Encyclopedia Astronautica
Kosmos 2



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MR-12 rocket
MR-12 sounding rocket and R-12 IRBM at Kaluga
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Kosmos LV
Credit: © Mark Wade
Ukrainian orbital launch vehicle. In 1960 the Soviet government decreed development of a lightweight launch vehicle for launch of payloads not requiring R-7 family of boosters. A modification of the R-12 IRBM was selected as the first stage; a new high-performance second stage was developed using a unique Lox/UDMH propellant combination. After two failures, the first successful flight was on March 16, 1962.

Serious consideration of designs for a Soviet light orbital launch vehicle began in the mid-fifties. At the end of 1956 Korolev studied a scientific launch vehicle based on an R-5 first stage and R-11 second stage. He concluded that it could only be used as a sounding rocket, that a new third stage would have to be developed for the combination to have orbital capability.

Yangel studied use of either the R-5M or the R-12 with various 'off the shelf' missile stages developed for surface-to-air missiles, but found that no such combination could reach orbit. Use of the R-12 in parallel stages was also possible, but the problem of in-flight ignition of the core stage was one not solved in the Soviet Union until 1955. Solid rockets available in the Soviet Union at that time had too low a specific impulse and too high a mass fraction to be useful in a satellite launcher. The only solution was a redesign of the R-12 to optimise it for the satellite launch role, and a small, new-design upper stage.

Korolev was anxioius to move on to manned space exploration and was not interested in developing small launch vehicles. He was glad for Yangel to pursue this. However design work at Yangel's bureau was limited and desultory, since there was no outside support for the project until after the worldwide sensation following the launch of the first Sputnik in late 1957. But by then development of Yangel's R-16 ICBM had priority.

A key element in the development of a two-stage space launch vehicle was the solution of in-flight separation and ignition of the second stage following burn-out of the first stage. Yangel's R-16 ICBM was fitted with thrusters on the interstage between the first and second stages to provide thrust between shut-down of the first stage and ignition of the second. This kept the propellants in the tanks and the engine under G-force; there was no coasting period. The solution already adopted for some surface-to-air missiles - a 'hot start' where the second stage ignited while the first stage still was firing - was not adopted due to performance reasons.

Start-up of a rocket stage in zero-G was not solved until Korolev's Luna upper stage for the R-7. This was developed in response to a 20 March 1958 government resolution requiring the first launch of a Soviet probe to the moon within a year. In this period Glushko was developing the RD-109 engine for a high performance R-7 third stage. This burned liquid oxygen and UDMH propellants, achieving the astonishing specific impulse of 350 seconds. This would potentially double the payload compared to a liquid oxygen/kerosene stage. But the new technology engine was considered too much of a risk by Korolev. It also used the toxic hydrazine fuel he detested on principal. So on 10 October 1958 he gave Kosberg the task of developing a third stage engine for the R-7 derived from the R-7 first stage verniers and burning his preferred liquid oxygen/kerosene propellants. Meanwhile Glushko pursued further development of the RD-109, which used a 75 atmosphere chamber pressure and a closed engine cycle. By mid-1958 he had encountered various knotty problems in chamber cooling and the gas generator. It was decided to stop all work on the RD-109 in order to concentrate on development of the engines for the R-14 IRBM and R-16 ICBM. The estimated date for completion of development slipped to the end of 1959, too late for it to be used for the Vostok lunar launches. However it could be ready for the Vostok/Zenit manned and reconnaissance spacecraft orbital flights.

Development of the engine on tests stands was finally completed in January 1959, with runs in a 90 cubic metre vacuum chamber at a pressure of 1 mm Hg. The RD-109 that finally emerged had a chamber pressure of 76 to 70 atm and a specific impulse of 334 seconds. The conventional liquid oxygen/kerosene engine that Kosberg had developed as a replacement in the Luna probes (the RD-0105/RO-5) had a specific impulse of 316 seconds. Use of the RD-109 in the Luna stage would have increased payload to 424 kg as opposed to 373 kg with the RD-0105. But for use on the piloted Vostok booster, Korolev refused to consider using UDMH as a fuel due to its toxicity. Therefore he opted to further develop the Kosberg engine for the Vostok, leaving the RD-109 an engine without an application.

However Yangel saw that the engine would be a good match for a high-performance upper stage application. Therefore Glushko agreed to continue to refine the RD-109, now designated the RD-119. The new engine had many improvements in the chamber and nozzle profile and could run at higher chamber temperatures through the use of double-shell wall cooling. The result was a specific impulse of 352 seconds. The engine was run at up to 260 seconds firing durations as opposed to the 150 seconds rated ability.

