Encyclopedia Astronautica
Almaz APOS

Forward view of Almaz space station - original configuration. From left to right note stowed solar panels, sunshade for Agat reconnaissance camera extending below first station compartment, VA re-entry capsule and its launch escape rocket.
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler
Almaz 1965
Almaz forward view
Forward view of Almaz space station - original configuration, Note crew couches in cutaway view of VA re-entry capsule interior. The Almaz was actually flown without the VA. Also note the orientation engines just below the VA attachment collar.
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler
Rear view of Almaz
Rear view of Almaz model. Note the two manoeuvring engines flanking the docking collar, the stowed solar panels, and the guides for aft interstage separation
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler
Almaz interior
Close-up view of interior of Almaz space station. Note large white film cassettes of reconnaissance camera, and cosmonaut at the control station of the camera systems.
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler
Almaz Original
Almaz - Early configuration with VA return capsule.
Credit: © Reginaldo Miranda Jr
Russian manned space station. Cancelled 1966. The initial Almaz program planned in 1965 consisted of two phases.

In the first phase, 20 metric ton Almaz APOS space stations, complete with crew and re-entry capsule, would be put in orbit by a single launch of a Proton rocket. In this phase the value of manned space reconnaissance and targeting would be evaluated. The Almaz APOS concept was cancelled at the end of 1966 and replaced with Almaz-1 OPS.

On December 10, 1963, US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announced the beginning of studies for a Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) - a military space station. Within the Soviet Union, two space station projects were in the preliminary design state. That of Vladimir Nikolayevich Chelomei's OKB-52 design bureau was derived from a 12 metric ton TAS Heavy Automated Station designed for the UR-500 booster. A heavier manned derivative was envisioned for launch by a later three-stage version of the UR-500. On 12 October 1964, only two days before the overthrow of Khrushchev, Chelomei obtained permission to begin development of a larger manned military space station, the Almaz. This 20 metric ton station would take three cosmonauts to orbit in a single launch of his UR-500K Proton rocket.

On 1 January 1965 the decision was formalized in the decree of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers 'On work on space stations at OKB-52'. This defined Almaz as an OOS - Manned Orbital Station - in specific reply to the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory program. Two phases of the project - RKK (Rocket-spacecraft complex, the entire system including the Proton UR-500K launch vehicle) A and RKK B were planned. The decree authorized Chelomei to proceed immediately with build of the Almaz RKK 'A' version. Flight of the first Almaz RKK-A was set for 1968.

The RKK-A / APOS - Autonomous Piloted Orbital Station was a self-contained concept similar to the MOL, equipped with a VA re-entry capsule and a one to three month active life. The station section was designated OPS - Orbital Piloted Station. The OPS+VA combination were given the article numbers 11F71 and 11F74 (which clearly indicated the OPS was considered a replacement for the competing Soyuz-R station). Total mass was 15 metric tons for the OPS and 4.9 metric tons for the VA. Access to the station was via an airlock in the heat shield of the VA. No dockings would be required in this phase, which was planned to last for three years. Project-construction work was to be completed by the end of 1969 of a bare-bones station.

OKB-52 began development of the Almaz on a crash basis. 500 people worked on the control system and engines alone, with another 1000 on all other systems. It seems that weight growth during the course of 1965 also made the Chelomei single-launch APOS concept too heavy for launch by the Proton booster. In January 1966 Korolev died unexpectedly and OKB-1 was leaderless. This was perceived as giving Chelomei an opening to kill Soyuz-R, although the final result was a compromise that pleased no one. On 30 June 1966 Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 145ss 'On approval of the 7K-TK as transport for the Almaz station' was issued. It was decided that the 11F71 Soyuz-R space station would be cancelled and the Almaz OPS would be developed in its place. Almaz was assigned the index number previously allocated to the Soyuz-R station, and Kozlov was ordered to hand over to Chelomei all of the work completed in relation to the station. However Kozlov's Soyuz 7K-TK ferry was to continue in development to transport crew to the Almaz OPS, at least in Phase A of the project. This ended work on the original Almaz APOS concept (although in the 1970's plans for launch of an Almaz equipped with a VA would be renewed - but at the expense of most of the station's sensor payload, which would be delivered by TKS ferries).


