Yesterday we talked about the USAF's abandoned space plane, the X-20 DynaSoar. Not to be outdone, the USSR wanted a one-man fightery space plane thingie, too. Here's their entry, with more info below the jump:
The CGI footage at the beginning comes from the old Dan Roam website, "Deep Cold." the rest is mostly archival Soviet footage of Spiral drop testing.
The Spiral - also known as the Mig 105 - got further in testing than the X-20 did, but never actually made it in to service as a spacecraft. In typical Soviet fashion, it lasted longer, too, with the project finally being disolved in 1975, a victim of it's own hyper-expensive development, and the changing political nature of the times. It was the age of detent, after all, and a space-fighter would probably have sent the wrong message. Lots and lots of technical info here http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/spil5050.htm
It's worth noting that the 50/50 aircraft could have launched large payloads in to orbit rather than the Spiral/Mig 105 itself, and in that regard is somewhat similar to some Canadian (!) studies in the 60s that I hope to cover in the future.
Politics aside, these mini-shuttles - the X-20, the Spiral, the Hermes - all seem to have razor thin windows of weight and fuel in which they can work, which might have affected their ultimate abandonment. For instance, the French, Germans, and ESA were very gung-ho about the Hermes project, which seemed like it was going to work fine, but when they realized they had to put some kind of safety-eject mechanism on it, it put them over their weight limits, and the thing could no longer fly, thus resulting in the end of the project.
Some more info here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikoyan-Gurevich_MiG-105
and of course Dan Roam's old website here http://www.deepcold.com/