History of the Soviet and Russian Space Program
The true history of Soviet spaceflight is predominantly the story of Soviet military space. Manned or scientific space missions could often only be justified as part of larger military projects. Less than 20% of Soviet launches were for 'national prestige' purposes (civilian manned flights, scientific and planetary).
The Soviet Union was a planned economy, and space projects were developed in co-ordination with Soviet five year plans. Long range military forces plans were made for a ten year period, and implemented in two five-year phases. The first such plan was approved in 1961. The second was approved in 1970, but the failure of the N1 launcher project and the poor reliability of first generation Soviet systems led to a drastically revised ten-year plan for second generation systems being approved in 1976. The final long-range space plan, for third generation systems, was approved in 1981 but again drastically revised in the face of the American 'Star Wars' programme in 1985. This was subject to constant alteration under Gorbachev and finally was never implemented. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union the Russian Federation conducted space operations at a reduced level basically using assets and systems that were 'in the pipeline' before the end of the Communist government.
Russian space historians variously refer to three or four generations of space systems, resulting in some confusion. The planning process resulted in a cycle where development of new space systems was authorised in one five year plan, followed by operational use in the next five year plan. This resulted in Soviet space systems falling into three generations before the fall of the Soviet Union. Prior to these three generations a few projects were begun on the initiative of the rocket and spacecraft Chief Designers, before the military fully accepted or understood the usefulness of space systems.
The Era of the Chief Designers
Korolev works for Tass, Chelomei works on crap, Yangel works for us
The theoretical and ideological basis for spaceflight in Russia - were established by Tsiolkovskiy. Between 1883 and 1932 he worked out the basic theoretical concepts of rocketry and space flight. His visions of man leaving the earth and colonising space became a kind of space ideology that inspired and guided Soviet rocket engineers and space scientists. There was no real comparable ideological underpinning in the West.
Tsiolkovskiy's work led groups of enthusiasts to begin work on basic rocket technology. These young engineers - among them Korolev in Moscow, Glushko in Leningrad, and Tikhonravov - would become the chief designers who led the Soviet Union into space. Many of these talents were caught up in Stalinist purges in 1937-1938 and ended up in work camps in Siberia. Wartime necessity drove Stalin to bring the survivors back into 'sharashkas' - prison engineering design bureaux. Soviet military rocket research during World War II concentrated mainly on Jet-Assisted Take-off (JATO) units for combat aircraft and the RP-318, BI-1, and Malyutka rocket interceptors. Only toward the end of the war was work begun on long range rockets (Tikhonravov MK 4-stage rocket and Korolev's D-1 and D-2).
The huge German technical advances in rocketry during the war rendered this indigenous work obsolete. Stalin was determined to leapfrog the West by assimilating this new technology as quickly as possible. A decree of 13 March 1946 set up a number of research institutes to exploit the technology, and several thousand Germans were brought to Russia for this purpose. Young engineers were named to head the institutes, and more future chief space designers - Keldysh, Isayev, Chelomei, Reshetnev - began work on rocket technology. Keldysh pursued one of Stalin's pet projects - the Keldysh Bomber, an intercontinental rocket based on the German Saenger spaceplane design. This work eventually lead to the Buran - M-42 - M-44 and Burya intercontinental cruise missiles, but was a dead end as far as spaceflight was concerned. Similarly, tests were conducted with rocket-powered aircraft (LL, I-270, Samolyot 5, 346) but these did not lead to operational air or spacecraft.
Tikhonravov wrote a seminal paper on 15 March 1950 on the potential uses of artificial satellites. A decree of 26 May 1954 ordered preliminary studies of such systems. The technological basis was the N-3 project, which covered various engine and propulsion approaches. In August 1955 a unit was formed by Korolev to co-ordinate with Tikhonravov development of the first artificial satellite, for launch by the R-7 8K71 ICBM.
In two hours of key discussions in January 1956 the Soviet General Staff were briefed on the future uses of satellites - communications, reconnaissance, navigation, meteorology, geodesy. The fantastic vistas presented resulted in considerable scepticism. Nevertheless the first official plan for future Soviet spaceflight was contained in a decree of 30 January 1956. This set forth the following objectives:
In parallel with the ballistic capsule Vostok approach, the Myasishchev and Tsybin aeronautical design bureaux worked on designs for a manned spaceplane. This work began in 1957 and culminated in competing draft projects for the Tsybin PKA and Myasishchev M-48, VKA Myasishchev 1957, VKA-23 Design 1 and VKA-23 Design 2 in 1957-1960. These were found to be beyond the immediately-available technology and never reached the hardware stage.
A major objective of this period was military control of ballistic missiles and satellites, as well as development of specifications for launch vehicles and spacecraft. For this purpose the military co-operated with scientific institutes. The Fourth Scientific Research Institute of the Ministry of Defence (MO 4-NII) completed the first draft project for the KIK ground control system and use of satellites for military purposes. A combination of modest updates to selected PVO Air Defence sites and ICBM tracking stations made up the KIK network. Raw tracking information was fed into the 'Centre' for orbital calculations.
Sputnik-1's launch on October 4, 1957 caused a tremendous sensation throughout the world and marked the beginning of the space race. The casual plan of 1956 was accelerated, and Korolev was authorised to develop new upper stages for the R-7 that would allow launches of unmanned probes to the moon and planets.
Korolev was not only in competition with the Americans, but other Soviet Chief Designers who wanted a 'piece of the action' in the space race. Korolev's chief rival was Chelomei, a designer of naval cruise missiles. It was apparent that the ballistic missile was superior to the cruise missile as a weapon system at intercontinental ranges and also would allow the exploration and colonisation of space. Chelomei hired Nikita Khrushchev's son on March 8, 1958. This gave Chelomei sudden and immediate access to the highest possible patron in the hierarchy. He was rewarded with his own design bureau, OKB-52, in 1959. In this period Khrushchev was pursuing a major cutback of the military and consolidation of the defence industry. As part of this the Myasishchev and Tsybin aeronautical design bureaux were closed and the staff ended up being included Chelomei's organisation.
Chelomei's cruise missiles were designed for long-term storage in environmentally-controlled capsules. Chelomei saw that this technology could be applied to ballistic missiles and spacecraft as well. A whole family of unmanned spacecraft, dubbed Kosmoplans and Raketoplans, would be built using modular elements. The spacecraft would be launched by Chelomei's equally modular family of UR universal rockets, capable of both ICBM and space launch missions. The UR-200 would be used for launch of smaller earth orbital Kosmoplans, and the UR-500 Proton 8K82 would be used for launch of manned, lunar landing, and interplanetary Kosmoplan - Raketoplan designs.
In 1959, as Chelomei laid out these plans, he knew a tremendous struggle would be required to wrest any part of the space programme from Korolev. Korolev was interested in military projects only so far as they provided financing for his dreams of space exploration. He jealously wished to keep all manned, lunar, and planetary space projects to himself. In a letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Part in January 1960 he proposed an aggressive program for Communist conquest of space. He declared:
As payloads for this enormous rocket, Korolev proposed the following spacecraft be developed for launch in the period 1963 to 1965:
For his part, Korolev and the other chief designers would pledge to support this overall effort by the development of draft projects and fundamental research work to validate and mature the necessary technologies. They would place before the Central Committee in the third quarter of 1960 comprehensive plans for development of the new projects. It was requested that that the Central Committee authorise the design bureaux to undertake these draft projects, and that the Ministry of Finance be directed to allow the bureaux to use reserve funds to finance the work.
This letter was followed by a meeting with Khruschchev on the subject on 3 March 1960. Korolev believed it would be truly possible with backing from the very top to have a large rocket in the USSR in a very short span of time. Unfortunately at the meeting Korolev made a slip of the tongue he would always regret, admitting that his plan had not been agreed among all of the Chief Designers. This resulted in Khrushchev throwing the matter back for a consensus plan.
By 30 May 1960 Korolev was back with a plan that now included participation of his rivals, Chelomei and Yangel. The military, however, had not been fully consulted or reached any final conclusions as to its needs. The consolidated plan was as follows:
Scientific and Planetary Spacecraft
The final government decree 715-296 of 23 June 1960 'On the Production of Various Launch Vehicles, Satellites, Spacecraft for the Military Space Forces in 1960-1967', authorised draft project work to begin on this massive agenda.
Meanwhile the projects authorised in the 1950's were underway, maintaining the Soviet lead in the space race. In January 1960 Star City, the Cosmonaut Training Centre, was founded by the Soviet Air Force and Kamanin was made the head. The first cosmonaut candidates arrived in March 1960. Following unmanned flight tests of Vostok 1KP, Vostok 1K and Vostok 3KA configurations, Yuri Gagarin made the first manned space flight on 12 April 1961. Five further manned Vostok flights maintained the Soviet lead in the space race. In order to keep up with the Americans, Korolev developed and flew a multi-crew version of Vostok (the Voskhod 3KV) and a Vostok with an airlock to accomplish the first spacewalk (the Voskhod 3KD). Further Vostok and Voskhod flights (such as the Voskhod 3KV Tether experiment) were planned but cancelled in order to concentrate on the more capable Soyuz spacecraft.
In parallel with Vostok the more sophisticated Zenit-2 and Zenit-4 photo-reconnaissance variants of the spacecraft reached service. Zenit-2 flights began in December 1961; 13 were flown in two years. The system was accepted into the military service in 1964. Zenit-4, the high resolution version, followed in 1965.
First Generation Soviet Space Systems
The Soviet military realised that having the Chief Designers define space systems was a 'bottom up' approach that did not address the country's real needs. They were faced with an immense American build-up of ballistic missiles which they could not hope to match if resources were squandered on grandiose space projects. Therefore measures were taken to obtain control of the situation.
A July 1960 declaration listed the military systems to be developed in 1966 to 1970. Military research programs of 1962 to 1964 code-named Shchit (space systems), Osnova (space equipment), and Ediniy KIK (ground systems) defined the first generation of Soviet operational space systems, deployed in 1966-1975. First generation systems were often developed by Korolev, then spun off to other design bureaux for production. At the beginning of the 1960's an unwieldy total of thirty space systems were in development.
In the early 1960's Russian strategic nuclear forces on land, sea, and air were already in place. The military wished to integrate military space forces with these in a systematic manner as soon as possible. These requirements resulted in definition of an SKV - Space Military System. The SKV would exploit the global range of orbital systems; determine the precise location of mobile and fixed targets for strike by strategic forces, precisely hit such targets, and quickly and securely transmit targeting information.
A hallmark of the early 1960's was militarisation of space under the shadow of Kennedy's policy of massive retaliation. Both the US and USSR deployed unmanned and developed manned systems to identify, track, and destroy the enemy's satellites. ABM systems could also be used to hit satellites in orbits up to 200 km. This process of militarisation of space was only averted, in the Soviet view, by actions taken by Nixon in the 1970's (the SALT-I treaty, the ABM treaty, and secret understandings to stop development of anti-satellite systems).
The period 1966-1970 featured the first practical use of space systems of the first generation.
