Encyclopedia Astronautica
RT-2



qrt2assy.jpg
RT-2 in assembly
RT-2 in assembly hall
Credit: RKK Energia
Development of the RT-2, the Soviet Union's first solid propellant ICBM, was undertaken by Sergei Korolev and his successor from 1961-1968. It was a huge technical challenge, involving technology in which the Russians had no prior experience. The high-priority RT-2 preoccupied Korolev and his team throughout the period of the moon race, and could be considered a factor in the loss of that race to the Americans. In the end only sixty were deployed, but these provided the technical basis for Russian ballistic missiles of the 1980's and beyond.

The RT-2 was the Soviet Union's first solid propellant ICBM. It represented Korolev's conviction that the best technical solution for a military missile involved the use of solid propellants, as opposed to the dangerous storable liquid propellants favoured by the rest of the Soviet military-industrial complex. Design of this equivalent to the Minuteman was only beginning when the US ICBM was being test-fired. Development proceeded slowly due to technical problems, opposition from other chief designers, and possibly limited availability of certain key materials that could only be surreptitiously purchased in the United States.

Unusually for a missile that became operational, the RT-2 was displayed in a Moscow Parade on 9 May 1965, possibly indicating that the leadership considered it a dead project. The peak deployment of 60 missiles was only attained in 1971, at a time when 1,000 Minutemen were in service. Service life was only a few years, possibly indicating problems in solid fuel ageing. 60 remained the total number of solid propellant Soviet ICBM's deployed until the 1980's, when the mobile RT-12M and RT-23 finally began replacing liquid propellant ICBM's.

Development of the RT-2 by Korolev's OKB-1 was authorised by decree 316-137 of 4 April 1961. This work was to proceed in parallel with the RT-1. The RT-1 represented an interim solution of clustering smaller solid rocket motors to achieve an early operational date, while the RT-2 represented a high-performance long-term solution using single rocket motors in each stage, each with four nozzles. Sardovskiy was put in charge of preparation of the project. The concept was for a modular three stage RT-2 ICBM, with shorter range missiles composed of the second and third stages (RT-15) and first and third stages (RT-25). Development of each of these missiles was accomplished in parallel by different design bureaux, and each bureau was made responsible for development of one of the individual stages:

  • The first stage was developed by NII-130 in Perm under the leadership of M Yu Tsirulnikov, who was also responsible for development of the RT-15 variant. The stage was built at Factory 98 in Perm and the original polyfurite-binder propellant was to be formulated by NII-130 Perm.
  • The second stage was developed by TsKB-7 (Arsenal) in Leningrad under the supervision of P A Tyurin, who was also responsible for the RT-25 variant. The stage was built at the Morozov Factory and the polyurethane-binder propellant was to be by V S Shpak at GIPKh.
  • The third stage was originally to be developed by TsKB-7, with an alternate design by Zhukov and NII-125.
  • The common miniaturised inertial guidance system for all variants was by Pilyugin.

All stages used ammonium perchlorate/aluminium as oxidiser and fuel in the solid propellant, as originally developed at Altaisk by Yakov F Savchenko. However the search for a proper solid propellant binder took several years. The contendors were:

  • A polyurethane-binder propellant, designed by Vladimir Shpak at GIPKh Leningrad (State Institue for Chemical Research). This was available at the start of development and was used for stand tests of the second stage. But it did not have a high enough performance.
  • A polyfurite-binder propellant, designed by Leonid Kozlov at NII-130 in Perm. This was used in stand tests of the first stage but found to be too inelastic for use in such a large stage. It was however adopted for use in the third stage.
  • A terminated polybutadiene-binder propellant, designed by Boris Zhukov at NPO Soyuz in Lyuberetsk and Yakov Savchenko at Altaisk NII in 1963. This was tested in the third stage but was still not considered elastic enough use in the larger first and second stages.
  • A rubberised butyl binder propellant, tested by Savchenko in mid-1965. This finally exhibited the necessary high performance and elastic properties, and was adopted for both the first and second stages of the missile.

At the end of development the production missile motors were built as follows:

  • Stage 1 - motor designer SKB-172 Perm, rubberised butyl binder propellant by Altaisk ANII
  • Stage 2 - motor designer TsKB Arsenal Leningrad, rubberised butyl binder propellant by Altaisk ANII
  • Stage 3 - motor designer SKB-172 Perm, polyfurite-binder propellant by NII-130 Perm

The silo was designed by TsKB-34 Spetsmash. Originally two variants were considered - single isolated silos with a launch group, and groups of silos controlled from a single hardened command point. The final variant in the development phase consisted of one command point per ten silos. All were equipped with hydraulic shock absorber devices. The water in the system was spilled onto the flame pit, and the steam generated helped to accelerate the missile out of the silo. The command point was provided with supplies for three years of autonomous operation. Pilyugin developed the SDUK command and control system, which allowed RSVN headquarters southwest of Moscow to securely order launch of all missiles within three minutes of the 'go' order.

