Encyclopedia Astronautica
Molniya 8K78



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Molniya LV
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Molniya LV
Credit: © Mark Wade
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R-7 aft end
Credit: © Mark Wade
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R-7 vs Proton
R-7 / Proton LVs Cutaway
Credit: © Mark Wade
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R-7 Cutaways
Credit: © Mark Wade
Russian orbital launch vehicle. Four stage derivative of the R-7 ICBM developed on a crash-program basis in 1960 for Soviet lunar and planetary deep space probe missions. The third stage found later use in the Voskhod and Soyuz launchers. By the 1970's mature versions of the launch vehicle were used almost entirely for launch of Molniya communications satellites and Oko missile early warning spacecraft into elliptical, 12-hour earth orbits.

On 15 January 1960 Korolev signed the order for development of a four stage rocket based on the R-7. The draft project was completed on 10 May 1960. The original design was intended for launch of unmanned probes toward Mars, but it had universal uses.

The first two stages - the four strap-ons of the first stage and the second core stage - were based on the R-7 ICBM, but reinforced for the heavier upper stages.

On aerodynamic grounds the new third stage had to follow closely the diameter of the Vostok third stage. Therefore it could only be increased from the Vostok's 2.58 m to 2.66 m diameter. The new third stage used engines developed for the R-9 ICBM. Although first developed for the Monlniya four-stage booster, it later would be used with modifications in the three-stage Soyuz launch vehicle.

The fourth stage would have to restart in weightless conditions in an earth parking orbit, presenting a number of problems. It needed to be equipped with an orientation and stabilization system (SOIS) and a jettisonable engine section (BOZ). The BOZ had to start in weightlessness provide a low thrust to settle the propellants in the main stage so that the main engine could ignite. The stage was based on the existing Vostok third stage, with two toroidal tanks of 600 mm cross section, and a single S1-5400 Lox/kerosene engine.

Payload: 900 kg (1,980 lb) to a trans-Mars trajectory. Failures: 11. First Fail Date: 1960-10-10. Last Fail Date: 1965-04-10 in 1985 dollars. Flyaway Unit Cost $: 39.000 million.

Stage Data - Molniya 8K78

  • Stage 0. 4 x Molniya 8K78-0. Gross Mass: 43,400 kg (95,600 lb). Empty Mass: 3,800 kg (8,300 lb). Thrust (vac): 995.300 kN (223,752 lbf). Isp: 314 sec. Burn time: 119 sec. Isp(sl): 257 sec. Diameter: 2.68 m (8.79 ft). Span: 2.68 m (8.79 ft). Length: 19.00 m (62.00 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: RD-107-8D74K. Status: Out of Production.
  • Stage 1. 1 x Molniya 8K78-1. Gross Mass: 100,500 kg (221,500 lb). Empty Mass: 6,800 kg (14,900 lb). Thrust (vac): 941.000 kN (211,545 lbf). Isp: 315 sec. Burn time: 301 sec. Isp(sl): 248 sec. Diameter: 2.99 m (9.80 ft). Span: 2.60 m (8.50 ft). Length: 28.00 m (91.00 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: RD-108-8D75K. Status: Out of Production.
  • Stage 2. 1 x Molniya 8K78-2. Gross Mass: 24,300 kg (53,500 lb). Empty Mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb). Thrust (vac): 294.000 kN (66,093 lbf). Isp: 330 sec. Burn time: 200 sec. Isp(sl): 0.0000 sec. Diameter: 2.56 m (8.39 ft). Span: 2.56 m (8.39 ft). Length: 2.84 m (9.31 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: RD-0108. Status: Out of Production.
  • Stage 3. 1 x Molniya 8K78-3. Gross Mass: 5,100 kg (11,200 lb). Empty Mass: 1,080 kg (2,380 lb). Thrust (vac): 65.410 kN (14,705 lbf). Isp: 340 sec. Burn time: 192 sec. Isp(sl): 0.0000 sec. Diameter: 2.56 m (8.39 ft). Span: 2.56 m (8.39 ft). Length: 2.84 m (9.31 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: S1.5400. Status: Out of Production.