First generation satellites were very unreliable. One problem was unrealistic specifications, another a lack of proven space-worthy components. The first solution was redundant systems, and these were tried on an experimental basis in the Meteor, Strela, and Tsiklon satellites. Flight demonstrations proved use of better construction methods would allow guaranteed satellite lifetimes of two to three years. Meanwhile the operational situation reached a crisis point. The USA had faced the same problem, and developed a strong reliable component basis for spacecraft. This had increased individual American satellite lifetimes to 3 to 5 years and system operational lives to 5 to 7 years (through use of on-orbit reserve spacecraft). But in the Soviet Union, due to the urgency to deploy, there was no time to develop such a technical basis for first generation systems. Only in the 1970's were reliability problems solved through use of qualified standard components, standard means of documentation, and quality assurance.
While the reliability of first generation systems was poor, they still met the needs of the Rocket Forces and General Staff. Quick reaction (10 to 12 day) launch times were achieved, and the new systems allowed precise targeting of long range rockets and naval forces. The Korund space communications system provided reliable command and control of the strategic forces.
Military space operations began in 1961 with the 'Provisional Rocket-Engineering Auxiliary' VNIRS-61. This initially developed military operational plans for launch sites and command and control activities, including regularly scheduled maintenance operations. This first phase, which prepared the military to execute space operations and conduct trials of systems, was completed by 1965. The first military space operations plans were prepared for the Zenit reconnaissance satellite system in 1964 to 1965, and subsequently used by the General Staff in the operation of that system.
The following lists the missions identified in Shchit-Osnova and the subsequent history of first-generation systems used to fulfil these missions.
Target Identification and Location
Tselina was developed by Yuzhnoye and consisted of two satellites: Tselina-O for general observations and Tselina-D for detailed observations. ELINT systems for Tselina were first tested under the Cosmos designation in 1962 to 1965. The first Tselina-O was launched in 1970. The Tselina-D took a long time to enter service due to delays in payload development and weight growth.
The Navy's US radio intelligence satellites were built in US-P (passive detection) and US-A (nuclear powered active radar) variants. Development was begun in 1960. They were descended from Chelomei's Kosmoplan modular spacecraft design, and were part of an integrated naval war-fighting system, feeding locations of enemy naval forces to Chelomei-built ship-launched cruise missiles. Both satellites were designed for launch by Chelomei's UR-200 rocket. On October 13, 1964, Khrushchev, Chelomei's patron, was ousted from power. The new leadership decided to assign the US project to Savin, with Chelomei in the sub-contractor role, to be launched by Yuzhnoye's Tsiklon-2 rocket. Delays resulted in the US being implemented as a second generation systems in the 1970's.
Monitoring- Characterisation of Near-Earth Space: Two Energia spacecraft, adapted from the Zenit reconnaissance satellite, were launched in the 1970's to study high-energy cosmic rays. These were supplemented by the Lavochkin Prognoz series, launched in 1972 to 1976, for study of geomagnetic fields, radiation, and solar physics. They continued the work of the Elektron-A and Elektron-B spacecraft of 1964.
Biological studies on the effects of radiation: The Bion satellite, based on the Zenit reconnaissance satellite, was developed for this purpose. Launches began in 1973 with primary emphasis on the problems of radiation effects on human beings. Bions were launched from 1973 to 1996. Small related experiments were carried in Nauka modules on Zenit-2M reconnaissance spacecraft.
Systems tests and scientific experiments: From 1968 Nauka attached containers or free-flying sub-satellites were used on Zenit reconnaissance satellites to develop methods to study radiation belts; establish radiation standards; establish the characteristics of the earth-space interface; and develop new instruments. 23 autonomous sub-satellites conducted methodical research into geophysics, meteorology, and cosmic rays. The DS series of light satellites developed by Yangel also provided platforms for a wide range of technology equipment tests and space environment monitoring. They flew under the 'Cosmos' satellite program ('Cosmos' name was also used as the cover name for any military satellite or launch failure). This program was managed by the Third Directorate of the GURVO Rocket Forces, consisting of four sections of 36 officers and 5 civilians.
National Prestige Programs
Although they represented only 20% of launches, national prestige projects (manned and planetary missions) represented 50% of the effort of the military, which was responsible for the launch facilities and operations. This was due to their scale and use of non-standard launch vehicles and spacecraft.
It was decided in the second half of 1965 that Chelomei would no longer be responsible for high-priority projects, and the L1 project was assigned to Korolev. A month later Korolev died suddenly, a crippling blow to the entire program. Mishin was named as Korolev's successor after a long delay.
Korolev's Soyuz 7K-L1 was flown in several versions to support the L1 and L3 projects (Soyuz 7K-L1P, Soyuz 7K-L1E, Soyuz 7K-L1A) but could not be qualified for manned flight before Apollo 8 orbited the moon and ended the first lap of the moon race. The first N1 launch was to be in 1967 but was delayed to 1969 due to serious deficiencies in organisation and co-operation. Chelomei and Glushko advocated dumping the N1-L3 design and using their UR-700 - LK-700 for a direct lunar landing. These alternates were rejected, but the first two N1 launches, in January and July 1969, resulted in the explosion of the launch vehicle. In retrospect a fatal error was made in deciding to launch a vehicle of this size from the remote Baikonur cosmodrome. Since Korolev rejected modular designs, the vehicle could not be transported by rail or water to the selected launch site; it had to be built at the site itself. Budget limitations meant that the enormous first stage was not static tested before flight.
Mature First Generation Soviet Space Systems
Mature first generation space systems provided targeting and communications support for the Soviet strategic forces. These systems were developed in the Ninth Five Year Plan (1971-1975) and deployed in the Tenth Five Year Plan (1976-1980). However initial planning began in November 1966 when TsUKOS MO (Central Directorate of the Space Forces of the Ministry of Defence) formed the first permanent unit for military space operations with Col A I Udaltsov as its Chief. In the period 1966 to 1969 the unit prepared and put into operation formal technical procedures. These were issued in June 1969 in the manual, 'Organisation, Maintenance, and Military Operation of Space Systems'.
Plans Epokha (1965), Koltso (1968), and Oblako (1970) formalised the military-political structures for space operations, and determined the optimal groupings of earth- and space-based forces in military operations. The theoretical plan Koltso (1966-1968) defined an organised method for scientific development of space forces and showed that they could be operated in fundamentally the same way as other arms of the military. In 1968 4 NII MO (Fourth Scientific Research Institute of the Ministry of Defence) formed Filial 4 for scientific research. In April 1970 two directorates were formed, one for Military Space Units Research and the other for Mathematical-Modelling Military Research. These consisted of five new science units, and 12 laboratories. They conducted ballistic calculations for the RVSN Rocket Forces and Space Forces and prepared the TTT and TTZ specifications for new projects.
A Defence Ministry directive of 6 November 1968 laid out the actions to be taken in the late 1960's and early 1970's for unit programming for military utilisation (Plans Mars, Osnova, Orion). The objective was to integrate space forces into overall military planning, taking into account the most cost-effective use of resources. This included basic space research for military and national economy purposes.
Methodical operations planning was begun by Filial 4 NII MO from 1967, and was completed in 1970 with Plans Prognoz and Sirius Phase I. These established the development plans for the space forces in the period 1971-1980. These plans set the following objectives:
Sirius Phase I was the first space project based on recommendations of the Scientific-Technical Committee of the Rocket Forces, headed by General N N Alekseyev. This first project plan was include in the ninth Soviet Five Year Plan (1971-1975).
The Soviet military units responsible for space operations went through several reorganisations. From October 1964, the Third Directorate of the GURVO (Main Directorate of the Rocket Forces), was responsible for Baikonur and Plesetsk operations. From March 1970 GUKOS MO (Main Directorate of the Space Forces of the Military of Defence) was formed and took over this responsibility. It reported directly to the General Staff. GUKOS was able to wrest control of the MKRTs electronic surveillance system from the Russian Navy but ASAT and SPRN Early Warning Systems remained the responsibility of the PVO Air Defence Forces.
In 1971-1976 trials of all first generation systems were completed and the phase of implementation and full utilisation of these systems began. Of the 30 systems authorised for draft project stage, only 14 systems entered service. Those eliminated included almost all of the elaborate manned military and space exploration designs of Korolev and Chelomei.
In 1970 to 1976 standard manuals and norms were developed for the operation of the space forces. Launch and tracking facilities became more standardised and steps were taken to make the space forces more resilient in combat. Measures taken included development of autonomously-operating satellites, orbiting of reserve satellites, and deployment of mobile reserve tracking stations. Systems were developed for operation in difficult conditions, including enemy jamming environments. Both ground stations and satellites were provided with the capability to manoeuvre whenever possible.
By the end of the 1970's space systems were in place that were integrated into the country's military doctrine and plans, fully supported Soviet strategic communications, and provided command and control of continental and oceanic military forces.
Development of the first nine systems of the first generation was completed in 1974-1975 and flight trials were conducted in the second half of the 1970's. The second group of first generation systems were developed in the second half of the 1970's and deployed in the first half of the 1980's. They provided crucial intelligence that helped maintain the USA-USSR balance of power.
First generation systems were designed for practical application of space technology by all parts of the state (military, economic, science, control, agricultural, international co-operation, etc.). These were a result of the following policy decisions:
Photo-Reconnaissance: A series of new design reconnaissance satellites using the Yantar bus were intended to replace the Zenit series. The Yantar-2K featured double the duration and film capacity of earlier systems. This was combined with improved operational dissemination and use of information. Development work was started in 1971, flight tests began in 1974, and the Yantar-2K flew until 1983. However development of other members of the Yantar series was protracted and test of the Yantar-2K showed it did not have the resolution to provide strategic warning of attack. Therefore improved Zenit models filled the gap. The Zenit design was modernised 4 times by Kozlov in 1972, 1976, 1978, and 1983 with better photo apparatus and film. The final versions could manoeuvre in orbit and photograph small objects. These variants were:
The Navy's US radio intelligence and targeting satellites were built in US-P (passive detection) and US-A (nuclear powered active radar) variants. The projects were moved from Chelomei to Savin at KB Arsenal in 1967. Launch vehicle was changed to Yuzhnoye's Tsiklon-2 rocket. Following a crash redevelopment programme the US-P entered service in 1971 and the US-A in 1975.
The Yantar-1KF first generation cartographic system began development in 1968. While it used systems from the Yantar-2K, it retained a re-entry vehicle of the Zenit type. However it became impossible to keep the spacecraft within the payload capability of the Soyuz-U launch vehicle. Therefore the design was abandoned and modifications of the Zenit were put into service as an interim measure:
Reshetnev's Sfera geodetic spacecraft allowed measurement of geodetic points leading to improved accuracy of long range weapons. Flight tests were from 1968 to 1972, and operational flights were from 1973 to 1980. The Kosmos-3M launcher was used.