The TTT specification and development schedule was completed on 29 January 1962. This envisioned use of the missile with two alternate light nuclear warheads, the larger one with a yield of 1.65 MT. Two different types of silo launcher were proposed, and one train-launched version. The draft project was completed in March 1963. Flights of the third stage on the RT-1-63 test vehicle were conducted between September and November 1965 from Kapustin Yar. Seven initial trials of the RT-2 itself on short-range shots were conducted from LC-87 at Kapustin Yar from 5 February to July 1966, using a silo originally designed for the R-14. The first launch attempt was unsuccessful, the missile guidance failing in the silo two seconds before launch, and the missile roared off unguided. The second attempt on 25 February was also unsuccessful, but a successful test was achieved the next day. The tests then moved to Plesetsk for longer-range flights. 25 test flights were made between 4 November 1966 and 3 October 1968, of which 16 were successful. The missile was accepted by the military on 18 December 1968.

Production of the missile was entrusted to PZKhO Factory 98 in Perm, operated by Arsenal Leningrad. A missile regiment consisted of one hardened 15B52 command point per ten 15P798 silos, all designed by V V Chernetskiy at TsKB-34. Each silo was seperated from the other by 10-12 km and were designed to have a 20 year life. Construction of silos began in 1967, and the first unit became operational at Yoshkar-Ola on 28 August 1968. By 1971 the total deployment there had reached the final total of six regiments / 60 silos. Even though service tests from Plesetsk indicated an allowable storage life of 15 to 17 years, the first-generation RT-2 was replaced from 1972 by the RT-2P. The final RT-2 was retired in 1976. The RT-2 was flown on a total of 44 development flights and 19 operational test flights to 1974, including 5 shots from operational silos at Yoshkar-Ola.

The train-based version was designed, but like the rail-launched Minuteman, never tested or deployed. The missile train would have consisted of four cars with RT-2 missiles, one power generation car, two cars with equipment for test and preparation of the missiles, one command car, one sleeping car, and one car with common crew rest and eating facilities.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Launch Vehicles
  • RT-2 Development of the RT-2, the Soviet Union's first solid propellant ICBM, was undertaken by Sergei Korolev and his successor from 1961-1968. It was a huge technical challenge, involving technology in which the Russians had no prior experience. The high-priority RT-2 preoccupied Korolev and his team throughout the period of the moon race, and could be considered a factor in the loss of that race to the Americans. In the end only sixty were deployed, but these provided the technical basis for Russian ballistic missiles of the 1980's and beyond. More...
  • RT-2P Russian intercontinental ballistic missile. Development of the improved RT-2P version of the basic missile was authorised by decree 1004-365 of 18 December 1968. The overriding concern was imminent deployment by the Americans of the Safeguard anti-ballistic missile system, and the need for the missile to have the necessary countermeasures to defeat those defences. More...
  • RT-2M Russian intercontinental ballistic missile. The RT-2M was a modernised RT-2, developed under Savodskiy at Korolev's bureau beginning in the late 1960's in parallel with the RT-2P and using alternate new engines. This increased both range and payload compared to the RT-20. However the RT-2P was selected for further development. More...

Associated Launch Sites
  • Kapustin Yar Russia's first missile test range and used for satellite launches of smaller Kosmos vehicles. V-2's launched from here in 1946 were the first ballistic missiles fired on Soviet territory. It was greatly expanded as the test site for innumerable Soviet intermediate and short range missile projects in the 1950's.. Kapustin Year was also headquarters of the first operational R-1/R-2 units, 1950-1953, and later a base for 12 operational R-14 missile launchers. Kapustin Yar was known to have been used for over 3519 major launches from 1946 to 2007. More...
  • 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...

RT-2 Chronology


1961 April 4 - . LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-1.
  • Development of the RT-2 ICBM authorised by a decree in parallel with the RT-1. - . Nation: USSR. Summary: Development of the RT-2 ICBM was authorised by a decree of 4 April 1961 in parallel with the RT-1..

1963 March - . LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • RT-2 draft project completed - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev. Summary: Korolev completed the draft project in March 1963. The modular design had three stages, each with three nozzles..

During 1965 - . LV Family: GR-1; N1; R-9; RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-1.
  • N1 development issues - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Pilyugin; Korolev; Raushenbakh. Program: Lunar L3. Spacecraft: Luna E-6; LK; Soyuz 7K-LOK. There were two camps on the N1-L3 control systems. One group was within OKB-1, and had developed the systems for the Vostok and Zenit spacecraft, under the personal oversight of Korolev. They stressed the maximum quality and reliability in their systems. The second group had worked with Pilyugin, and had designed the systems for the Mars, Venus, Luna E-6 probes, the R-9, RT-1, RT-2, and GR-1 missiles; and piloted spacecraft. Their design emphasis was on maximum usability and output. Pilyugin had been named chief designer of the control system for the N1-L3. Additional Details: here....