Crew Size: 3. Spacecraft delta v: 100 m/s (320 ft/sec).

AKA: 11F71+111F74.
Gross mass: 19,900 kg (43,800 lb).
Thrust: 7.84 kN (1,763 lbf).
Specific impulse: 291 s.

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • RD-0225 Kosberg N2O4/UDMH rocket engine. 3.923 kN. Almaz space station orbital maneuvering. Hardware. Originally designed for UR-100 follow-ons spaceships. Two engines used on Almaz space station for orbital maneuvering, Pressure fed. Isp=287s. First flight 1974. More...

See also
Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Proton The Proton launch vehicle has been the medium-lift workhorse of the Soviet and Russian space programs for over forty years. Although constantly criticized within Russia for its use of toxic and ecologically-damaging storable liquid propellants, it has out-lasted all challengers, and no replacement is in sight. Development of the Proton began in 1962 as a two-stage vehicle that could be used to launch large military payloads or act as a ballistic missile with a 100 megaton nuclear warhead. The ICBM was cancelled in 1965, but development of a three-stage version for the crash program to send a Soviet man around the moon began in 1964. The hurried development caused severe reliability problems in early production. But these were eventually solved, and from the 1970's the Proton was used to launch all Russian space stations, medium- and geosynchronous orbit satellites, and lunar and planetary probes. More...
  • Proton-K Russian orbital launch vehicle. Development of a three-stage version of the UR-500 was authorised in the decree of 3 August 1964. Decrees of 12 October and 11 November 1964 authorised development of the Almaz manned military space station and the manned circumlunar spacecraft LK-1 as payloads for the UR-500K. Remarkably, due to continuing failures, the 8K82K did not satisfactorily complete its state trials until its 61st launch (Salyut 6 / serial number 29501 / 29 September 1977). Thereafter it reached a level of launch reliability comparable to that of other world launch vehicles. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Chelomei Russian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Chelomei Design Bureau, Reutov, Russia. More...
  • MOM Russian agency overseeing development of spacecraft. Ministry of General Machine Building (Moskva, Russia), Moscow, Russia. More...

Associated Propellants
  • N2O4/UDMH Nitrogen tetroxide became the storable liquid propellant of choice from the late 1950's. Unsymmetrical Dimethylhydrazine ((CH3)2NNH2) became the storable liquid fuel of choice by the mid-1950's. Development of UDMH in the Soviet Union began in 1949. It is used in virtually all storable liquid rocket engines except for some orbital manoeuvring engines in the United States, where MMH has been preferred due to a slightly higher density and performance. More...

  • Kamanin, N P, Skritiy kosmos, Infortext, Moscow, 1995.
  • Yeteyev, Ivan, Operezhaya vremya, Ocherki, Moscow, 1999..
  • Siddiqi, Asif A, The Soviet Space Race With Apollo, University Press of Florida, 2003.

Almaz APOS Chronology

1964 February 15 - .
  • American space plans - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Bykovsky; Gagarin. Spacecraft: Soyuz R; Soyuz PPK; MOL; Almaz APOS. Following an overview of the planned trip of Bykovsky and Gagarin to Sweden and Norway on 1-15 March, American military space plans are reviewed. There are many fantastic projects, over a wide and well-financed front. Currently reconnaissance satellites are flying, to be followed by inspection, and then anti-satellite satellites in 3 to 5 years. After that manned military space stations are planned, manoeuvrable manned spacecraft, and the establishment of scientific and military bases on the moon. Despite this big US program, the Soviet military leadership shows no interest in Russian exploitation of space for military purposes.

1964 October 12 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K.
  • Almaz project starts - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei. Spacecraft: Almaz APOS; Soyuz R. The day before the overthrow of his patron, Chelomei obtained permission to begin development of a larger military space station, the Almaz. This 20 tonne station would take three cosmonauts to orbit in a single launch of his UR-500K Proton rocket. Therefore there were now two competing projects for the same mission - Almaz and Soyuz-R. First flight of the Almaz, with a one year operational period, was set for 1968.

1965 January 1 - .
  • Almaz space station development authorised. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Almaz APOS. Summary: Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On work on space stations at OKB-52' was issued..

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