A government resolution of 8 August 1960 authorised Yangel to develop the 63S1 light orbital launch vehicle for launch of payloads not requiring the R-7 family of boosters and to produce a series of ten for launch of small satellites. The booster had to use the existing R-12 IRBM as a first stage, the existing Mayak launch silo as a launcher, and an existing engine for the upper stage. Since the R-12 was built for silo launch (it could not be held on a surface pad exposed to the elements), the existing R-12 silo 'Mayak-2' at Kapustin Yar was adapted. A swing-back shelter above the top of silo covered the second stage and payload during launch preparations.

The 63S1 was used through May 1966 for a total of 40 launches, of which 12 were failures. The Mayak complex was built for missile launches and was not durable enough for repeated space launches. A space launch complex had to be a virtual 'launch chimney' and endure the flames of many launches and accomodate many different payloads. Therefore the Mayak complex was abandoned and the Voskhod and Raduga complexes were designed for later R-12 and R-14 derived space launchers. The same military cadres designed and built the R-7 Angara complex and missile sites.

Failures: 33. Success Rate: 93.85%. First Fail Date: 1959-08-13. Last Fail Date: 1974-07-11. Launch data is: incomplete.

Status: Retired 1977.
First Launch: 1957.06.22.
Last Launch: 1977.06.18.
Number: 537 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Project 581 Chinese technology satellite. Study 1959. First Chinese satellite project, with the objective of placing a satellite in orbit by 1959. More...
  • DS-1 Ukrainian technology satellite. 2 launches, 1961.10.27 (DS-1 s/n 1) and 1961.12.21 (DS-1 s/n 2). Technology test version of the original DS light satellite design. Primary mission was to test launch vehicle. More...
  • DS-2 Ukrainian technology satellite. 2 launches, 1962.03.16 (Cosmos 1) to 1964.12.01 (DS-2 s/n 2). More...
  • 1MS Russian technology satellite. 2 launches, 1962.04.06 (Cosmos 2) to 1962.10.25 (1MS). Early Kosmos launcher payloads of unknown purpose, possibly from Korolev OKB. More...
  • 2MS Russian technology satellite. 2 launches, 1962.04.24 (Cosmos 3) to 1962.05.28 (Cosmos 5). Early Kosmos launcher payloads of unknown purpose, possibly from Korolev OKB. More...
  • DS-P1 Ukrainian military target satellite. 4 launches, 1962.06.30 (Cosmos 6) to 1964.02.27 (Cosmos 25). Prototype ABM radar target; supported developmental experiments for ABM systems. More...
  • DS-K-8 Ukrainian earth micrometeoroid satellite. One launch, 1962.08.18, Cosmos 8. Detected meteoroid flux in near-earth space and carried unspecified military research equipment. More...
  • DS-A1 Ukrainian navigation technology satellite. 7 launches, 1962.10.20 (Cosmos 11) to 1965.07.02 (Cosmos 70). More...
  • Omega Russian technology satellite. 2 launches, 1963.04.13 (Cosmos 14) to 1963.12.13 (Cosmos 23). Early Cosmos satellite, evidently using the Yuzhnoye DS satellite bus. Payload developed by the VNIIEM to test electric gyrodyne orientation systems. More...
  • DS-MT Ukrainian technology satellite. 3 launches, 1963.06.01 (DS-MT s/n 1) to 1964.12.10 (Cosmos 51). Payload developed by the VNIIEM to test electric gyrodyne orientation systems. Also studied variations in the intensity of cosmic rays. More...
  • DS-MG Ukrainian technology satellite. 2 launches, 1964.03.18 (Cosmos 26) to 1964.10.24 (Cosmos 49). Payload developed by VNIIEM to test electric gyrodyne orientation systems. Also studied magnetosphere of the earth. More...
  • DS-P1-Yu Ukrainian military target satellite. 79 launches, 1964.07.30 (Cosmos 36) to 1976.08.26 (Cosmos 850). Development of systems for air defense and the control of outer space. More...
  • Strela-1 Russian military store-dump communications satellite. 29 launches, 1964.08.18 (Cosmos 38) to 1965.09.18 (Cosmos 90). More...
  • DS-U2-V Ukrainian military technology satellite. 4 launches, 1965.10.19 (Cosmos 93) to 1968.02.20 (Cosmos 202). Military technology development satellite - mission still classified. More...
  • DS-U2-M Ukrainian technology satellite. 2 launches, 1965.11.26 (Cosmos 97) to 1967.03.03 (Cosmos 145). Development tests of atomic clocks. More...
  • DS-K-40 Ukrainian communications technology satellite. 2 launches, 1965.12.28 (DS-K-40 s/n 1) and 1966.02.21 (DS-K-40 s/n 2). Development of systems for the later operational Tselina satellites. More...
  • DS-P1-I Ukrainian military target satellite. 19 launches, 1966.01.25 (Cosmos 106) to 1977.06.18 (Cosmos 919). Operational radar target for the ABM forces. More...
  • DS-U1-G Ukrainian earth ionosphere satellite. 2 launches, 1966.02.11 (Cosmos 108) to 1967.12.19 (Cosmos 196). Studied the relationship between variations in the upper atmosphere and solar activity. More...
  • DS-U2-I Ukrainian earth ionosphere satellite. 3 launches, 1966.05.24 (Cosmos 119) to 1968.12.14 (Cosmos 259). Studied the influence of the ionosphere on passing VLF radio waves. More...
  • DS-U2-MP Ukrainian earth micrometeoroid satellite. 2 launches, 1966.12.12 (Cosmos 135) to 1967.06.05 (Cosmos 163). Studied cosmic dust particles in near-Earth space. More...
  • DS-U2-D Ukrainian earth magnetosphere satellite. 2 launches, 1966.12.21 (Cosmos 137) to 1968.04.26 (Cosmos 219). Studied charged particle flows. More...
  • DS-MO Ukrainian technology satellite. 2 launches, 1967.03.21 (Cosmos 149) to 1970.01.16 (Cosmos 320). Used in development of aerodynamic systems for stabilization and orientation of spacecraft. Also carried military optical equipment experiments. More...
  • DS-U3-S Ukrainian solar satellite. 2 launches, 1967.06.16 (Cosmos 166) to 1968.07.05 (Cosmos 230). Specialized orbital solar observatory for measuring solar rays in multiple spectral zones. More...
  • DS-U1-Ya Ukrainian earth magnetosphere satellite. 2 launches, 1968.03.06 (DS-U1-Ya s/n 1) and 1968.06.12 (Cosmos 225). Studied charged particle flows and cosmic rays. More...
  • DS-U1-A Ukrainian earth ionosphere satellite. One launch, 1968.04.19, Cosmos 215. Studied the optical characteristics of the atmosphere. Radiation observatory; 8 telescopes. More...
  • DS-U2-GK Ukrainian earth magnetosphere satellite. 2 launches, 1968.12.20 (Cosmos 261) to 1970.06.13 (Cosmos 348). Conducted complex geophysical studies of the upper atmosphere. Air density, auroral investigations. More...
  • DS-U2-GF Ukrainian solar satellite. One launch, 1968.12.26, Cosmos 262. Conducted heliophysical studies. More...
  • DS-U3-IK Ukrainian earth magnetosphere satellite. 6 launches, 1969.10.14 (Intercosmos 1) to 1976.07.26 (Intercosmos 16). Measurements of the sun; used for Interkosmos launches. More...
  • DS-U1-IK Ukrainian earth ionosphere satellite. 2 launches, 1969.12.25 (Intercosmos 2) to 1972.12.01 (Intercosmos 8). Studies ionosphere of the earth; version used for Intercosmos international launches. More...
  • DS-U2-MG Ukrainian earth magnetosphere satellite. 2 launches, 1970.01.20 (Cosmos 321) to 1970.08.10 (Cosmos 356). Studied the Earth's magnetic poles. More...
  • DS-U1-R Ukrainian earth atmosphere satellite. One launch, 1970.04.24, Cosmos 335. Studied spectral range of the UF. More...
  • DS-U2-IK Ukrainian earth ionosphere satellite. 7 launches, 1970.08.07 (Intercosmos 3) to 1975.12.11 (Intercosmos 14). Studied charged particle flows and the ionosphere; version used for Intercosmos international launches. More...

