. Mach 25. That was - yes - almost
seventeen thousand miles per hour. A velocity greater than any existing
missile. And it was air-breathing!

Their supercomputer's revolutionary aerodynamic design had made it
possible. Problem: at velocities higher than Mach 5 unprecedented
airflows were required, due to heat buildup in the fuel-injection
struts and the shortage of oxygen at rarified altitudes. Solution: the
entire underside of the vehicle had been shaped to serve as an exten-
sion of the intakes for the twelve massive scramjets. The fuselage of
the plane itself was going to act as a giant funnel, scooping in air.
And it had appeared to work, at least in the computer. Then finally the
Japanese engineers had perfected the liquid-air-cycle process,
permitting the cryogenic hydrogen fuel to be used to liquefy a portion
of the incoming air and inject it under high pressure into the engine.
The final, essential breakthrough.

Andrei Androv was both an idealist and a pragmatist. In Russia you had
to be. That education began almost half a century earlier when, as a
student, he had been on hand to assist in the first free flight of a
Russian-made liquid fuel rocket, at an army base just outside Moscow.
He had experienced the exhilaration of a new frontier, and plunging
himself into the new science of rocketry, he had become a self-taught
expert who published theoretical works read and praised by men three
times his age.

Ironically, therefore, Andrei Petrovich Androv had not enjoyed the
luxury of being ignored, as the American rocket pioneer Goddard had
been. Joseph Stalin, always paranoid, decided that the rocket
researchers' "fireworks" were "dangerous to the country." Consequently,
Andrei Petrovich Androv was arrested, interrogated at Butyrskaya Prison
in Moscow, and dispatched on the Trans-Siberian Railroad to a convict
coal mine on the Pacific coast.

Eventually the political winds shifted. As a recognized rocket expert,
he was part of the 1946 Soviet team that shipped German scientists and
V-2 launchers back to Russia. Finally, under Khrushchev, he rose to
genuine prominence, since that general secretary believed that only
rockets, not manned aircraft, had the range to drop bombs on the U.S.
Nikita S. Khrushchev put Andrei Androv in charge of all Soviet
rocketry, and Andrei Androv put Russia in space.

He'd been in charge of constructing the sprawling Baikonur Cosmodrome,
near Tyuratram in Kazakhstan, central Asia, still the world's largest
space center. From it he orbited the world's first satellite, Sputnik,
and the world's first astronaut, Yuri Gagarin. He knew the byways of
that top-secret facility almost better than he knew his own living
room - the gantry systems, the fueling apparatus, the clean rooms, the
rocket assembly areas, the sectors where satellites were readied. Most
recently, in 1987, he had been in charge of the successful first test
launch of the most powerful vehicle the world had ever seen - the
Energia, propelled by liquid hydrogen engines capable of lifting a
hundred-ton space platform into orbit.

Also during that time his only son, Yuri Andreevich, had become the
Soviet Union's leading test pilot. Yuri was rarely home, and then, nine
years ago, Andrei Androv's wife had died of pneumonia. Isolated in the
long, snowy nights at Baikonur, he'd consoled himself with string quar-
tets, his studies of classical Greek, and his designs, his dreams of
the ultimate space vehicle.

But he knew Russia would never be able to build it alone. Soviet
computer and materials technology already was slipping behind those of
the West.

He grimaced to think how his country had been brought to today's
humiliating state of affairs, reduced to bargaining with foreigners
like Arabs in a medina. Eventually, though, pragmatism had overruled
all. Underlying this bizarre new alliance was one simple reality: the
USSR needed Japanese high technology desperately. And it needed that
technology now.

It had begun two years earlier, when the president himself had paid a
surprise secret visit to the space complex at Baikonur, supposedly to
review the Energia launch schedule. That, however, was merely the
official excuse. He actually had an entirely different agenda.

Without saying why, he had invited his old friend Andrei Petrovich
Androv to join him at the secluded hunting lodge where he was staying -
to talk, one-on-one, about the future of Soviet science. As that long
snowy evening wore on, wind whistling through the log walls and pine
smoke clouding the air, their conversation had turned to hard truths
and blunt language.

In vino, Veritas. By midnight, the uniformed bodyguards outside were
stamping their heavy boots to keep warm, and Andrei Petrovich and
Mikhail Sergeevich were both drinking vodka directly from the bottle,
had flung its tinfoil cap onto the rough-hewn boards of the cabin's
floor. By then, too, the revered Andrei Petrovich Androv was boldly
speaking his mind.

