Picture: Artistiís impression of Vulkan at lauch.
The Vulkan rocket is the design that Energia rocket was built off. Vulkan was of course originally to be a huge rocket, designed to lift cargo for Russian moon bases and alike. This objective, however, was dropped in favour of building the Russian shuttle system - Energia-Buran, and so Vulkan was downsized to make Energia the still big Energia booster.
However, Energia can be built back to Vulkan!
Vulkan, sometimes called Hercules, is also the name sometime given to the largest possible configuration of Energia - Eight Booster rockets and an Upper Stage (Energia-M usually). The mega combination gives Energia up to 175 tonnes of lifting power, which is a staggering amount compared to current lifters. Itís enough to build Mars bases or launch Mars missions in a single shot, without any kind of sub-orbital assembly required.
The universal space rocket system with super-heavy class carrier "Energia" created in the USSR between 1976-1987 became a huge step for Soviet science and technology on the way of development of the new means for space research.
The Soviet space program presumed development of the whole range of unified heavy and super-heavy rocket-carriers on the basis of "Energia" carrier, which depending upon the configuration of the side blocks and the modification of the central block would have allowed to deliver to the Earth's and geostationary orbits a wide array of objects of varied weight.
The most powerful of the range would have been the unique rocket-carrier "Vulkan", which consisted of eight side blocks of the first stage and a lengthened central block of "Energia" rocket. The super-heavy carrier like this, with the starting weight around 4500 t., would be capable to deliver to orbit an artificial satellite of up to 200 t. This would have allowed humanity to resolve the issues of most efficient and rational problems in the areas of communication, broadcasting and environment on the basis of heavy space platforms as well as to assist in research of the Moon, Mars and other areas of Solar System.
The development of rocket-carrier "Vulcan" and the refurbishment of the "Energia" launch pad for its launches had been in progress in 1990-1993. As a result, a large amount of project documentation was created, but later on the work on this project was cancelled (but not due to any technical reasons).
Picture: Vulkan, with 8 Zenit Boosters.
Picture: Energia in a larger configuration, with 4 boosters in this picture.
Picture: Energia in Vulkan configuration, with 8 strap on boosters.