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History of Excalibur Almaz


The Almaz program was a military space program of the Soviet Union developed by space and rocketry company MIC JSC NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM). The rocket and space complex "Almaz" was comprised of an orbital manned space station, transport vehicle, reusable return vehicle (RRV) for three persons and a cargo capsule returning high-altitude film images to the Earth. This space complex was successfully tested both on the ground and in space. Three crews of Soviet cosmonauts worked on the manned orbital space stations. The RRVs went through nine flight tests demonstrating their reusability with two RRVs having flown to orbit multiple times.

The rich legacy of the Almaz program continues to live in all space stations built to date. The orbital manned Almaz space station is the origin of the Salyut and Mir space stations. The International Space Station (ISS) inherited from Almaz its main service module "Zvezda". The Almaz transport vehicle provided the basis for the ISS module "Zarya" and also for the Salyut-7 space station module Kosmos-1686 and a line of modules for the Mir space station.

The Spacecraft station modules owned by Excalibur Almaz are equivalent to modules flown in space on every space station since 1972, including MIR and ISS. Excalibur Almaz is refurbishing the on-board equipment and adding a Hall thruster system, manufactured in the U.S. by Busec, which is powered by a solar array built by Entech in Fort Worth, Texas. EA Spacecraft can be launched to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) on a commercial Proton from Kazakhstan. The Proton has successfully launched more than 20 similar modules to LEO; including three stations like the Excalibur Almaz Spacecraft.

The RRV crew capsules flew to Earth orbit nine times in the 1980s. One RRV capsule was re-flown in space three times to prove reusability. The emergency abort and reentry systems critical for manned flight are at a high level of technical readiness. These include all of the abort and reentry rocket motors, the parachutes and the pyros. Excalibur Almaz also has summaries of the ground and flight test results. The drawings for these critical systems have been brought to modern standards, putting the company years ahead of its competition.

Over the past several years Excalibur Almaz has performed numerous technical feasibility and design studies related to the RRV’s and their subsystems as well as launch vehicle compatibility and overall program architecture. Excalibur Almaz also commissioned multiple independent market studies from Futron Corporation to examine demand for Low Earth Orbit and manned Cislunar spaceflight over a ten year period. EA has also acquired State Department licenses for the hardware and for the technical services and export licenses from Russia to use the equipment in space. The company also recently became the first to complete all of its Space Act Agreement milestones with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.