"Mikhail Sergeevich, time has run out for Russia. There is nothing to
buy, almost nothing to eat, and prices are soaring. There is so much
corruption you will not leave a Russian hospital alive unless you've
bribed everyone, right down to the drunken orderlies. And those bribes
can't be money. Who wants rubles? They are worthless. These days you
have to bribe with vodka." He'd laughed sadly, then picked up an old
copy of Pravda there by the fireplace, waved it in the air, and tossed
it into the crackling flames. "When we start cooperatives, they are
immediately taken over by our new mafia, Russia's ruble millionaires.
Everything - "

"_Perestroika_ will succeed in time, Andrei Petrovich," the president
had insisted perfunctorily, still not having explained why they were
meeting. "We are moving as rapidly as circumstances will permit. The
bureaucracy - "

"_Perestroika_!" Androv had roared back. "Have you heard the latest
joke from Moscow? _Perestroika_ is like a country where everyone is
switching from driving on the left side to the right side - gradually.
Our half-measure concessions to a market economy have produced the
worst of both systems. We now have a land with socialist initiative and
capitalist conscience." He paused to laugh again, then sobered. "And
soon, very soon, we're going to find ourselves in the technological
Third World. We need a vision. Even more, we need hard currency, and
Western technology now. And we need massive amounts. Nothing less can
save us."

That was when the president had nodded silently, then lifted a top-
secret document from his black leather briefcase. He explained that it
was a proposal from a consortium of foreigners. He wanted Andrei
Androv's honest assessment.

"Read this, Andrei Petrovich," he said, passing it over, "and tell me
what you think. It may well be a terrible thing even to consider, but I
must know your view. You, my old friend, are one of the few men I know
I can trust. This proposal, can it work?"

As he squinted by the flickering light of the fire, Andrei Petrovich
Androv almost couldn't believe what he was reading. Among other things,
the dream he had dreamed so long was there, his for the taking. The
dream of a bold venture in space achieved with a whole new level of

Along with it, the Soviet Union would receive everything it needed. The
foreigners would provide billions and billions in long-term, low-
interest loans and a flood of subsidized consumer goods to erase the
pain of perestroika, providing the president with the badly needed
financing, not to mention popular support, he needed to bring it off.
But there were price tags, several of them. The first would be total
access to all Soviet space and propulsion technology. That component
would actually make sense technically, but the others were higher, much
higher. Could it be done? Should it be done?

"What do you think, Andrei Petrovich?" the president had finally
spoken, his voice a whisper above the snap of embers and the howl of
wind. "Do we dare?"

The room had fallen silent for a long moment. Was this some kind of
trap? he almost wondered, like the old days. No, he'd quickly
concluded, this time Russia was different. He would have to trust
Mikhail Sergeevich. Most of all, though, he was holding his life-long
ambition in his hand. At last he replied, hope mingled with

"I think we have no choice." He had looked up at the president's
troubled eyes. "You have no choice."

"Unfortunately, I think you are right." He had sighed and turned his
gaze to the blackness outside the snow- banked window. "_Ve tyomnuyu
noch, ya znayu_. Yes, Andrei Petrovich. On this dark night, I finally
know what we must do."

After one final vodka, they had set about devising the scenario that
would change the world forever. . . .

The airflow around the model continued to accelerate, while laser
holograms of its complex aerodynamics were now being converted by the
computer into multi-colored graphic art. Androv watched the wall-size
liquid crystal display screen in the control room begin generating a
vivid depiction of the streams whirling past the model, simulating the
incremental stages of hypersonic climb. It was like watching a
hallucination, he thought, as colors swirled around the fuselage of an
object seemingly composed of 3-D lines and curves.

"We are now at Mach 6, Comrade Doktor Androv." The voice of a Soviet
technician interrupted his thoughts. "The laser data show that the
supersonic wave drag peaks at Mach 3.8, then subsides. Your new canard
foreplanes appear to be working, at least for this portion of the
flight envelope."

Androv studied the screen, noncommittal. "Thus far it would appear to
be so. Perhaps the SX-10 was correct. All the same, at Mach 7, I want
to switch on the enhancer, then capture those data and analyze them to
be doubly sure."

The hypersonic enhancer permitted wind-tunnel burst tests at far higher
velocities than a conventional facility could achieve. More high tech.

"There could still be a problem," Androv continued, "when the vortex of
air currents shed from the nose of the fuselage encounters the shock
waves from the wings, particularly around Mach 11." He turned to Ikeda.
"Those vortexes have been responsible for significant damage to several
American space shuttles during reentry phase. I need to see the data."

