Encyclopedia Astronautica
UR-200



ur200bai.jpg
UR-200 launch
Credit: © Mark Wade
Universal rocket designed by Chelomei to cover the ICBM, FOBS, satellite launch vehicle, and spaceplane booster roles. Flight tested in 1963-1964 but cancelled in favour of Yangel's R-36.

Unofficially Chelomei began work on what would become the UR-200 in 1960. An exhaustive trade study was made of payload and orbital requirements and alternate launch vehicle configurations. On 16 March and 1 August 1961 the Central Committee and Politburo approved development of the UR-200 (8K81) universal rocket. The UR-200 was designed not only to send a thermonuclear warhead over a range of 12,000 km, but also to orbit the IS (Istrebitel Sputnik) ASAT; the US (Upravlenniye Sputnik) nuclear-powered naval intelligence satellite; and the AB-200 combat re-entry vehicle, which would use aerodynamic horizontal and vertical manoeuvring to penetrate enemy space defences and be practically invulnerable. The UR-200 draft project was completed in July 1962. Pilyugin would build the rocket's inertial navigation system. The missile's technical characteristics would be similar to those of Korolev's R-9A and Yangel's R-16. The ICBM version was designed to be launched from the same Sheksna-V launch silo complex designed for the R-16. The thermonuclear warhead was designed by B V Litvinov at Chelyabinsk-70.

Launch complexes LC-90 and LC-92 were built at Baikonur was according to the design of OKB-52 Filial 2 (later GNIP OKB Vympel). Nine trial flights of the ICBM version from from those sites ran from 4 November 1963 to 20 October 1964.

On October 13, 1964, Khrushchev was ousted from power. The new leadership, under Brezhnev, was adverse to all projects Khrushchev had supported. These included those of Chelomei and his OKB-52. An expert commission under M V Keldysh was directed to examine all of Chelomei's projects and make recommendations as to which should be cancelled. Keldysh found that Yangel's R-36 ICBM could be modified to cover the universal rocket missions of Chelomei's UR-200. The UR-200 and AB-200 were accordingly cancelled, while the IS and US satellites were redesigned for launch by the R-36.

Originally the UR-200 was to be a building block for Chelomei's UR-500 space launcher, with five UR-200's being clustered together. However as design studies of the UR-500 progressed, this approach was abandoned in favour of a 'polyblock' approach. However the UR-200 lived on in the two upper stages of the UR-500, which were essentially repackaged, larger-diameter versions of the UR-200's two stages. In that form the design enjoyed great commercial success and continued in service into the next millennium.

The UR-200 remained completely unknown to the Western public until the 1990's. The CIA, monitoring the missile's flight tests, had assigned the designation SS-10 to the missile. When Korolev's cancelled GR-1was paraded in Moscow on 9 May 1965, it received the ASCC reporting name 'Scrag'. Western Soviet observors conflated the two rockets together into the 'SS-10 Scrag', and believed that this was used to launch the FOBS orbiting nuclear warheads actually launched by Yangel's R-36-O. Thus were three competing missiles rolled into one non-existent rocket in the minds of Western observors. UR-200 artefacts may be found at the following museums: Tsniimash has a 1:10 structural simulation model; Orevo has a complete sectioned missile; Baikonur has models and launch photographs.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Launch Vehicles
  • UR-200 Russian intercontinental ballistic missile. Universal rocket designed by Chelomei to cover the ICBM, FOBS, satellite launch vehicle, and spaceplane booster roles. Flight tested in 1963-1964 but cancelled in favour of Yangel's R-36. More...
  • UR-200A Russian intercontinental boost-glide missile. Version that would boost the Raketoplan combat re-entry vehicle, which would use aerodynamic horizontal and vertical manoeuvring to penetrate enemy space defences and be practically invulnerable. More...
  • UR-200B Russian orbital missile. Global rocket version. Would place nuclear warhead into orbit, which would approach United States from any direction at low altitude and be deorbited with little warning time on on enemy targets. More...

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...

