Gallery » The Rocket

Hypersonic Flying Laboratory “Kholod”

The ‘Kholod’, also known as the Hypersonic Flying Laboratory (HFL), was constructed by a joint effort between the Central Institute of Aviation Motors (CIAM) and the American National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA). It is comprised of an entire experimental system for testing a dual-mode scramjet, boosted by a modified Russian SA-5 missile.

The Kholod’s experimental system includes the scramjet’s engine and propellant, engine control, engine cooling, instrumentation, and telemetry systems. The SA-5 booster was selected by CIAM because of its performance and trajectory, which were compatible with that of the asymmetric scramjet. It has four solid strap-on boosters, in addition to the main liquid-fuel rocket engine, and it would have been launched from a railroad car.

The size and weight of the Hypersonic Flying Laboratory (550,000 kgs or 5.5 tonnes) allowed the SA-5 to attain its maximum operational speed of Mach 6. The missile was then highly modified to include several weight reduction measures, such as reducing the size of the control fins, making control system changes, increasing the liquid propellant load, and improving the performance of the solid-booster propellant. With these changes, this system achieved an incredible Mach 6.47.

In 1991, Kholod became the fastest machine ever to run within the world’s atmosphere, a record it would hold for the next decade. It is, quite simply, the fastest vehicle a human being is ever likely to own, with a top speed of 4,925 mph, roughly 20 times the top speed of a McLaren F1!

Recently bought at auction, it arrived at our workshops in a VERY big truck with instructions from the owner to give it a paint makeover. Two engineers were sent from the Czech Republic to help with the disassembly and instruct us on reassembly.

The entire Rocket was disassembled and painted in its original grey. Photographs were taken of the Russian markings and writing and meticulously reproduced with stencils applied back onto the repainted body.

After a painstaking reassembly, it was mounted onto a very large truck and transported to its final resting place, in the beautiful grounds of its new home in Wiltshire. Our terrific Thornley Kelham team helped all day with the transportation and set up to ensure the Rocket was happily settled in its new surroundings.

Rumour has it there may be another winging its way over. Watch this space....

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