"As you wish." The director walked to the thick glass window that
looked out onto the model suspended in the airstream. The crew of
technicians hovered over the controls, watching for any signs of
vibration. He studied the screens for a few moments, then spoke quietly
to the head of the technical team, an intense young man in spectacles.
This lieutenant turned and passed the order to his colleagues, who
nodded gravely and stationed themselves at the switches.

Above the roar, a brilliant arc of electricity suddenly exploded just
in front of the nose of the model, adding an additional burst of
pressure at Mach 6 to the velocity already passing across. It was a
blinding, microsecond pulse that momentarily boosted simulated vehicle
velocity to Mach 13. The lasers registered the data, then passed it
directly, via microwave link, into the memory banks of the powerful SX-
10 operating hundreds of miles away.

Seconds later the turbulence data appeared in visual form on the liquid
crystal screen above them. As the colored numbers flashed, a cheer went
up from the normally somber technicians.

"Still no sign of any wave drag outside the theoretical envelope, not
even at Mach 13," the young head-technician beamed.

"Just as we simulated," Ikeda noted quietly.

This time even the grave Androv smiled. "I must congratulate all of
you." He was rising from his chair, the central one facing the main

"Then I will order the modification installed," Ikeda nodded, "if you
formally authorize it."

"Authorized. I think you are right. Perhaps we are ready for a
hypersonic test flight." Androv reached to switch off his turntable. "I
would like to go down to the hangar now myself, in fact. Perhaps
celebrate this moment with a glass of tea."

"Of course." Ikeda spoke quickly to his Japanese technicians, then
followed the Russian out the door.

The hallways were a connected maze of brilliantly lighted and
scrupulously clean tunnels. They moved down the main corridor to the
central checkpoint, then turned and entered the South Quadrant, passing
the various assembly sections. Those sectors were mostly quiet now,
since the final work had been completed several weeks earlier.

Androv said nothing as they walked toward the doorways connecting the
South Quadrant with the underground hangar. He merely whistled a
portion of the third movement of the A Minor quartet, Beethoven's hymn
of thanksgiving in the Greek, Lydian mode. He recalled that the English
writer Aldous Huxley had once suggested that particular movement was
proof of God's existence.

Was there a God? He wasn't sure. The only miracles he knew of on this
earth were performed by men. He was on the verge of performing one

The history of space exploration had been played out entirely in his
lifetime. He himself had been the architect of much of that progress.
But putting a man into space remained an expensive and dangerous
proposition. Launch vehicles still exploded with alarming regularity.
Man was trapped on this planet. God was still in the heavens.

Man's hope of reaching God at will required a special creation, one
that could taxi off a runway just like a normal aircraft, then
accelerate to hypersonic speeds, reaching low-earth orbit. An air-
breathing space vehicle. Its potential for the peaceful exploration of
near-earth space defied imagination.

Peace. All his life, Andrei Petrovich Androv had worked in the shadow
of war. Now, at last, he had created the ultimate symbol of peace.

The entry to the hangar was secured, but when the guards saw Dr. Androv
and the project director approaching, they saluted and punched in the
codes on the locks. Moments later the heavy steel doors slid aside,
revealing the brilliant lights of the hangar. It was cavernous, over a
hundred feet high, with gantries now standing idle along the walls.
White-coated technicians swarmed over the two prototypes, checking the
final seals, while others were on twenty-foot-high trucks servicing the

Looming above them were what appeared to be two giant prehistoric
birds, streaks of gleaming silver over three hundred feet in length,
with pen-sharp noses that dipped rakishly downward. Androv paused to
admire them a moment, marveling in spite of himself. The long, sleek
lines swept back in a clean curve, without the interruption of a
windshield. The "cockpit," in fact, was deep inside the nose, where
shock waves would not impact the computer guidance system. From the
nose its lines burgeoned into a sharp, clean fan, and beneath the two
abbreviated wings were suspended twelve massive turboramjet-scramjets.
They had already been certified at Mach 4.5. In ten days one of these
vehicles would achieve the ultimate. Mach 25, seventeen thousand miles
per hour.

The Americans had code-named their fledgling design

for a hypersonic space plane - still at least a decade away - the X-30.
But no such mundane designation would satisfy Andrei Petrovich Androv,
devoted disciple of the ancients. He had long believed the Americans
were high-tech vulgarians with no poetry in their soul, no sense of

Across the towering tail assembly of both aircraft was an insignia that
symbolized the joining of two of the world's great superpowers, a
double ax. And along their titanium-composite fuselage was lettered a
single word, in Cyrillic characters. Andrei Androv had insisted on that
name, in celebration of the first human ever to soar above the earth,
the dream of ancient man. Now, he had declared, four thousand years
later, there was another dream, his dream, a hypersonic vehicle that
could loft man directly into space from anywhere on the planet.