UR-200 Chronology


April 1960 - . LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • Chelomei plan for Organic Space System. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Khrushchev; Chelomei; Dementiev; Myasishchev. Spacecraft: Raketoplan. Chelomei visits Khrushchev in the Crimea and presents his ambitious plan for an Organic Space System - a space infrastructure serviced by an integrated family of launch vehicles and spacecraft. The system would include orbiting stations, space factories, winged rockets, and nuclear weapons stored in space with plenty of decoys to defeat any enemy counter-measures. UR-200 rockets would fulfil all roles in servicing this array of weapons. Dementiev supported Chelomeiís proposals, but the chief designer would need a factory to support fabrication of the rockets and spacecraft. Myasishchevís bureau and its associated Khrunichev factory were an obvious choice, since the decision had been taken not to put the M-50 bomber or Buran cruise missile into production and the factory would soon be idle.

1960 June 23 - . LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • Chelomei Raketoplan, UR-200 ICBM, and IS antisatellite system authorised. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Raketoplan; IS-A. Summary: Decree 715-295 'On approval of preliminary work on the Raketoplan, UR-200 ICBM, and IS anti-satellite system' was issued..

1960 October 3 - . LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • Chelomei acquires Myasishchev and Khrunichev OKBs. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei; Myasishchev. Spacecraft: Raketoplan. Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 1057-434 'On transfer of OKB-23 as Branch No. I of OKB-52 and on course of work on IS anti-satellite system' was issued. Chelomei acquired the OKB-23 of Vladimir Mikhailovich Myasishchev, (which had formerly designed heavy bombers), as well as the M K Khrunichev heavy aviation factory. Both of these organisations had a very high level of technical and manufacturing expertise, and assisted Chelomei in quickly moving ahead on his new space projects.

1961 March 6 - . LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • US RORSAT authorised. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: US-A. Summary: Decree 420∑1741 'On approval of work on the US satellite and UR-200 launch vehicle / ICBM' was issued..

1961 March 16 - . LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • UR-200 (8K81) launch vehicle development authorised. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Kosmoplan; IS-A; US-A; US-P; OGCh. An enabling decree was issued on 1 August 1961 by the Central Committee and Politburo. The UR-200 was designed not only to send a thermonuclear warhead over a range of 12,000 km, but also to orbit all of the Kosmoplan military variants: the IS ASAT; the US nuclear-powered naval intelligence satellite; and the Kosmoplan combat re-entry vehicle.

1961 August - . LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • UR-200 universal ICBM / space booster authorised. - . Nation: USSR. Summary: Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On course of work on the UR-200 missile and launcher' was issued..

During February 1962 - . LV Family: N1; Proton; R-16; R-56; R-9; UR-200.
  • Pitsunda Conference - Decision to start design of UR-500 and N1 lunar boosters - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Khrushchev; Yangel; Korolev; Ustinov; Chelomei; Grechko, Andrei; Kozlov; Mikoyan. The Soviet leadership attends a secret exhibition of Soviet rocket technology in a sporting hall at Pitsunda, on the Black Sea. The Chief Designers offer competing designs. It is decided that the R-16, R-9, UR-200, UR-500, and N1 will go forward. Yangel's R-56 is rejected. Additional Details: here....

1962 June 3 - . LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • US RORSAT development plans. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: US-A. Summary: Decree 'On course of work on the US reconnaissance satellite system launched on the UR-2OO' was issued..

1962 July - . LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • Kosmoplan and UR-200 draft projects completed. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: US-A; IS-A; Kosmoplan. Summary: Trial flights of the ICBM version ran from 4 November 1963 to 20 October 1964. Versions of the Kosmoplan would fly as the reactor-powered US-A and solar-powered US-P ELINT satellites and the I2P ASAT..

1962 July 15 - . LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • UR-200 draft project is completed. - . Nation: USSR. Manufacturer: Chelomei.

1963 November 5 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC90/19. LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200. LV Configuration: UR-200 No. 01. FAILURE: Failure.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 0 km ( mi). Summary: First UR-200 test flight. (LKI).