1966 - . Launch Site: Kapustin Yar. Launch Complex: Kapustin Yar PL87. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1966 - . Launch Site: Kapustin Yar. Launch Complex: Kapustin Yar PL87. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1966 - . Launch Site: Kapustin Yar. Launch Complex: Kapustin Yar PL87. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1966 February 5 - . Launch Site: Kapustin Yar. Launch Complex: Kapustin Yar PL87. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 10 km (6 mi).

1966 February 25 - . Launch Site: Kapustin Yar. Launch Complex: Kapustin Yar PL87. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 10 km (6 mi).

1966 February 26 - . Launch Site: Kapustin Yar. Launch Complex: Kapustin Yar PL87. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1966 March 6 - . LV Family: N1; R-9; RT-2.
  • Soviet design bureaux reorganised and renamed. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Mishin; Okhapkin; Afanasyev, Sergei. Spacecraft: LK; Soyuz 7K-LOK; Soyuz 7K-OK; Soyuz 7K-L1. Decree 'On renaming OKB-1 as TsKBEM and OKB-52 as TsKBM' was issued. In 1966 Afanasyev reorganised the military industrial complex. OKB-1 was redesignated TsKBEM. Sergei Osipovich Opakhin was made First Deputy within the new organization.

    However within TsKBEM there were no relative priorities for the projects competing for resources. The R-9 and RT-2 ICBM's, the orbital, circumlunar, and lunar orbiter versions of Soyuz, the LK lunar lander, the N1 booster -- all were 'equal'. It seemed folly to be pursuing the orbital ferry version of the Soyuz when no space station had to be funded. But it was felt flying the spacecraft would solve reliability questions about the design, so it was pursued in parallel with the L1 and L3 versions.


1966 July 1 - . Launch Site: Kapustin Yar. Launch Complex: Kapustin Yar PL87. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

September 1966 - . LV Family: N1; R-9; RT-2.
  • N1 two-launch moon scenario proposed - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev; Bushuyev. Program: Lunar L3; Lunar L1; Soyuz. Spacecraft: LK; Soyuz 7K-LOK; Soyuz 7K-OK; Soyuz 7K-L1; Molniya-1. Bushuyev proposed a two launch variation on Korolev's single-launch scheme. The increased-payload version of the N1 with six additional engines was not planned to fly until vehicle 3L. 1L and 2L were to be technology articles for ground test with only the original 24 engine configuration. At that time the first Apollo test flight was planned by the end of 1966, and the US moon landing no later than 1969. The Soviets expected the first test of their LK lander in 1969, and concluded they could not expect to land a Soviet man on the moon until 1972. Additional Details: here....

1966 November 4 - . 08:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC161. Launch Pad: LC161/1. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1967? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1967? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1967? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1967? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1967? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1967? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1967? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1967? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1967? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1967? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1967? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1968? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1968? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1968? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1968? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1968? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1968? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1968? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1968? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1968 - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1968? - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1968 January 23 - . LV Family: MR-UR-100; N1; RT-2; UR-100N.
1968 August 28 - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1968 August 28 - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1968 August 28 - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1968 October 3 - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1969 April 29 - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

December 1969 - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2P.
  • First launch of RT-2P ICBM. - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN.

1970 January 16 - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC161. Launch Pad: LC161/ShPU-2. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2P.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1970 November 1 - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1970 November 1 - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1972 January 1 - . LV Family: N1; RT-2.
  • TsKBEM reorganised - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Mishin; Dorofeyev; Bushuyev; Semenov; Shabarov. Program: Lunar L3; Soyuz; Almaz. Spacecraft: LK; Soyuz 7K-LOK; Soyuz 7K-TM; Soyuz 7K-T; Soyuz 7K-S; Soyuz 7K-OK; MKBS; Mars 5NM. TsKBEM was given a completely new structure as a result of the findings of the expert commissions on the disasters for the previous year, Mishin remained as the Chief Designer for the organisation, but each programme now had its own chief designer:

    • N1: Boris Dorofeyev
    • 8K98P solid propellant ICBM: Igor Sadovskiy
    • N1 payloads: Vladimir Brorov [check]
    • Soyuz 7K-TM, or Soyuz M, for Soyuz-Apollo: Konstantin Bushuyev
    • Soyuz 7K-T: Yuri Semenov
    • Soyuz 7K-S or Soyuz VI: Yevgeni Shabarov
    Additional Details: here....

1972 January 1 - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2P.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1974 - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-2M.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

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