Work began in 1967 to develop solutions for a mature hydrographic and meteorological observation systems. Compared to Meteor-1, the Meteor-2 had a longer design operational life (one year vs. six months) and the capability to transfer data automatically to military APPI stations (Autonomous Points of Information Collection). Prime contractor was VNIIEM Mineletrotekhprom (A G Yosifiyan). In 1969 the TTZ specification was issued by the Ministry of Defence and the Main Hydrometeorological Office of the Soviet Ministers. The draft project was completed in 1971. Due to difficulties in development of spectrometer equipment, flight trials did not commence until July 1975. As an interim measure, an improved Meteor-1 (Meteor M) began flying in 1977.
Meteors were launched into 81.2 degree orbits, at 850 km altitude, allowing a revisit of every location at 6 and 12 hour intervals by a constellation of three satellites at 90 to 180 degree intervals. Each satellite could observe 30,000 sq. km at a time. Data was processed at hydro-meteorological offices at Moscow, Novosibirsk, and Khabarovsk.
This system was designed to provide services to both military and civilian users. On 5 April 1972 the YeSSS was defined as the Molniya-2 and Molniya-3 satellites in elliptical orbit and Raduga (Statsionar) in geosynchronous orbit. The complete first generation communications system was accepted into military service in December 1979. Over the next five years, though 1985, 35 Molniya and 17 Raduga satellites were launched to keep the system operational.
Russian geosynchronous spacecraft differed from Western equivalents in their greater mass (2.0-2.5 metric tons), their lesser communications capacity, and, their lack north-south station-keeping ability. The latter resulted in a continual variation of orbital inclinations (typically between 0 to 5 degrees) of Russian geosynchronous satellites during their operational lifetimes. To minimise this effect new satellites were launched with initial geosynchronous orbital inclinations of 1-2 degrees under strict conditions which took advantage of solar-lunar perturbations to reduce the inclination to zero over a period of one to two years before it increased. East-West station-keeping was accomplished with liquid propellant thrusters.
All geosynchronous satellites were launched from Baikonur by the Proton booster. With rare exceptions the spacecraft were inserted into geosynchronous near 90 degrees East and allowed to drift east or west to their intended stations.
By 1976 Nixon had been ousted from power and the Carter administrations renewed work on ASAT's. This resulted in a new series of trial flights of an improved IS-A interceptor and target (DS-P1-M) through 1978. The last flight tests were conducted in 1982. The Soviet Union unilaterally abandoned anti-satellite operations in 1983. The improved IS-MU version of the system was kept in untested reserve after that date.
The TKS manned ferry spacecraft were tested in unmanned flights and the TKS VA re-entry capsule underwent extensive tests. After cancellation of the Almaz-2 program, surplus TKS resupply craft were flown to dockings with Salyut 6 and 7. Although the TKS had significantly better characteristics than the existing Soyuz spacecraft, it was not put into operation. However this design formed the basis for modules of the Mir and International Space Stations.
The next round of the space race would be the first manned space station. While the USAF had cancelled their MOL Manned Orbiting Laboratory, NASA's Skylab was scheduled for launch by 1972. Like-minded engineers conspired behind the backs of Chief Designers Chelomei and Mishin. Through Communist Party channels they proposed to take the Almaz OPS hulls already built by Chelomei, outfit them with flight-qualified Soyuz systems, and launch the resulting spacecraft before Skylab. The Soviet leadership, fed up with the internecine quarrelling that contributed to the loss of the moon race, agreed. The Salyut-1 DOS (long duration orbital station) design was created.
The first launch, Salyut 1 of 1971, beat Skylab into orbit but the crew perished when their Soyuz spacecraft depressurised during the return to earth. Launch and in-orbit failures in 1972 and 1973 were finally followed by the completely successful Salyut 4 of 1975-1976. The cancellation of the N1 in 1974 left Salyut as the only Soviet civilian manned space program.
The Korolev bureau borrowed the two docking port configuration of Chelomei's Almaz-2 and flew Salyut 6 and Salyut 7 in 1977 and 1982. This allowed near-continuous occupation of the stations through crew rotation. The opportunity was taken to fly 'guest cosmonauts' from friendly countries on short visits to the stations. Salyut 7 was able to conduct significant military experiments thanks to the greatly increased volume and payload of the TKS modules diverted from the Almaz programme.
To support operation of these stations the basic Soyuz design was modified by addition of a docking tunnel. The resulting Soyuz 7KT-OK was used with the Salyut 1 DOS space station. Following the disastrous Soyuz 11 mission, it was again reworked to the simplified Soyuz 7K-T design, which finally provided a reliable ferry craft to Salyuts-4, -6, and -7. A further modification was the Progress, an unmanned logistics vehicle that replaced the crew re-entry vehicle with propellant tanks for resupply of Salyut space stations. These Soyuz 7K-OK derivatives flew until succeeded by Soyuz T in 1981 and Progress M in 1989. These designs were derived from the still-born Soyuz 7K-S, a military version of Soyuz which began development in 1968. From 17 July 1984 Soyuz could be launched with 200 kg additional mass thanks to use of Tsiklin propellant in the Soyuz-U2 booster. Some solo Soyuz missions were conducted apart from the Salyut program. Soyuz 20 carried a biological payload, and Soyuz 22 - Soyuz 7K-MF6 flew a multi-spectral camera.
The Ministry of Defence did manage to retire some old launch vehicles. 1974 saw the last launch from KRK Raduga using the Kosmos 63S1M booster. On 29 June 1976 the last Voskhod 11A57 booster was launched. As a result, in 1977 121 launches were made using only six types of launch vehicles and 16 types of spacecraft. Launch facilities at Kapustin Yar were limited to LC-5 and LC-53.
Second Generation Soviet Space Systems
Second generation space systems extended support of space assets beyond the strategic forces to tactical military units. In April 1972 50 TsNII KS MO (50th Central Scientific Research Institute for Space Systems of the Ministry of Defence) was decreed. It was empowered to co-ordinate all of the work of the various space research institutions (TsNIIMASH, NIITI, Agat, NII Khimash) on follow-on space systems. The objective was to draft a five year plan for satellites to be used in the 1985-1990 period. 50 TsNII KS MO was formed from staff and facilities of 4-NII MO. It was tasked to put together defence plans, draft TTT and TTZ specifications, and conduct trials of equipment. Research supported the RVSN Rocket Forces in their planning for 1971-1975. These included Plans Sirius Phase 2, Dal', Gamma, and Zamysel. The final result was two plans: "Program for Military Space Units for 1976 to 1985" and "Basis and Direction of Development of Space Units through 1990". These documents defined the Soviet Union's second generation space systems. The plans included:
The Soviet Unified Space System consisted of:
There was considerable controversy as the 'Young Turks' took on the conservatives. The controversy mirrored the 'star wars' arguments of the following decade in the United States - conventional space objectives versus exotic technologies and possibilities. Although preliminary research projects were begun, the weaponisation of these concepts did not begin until the mid-1980's.
At the conclusion of the deployment of these systems, the Soviet Union finally achieved military space system parity with the United States. But there were serious delays. By the end of the 11th Five Year Plan (1981-1985), of 23 priority systems requirements, 21 were from one to three years behind schedule. The two that had been completed were finished one year behind schedule. Only 60% of the planned flight trials launches had been completed. In particular delays in development of the new Zenit launch vehicle impacted all the other programs, increasing their costs. Tselina-2 had to be initially launched aboard Proton boosters, and Yantar-4K aboard Soyuz-U.
Second generation Launch Vehicles
A completely new family of dedicated space launch vehicles, not derived from military missiles, would be developed to support the spacecraft. 50 TsNII-KS began research in 1973 on Plan Poisk - a new modular family of launch vehicles. These were in four classes: Light - 3 tonnes payload; Medium, 10-12 tonnes; Heavy, 30 - 35 tonnes; and Super-heavy. The objectives:
During these studies the launch vehicle engineering bureaux responded with designs meeting the needs of the military: the UR-500MK from Chelomei, and the RLA-120-RLA-135-RLA-150 family from Glushko. Glushko's emphasis was on the super-heavy vehicle to support a continued lunar base project.
But the VPK Military-Industrial Commission and the national leadership rejected the approach favoured by the Ministry of Defence. Instead the instructions were to provide a precise Soviet equivalent to the American space shuttle system, notably in use of a Liquid Oxygen-Liquid Hydrogen core vehicle. The KRK principles were applied to this design. The resulting MKS launch vehicle consisted of the Buran, Energia, and Zenit-2 systems. But this system did not have the flexibility required by the Ministry of Defence. From this situation only the following military objectives could be salvaged:
Because of all the new technology, development of Zenit-Energia went very slowly. Since the Ministry of Defence's requirements for new launch vehicles had not been met they had to rely on continued use of old classes of boosters. The existing Kosmos 11K65M, Tsyklon-3 and Proton 8K82K would be used for the light and heavy-class payloads.
Work on the Zenit launch complex began in 1978. The first pad was ready in December 1983 but due to delays in development of the first stage engines flight trails did not begin until 13 April 1985. In the spring of 1987 state commission that accepted the basic system for military use, but much work remained to be done. This included construction of a second launch complex at Baikonur, qualification of a third stage for geostationary payloads, and construction of a third launch complex at Plesetsk.
The same engine problems delayed test of the Energia-Buran vehicles. A comprehensive plan for use of Buran for military, scientific, and national economic purposes was approved on 11 July 1984, which by then was two years behind schedule. Buran itself was finally prepared for flight tests in 1986. This marked the end of a huge development effort using 200 experimental test stands, 34 full-scale test units, and 5 full-scale articles in over 6,500 separate qualification tests. The Polyus-Skif-DM experimental military payload was assembled for the first flight.
Second Generation Space Systems
The development of satellites taking advantage of the new design principles and technologies could not be delayed for development of second generation boosters. Therefore most space systems were to be developed in two phases: Phase 1 for launch using existing launch vehicles (Tsyklon-3, Soyuz 11A511U, or Proton 8K82K) and Phase 2 for launch by Zenit-2. Due to delays in development of the Zenit booster, very few of the Phase 2 systems reached flight stage before the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Development was slow because of the state of Soviet digital electronics technology. Flight trials of the Yantar 4KS1 finally began in December 1982, three years behind schedule. The system was accepted by the military in 1985 and six launches were conducted through 1986 of Phase 1 systems. Phase 2 was proceeding in parallel. A resolution of 1 June 1983 required it to be equivalent to the American KH-11. Trials began in 1985 and consisted of three launches. In the end it proved impossible for the Yantar-4KS2 to match the performance of the KH-11. All Yantar-4K systems went through evolutionary development from flight to flight.
Development of a second generation Strela-3 system for centralised command and control of military units began in 1973. Flight trials began in 1985 and the system was accepted into military service in 1990. By 1992 Strela-3 replaced the Strela-1M and after 1994 the Strela-2M in the strategic communications role. Six Strelas were put into medium earth orbits with each launch.
For civilian communications, the Ekran continued in use. In 1980 the satellites were first used to distribute the Soviet Channel 1 television channel program, followed in 1981 by Channel 2. From 1985 coverage of all five time zones was achieved, using 4000 receivers for the Ekran system in Siberia and the Far East. Channel 1 programs were relayed over the Ekran and Moskva systems, and Channel 2 programs over Moskva and Orbita.
