I am preparing for some future model builds and I really wanted to add a bare metal Proton to my rocket garden. They look awesome, I think. Now a lot of Protons (the K and M versions alike) are painted white. Big red fat lettering along the body spelling the cyrillic "Прото́н" with either a M or nothing under it. (never seen a "K", anyway):
Sometimes however, a bare metal variant is erected on the pad. I was really curious why this variant existed. The answer was, like I said, one very practical and obvious reason: Saving weight. When a heavy payload has to be sent into orbit, they leave the white paint behind. It sometimes can save hundreds of kilograms in weight, I have been told.
But then there rises another question: why not always fly without paint? it is not necessary, the rocket is only used once. It saves weight. It can save in fuel costs. And without paint, I think the Proton looks awesome:
|Like all Russian launchers, Protons also are transported to the pad horizontally.|
|A Proton M on the pad. What a beautiful sight! |
The nose cone still is covered by an isolation blanket
to protect the payload which is the SkyTerra-1 satellite.
|...Which is not a small payload indeed. |
(The last three photo's come from Eureka, Daniel Marin's blog
and probably are made by either Roscosmos or Khrunichev)