Encyclopedia Astronautica
Molniya-2



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Molniya DU
Molniya DU manoeuvring engine
Credit: © Mark Wade
yesss.jpg
YeSSS Unified Satell
Unified Satellite Communication System
Credit: NASA
Russian communications satellite. 20 launches, 1971.11.24 (Molniya 2-01) to 2005.06.21 (Molniya 2-17). Molniya-2 was the elliptical orbit component of the Soviet YeSSS communications satellite system.

Flight tests began in 1971, and it had a brief operational career in 1974-1977 before being succeeded in the YeSSS network by the Molniya-3.

It had originally been foreseen that the Molniya-1 was only for use in experiments in long-distance communications. Therefore a decree on 31 October 1961 authorized work on the Molniya-1M production model, providing international communications on the centimeter band. But actually Molniya-1 worked so well that it was taken directly into service, and the -1M was skipped.

Using the common KAUR-2 bus and engineering work done on the -1M, the -2 version was defined. The draft project was completed in 1965 and a decree of 24 October 1968 authorized its development for strategic communications under the code name Kristal. The requirement was for a universal satellite to provide services to many users - the so-called Unified System of Satellite Communications (YeSSS). On 5 April 1972 the YeSSS was defined as the Molniya-2 in elliptical orbit and Raduga (Statsionar) in geosynchronous orbit.

The YeSSS radio rebroadcast system was developed by MNIIRS Minradioprom, followed by Minpromsvyaz (M R Kaplanov) and KBPM Minobshchemash (M F Reshetnev - Reshetnev's bureau had been spun off from Korolev's Filial 2 in the 1960's. It specialized in communications, television, navigation, and geodetic satellites).

Development of Molniya-2 was dogged by the issue of what on-board radio equipment to use. The final version used the retransmitter Segment-2, A G Orlov General Designer. The previous LBV Shunt traveling wave tube was initially to be used, but the final technical solution was an unpressurised satellite and a new type had to be found. Finally the LBV Shunt TWT was only applied to Ekran, where it was used in place of a cascading klystron TWT.

Flight trials of the Molniya-2 were conducted in 1971-1974. Major General N F Shlikov was in charge of the state trials commission, and took a methodical approach to achieving reliability. For example, three trials launches took place at short (2 to 4 month) intervals. Chief Designer was Gregori Markelovich Chrenyavskiy. But he was also a Soviet Minister. The motto 'never test for operations a system that you've developed' was followed. Operational flights came in 1974-1977. Molniya-2, like Molniya-1, consisted of four pairs of spacecraft with orbits at ninety degrees to one another. A total of 19 flights were made.

Molniya-2 was used in the Orbita television system and also for the military Korund communications system. New ground segment components included systems by Chief designer at MNIIRS MPSS, M R Kaplanov, for the communication systems from military units to the center, and the on-board retransmitter. The ground control system was by Ryazanskiy, based on a modernized KIS Saturn. The control system at the center was by NIIT MOM (O N Shishkin).

AKA: Molniya-1M; 11F628.
Gross mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb).
Height: 4.40 m (14.40 ft).
Span: 8.20 m (26.90 ft).
First Launch: 1971.11.24.
Last Launch: 2005.06.21.
Number: 20 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Soyuz The Russian Soyuz spacecraft has been the longest-lived, most adaptable, and most successful manned spacecraft design. In production for fifty years, more than 240 have been built and flown on a wide range of missions. The design will remain in use with the international space station well into the 21st century, providing the only manned access to the station after the retirement of the shuttle in 2011. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Soyuz Russian orbital launch vehicle. The world's first ICBM became the most often used and most reliable launch vehicle in history. The original core+four strap-on booster missile had a small third stage added to produce the Vostok launch vehicle, with a payload of 5 metric tons. Addition of a larger third stage produced the Voskhod/Soyuz vehicle, with a payload over 6 metric tons. Using this with a fourth stage, the resulting Molniya booster placed communications satellites and early lunar and planetary probes in higher energy trajectories. By the year 2000 over 1,628 had been launched with an unmatched success rate of 97.5% for production models. Improved models providing commercial launch services for international customers entered service in the new millenium, and a new launch pad at Kourou was to be inaugurated in 2009. It appeared that the R-7 could easily still be in service 70 years after its first launch. More...
  • Molniya 8K78M Russian orbital launch vehicle. Improved Molniya, in variants with Blocks ML, 2BL, or SO-L third stages according to payload. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • MOM Russian agency overseeing development of spacecraft. Ministry of General Machine Building (Moskva, Russia), Moscow, Russia. More...
  • Reshetnev Russian manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft. Reshetnev Design Bureau, Krasnoyarsk-26/Zhelenogorsk, Russia. More...

