Encyclopedia Astronautica
Plazma-A



plasmaa.jpg
Plasma-A
Credit: © Mark Wade
Russian ion engine technology satellite. 2 launches, 1987.02.02 (Cosmos 1818) to 1987.07.10 (Cosmos 1867). In 1987 two experimental Plazma-A satellites (Cosmos 1818 and 1867) were launched with new-generation Topaz reactors.

The spacecraft used the US-A first generation bus but tested new on-board systems being developed for the US-AM. These included new elements of the orientation system, and ion engines.

Use of a new high radiation-safety orbit was also demonstrated. The Topaz used a new thermo-emission conversion method to convert heat to electricity. This would also power a range of new systems including electrostatic maneuvering engines, ion orientation/stabilization engines, solar sensors, magnetic momentum compensators, multi-channel wave devices, and special plasma weapons to provide a defense against anti-satellite weapons. The Plazma-A satellites carried instruments to map the magnetic field of the earth, with an eye toward developing a magnetic navigation system. Topaz provided over 10 kW of power and had long endurance and storage in a radiation-safe orbit. A follow-on Plazma-2 would have been equipped with the even safer Topaz-2. The spacecraft would be orbited by a Tsyklon 2 booster and have a mass of 3550 kg. Despite these encouraging tests, the US-AM nuclear-powered component of the Pirs system was abandoned on the instructions of Gorbachev in 1988 due to continued reliability problems and international incidents when the reactor cores of the satellites crashed to the earth.

Gross mass: 3,550 kg (7,820 lb).
First Launch: 1987.02.01.
Last Launch: 1987.07.10.
Number: 2 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Tsiklon The R-36 ICBM was the largest ever built and the bogeyman of the Pentagon throughout the Cold War. Dubbed the 'city buster', the 308 silos built were constantly held up by the US Air Force as an awesome threat that justified a new round of American missile or anti-missile systems. On the other hand, the Americans were never motivated to build and deploy corresponding numbers of their equivalent, the liquid propellant Titan 2. Derivatives of the R-36 included the R-36-O orbital bombing system, the Tsiklon-2 and -3 medium orbital launch vehicles, and the replacement R-36M missiles. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the design and manufacturing facility ended up in independent Ukraine. Accordingly the missile was finally retired in the 1990's, conveniently in accordance with arms reduction agreements with the Americans. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Tsiklon Ukrainian intercontinental ballistic missile. The R-36 ICBM was the largest ever built and the bogeyman of the Pentagon throughout the Cold War. Dubbed the 'city buster', the 308 silos built were constantly held up by the US Air Force as an awesome threat that justified a new round of American missile or anti-missile systems. On the other hand, the Americans were never motivated to build and deploy corresponding numbers of their equivalent, the liquid propellant Titan 2. Derivatives of the R-36 included the R-36-O orbital bombing system, the Tsiklon-2 and -3 medium orbital launch vehicles, and the replacement R-36M missiles. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the design and manufacturing facility ended up in independent Ukraine. Accordingly the missile was finally retired in the 1990's, conveniently in accordance with arms reduction agreements with the Americans. More...
  • Tsiklon-2 Ukrainian orbital launch vehicle. A government decree of 24 August 1965 ordered development by Yangel of a version of his R-36 rocket to orbit Chelomei's IS (Istrebitel Sputnik) ASAT and US (Upravlenniye Sputnik) naval intelligence satellites. The Tyklon 2 definitive operational version replaced the 11K67 launch vehicle from 1969 and was an adaptation of the 8K69 (SS-9) two stage ICBM. The IS and US Raketoplan-derived payloads had their own engines for insertion into final orbit. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Arsenal Russian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Arsenal Design Bureau, Saint Petersburg, Russia. More...

Associated Programs
  • RORSAT Soviet military nuclear-reactor powered radar naval reconnaissance satellite network. More...

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.
  • Siddiqi, Asif A, The Soviet Space Race With Apollo, University Press of Florida, 2003.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Baikonur Russia's largest cosmodrome, the only one used for manned launches and with facilities for the larger Proton, N1, and Energia launch vehicles. The spaceport ended up on foreign soil after the break-up of Soviet Union. The official designations NIIP-5 and GIK-5 are used in official Soviet histories. It was also universally referred to as Tyuratam by both Soviet military staff and engineers, and the US intelligence agencies. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union the Russian Federation has insisted on continued use of the old Soviet 'public' name of Baikonur. In its Kazakh (Kazak) version this is rendered Baykonur. More...

Plazma-A Chronology


1974 December 31 - .
  • Plasma-A satellite authorised. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Plazma-A. Summary: Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 314 'On development of the Topaz-1 thermionic nuclear reactor for Plasma-A spacecraft' was issued..

1976 December 10 - .
  • Plasma-A construction authorised. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Plazma-A. Summary: Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 342 'On development of the Topaz-1 thermionic nuclear reactor for Plasma-A spacecraft' was issued..

1987 February 1 - . 23:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC90/19. Launch Pad: LC90/pad?. LV Family: Tsiklon. Launch Vehicle: Tsiklon-2.
  • Cosmos 1818 - . Mass: 3,800 kg (8,300 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MO. Program: RORSAT. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military naval surveillance radar satellite. Spacecraft: Plazma-A. USAF Sat Cat: 17369 . COSPAR: 1987-011A. Apogee: 803 km (498 mi). Perigee: 774 km (480 mi). Inclination: 65.0000 deg. Period: 100.60 min. Summary: Test of new Topaz reactor, new systems, and ion engines aboard US-AM bus..

1987 July 10 - . 15:35 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC90/19. Launch Pad: LC90/pad?. LV Family: Tsiklon. Launch Vehicle: Tsiklon-2.
  • Cosmos 1867 - . Mass: 3,800 kg (8,300 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MO. Program: RORSAT. Class: Surveillance. Type: Military naval surveillance radar satellite. Spacecraft: Plazma-A. USAF Sat Cat: 18187 . COSPAR: 1987-060A. Apogee: 803 km (498 mi). Perigee: 776 km (482 mi). Inclination: 65.0000 deg. Period: 100.70 min. Summary: Test of new Topaz reactor, new systems, and ion engines aboard US-AM bus - Tested Plasma-2 SPT electric engine..

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