The vehicle could take payloads of up to 900 kg on missions of up to two years before return to earth. Customers were not forthcoming.
In 1990 the Lavochkin NPO announced plans to enter the microgravity services market with, its own spacecraft. generally referred to as Lavochkin or Mercury. The original prospectus indicated a spacecraft mass of 5600 kg and a payload mass of 500 kg. The descent module, which was conical in shape, had a mass of 2,900 kg. Electrical power was to be supplied by two solar panels with a 4.5 kW capacity. Mission durations of up to two years in orbits of 500 km and 97.7 degree inclinations were anticipated by 1993-1994 with the aid of a modified RS-20 ICBM launch vehicle.
By 1991 the project had matured to include a new spacecraft design and a host of available materials science equipment. That design called for a spacecraft, called Lavochkin or Tekos, with a mass of 5,500 kg with a spherical 2.2 m diameter re-entry capsule (based on the Venera re-entry module) of 2 metric tons and a payload mass of 900 kg and volume of 4-4.5 m3. Solar-generated electrical power capacity would remain at 4.5 kW. Also unchanged was a goal of flight duration up to two years in a 500-km, 98 degrees-orbit, launched by a modified RS-20. The maiden flight of the spacecraft was set for 1994, but delays of two or more years were anticipated. Expected microgravity conditions were 10^-4 to 10^-5 g. No Western investors were forthcoming to finance development or flight of the satellite.
To sweeten the commercial package, Lavochkin NPO teamed with specialists in the Russian materials science community to provide specific semiconductor and pharmaceutical microgravity devices for Tekos. Three electrophoresis instruments were being prepared (Potok, Meduza, and Shtamm) along with the Biocryst facility for the production of biocrystals. The Krater-AG furnace would have the capacity of handling sample cartridges 76 mm in diameter and 200 mm in length at temperatures of up to 1,270 degrees C and total operations of 5,000 hours. Lavochkin NPO estimated that 100 kg of gallium arsenide and 20 kg of other semi-conductor materials could be produced on a single mission.
Electric System: 4.50 average kW.
AKA: Merkur; Lavochkin.
Gross mass: 5,600 kg (12,300 lb).