The Intersputnik international system was expanded to 14 socialist countries, for a total of 20, including Algeria, Angola, Spain, Italy, Iraq, USA, France, Yugoslavia, and Japan. The system used six transponders aboard two Gorizont satellites.
Use of Inmarsat international maritime communication satellites began in 1975. By 1985 43 civilian users were operating in the Soviet Union. On 1 February 1982 Soviet use of MARECS-A (ECS-OTS) and Intelsat-5 satellites started. The USSR developed the shipboard receiver Volna-S, operated in conjunction with central relay stations at Odessa and Nakhodka. By the end of 1985 over 3500 ships had receivers for Inmarsat and Cosmos-SARSAT. Three Soviet Nadezhda and one US satellite made up the SARSAT emergency distress receiver network.
A new-generation global command and control system (GKKRS) was to be developed according to the decree of 17 February 1976. This enabled geosynchronous relay of high-rate digital data from both fixed ground stations and mobile platforms (orbiting satellites, aircraft, naval and army units). The first half of the 1980's saw development and flight test of the two satellites used in the GKKRS. At first these relay systems were not fully utilised due to delays in development and deployment of the second generation satellites that would work with them. But they were the key to the other unified systems. The GKKRS consisted of:
A series of ambitious ocean satellites were introduced, perhaps with the intention of solving the problem of detection of submerged enemy ballistic missile submarines. The Okean-E and Okean-OE were experimental satellites used to develop sensors for the Okean-O satellite being developed by KB Yuzhnoye. They surveyed the ocean surface and arctic ice pack using a variety of sensors. Salyut 7 conducted a joint sensor program with Okean-OE-Cosmos 1500. The Okean-OE satellites also received data from a world-wide network of ocean buoys that had been deployed from the end of the 1960's. Receivers for these buoys were carried on Kosmos 243, Meteor, Soyuz, Salyut, Kosmos 1076, Kosmos 1151, Intercosmos 20. The Okean-O1, sized for launch by the Tsyklon, began flights in 1986. The Phase 2, Zenit-launched Okean-O was delayed for a long time but finally reached orbit in 1999.
The Geo-IK second generation geodetic satellite system began development in 1977. Its Musson satellite was used to define a unified world geodetic data set and geocentric co-ordinate system, characterise the shape of the earth, and precisely fix the location of NIP tracking stations. Flight trials began in 1980, and the system was accepted into service in 1986. The system used the Tsiklon-3 launcher and the entire system, including ground elements, was known as Geo-IK.
Two Etalon geodetic satellites were also flown in the 19,100 km GLONASS orbit to fully characterise the gravitational field at the planned altitude and inclination.
National Prestige Projects
A resolution of 6 February 1979 consolidated Chelomei's manned Almaz-2 military space station and the Mir civilian program. TKS-derived modules (Kvant-2, Kristall, Spektr, Priroda) were selected over NPO Energia's 37K-Mir design. However 37KB and NPG modules continued in development for use with Buran. To support Mir modernised Soyuz TM ferry and Progress M resupply spacecraft were developed.
Third Generation Soviet Space Systems
Third generation Soviet space systems constituted an integrated Multi-Element Space System, including the planned Multi-echelon Anti Ballistic Missile System. Preparatory work for third generation systems was undertaken under the Tenth Five Year Plan (1976-1980), with full definition of the systems in the 11th Five Year Plan, (1981-1985). In 1985 the plans were drastically revised and a crash programme was undertaken to meet the American Strategic Defence Initiative challenge during the 12th Five Year Plan (1986-1990). Third generations systems were to be fully on line by 1990. This plan was not achievable and the Soviet Union disintegrated before any third generations systems could be placed in service.
Research institute 50-TsNII-KS GUKOS conducted studies in 1976-1980 on the third generation of satellite systems. These would have a 10 to 15 year development and deployment cycle. Participating in the studies were the Academy of Sciences, scientific institutes, and industry. Among the resulting studies were those code-named Gorizont-K, Dal, Zamysel-95, and Klokot. Project Borba studied the operational strategic problems of military activity in space. Shturm-2 identified the military, scientific, and technological research and development required for third generation military space units. The final results of the studies were summarised in the reports 'Basic Direction of Military Space Unit Development to 1995' and 'Program for Military Space Units, 1981-1990'. Approval of these plans from the Central Committee and Soviet Ministers was issued on 2 June 1980. This covered the period through 1990 and included plans for use of the Almaz-T multimode reconnaissance system and Elektro geosynchronous meteorological satellite.
Further operational studies included the 16 volume OTT-70 which set forth system specifications and force descriptions. RK-75 set forth the order of battle for both space and rocket forces. At the end of 1980 the VPK Military Industrial Commission also ordered a strategic plan extending to 1995 and a plan for research to 2000.
These plans were drastically revised as a result of what the Soviet Union perceived as the remilitarisation of space by the United States with the F-15 ASAT and Shuttle programmes. At this time second generation Soviet space systems were supporting the military, but 25% of the new systems were behind schedule (Yantar-4K, Geo-IK, and Strela especially). The use of space for combat, especially plans for use of the Buran spaceplane, were not taken seriously by the Ministry of Defence. In April 1976 Ustinov had authorised work to start on military space combat systems, but by 1979 the development work was unfocussed.
The leadership at GUKOS (Main Directorate of the Space Forces) wanted to collect all of these diverse projects into a single organisation. This Space Force would be equal to the RVSN Strategic Rocket Forces in status. This was opposed by RVSN, but on 10 November 1981 a decree made GUKOS responsible for all space forces and satellites. GUKOS was tasked with ensuring synergistic organisation of satellite constellations; co-ordination of the ABM anti-ballistic missile forces and SPRN early warning satellites with the PVO Air Defence Force; co-ordination with the VVS Air Force on use of space reconnaissance data and cosmonaut training; and operation of the space tracking system.
On 22 August 1980 the VPK Military Industrial Commission resolution ordered development of a space forces Five Year Plan for 1981 to 1985. In July-August 1981 the plan was reviewed. Objectives included:
This plan was submitted to a special session of the Ministry of Defence in August 1981. It envisioned development of 8 new space systems plus the Tsiklon-3 booster with a new upper stage. The integrated Global Space System would consist of multiple subsystems:
Multi-echelon Anti Ballistic Missile System
At the end of the 1960's and the beginning of the 1970's the United States began new research in the use of spacecraft for the destruction of military targets in and from space. In the late 1960's development began at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory of a space-based nuclear weapon-pumped laser. This was originally envisioned as a fearsome weapon, consisting of several dozen independently aimed lasing rods arranged around the bomb. When the bomb exploded, a large percentage of its force would be conducted down the lasing rods toward the targets at which they pointed (in the microsecond before the rods themselves vaporised).
At the same time the Air Force and NASA were studying reusable space shuttles. A single shuttle payload bay of such weapons had the potential of destroying the entire Soviet ICBM force - not just in launch phase but in a first strike, frying them right through the silo covers. One of the most heavily classified projects of the time, it still came to the attention of Soviet intelligence.
During this same period NASA was struggling to justify a post-Apollo space program. The Nixon administration decided that the USAF shuttle project would be dropped, and their requirements incorporated into the NASA design. One of these requirements was a mission involving a launch into polar orbit from Vandenberg Air Force base, release of unspecified payloads into orbit, and return to Vandenberg after a single orbit of the Earth. This requirement forced NASA to drop their preferred straight-wing design for a heavier double-delta wing that had the necessary cross range. The Soviet leadership saw their worst fears confirmed. This was a modern version of the first-strike multiple-warhead UR-500 and N1 super heavy rockets which they had developed but then abandoned in the early 1960's.
America was also beginning work on other directed energy approaches that did not require use of nuclear detonations. In 1968, a gas dynamic laser was reviewed in a study to see if it would be a viable as a satellite anti-missile system. In 1971, the Aerospace Corporation developed a prototype infrared fluorine-hydrogen laser. By 1975, Lockheed put together the first concept of a satellite armed with a laser and a deployable mirror.
Parallel work began in the Soviet Union in the same period. One direction was advocated by the Ministry of Radio Industry, which had managed the development of the Soviet ABM system since the late 1950's. Another approach was the use of neutral particle beam weapons, advocated by Gersh Budker at a secret institute in Novosibirsk.
During the late 1960's and early 1970's Soviet research institutes, design bureaux, the Academy of Sciences, and the General Staff conducted numerous discussions and unofficial studies. Among these plans were the use of the Korolev MKBS space station as a platform for a neutral particle beam weapon and logistical support of a constellation of military interceptor vehicles. The MKBS approach was abandoned when the N1 launch vehicle was cancelled.
An April 1976 decree began definitive project work on 'Star Wars' technology within the Soviet Union. To develop space weapons the two-phase Fon program was undertaken. Fon-1 encompassed fundamental research and draft project work on a variety of technologies - laser weapons, neutral particle beams, electro-magnetic rail guns, new orbital interceptor missiles, new conventional and nuclear warhead technologies, new anti-ballistic missiles, and space platforms to support these weapons. Fon-2 would take the technologies selected as a result of Fon-1 and conduct flight trials of prototype systems. Fielding of operational space combat units would only come thereafter.
The MOP Ministry of Defence Production set up a new Eighth Main Directorate to manage the work of the various institutes and bureaux. P S Pleshakov of the Ministry of Radio Industry oversaw the work of the design bureaux. In the 1970's and 1980's ambitious and complex research was conducted on space vehicles capable of destroying rockets in flight, airborne vehicles in the atmosphere, vessels at sea, and targets on land. These studies assessed both the feasibility and affordability of such spacecraft.
Early results were not encouraging. NPO Kometa (A I Savin), manufacturer of the existing IS-A anti-satellite system, was asked to study the feasibility of a conventional system to destroy 10,000 ballistic re-entry vehicles and cruise missiles within 5 to 25 minutes with an effectiveness of 99.8%. The study concluded that such a system was not practical technically or economically.
Directed energy weapons might have a better chance of engaging many targets in a surprise attack, but testing of charged practical beam technology resulted in many technical problems that would take a long time to solve. (The 1976 conclusion of the US Defence Intelligence Agency that such work had reached an advanced stage at an immense facility at Semipalatinsk was shown to be incorrect after the fall of the Soviet Union).
Laser technology was also pursued but also faced many technical and cost problems in achieving high energies. The principle centre for laser research was TsKB Luch, headed by Nikolai Ustinov, son of the Soviet Defence Minister. In the late 1970's this was reorganised into NPO Astrofizika. Astrofizika designed lasers for both tactical and strategic use and was receiving 1% of the Soviet defence budget during this period. A free electron laser was tested at Storozhevaya, and a 1 MW gas laser at Troitsk.
OKB Vympel was the systems integrator for ground-based laser systems. They built the major Terra-3 laser testing centre at Sary Shagan, which was eventually equipped with Astrofizika high power red ruby and carbon dioxide lasers. But the energies were not sufficient for anti-ballistic missile use. The first applications would be limited to anti-satellite operations, and then primarily to blind optical sensors.