Associated Programs
Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Varfolomyev, Timothy, "Soviet Rocketry that Conquered Space - Part 5", Spaceflight, 1998, Volume 40, page 85.
  • "Otmenenniy Start "Molniya-M"", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1997, Issue 1, page 29.
  • Melnik, T G, Voenno-Kosmicheskiy Siliy, Nauka, Moscow, 1997..
  • Siddiqi, Asif A, The Soviet Space Race With Apollo, University Press of Florida, 2003.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Plesetsk Plesetsk was the Soviet Union's northern cosmodrome, used for polar orbit launches of mainly military satellites, and was at one time the busiest launch centre in the world. The collapse of the Soviet Union put the main launch site of Baikonur in Kazakh territory. It now seems that once the Proton rocket is retired, Baikonur will be abandoned and Plesetsk will be Russia's primary launch centre. Upgrades to existing launch facilities will allow advanced versions of the Soyuz rocket and the new Angara launch vehicle to be launched from Plesetsk. Plesetsk's major drawback was the lower net payload in geosynchronous orbit from a northern latitude launch site. However Russia is planning to remove the disadvantage by looping geosynchronous satellites around the moon, using lunar gravity to make the necessary orbital plane change. More...
  • Plesetsk LC16/2 R-7 launch complex. Complex 16 was the second R-7A ICBM launch complex to become operationall at Plesetsk, in 1960. In 1969, Pad 2 was cannibalized to upgrade the Area 1 facility in Baikonur. Pad 2 was not again brought into operation until 1979. It was then completely renovated as a space launch pad for Molniya 8K78M/Soyuz 11A511U class vehicles. The first launch was on 19 February 1981, and it continued in use in this role into the 21st Century. More...

Molniya-2 Chronology


1961 October 30 - .
  • Molniya-1 and Meteor-1 satellites authorised. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Molniya-1; Molniya-2; Meteor. Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On approval of work on the Molniya-1 communications satellite and Meteor-1 weather satellite' was issued. Thedecree authorised work on the Molniya-1M production model, providing international communications on the centimetre band. But the protoype Molniya-1 worked so well that it was taken directly into service, and the -1M was skipped.

1968 October 24 - .
  • Molniya-2 satellite authorised. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Summary: Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On establishment of the Kristall communications system based on Molniya-2 satellites' was issued. Kristall would be used for strategic communications..

1971 November 24 - . 09:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-01 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1976-05-10 . USAF Sat Cat: 5620 . COSPAR: 1971-100A. Apogee: 39,553 km (24,577 mi). Perigee: 516 km (320 mi). Inclination: 65.0000 deg. Period: 712.00 min. Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).

1972 April 5 - .
  • Unified System of Satellite Communications (YeSSS) - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Molniya-2; Ekran; Raduga. Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On use of Molniya and Ekran for a unified satellite communications system' was issued. The YeSSS was defined as the Molniya-2 in elliptical orbit and Raduga (Statsionar) in geosynchronous orbit.

1972 May 19 - . 14:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-02 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1977-03-22 . USAF Sat Cat: 6031 . COSPAR: 1972-037A. Apogee: 39,293 km (24,415 mi). Perigee: 479 km (297 mi). Inclination: 65.0000 deg. Period: 706.00 min. Summary: Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system; transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita network and international cooperation. .

1972 September 30 - . 20:19 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-03 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1978-01-12 . USAF Sat Cat: 6208 . COSPAR: 1972-075A. Apogee: 39,170 km (24,330 mi). Perigee: 470 km (290 mi). Inclination: 65.0000 deg. Period: 703.30 min. Summary: Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system; transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita network and international cooperation. .

1972 December 12 - . 06:51 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-04 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1975-01-22 . USAF Sat Cat: 6308 . COSPAR: 1972-098A. Apogee: 39,284 km (24,409 mi). Perigee: 507 km (315 mi). Inclination: 65.3000 deg. Period: 706.40 min. Summary: Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system; transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita network and international cooperation. .

1973 April 5 - . 11:11 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-05 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1979-01-06 . USAF Sat Cat: 6418 . COSPAR: 1973-018A. Apogee: 39,822 km (24,744 mi). Perigee: 532 km (330 mi). Inclination: 65.2000 deg. Period: 717.70 min. Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).

1973 July 11 - . 09:58 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-06 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1978-08-05 . USAF Sat Cat: 6722 . COSPAR: 1973-045A. Apogee: 39,292 km (24,414 mi). Perigee: 479 km (297 mi). Inclination: 65.0000 deg. Period: 706.00 min. Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).