1964 April 11 - . 07:05 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC90/19. LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200. FAILURE: Failure.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 70 km (43 mi).

1964 May 15 - . 06:56 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC90/19. LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 689 km (428 mi).

1964 May 30 - . 04:02 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC90/19. LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 695 km (431 mi).

1964 June 17 - . 04:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC90/19. LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 694 km (431 mi).

1964 August 1 - . 05:54 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC90/19. LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 686 km (426 mi).

1964 September 24 - . LV Family: N1; R-56; R-9; Tsiklon; UR-100; UR-200; UR-700. Launch Vehicle: R-26.
  • Khrushchev visits Baikonur - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Khrushchev; Yangel; Chelomei; Brezhnev; Smirnov; Ustinov; Korolev; Glushko; Gagarin; Belyayev; Leonov. Flight: Voskhod 2. Spacecraft: Voskhod; Berkut; LK-700. This was his last visit, just weeks before his overthrow. The Soviet leadership were shown the UR-100 and observed launches of the competing UR-200 and R-36. Khrushchev agreed with the decision to put the R-36 into production instead of Chelomeiís UR-200. He felt he couldnít turn down Yangel a third time after approving Korolevís N1 instead of Yangelís R-56 and Chelomeiís UR-100 instead of Yangelís R-26. Khrushchev decided to cancel Korolevís badly behind schedule R-9A, even though Smirnov and Ustinov insisted they wanted it in their arsenal (in May 1965, after Khrushchevís overthrow, this decision was reversed and the R-9A went into production).

    Khrushchev also visited a secret space fair, with Korolev, Chelomei, Yangel, and Glushko presenting their rockets and spacecraft. Chelomei presented his UR-700 heavy lift design as an alternative to Korolevís N1. This presentation was a surprise to Ustinov and Dementiev. Khrushchev ordered Chelomei to prepare a draft proposal for the design. Chelomei hoped that 12 to 18 months later, when the UR-700 draft project would be completed, the fallacy of Korolevís N1 design would be apparent to all. Korolevís N1 plans were also reviewed and approved at the meeting.

    Over the two days, Khruschev witnessed five launches of rockets by Korolev, Yangel, and Chelomei, all of them successful. Gagarin and Belyayev explained the Vykhod spacecraft to him, and Leonov donned a spacesuit and demonstrated how he would exit into open space form the inflatable airlock and return thereafter. All went very well.

    This was the last time Khrushchev saw the chief designers of the Soviet rocket industry. Despite his support for them not one of them visited him in his retirement.


1964 September 24 - . 05:56 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC90/20. LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 686 km (426 mi). Summary: Demonstration launch witnessed by Khrushchev..

1964 October 2 - . 03:35 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC90/20. LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 681 km (423 mi).

1964 October 13 - . LV Family: Proton; UR-200.
  • Khrushchev ousted from power. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei; Khrushchev. Spacecraft: Kosmoplan; OGCh; IS-A; US-P; US-A; LK-1. Summary: Brezhnev faction assumes control of Politubro. Brezhnev was adverse to all projects Khrushchev had supported. These included those of Chelomei and his OKB-52..

1964 October 20 - . 02:29 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC90/20. LV Family: UR-200. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.
  • State trials missile test - . Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Apogee: 1,129 km (701 mi).

1965 August 24 - . LV Family: Tsiklon; UR-200.
  • Development of R-36-O and Tsyklon launch vehicles authorised - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei; Keldysh; Yangel. Spacecraft: IS-A; US-A; OGCh. Decree 'On Creation of an R-36 Based Carrier Rocket for Launching the IS and US KA--start of work on an R-36-based launch vehicle for the IS and US programs' was issued. After Khrushchev was ousted from power, Chelomei's projects were examined by an expert commission under M V Keldysh. It was found that Yangelís R-36 rocket was superior to Chelomeiís UR-200. The UR-200 was cancelled; the IS and US satellites would be launched by the R-36 11K67. The Tsyklon 2 definitive operational version replaced the 11K67 launch vehicle from 1969.

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