Other institutes involved in research were NIITP (Research Institute for Thermal Processes) which handled high energy gas dynamic lasers, and the Scientific Institute for Radio Device Production, which worked on plasma weapons.
Meanwhile Livermore work on the nuclear-pumped laser had evolved into a space-based x-ray laser weapon which would destroy ICBM's during boost phase, after they had cleared the atmosphere. But in 1977 President Carter cancelled further development work on this weapon. The threat seemed to recede and by the early 1980's Fon-1 work had focused on the more achievable goal of improved interception and destruction of enemy satellites.
But in June 1982 America announced its intentions to test a new SRAM-Altair ASAT from an F-15 fighter. Later that year Edward Teller dazzled Ronald Reagan with tales of desk-sized x-ray lasers that could be deployed within four years and create an invulnerable defence shield around the United States. Work on the x-ray laser was renewed with vigour as the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI). The program quickly expanded to include research on a broad range of directed energy and rocket interceptor weapons.
Reagan's 'Star Wars speech' on 23 March 1983 seemed to indicate a much earlier deployment than the Soviets had previously thought. Plans were made in America for deployment of the existing Vought MNV warhead developed for the F-15 ASAT. 40 to 45 of these homing vehicles, weighting 2.0 to 2.5 tonnes each, would be housed in orbital platforms in 65-degree inclination, 550 km orbits. Test and deployment of the constellation was to begin in five to seven years. Later studies indicated 30 to 40 such platforms would be deployed with 1350-1800 interceptors.
The Soviet response was immediate. Yuri Andropov ordered additional funding and implementation of Fon-2. At the same time Soviet diplomatic initiatives were undertaken. A proposal was made to the Unite States to ban all space-based weapons. Andropov declared a unilateral moratorium on testing of the improved IS-MU ASAT. As a 'warning shot' the Terra-3 complex was used to track the STS-41-G space shuttle Challenger with a low power laser on 10 October 1984. This caused malfunction of on-board equipment and temporary blinding of the crew, leading to a US diplomatic protest.
Premier Andropov brought the necessary new discipline and enthusiasm to begin development of Soviet counterpart systems. In response to reports that the US intended to have SDI operational in 10 to 15 years, Minister of Defence Ustinov and VPK Chief Smirnov ordered an urgent revamping of the 11th Five Year Plan (1981-1985). The objective was deployment of space combat systems at the earliest possible date. Total space program expenditures to cover these systems were to be increased 35% from the 11th to 12th Five Year Plans (1986-1990) and 50% from the 12th to 13th Five Year Plans (1991-1995).
However the top-level managers that ran the Soviet space program were fading into history. Afanasyev left MOM (Ministry of General Machine-Building) in 1983. When Ustinov died in December 1984 the Soviet space program lost its biggest backer. He had been the impetus behind development of Buran and the electro-optical reconnaissance systems. He was the leading proponent of a vigorous Soviet response to Star Wars.
The Baikonur and Plesetsk launch centres were reorganised in 1984, with the Baikonur 5 NIIP MO incorporating the 50 TsNII KS research institute, including a new 8th Directorate for operation of the Buran shuttle and BKS Combat Shock Space System - alternative space weapons. The living facilities at the Golistsino-2 command and control centre were also upgraded.
50 TsNII-KS was first asked to evaluate SDI in 1983. By 1985 the Soviet Ministers were asking for concrete proposals. A study group headed by Ye P Velikhov was formed from the Academy of Sciences and military institutes. Subpanels evaluated multi-layered systems using lasers, guns, and electrodynamic weapons. The capability of the US Shuttle and Soviet Buran to deploy such systems was studied.
The final conclusion was that new, fully reusable, more economical launch vehicles would be required to support the enormous launch rate required for SDI. Concurrent with this studies were made of ecologically clean, high power rocket engines needed to power a new generation of launch vehicles. Lox-Kerosene or Lox-LH2 propellants would be used by a modular family of launch vehicles with payload capabilities of 5 tonnes, 10-12 tonnes, 20-30 tonnes, 40-50 tonnes, and 80-100 tonnes. A common engine would be used in the first stage of all of these designs, which would be recoverable and reusable.
Aircraft/space systems with horizontal takeoff and landing would achieve a 30% reduction in system weight compared to conventional vertical takeoff. Use of nuclear energy was also considered under project MG-19, but development of such a system did not seem possible in the short term.
Analysis of the shuttle indicated that the design was a 'clunker' - it wasted 70 tonnes of orbiter mass on every flight to deliver 30 tonnes of payload. The Chelnoka study evaluated manoeuvring aerodynamic-orbital dynamic systems to attack enemy satellites. Buran did not seem suited to this but could be used as a laboratory to develop new space technology. There was a need to test systems in orbit, and the Salyut and Mir space stations would allow this. Technology testing aboard these existing platforms would lead to a new generation of space systems by the turn of the century. These reparable and upgradeable space platforms that would be tended by Buran shuttles.
Concurrent with these urgent moves the Soviets began a diplomatic counter-offensive to kill the American SDI programme through less-expensive means. This had been launched in earnest at a conference in Vienna on 9-25 August 1982. A series of UN Resolutions in August 1981 (36th UN General Assembly), 1982 (38th General Assembly), and the 12 December 1984 (39th General Assembly) all condemned and attempted to prevent the militarisation of space. These resolutions were entirely in response to the initiatives of the Carter and Reagan administrations. The hostile intentions of the Americans were also evidenced by the 1982 NATO First Strike Policy, which went back to McNamara.
On 10 March 1985 Gorbachev came to power and on 12 March he asked for Geneva talks on nuclear and space forces. Nevertheless in May 1985 the US had formed the Strategic Defence Initiative Organisation (SDIO) to develop a multi-echelon ABM system. In September 1985 the US intercepted the SolWind satellite at an altitude of 450 km using an F-15-launched ASAT with an infrared seeker. The USSR conducted ASAT research as well, but had never engaged in a massive 'star wars' program on the scale of the American effort. In the Soviet view the concept of SDI was flawed - the necessary technology was an illusion. But the threat was real, and it was determined that even deployment of a flawed American system would upset the strategic balance.
America rushed the second generation ASAT into development. On 19-21 November 1985 Gorbachev and Reagan conducted summit talks in Geneva. The diplomatic efforts were having the desired effect - in December 1985 the US Congress stopped further ASAT tests as long as the Soviet Union did the same.
In parallel with diplomacy planning went ahead on deployment of a Soviet counterpart to SDI. At the end of 1984 it had been clear that the Soviet Union could not delay deploying space combat systems. The Ministry of Defence was to put together a plan by mid-1985 for integration into the 12th Five Year Plan (1986-1990). Revised military planning for 1986-1995 was undertaken. NPO Energia was given the leading role in preparing the plan, together with research institutes led by 50 TsNII-KS.
The Ministry of Defence determined to proceed with a response to America's SDI at a meeting on 8 November 1985. The financial plan was ready on 7 December 1985. The concept was for a Multiple-Element ABM system costing 30.7 billion roubles in 1986-1990. A government commission headed by Academy of Sciences Vice President Ye P Velikhov reviewed the plan on 11 December 1985. It was then presented to the VPK Military-Industrial Commission in January 1986. The plan included:
The project was finalised in a decree of 7 February 1986 Under this decree GUKOS was reorganised as the Chief Directorate for Space Forces (UNKS). The decree put UNKS in control of all space units, and placed it on an equal footing with the other branches of the armed forces. On 25 February 1986 the 27th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was held. In considering the 12th Five Year Plan, there was much denunciation of American actions. The peace-loving Soviet Union had fought constantly against the arms race, and what was the American answer? Star Wars!
Development of the planned conventional third generation space systems was delayed after 1985 by priority being given to Soviet SDI systems. Therefore flight trials of third generation satellites, planned for the 1986-1989 period were delayed to 1990 or beyond. The 12th Five Year Plan (1986-1990) doubled spending on space and priority was given to combat systems. The state budget for scientific research and experimental design went from 9% of the total in 1985 to 9% in 1989. Buran and Zenit flight test schedules were accelerated while work on light and heavy class launchers came to a stop.
The explosions of the shuttle Challenger on 28 January 1986, a Titan 34D booster on 18 April 1986, and a Delta rocket on 3 May 1986 brought the US space program to a halt. The shuttle was delayed by 2 years and 8 months, and its use for commercial launches was abandoned in favour of existing expendable vehicles. NASA continued to promote commercial use of space, which featured prominently in its 25 year space plan published in January 1988.
UNKS had barely been formed when a 'negative' political atmosphere developed in the Soviet Union. Chernobyl exploded on 26 April 1986, followed by the declaration of the new policy of Perestroika in January 1987.
The Gorbachev-Reagan meeting at Geneva in October 1986 was promising, but at Reykjavik on 12 October 1986 Reagan reused to scrap SDI. In response the Soviets decided to halt their ASAT and ABM test moratorium, develop new nuclear weapons, space-based combat systems, regenerative lasers, and nuclear laser pumping devices.
Within the 12th Five Year Plan the Ministry of General Machine-Building (MOM) took the initiative in forcing the start of trials of Buran and completion of new concepts for third generation military space systems. A crash program had been initiated to test in space a range of laser and rocket interceptor prototypes on the massive Polyus test bed, to be launched on the first test of the Energia launch vehicle. An exposition for the Soviet leadership of impressive models and drawings of existing systems and proposed third generation systems was prepared at Baikonur in 1986. Gorbachev finally visited the cosmodrome on 11-13 May 1987. He reviewed the exposition, then proceeded to observe satellites in preparation at the Proton MIK-KA on the left flank of the cosmodrome. He also viewed the launch preparations for the Buran, Energia, and Polyus Skif-DM systems. The exposition did not have the desired effect and Polyus failed to achieve orbit in the first launch of the Energia booster just two days later.
As platforms for operational weapons NPO Energia designed a USB Universal Service Block, based on the Salyut DOS-7K space station. The USB was equipped with common service systems and rocket engines. In comparison to the DOS the USB had much larger propellant tanks to allow substantial orbital manoeuvring. The USB would be equipped with either a laser payload or a weapons bay consisting of ten miniature rocket homing vehicles. The Proton launch vehicle would be used to launch a 20 tonne version of the USB for experimental flight tests. Operational 30 tonne vehicles would be delivered to orbit by the Buran space shuttle. Buran would also bring crews for on-orbit servicing of the USB. For this purpose the USB had a life support capability of two crew for seven days.
The mass of the military payload depended on the amount of propellant loaded. The laser payload was heavy, with a resulting lower fuel fraction, and was limited to use against low earth orbit targets. The USB with the rocket homing vehicles had more propellant and could be used for attack of geostationary orbit targets.
A competing design by Chelomei used his TKS as a starting point. The Spektr - Original design was to be armed with Oktava interceptor rockets built by NPO Kometa. It had Lira sensors to identify and Buton sensors to track ballistic missile re-entry vehicles. Pion-K sensors would discriminate decoys from true weapons. A prototype of the Spektr would be docked with the Mir space station for systems tests.