1973 October 19 - . 10:26 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-07 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1983-07-08 . USAF Sat Cat: 6877 . COSPAR: 1973-076A. Apogee: 40,055 km (24,888 mi). Perigee: 555 km (344 mi). Inclination: 62.8000 deg. Period: 722.90 min. Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).

1973 December 25 - . 11:17 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-08 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1984-11-24 . USAF Sat Cat: 7000 . COSPAR: 1973-106A. Apogee: 39,934 km (24,813 mi). Perigee: 434 km (269 mi). Inclination: 62.9000 deg. Period: 718.00 min. Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).

1974 April 26 - . 14:23 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-09 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. USAF Sat Cat: 7276 . COSPAR: 1974-026A. Apogee: 35,168 km (21,852 mi). Perigee: 1,309 km (813 mi). Inclination: 64.4000 deg. Period: 640.60 min. Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).

1974 July 23 - . 01:23 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-10 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. USAF Sat Cat: 7376 . COSPAR: 1974-056A. Apogee: 38,868 km (24,151 mi). Perigee: 1,501 km (932 mi). Inclination: 64.5000 deg. Period: 718.10 min. Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).

1974 December 21 - . 02:19 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-11 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1988-07-07 . USAF Sat Cat: 7583 . COSPAR: 1974-102A. Apogee: 40,065 km (24,895 mi). Perigee: 305 km (189 mi). Inclination: 61.9000 deg. Period: 718.10 min. Summary: Operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radiocommunications system in the USSR; transmission of television programmes to stations in the Orbita network. .

1975 February 6 - . 04:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-12 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1985-07-04 . USAF Sat Cat: 7641 . COSPAR: 1975-009A. Apogee: 40,746 km (25,318 mi). Perigee: 653 km (405 mi). Inclination: 62.8000 deg. Period: 738.70 min. Summary: Decay date suspect Operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radiocommunications system in the USSR; transmission of television programmes to stations in the Orbita network. .

1975 July 8 - . 05:05 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-13 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. USAF Sat Cat: 8015 . COSPAR: 1975-063A. Apogee: 38,492 km (23,917 mi). Perigee: 1,887 km (1,172 mi). Inclination: 63.9000 deg. Period: 718.30 min. Summary: Operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radiocommunications system in the USSR; transmission of television programmes to stations in the Orbita network. .

1975 September 9 - . 00:19 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-14 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. USAF Sat Cat: 8195 . COSPAR: 1975-081A. Apogee: 38,534 km (23,943 mi). Perigee: 1,840 km (1,140 mi). Inclination: 64.0000 deg. Period: 718.20 min. Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).

1975 December 17 - . 11:06 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-15 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1987-03-07 . USAF Sat Cat: 8492 . COSPAR: 1975-121A. Apogee: 24,113 km (14,983 mi). Perigee: 103 km (64 mi). Inclination: 62.8000 deg. Period: 416.90 min. Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).

1976 July 1 - . 08:06 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC43/4. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M. FAILURE: Fourth stage failure.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Cosmos 837 - . Payload: Molniya-2 s/n 27. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1983-11-18 . USAF Sat Cat: 8927 . COSPAR: 1976-062A. Apogee: 936 km (581 mi). Perigee: 438 km (272 mi). Inclination: 62.8000 deg. Period: 98.50 min. Summary: Failed Molniya..

1976 September 1 - . 03:23 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC43/3. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M. FAILURE: Fourth stage failure.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Cosmos 853 - . Payload: Molniya-2 s/n 26. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1976-12-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 9398 . COSPAR: 1976-088A. Apogee: 461 km (286 mi). Perigee: 243 km (150 mi). Inclination: 62.8000 deg. Period: 91.60 min. Summary: Failed Molniya..

1976 December 2 - . 02:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-16 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1991-02-21 . USAF Sat Cat: 9574 . COSPAR: 1976-116A. Apogee: 36,437 km (22,640 mi). Perigee: 85 km (52 mi). Inclination: 62.0000 deg. Period: 641.50 min. Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).

1977 February 11 - . 14:57 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-17 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. USAF Sat Cat: 9829 . COSPAR: 1977-010A. Apogee: 38,214 km (23,745 mi). Perigee: 2,176 km (1,352 mi). Inclination: 63.3000 deg. Period: 718.50 min. Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).

2005 June 21 - . 00:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC16/2. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78M-ML 77046-694. FAILURE: Failure - Third stage propulsion. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Molniya 3K - . Payload: 11F637. Mass: 1,750 kg (3,850 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: VKS. Manufacturer: Reshetnev. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Summary: Delayed from May 25.

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