My favourite aeroplane in 200 words #43: Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-105
In 1965 the Soviet Union started a top secret project lead by the engineer Gleb Lozino-Lozinskiy. Known as ‘Spiral’, its aim was to build a spaceplane that could have been used for a variety of purposes including aerial reconnaissance, space rescue, satellite maintenance, and as a space interceptor to sabotage enemy satellites. Yes, I did say ‘space interceptor’, but let’s add another element of excitement: it was to be launched from the back of a Mach 6 mothership (to be built by Tupolev). Once thrown into the air by the mothership, its own detachable rocket would boost it into space. The MiG-105 was built as a research aircraft in support of the Spiral, to demonstrate landings (made on skids) and low speed handling. It made its first subsonic free-flight in 1976, taking off under its own power from an old airstrip near Moscow. It made only eight flights before the project was cancelled in favour of the Buran, a knock-off of the US Shuttle. Though the MiG-105 never made it into space, its sister, the unmanned БОР (‘BOR’) did. Now exhibited at the Monino museum, The MiG-105 is (like me) a Muscovite — which is clearly another reason to love this little flying shoe.
— Ria Timkin, Musician (you can support her music here. She currently has no songs about spaceplanes)
Ah, the romance of the low-speed proof-of-concept test article! Did you know that every time someone says something superlative about the Lightning, the Short SB5 sheds a quiet tear — often sharing a quiet sympathy text with the M2-F1, and the Avro 707s. I hope that the Mig 105 is in their Whatsapp group.
Great piece. Thank you for posting it!
I love the MiG-105 Spiral! This, as I understand, is the subsonic prototype (105.11), but there was also a supersonic prototype (105.12) somewhere that I’d love to see pictures of. (Psst! The past tense of “lead” is “led”.)