To co-ordinate the actions of the multiple space combat units, NPO Energia proposed a KS space station. This would consist of a core built of targeting and base modules based on the USB, a command module based on the TKS, and a Zarya ballistic shuttle for crew rotation. Docked to the core would be military free-flying autonomous modules which would dispense nuclear warheads in re-entry vehicles of both ballistic and gliding types. The structure and various systems of these wingless autonomous modules would be based on the Buran space shuttle. Prototypes would be built from the various developmental Buran airframes. On command the military modules would separate from station and manoeuvre extensively before positioning themselves for attack of enemy targets on the ground or in space. On special command from the national authorities the enemy targets would be engaged with nuclear weapons.
For interception of enemy ICBM's during boost phase NPO Energia developed a space based rocket interceptor (RP) similar to American 'Brilliant Pebble' systems. This had a mass of only 10 kg and was powered by small but high energy rocket engines that gave the vehicle the same characteristic velocity as boosters that put payloads into orbit. The miniature vehicles used advanced technology and new scientific solutions. Non-traditional non-cryogenic propellants powered the engines. High strength materials were used for the propellant tanks.
In April 1987 Secretary of State Shultz went to Moscow to discuss reductions in offensive strategic forces. On 8 December 1987 the US and USSR signed a treaty to eliminate short and medium range nuclear forces.
UNKS was internally reorganised, with the three main KIK Control and Tracking Centres (Yevpatoriya, Yeniseisk, Ula-Ude) designated Central Command Control and Tracking Centres. Five separate trials centres were established (4 at Baikonur and 1 at Plesetsk). Under project 'Rokot' primary and reserve Command Points were established at Golitsino-2 and Znamenka in Tambovsk Oblast. By the end of 1988 the reorganisation was completed.
New political reforms were introduced on 1 July 1988 at the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. These included decisions on a peace platform, withdrawal from Afghanistan, and rapprochement with the USA. The American reply came within weeks. In October 1988 a revised three-phase SDI program was announced. Phase 1 would involve kinetic kill vehicles ('Brilliant Pebbles'), geosynchronous tracking satellites, and suborbital systems to observe ICBM trajectories. It was to be completed by the year 2000 at a cost of $100 billion. Phase 2 involved space-based platforms with hundreds of kinetic interceptor weapons. Exotic lasers and beam weapons had been relegated to a murky Phase 3.
From 1984 to 1989 $ 25.15 billion was spent on the American SDI, with military space expenditures exceeding those of NASA by 100% in 1988. Funding was reduced after 1988 as the technical difficulty and cost of actually fielding a system was realised. In 1988 only $3.9 billion in funds were received versus $ 5.7 billion requested.
Although in May 1989 work began on 'Phase Zero' of SDI, the US was finding its SDI to be neither technically or economically practical. Even with intercept ranges of 3000 to 5000 km thousands of interceptors would be required. The more modest Brilliant Pebbles system did not come close to meeting the original stated requirements. Soviet studies reached the same conclusion - space was suited for command and control of military forces, but not as an arena for combat.
To support launch of anticipated Soviet anti-ballistic missile forces the MOM Ministry of Medium Machine-Building pushed development of the super-heavy Buran, Buran-T, and Vulkan boosters without proper cause. Needed light and middle class boosters were delayed. The Soviet SDI program, which would have been the only source for payloads for these large boosters, was not financially feasible. This emphasis on these large systems also delayed work on third generation launch systems, which had begun in the 11th Five Year Plan (1981-1985).
1989 was the peak year for Soviet space, with 20% of the state scientific research budget devoted to space technology. In that year the civilian space program of the USA was $29.6 billion versus 6.9 billion roubles in the USSR. The American military space effort was costing $22.8 billion versus 3.9 billion roubles in the USSR, almost 6 times as much. Space economic and scientific programmes were budgeted at $ 3 billion in the US versus 1.7 billion in the USSR. Reusable space systems cost $ 3.8 billion in the US versus 1.3 billion roubles in the USSR.
Partly due to the cost of trying to match the American Star Wars program, the Soviet Union disintegrated. Ironically, underground nuclear tests of the x-ray laser in Nevada showed that the concept would not work. Other parts of the colossal Strategic Defence Initiative ran into similar technical and cost barriers.
In 1992, as directed by the new Russian state's military and political leadership, all work on SDI projects was discontinued. The Spektr module was converted into a civilian platform. Its completion and docking with Mir was partially funded by the United States. The Buran shuttle, Mir-2 station, the space combat units - all were cancelled.
The Soviet balance sheet showed that conventional space systems had provided real benefits. Space amounted to 1.5% of the Soviet state budget. It was estimated that use of military satellites increased the effectiveness of military forces by 50% to 100%. In the 30 years since Sputnik the Soviet Union had spent 5.9 billion roubles on civilian space projects, with an estimated economic benefit of 12.6 billion roubles. The Moskva and Ekran television systems reached 93% of the USSR, with an economic benefit of 540 million roubles in 1988. Meteor-2 weather satellites were estimated to have an economic benefit of 500 to 700 million roubles per year. In 1989 it was anticipated that by the year 2000 commercial manufacture of medical and other materials in orbit would reach 20 billion roubles. The Tsikada system provided navigation to 4,500 ships while the Nadezhda COSPAS-SARSAT system had assisted in the saving of over 2,000 lives.
In developing Buran, 100 new materials, 24 new technical processes, 130 novel types of equipment, and 60 novel material types were developed with civilian applications. While the shuttle continued in use in America, in the Soviet Union it was considered part of the answer to SDI, and more a system for the 21st Century.
The US and USSR had achieved a balance of forces in the late 1970's and early 1980's, but then US military circled insisted on development of SDI. But in the Soviet analysis the USSR could have easily prevailed over any ABM system by using from 50% to 100% more missiles than the US.
Third Generation Launch Systems
The aborted third generation systems would finally have replaced the remaining ICBM-derived boosters (Kosmos, Tsiklon, Soyuz, Proton). They would use Lox-Kerosene or Lox-LH2 non-toxic, environmentally 'friendly' propellants to power a modular family of launch vehicles with payload capabilities of from 5 to 100 tonnes to orbit. Three common engines would be used in the all of the stages of all of these designs. It was intended that the lower stages would be evolved into recoverable and reusable versions after initial development. These launch vehicles were:
Manned systems: Buran had the same characteristics as the US Shuttle, and the same disadvantages - low economy, and mainly designed by construction bureaux for scientific and technical development and human space travel. Therefore design work continued on smaller spaceplanes as a replacement for the Soyuz manned ferry. Numerous trade studies of Russian Spaceplanes in the early 1980's (Bizan, System 49, System 49-M, OK-M, OK-M1, OK-M2) would finally result in the optimised MAKS design. This was approved for full development in 1988.
Super heavy lift systems: To support launch of anticipated Soviet anti-ballistic missile forces the MOM in the late 1980's pushed development of the super-heavy Buran, Buran-T, and Vulkan boosters. These would have come on-line in the mid-1990's.
Single stage to orbit: In response to US technology initiatives, work on a Soviet counterpart to the American X-30 National Aerospaceplane was started in 1988. Following evaluation of various competing proposals (VKS, Yakovlev MVKS) the Tu-2000 scramjet vehicle was selected for development.
Third Generation Conventional Systems
Continuous Observation Operational Space System
The long term objective of the Soviet Union was to match the capabilities of the American KH-11 digital imaging satellite. The characteristics of this satellite were well known since spy William Kampiles provided the operating manual to the Russians in 1978. Soviet attempts to develop such a system were thwarted by an inadequate technical base. The first attempt was the TGR television satellite of the 1960's. This was succeeded by the Yantar-6KS, cancelled in May 1977 when the draft project indicated that the weight had grown beyond the payload capabilities of the Soyuz booster. A less-capable spacecraft based on the Yantar-4K bus was designed. The first phase spacecraft, the Yantar-4KS1, would begin flight trials in 1979, with the more capable Yantar-4KS2, launched by Zenit, to begin flight trials in 1983.
Development was slow because of the state of Soviet digital electronics technology. Yantar-4KS1 flight trials did not begin until the end of 1982. It proved impossible for the Yantar-4KS2 to match the performance of the KH-11. Therefore a 'clean sheet of paper' approach was taken.
Ustinov consolidated all optical reconnaissance work at TsSKB in 1981-1983, cutting across six ministries (the Ministries of Defence, Medium Machine Building (nuclear weapons), General Machine Building (rocketry), Electronics Industry, Radio Industry, Industry of Communications Means).
Studies were begun in 1980 and in June 1983 a decree was issued for a constellation of new-design third generation electro-optical military reconnaissance satellites. In July 1983 Kozlov was made Chief and General Constructor of the enlarged TsSKB Central Special Design Bureau. Under his leadership a multi-element reconnaissance satellite system was to be developed in 1981-1990 and deployed by 2000. These would be orbited in two groups of ten satellites at varying altitudes. This swarm would provide almost complete coverage of the earth's surface at a range of photographic resolutions.
Competitive designs of the imaging satellite were undertaken by NPO Lavochkin and Kozlov's TsSKB using common universal optic systems. Flight trials were to begin by 1986-1987. The Continuous Observation Operational Space System included a SLAR-equipped radar satellite by NPO Vega, with flight trials set for 1992. The launch vehicle for the third generation satellites was to be the Proton since Zenit did not have the necessary lift and Energia development was delayed. The data would be transmitted to the ground by GKKRS relay satellites.
Work on a new optics system had already begun in 1977 at Lavochkin. Development of the optics was a very difficult task headed by A N Veikozhon at the Leningrad Optical Mechanism Enterprise.
By the beginning of 1989 it became clear that this schedule could not be held. TsSKB had a lot of work on Buran and its associated scientific payloads. The mid-1980's put huge demands on the spacecraft design bureaux. They were attempting to test and put into production third generation systems while at the same time responding to government 'star wars' crash programs. The common telescope for the new generation satellites had weight problems, delaying the start of flight trials.
A January 1989 government resolution set 1991 as the date for the start of flight trials. But this was followed by the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the attendant financial crisis. Trials were again delayed to 1996-1997. TsSKB finally dropped out of the competition and turned to continued production of the proven Yantar-4KS1 system.
A single example of the new Lavochkin satellite, the Arkon-1, was finally launched in 1997 into an unusually high orbit for a photo-reconnaissance satellite. This evidently was to take full advantage of the single satellite available, even at the sacrifice of ground resolution.
As a back-up improvements were made throughout the 1980's to the Yantar-4K, providing both high resolution and survey variants. The first flight trials of this new series of 4K's was to begin in 1989, but the satellites were not ready. Finally the work was abandoned.
Naval targeting satellites of the third generation had flight trials scheduled for 1990 in the 1984 plan. This was seriously delayed.