He had dreamed that dream. And the Mino Industries Group had permitted
him to pick the name for the creation that would realize it, for the
miracle that would master time and space, the earth itself . . .


Thursday 9:16 A.M.

Yuri Androv stood at the far end of the flood-lit hangar, staring up at
the underbelly of _Daedalus I _and thinking. This morning's run-up in
the centrifuge had gone well. At last he was convinced there was no
physiological barrier to hypersonic flight, at least none he couldn't
handle. The scramjets had all been put through their paces at the aero-
propulsion facility. On the test stand, at least, they met their

Yes, he was thinking, this plane just might do it. He would ease
through the Mach 4.8 barrier slowly, then convert to scramjet geometry,
switch to liquid hydrogen, and go full throttle. It was scary, sure,
but you only lived once. Fuck the danger.

The prospect was exhilarating and chilling. He looked up, again awed.
Even for someone who'd seen and flown them all, this was an inspiring
creation. Not only was it easily the most technologically advanced
flight vehicle in the world, it also was stunningly beautiful.

Right now, however, there were two simple problems: first, without a
hypersonic test flight nobody could really be sure it would do what it
was supposed to; second, as of now both prototypes still belonged to
Mino Industries and would continue to belong to Mino Industries until
the final treaty and agreement were signed.

Actually, taking the _Daedalus_ hypersonic might be the least of the
project's worries. That was the part he knew how to handle. The
unknowns lay in another direction entirely, the strategic direction.

Strategically, he still didn't trust Russia's new partner. From what
he'd heard, the conditions demanded in return for all their high
technology had been heavy, and that was just the short-term price. The
long-term cost might be even greater. Was the Soviet Union about to
become the financial and technological captive of a shadowy group of
foreigners, men whose identities remained, even now, shrouded in
secrecy? Was this a Faustian bargain?

Just then he noticed the doors at the far end of the hangar slide open
and two men in white lab coats enter. Perfect timing, he thought. Even
at that distance he knew immediately who they were: the joint venture's
two top technical officers: his father, Andrei Petrovich Androv, and
Taro Ikeda, the project director for the Japanese team. The men held
equal authority. Supposedly. But in fact all the real decisions on this
project were being made by somebody else entirely. The shots were
actually being called from a skyscraper in Tokyo, by a mysterious CEO
known as Tanzan Mino.

Now Ikeda and the elder Androv were headed his way. As he watched
Ikeda, he felt himself involuntarily stiffen. Perhaps his unease about
the man was his intuitive, right brain working, trying to tell him
something. But what? All communications with the CEO were channeled
through Ikeda. Fair enough, he told himself, he was accustomed to
secrecy. Maybe Japanese industrialists were as careful about protecting
their asses as the Soviet _nomenklatura _were. Maybe it was just part
of the landscape here too. But still . . .

"_Strastvitya_, Yuri Andreevich." Ikeda smiled, extending his pale hand
as he simultaneously bowed. "_Kak pashaviatye_?"

"_Khoroshau. Spahcebo_." He shook Ikeda's hand, then nodded toward his
father. "If this is a good time, I'd like to discuss the scramjet
power-up sequence with Dr. Androv for a few moments."

"If it's anything serious, then perhaps we should all confer with the
prime contractors," Ikeda responded smoothly. "Right now, in my office.
In fact, I was just on the phone with - "

"No need to bring them in. Just a few technical items, nothing more."

"Yuri Andreevich." Ikeda smiled and bowed again, his eyes trying to
display a warmth they clearly did not possess. "Every issue here is of
importance to us all. If - "

"Not every nut and bolt," he interrupted. "I just have some sequencing
questions, that's all."

Ikeda bowed once more, quickly. "You know we are all depending on you.
No one in Japan has the experience to take up a plane like this. At
least not at this stage of the project. So be aware that any matter
weighing upon the success of your test flight, or your safety - " he
flashed another quick, concerned smile " - is naturally of gravest
concern to me, and to the CEO."

"Then you should be glad to hear the power-up simulation in the
centrifuge this morning took me right through Mach 9.8 with no
problems. Which means the scramjet ignition sequence looks like a go."

"Congratulations." Ikeda nodded.

Online LibraryThomas HooverProject Daedalus → online text (page 8 of 30)