See also
  • Kosmos 2 In 1960 the Soviet government decreed development of a lightweight launch vehicle for launch of payloads not requiring R-7 family of boosters. A modification of the R-12 IRBM was selected as the first stage; a new high-performance second stage was developed using a unique Lox/UDMH propellant combination. After two failures, the first successful flight was on March 16, 1962. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Yuzhnoye Ukrainian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Yangel Design Bureau, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. 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.
  • Isakowitz, Steven J,, International Reference to Space Launch Systems Second Edition, AIAA, Washington DC, 1991 (succeeded by 2000 edition).
  • Zak, Anatoly, "Cosmos Launcher", Spaceflight, 1996, Volume 38, page 416.
  • Semenov, Yu. P., S P Korolev Space Corporation Energia, RKK Energia, 1994.
  • Agapov, V, "K zapusku pervovo ISZ serii 'DS'", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1997, Issue 6.
  • "AUOSi prodolzhayut rabotu", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1995, Issue 21, page 43.
  • Siddiqi, Asif A, The Soviet Space Race With Apollo, University Press of Florida, 2003.
  • Pervov, Mikhail, Raketnoye Oruzhiye RVSN, Violanta, Moscow, 1999..
  • Karpenko, A V, Utkin, A F and Popov,A D, Otechestvenniye strategischeskiye raketnoye kompleks, Sankt-Peterburg: Nevskii bastion; Gangut 1999..
  • "Personal communication", Personal communication from family member or person directly involved with the article..

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