SGKRN System of Global Space Radio Observation
The Tselina-3 third generation ELINT was developed in parallel with Tselina-2. Work began in the 1970's, with research on a variety of new systems. Experimental instruments were flight-tested aboard Tselina-D missions. Two flight tests in 1986-1987 proved the effectiveness of the technical solutions. In 1985 the technical project for an operation system was begun. High orbit tests in 1988 showed the system would have to be deployed in two systems: a constellation of satellites in orbits of 800 to 2000 km altitude; and a Space System for Radio Relay and Combat, consisting of 1 to 2 satellites in geosynchronous orbit. The third generation satellites were designed by NPO Palma of Minradiopribor, with KB Yuzhnoye providing the satellite bus. The geosynchronous satellites, developed from the Luch relay satellites, were by NPO PM MOM. Flight trials of specialised relay payloads for use with the ELINT satellites of the VMF and DOS were tested during two launches in 1989.
YeSSS-3 Communications System
The third generation satellites of the YeSSS-3 communications system were developed by NPO PM. The two phase project would develop an improved version of the Raduga satellite, followed by a completely new design high elliptical orbit satellite to replace Molniya. These satellites would provide real-time operational and technical communications for the command units of the VVS Air Force and Soviet Navy, aboard aircraft, surface ships, and cruisers. The satellites would be equipped with millimetre band multibeam antennae and a greater capability for signal processing aboard the spacecraft. Capacity and survivability would be increased by doubling the number of spacecraft in each constellation.
Work on the third generation high elliptical orbit satellite was completed and the system was accepted into the military in 1987 as the Molniya-1T as part of the RVSN command and control system. The Modernised Ekran-M and Stuk-2 satellites completed flight trials at the same period.
The Strela-3 had replaced both earlier models of the series for store-dump communications from the mid-1980's. Commercial versions Gonets-D1 and Gonets were launched but were not successful in attracting investors.
YeKNS Unified Space Navigation System
The modern GLONASS-Uragan system had entered operation during the late 1980's. A total of 22 spacecraft were placed in the constellation by the end of 1987, and 31 by the end of 1989.
Planeta Meteorological System
The system consisted of Meteor-3 sun synchronous satellites complemented by the geostationary Elektro satellites. Work began with a December 1972 resolution of the VPK Military Industrial Commission calling for development of a third generation Meteor satellite to start the following year. The draft project for the Planeta-S was completed in 1979, followed by the detailed design in May 1980. However it was not until 1981 that a resolution called for the Planeta-S unified meteorological system, and development of the system was only fully funded in June 1983. This system was developed at VNIIEM MEP by N N Sheremtyevskiy and Yu V Trifonov. The draft project was completed in 1984 by VNIIEM Filial Istriisk under V I Adasko. Tests of some new equipment aboard Meteor-2 flights began at the end of 1984. Flight test of the complete spacecraft from Plesetsk did not start until 1990. Elektro development also ran into enormous obstacles in the period 1983-1987, with a mock-up not begin completed until 1989. Only by then were drawings for a flight article completed.
Development of a Taifun-3 third generation radar calibration - ASAT target spacecraft, derived from the Taifun-2, went well. The target was also used to exercise the A-135 ABM complex of the PVO and provided a system of wide-spectrum signal impulses. KB Yuzhnoye launched the first spacecraft of the type from Plesetsk in 1988. The satellite was launched by the Tsyklon 3 launch vehicle and released 36 Romb subsatellites.
The Mir-2 space station was to have utilised the capabilities of the Buran orbiter and Zarya and Progress M2 resupply spacecraft. After the decision for the crash 'star wars' programme the primary mission of the station became that of a weapons test platform. This involved competitive proposals from Chelomei Mir-2 KB Salyut and Energia (Mir-2). It would undergo many changes over the years, with only one thing remaining constant: the starting point was always the DOS-8 base block space station core module, built as a back-up to Mir's DOS-7. Eventually Mir-2 would be merged with the International Space Station, and DOS-8 was finally launched as the ISS Zvezda Module of the ISS International Space Station. The planned Mir-Buran docking module entered service on joint American-Russian missions as the Mir-Shuttle Docking Module. A variant of the TKS was purchased by the Americans and, as the ISS Zarya, became the first part of the ISS orbited.
Soviet Space System Development Process
The concepts and plans for the first generation of Soviet spacecraft came from the visionary chief designers themselves - Korolev and Chelomei. During the course of the 1960's a more orderly process of specifying, developing, and deploying space systems was put into place. This was largely derived from established processes for aircraft and other military products.
The following describes the 'official' orderly process as it was supposed to be practised. As was the case in the United States this process could be short-circuited by powerful Chief Designers, Generals, or Politicians. But to a large degree the space systems that went into production for use by the Soviet military followed this procedure.
Soviet space projects and planning, like the rest of that society, worked on the national cycle of five year plans. The first steps leading to any space system was the execution of technology assessment, threat assessment, and cost trade-off studies to determine the requirements and possibilities for space systems that should be developed in the next five year plan (and normally deployed in the following five year plan). This was done by 50 TsNII KS MO (50th Central Scientific Research Institute for Space Systems of the Ministry of Defence) in co-operation with various space research institutions (TsNIIMASH, NIITI, Agat, NII Khimash, etc.). The final result was a draft five year plan including defence plans, draft specifications, preliminary flight test plans, etc. These plans were assigned code names and formed the basis for negotiation of the final five year plan between the power brokers in the military industrial complex.
Once the final plan was approved, it would be formalised in a decree of the Communist Party Central Committee and the Supreme Council of Government Ministers. The planning process had already generated a TTZ, or tactical-technical requirements document, for each new system. This specification included:
The government decree provided the permission for the design bureaux to expend the internal funds necessary to create the draft project document (equivalent to use of Bidding, Proposal, Industrial Research and Development budget pools of US government contractors). Selection of a design bureau, and the decision whether to even proceed with development of the system, would only be made after submission of the draft projects. The steps involved in creating a draft project:
Step 1: Advanced Project or Technical Proposal. This contained:
Step 2: Draft Project. This was the document submitted to the customer. It contained:
In Soviet practice the draft project of each design bureau would be 'defended' in person, much as an academic dissertation might be defended, to a government commission consisting not only of customer representatives but the competing chief designers as well. Depending on the results of the review, as well as inevitable budget battles and politicking, one institute would be selected to proceed with development of the system (in at least one famous case - the RS-17 and RS-19 ICBM's - the leadership utterly deadlocked on the selection, resulting in two major systems meeting the same TTZ being developed and put into production).
If the decision was made to proceed, this would be formalised in another government decree. Typical steps in systems development included:
Soviet Space Quality Assurance
Spacecraft Quality Assurance
The 16 February 1961 decree 'On measures to improve military technology' laid the basis for institution of quality control by the military to improve the reliability of space systems. Prior to this the quality of space systems was assured primarily through the efforts of the Chief Designers - Korolev personally supervised shop work for the first Sputniks and cherry-picked the best components for the Vostok manned spacecraft.
Position RK-75 in 1975 set forth new standards of reliability and addressed standardisation issues. This addressed the problems that plagued numerous important satellites and piloted craft of the 1960’s (Zenit-2, -4, etc). From the beginning of the 1970's, in response to resolution of the VPK Military-Industrial Commission, lessons from the RVSN missile forces and VMF naval forces in their missile programs were applied to improve space systems. This work was carried out by TsNIIMASH, 4 NII and 50 TsNII KS.
The steering committee Position RK-75 was founded on 1 July 1975, including Afanasyev, Karass, and Keldysh. RK-75 abolished the positions Zenit-2 and Zenit-4 confirmed by the VPK in 1965 and Position P and PRKK confirmed in 1969. Position 75 was authorised to consider:
Launch Vehicle Reliability
At the beginning of the 1970's Soviet launch vehicle reliability was 89.4% compared to 84.3% in the USA. During the 1970's, intensive work improved booster reliability to 92.4% in the USSR versus 91.5% in the USA. There were many reasons for failures: design defects, development problems, materials used, assembly, etc. All had to be tackled. However technical politics blocked many improvements.
The first QA System was the Zero Defect Completion System, BIP, and was developed in 1953 to 1955 at Saratov for IRBM development. In 1957-1958 the KANARSPI "Quality, Reliability, Resources in First Article' system was developed at Gorkiy and applied in Moscow, Yaroslavl, Kasmatorsk, Tashkent, and Lvov. An August 1975 decree established new complex quality assurance systems, and these were implemented by the end of 1975 by the MO. The system was developed by the NII of Technology for Factories and TsNIIMASH for application to design bureaux and research institutes. This was the KSYKP - Quality Controls for Complex Problems, which addressed quality assurance throughout the life cycle of the end product.
The standard OST 92-0200-72 Quality Assurance System (SOBT) covered development and production phases. This was part of SMPKT - System for Increased Quality Assurance.
From 1968 standardisation of development documentation according to state standards was imposed. PN-76 was the sub-unit for reliability engineering. By 1976 launch vehicle reliability was 95.1% and space systems had high levels of availability, resulting in reduced spares and reserve satellites.
Soviet Space Tracking Systems
On 30 January 1956 work began on a satellite for military purposes. A KIK control system was under development for control of the first satellite. But the military raised the issue: how were they to be controlled without the use of military control points? Zhukov became personally involved. The requirements were fantastic for the period: a communications net of widely flung (separated by 1,000's of kilometres) radar, tracking, and command stations, all in instantaneous encrypted un-interceptable communication with one another. In fact, such a system had already been developed for the PVO for air defence and interceptor control. All necessary units were available, with minor modification. Therefore the General Staff instructions were to use Red Army communications for interconnection of stations.
The KIK tracking system development was authorised by a decree of 3 September 1956. It consisted of the following elements:
Assisting in launch tracking were:
This combination of PVO and ICBM tracking systems made up the network. Trajectory information was fed into the centre for orbital calculations. The centre was staffed by 680 officers and 151 civilian scientists of the Soviet Army in four sections.
Lunar and interplanetary programs brought new tracking requirements. IP-14 in Shchelkovo was first upgraded for the lunar program with the Kama-E distance measuring system. IP-41E (Simeyz) and IP-42E (Moscow) later received the same upgrade. NIP-16 at Yevpatoriya was equipped to handle interplanetary probes. The Pluton system sent commands to the probe, while the Saturn system received data. Saturn complexes were built at NIP-3, 4, 14, and 15. This consisted of a 16 m antennae with a 100 million km range. The RS-10-2M antenna was used, plus at NIP-10 the TNA-400. The Pluton Command-Tracking System was installed only at NIP-16.
Development of the Tracking and Control System
The basis for the modernised system was the draft project for a universal command-tracking complex for military space systems. By 1966 nine systems were operated in the KIK. The control centre had 18 military units with 6,936 staff, including 1,176 officers and 770 employees. Specialisations were created in the second half of the 1960's with the KIS (Command-Tracking Systems). The first system in operation was the Zenit control system. This used the cm-band 'Taiga' radio link (developed by NII-30 GKRE), the Orbital Radio Control Station (RKO) 'Kama E', and the Command-Programming Link 'Podsenzhenik', which used pulse commands in the cm band (developed by NII-10 MSP, Chief Designer M P Petelin).
For the smaller DS satellites, redundant tracking systems 'Vympel' and 'Krab' were developed by NII-648 at the beginning of the 1970's. 'Krab' was used for telemetry, but was replaced in 1965 by the 'Post-2D' radio link and 'Korall' tracking stations at both Baikonur and Plesetsk.
In 1966 Kub, derived from 'Taiga', and the Baza system were used for control of spacecraft with large programmable memories (250 kb) at geosynchronous altitude. (M I Borisenko Chief Designer).
Two new tracking station, NIP-17 Yakutsk, and NIP-18 Vorkuta, were established the same year. They were equipped with KIS Kama, Podzenzhnik, Kub, Krab, and Korall systems.
Encrypted radio channels for Podsnezhnik and Kub were introduced in 1967; they were called Veter and Shtorm.
NII-885 built the modernised telemetry system RTS-8 using phased impulse techniques, greater tracking accuracy, and a greater period of data download. It was a 56 channel system with an accuracy of measured parameters of 1%. The Tral system used by the first Sputniks was replaced by the RTS-8.
Eventually a KIS for interplanetary control was improved during the course of the lunar program from 1966. KIS Saturn was modernised to Saturn-M at NIP-3, 6, 14, 15, 16, and 23.
5-NIIP-MO used complexes Foton, Mezon, and Kreon for sending commanding, receiving telemetry, photography, television, and ranging. NIP-15 was the centre for long-range tracking.
Tracking equipment in 1958 consisted of the T3 4 MI MO OKB. The Leningrad Polytechnic Institute developed the Pozul-Kvartz system. Trajectory data was obtained from RTS Binokl-D and Kama-E, which was transmitted to the centre for analysis by telegraphic communications.
PUVD was the computing device used at the centre for ballistic tracking and modelling at 4 NII-MO. It was replaced by the UTS 4 from 1968.
In 1960 OKB LPI began serious development of a second generation system, Temp, which entered service in 1971. OKB Impuls built the multiple parameter RTS Bufer-1M, which was installed at all NIP's in the 1970's.
Airborne tracking aircraft (SIP) and airborne tracking/control aircraft (SKIP) began in 1958 with 10 Il-20RT and 6 aircraft/antenna analogues Il-18I. These were under control of GUKOS (Chief Directorate of the Space Forces of the Ministry of Defence). In 1974 after military trials they were taken into the 94th Squadron of the Military Transport Regiment of 5-NIIP. They were combined with military units at the end of the 1980's for morale/resource reasons. These aircraft were used to solve tracking problems in the Far North, Far East, Central Asia, European Soviet Union, and Afghanistan. They were crucial in refining orbital measurements to determine corrective manoeuvres.
The Centre, KIK, by 1970, consisted of 23 units, 19,955 military staff, including 4,080 officers and 3,540 civilian employees. By this time the whole military apparatus for satellite control was being institutionalised: engineer specialisations created, documentation created, etc. At the end of Eighth Five Year Plan there were seven new satellites, and 10 satellites and 8 launch vehicles were in series production.
New telemetry systems were introduced in the 1970's: Tral-K2N, RTS-9.
In 1972 the Saturn-NS program was begun to better integrate and modernise the system consisting of: communication lines Korall, Kub, Basa; orbital control stations Krab-U, Izumrud; processing apparatus Podshezhnik, Veter-3N, and stations Kub-U, Korall-U, Kuch-U, equipped with SKAT. New telemetry station MA-9MKTM. Trials begun of new autonomous units, especially for naval deployments. In 1972, via KIK 120,000 communications sessions and 42,000 control sessions were conducted, three times more than in 1967. From 1973 the Third Military School of Junior Specialists was formed to eliminate the deficit in training staff.
In 1962 Command Centre KIK Andrei Grigorevich Karass began work on autonomous relay of data to the centre. In 1966 the decree was issued for development of the Skat system. It was developed by NII-5, the Moscow Scientific Research Institute for Scientific Devices. The system could autonomously deliver processed data to the centre and five peripheral points. At the first stage of the project three types of satellites could be controlled, up to 150 separate satellites at time.
The satellite builders themselves were not building automated control systems at this time. Therefore it was only possible to control each satellite from the centre and two peripheral points. Modernisation of the satellites was required, but it was very difficult to get the satellite makers to work to a common standard. It took a long time to undo the mistakes of the 1960's. 1971 was the last chance to impose common control requirements - otherwise many difference control centres would be required for the many different satellites planned. Work on automated guidance took ten years, until in 1981 the TsAK (Central Automatic System) was finally accepted into military service. TsAK was installed in the KIK centres from 1979.
The TsAK common system allowed control of satellite systems from: Staff and political units; central command points; three control/administration stations. The Skat control system incorporated ballistic tracking sections; planning, co-ordination, and analysis sections; and materiel and finance units. Control of a satellite consisted of the following steps: ballistic tracking, telemetry control, satellite system status and health analysis, formulation of the control program, upload of the program to the satellite, execution of the program by the satellite. The system allowed professional operations control on a regular cycle, with individual satellite operations at planned intervals. The only exception was control of manned flights, which were done by a special separate system.
Communications of the first generation (1954-1972) were based on telephone and telegraph channels, using hand commutators and vacuum tube apparatus in radio communications control units. In February 1961 the Beluga communication junction was put into use. In 1967-1972 military control points and standard communications were integrated into common communications junctions such as Golitsino-2 at Shabolovka, in Moscow. Region communications junctions were also used for control of lunar spacecraft, such as NIP-10 and NIP-16. In 1974 -1975 new systems were introduced: Gvardeyets and Kripton. Skat replaced all of these from 1975. From 1970 Bumerang system relayed tracking data between MO tracking centres and the Academy of Sciences.
For cosmonaut communications the Signal system was developed for NI-KIK, telegraphic communications channels, command centres, the ministry of Communications, KGB, and MO. The first generation Zarya communications system for cosmonauts aboard Vostok was developed in 1960. The second generation Aurora system was developed for Soyuz/Salyut and was in operation from 1970. It allowed simultaneous communications between two spacecraft and ground control. It was used from 1976-1976 at NIP-KIK, and IP-1 at 5 NIIP MO. It was also installed in naval tracking ships.
NIP-4, 5, 14, and 15 were equipped for communications with Gorizont-K geosynchronous satellites. The automatic communication systems and for naval units Rumb-M and Gorizont-KB. After 1975 tests of a modernised system at Goltsino and NIP-16, equipped to relay television and telemetry via Molniya-1 satellites.
The first space television was aboard Vostok (Seliger-Tral 1 by OKB MEI, A F Bogomolov). The slightly modernised system was referred to as Topaz, then a second generation system was introduced from 1975. This was the Krechet, developed by VNII-30, A F Polushkin. It incorporated docking views, overlay of docking data, etc.
Satellite time synchronisation systems of the first generation were developed at NII-195 by L N A Begun. This was the Bumbuk-D. In 1958-1963 the Leningrad NIRTI (P P Dmitriev) developed the modified units Bambuk-E, K, K1 with improved accuracy. These were installed in KIK and IP's. In 1963 to 1965 the improved accuracy Generator-5 of TsSGR-1 (B A Grebonovskiy) with an accuracy of 1 to 5 X 10^-10 seconds per day. Serious development began from 1970 for a single system for second generation systems. In 1971 Yu G Guzbva of the Rossiya Factory of Minradioprom began development of the SEV system. Methodical state trials of SEV VT and SEV systems were conducted by 4 NII MO and 50 TsNII KS. In January 1975 the SEV VT system was given the code name Vremya and accepted into service. It equipped IP's from 1977 on.
The number of different equipment types at the KIK tracking stations rose from 85 to 90 in the 1970's to 150 in the 1980's. A program was instigated at the Centre under Lt-Gen N F Shlykov to improve the automation, reliability, and to rationalise the equipment base. In 1979 the P-2500 long range communications antennae was put into operation at Yevpatoriya in the Crimea. The 70 m diameter dish weighed 4920 tonnes and used the Kvant radio-technical system for its operation. By this time the ground-based tracking stations were supplemented by 11 tracking ships, each of which was on station for 7 to 8 months per year.
Meanwhile equipment and facilities at Golitsyno-2 were upgraded as well. Three M-600 computers operating at 1.5 million operations per second were installed at the centre, while the tracking stations used M-220 computers operating at 40,000 operations per second. 1976 to 1977 saw the development of the ASU improved automatic control system, which entered operation in 1978. During the 11th and 12th Five Year Plans (1981-1990) 140 million roubles was spent on upgrading Goitsyno-2 Centre, of which half went for non-technical facilities (housing, entertainment, and recreation). Much of this went into the 'Object 413' military city. The population of Golitsyno itself rose from 5,000 in January 1976 to 10,000 by the end of 1981.
At this time the communications network was handling 134,000-136,000 satellite communications sessions per year. Backup tracking stations were formed form 1982. These were comprehensively equipped with control equipment, telemetry receivers, and ballistic tracking sensors. Five reserve points and one backup centre were established in total.
Beginning in 1981 systems entered service of automatic control of satellites. Over the following 18 years the KIK stations received new generations of equipment, microprocessor-controlled, with new displays and ELINT receivers. These included the control tracking systems Kub-Kontur and Taman-Baza. In the first half of the 1980's new systems were delivered with better navigation parameters. The KOS quantum-optical system used lasers and telescopes and functioned together with the Taman-Baza equipment. One such complex was established at Maidanak at 2600 km altitude in the Pamir Mountains. The station was built by NII Radiopribor under L I Gusev. From 1979 this served as a Command KIK point as well as conducting scientific research with improved living areas for increased staff and military units. The improved Romashka radio telemetry system provided higher power and four times the range of earlier systems. Modifications to the KIK's were also necessary to handle Buran and communications via the Luch relay satellites.
In May 1977 NTS GUKOS developed a solution for mobile command-tracking posts. The military aspects were developed by 50 TsNII KS and NIR Sluchay and Adapter. In 15 February 1979 the RVSN issued the technical specifications of a Mobile Overland Command and Tracking System (PN KIP), code named Fazan. Full development was ordered on 29 August 1980 followed by a VPK resolution for limited operation on 17 January 1985. The first system was tested during the mid-1980's, based at NIIP-19. Improved tracking ships were also fielded in this period - the Marshal Nedelin in 1982 and Marshal Krilov in 1986.
UNKS was reorganised again, with the three main KIK's (Yevpatoriya, Yeniseisk, Ula-Ude) designated Central Command KIK Control and Tracking Centres, and five trials centres being established (4 at Baikonur and 1 at Plesetsk). Under project 'Rokot' command points were established. The main point was at Golitsino-2, with a reserve pint at Znamenka in Tambovsk Oblast. By the end of 1988 the reorganisation was completed.
Following break-up of the Soviet Union KIK Tracking stations no longer on Russian territory were abandoned, and to compensate three new tracking stations were built at Eysk, Maloyaroslavets, and Barnaul.