AKA: Molniya; R-7A; SL-6; 8K74; A-2-e.
Status: Retired 1965.
Gross mass: 303,500 kg (669,100 lb).
Payload: 900 kg (1,980 lb).
Height: 40.00 m (131.00 ft).
Diameter: 2.99 m (9.80 ft).
Thrust: 3,999.93 kN (899,220 lbf).
First Launch: 1960.10.10.
Last Launch: 1965.12.03.
Number: 20 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Mars 1M Russian Mars flyby probe. 2 launches, 1960.10.10 (Mars probe 1M s/n 1 failure.) to 1960.10.14 (Mars probe 1M s/n 2 failure.). Mars probe intended to photograph Mars on a flyby trajectory. More...
  • Venera 1VA Russian Venus probe. 2 launches, 1961.02.12 (Sputnik 7) to (Venera 1). The 1VA probe, the first spacecraft sent towards Venus, consisted of a cylindrical body topped by a dome, totaling 2 meters in height. More...
  • Mars 2MV-1 Russian Venus probe. 2 launches, 1962.08.25 (Sputnik 19) to 1962.09.01 (Sputnik 20). More...
  • Mars 2MV-4 Russian Mars flyby probe. 2 launches, 1962.10.24 (Sputnik 22) to 1962.11.01 (Mars 1). Mars probe intended to photograph Mars on a flyby trajectory. More...
  • Mars 2MV-3 Russian Venus probe. One launch, 1962.11.04, Sputnik 24. Mars probe intended to make a soft landing on Mars. More...
  • Luna E-6 Russian lunar lander. 12 launches, 1963.01.04 (Sputnik 25) to 1966.01.31 (Luna 9). E-6 probes were designed by Korolev's OKB-1 with the objective of making the first soft landing on the moon and beaming back pictures of the surface. More...
  • Venera 3MV-1A Russian Venus probe. 2 launches, 1963.11.11 (Cosmos 21) to 1964.02.19 (3MV-1A). More...
  • Molniya-1 Russian military communications satellite. 37 launches, 1964.06.04 (Molniya-1 s/n 2 Failure) to 1975.09.02 (Molniya 1-31). This was the first Soviet communications satellite, using the twelve-hour elliptical orbit later dubbed a 'Molniya orbit'. More...
  • Mars 3MV-4A Russian Mars flyby probe. 2 launches, 1964.11.30 (Zond 2) to 1965.07.18 (Zond 3). Mars probe intended to photograph Mars on a flyby trajectory. Elaboration of station systems and scientific research in interplanetary space. More...
  • Molniya-1T Russian military communications satellite. 63 launches, 1976.01.22 (Molniya) to 2004.02.18 (Molniya-1T). This was a modernized Molniya-1 communications satellite with the 'Beta' retransmitter which began flight tests in 1970. More...

Associated Engines
  • RD-0108 Kosberg Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 297.9 kN. Voskhod 11A57, Molniya 8K78 stage 3. Isp=326s. First flight 1960. More...
  • RD-107-8D74K Glushko Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 996 kN. Developed in 1957-1960. Used in strap-ons for Molniya 8K78, R-7A 8K74, Voskhod 11A57, Vostok 8A92, Vostok 8A92M. Isp=313s. Fuel T-1 or RG-1 kerosene. First flight 1959. More...
  • RD-108-8D75K Glushko Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 941 kN. Molniya 8K78-1, R-7A 8K74-1, Voskhod 11A57-1, Vostok 8A92-1, Vostok 8A92M-1. Diameter is per chamber. Isp=315s. First flight 1959. More...
  • S1.5400 Korolev Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 66.7 kN for Molniya 8K78 Stage 3. Flew 1960-1965. Isp=340s. Designed by Korolev; passed to Isayev for production. Began a series of engines leading through the 8D726 for GR-1 to the Block D for the N1 and Proton. More...

See also
  • R-7 The world's first ICBM became the most often used and most reliable launch vehicle in history. The original core+four strap-on booster missile had a small third stage added to produce the Vostok launch vehicle, with a payload of 5 metric tons. Addition of a larger third stage produced the Voskhod/Soyuz vehicle, with a payload over 6 metric tons. Using this with a fourth stage, the resulting Molniya booster placed communications satellites and early lunar and planetary probes in higher energy trajectories. By the year 2000 over 1,628 had been launched with an unmatched success rate of 97.5% for production models. Improved models providing commercial launch services for international customers entered service in the new millenium, and a new launch pad at Kourou was to be inaugurated in 2011. It appeared that the R-7 could easily still be in service 70 years after its first launch. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Korolev Russian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Korolev Design Bureau, Kaliningrad, Russia. More...

Associated Programs
  • Luna Soviet lunar probe series. Lunas were the first manmade objects to attain of escape velocity; to impact on the moon; to photograph the far side of the moon; to soft land on the moon; to retrieve and return lunar surface samples to the earth; and to deploy a lunar rover on the moon's surface. More...
  • Mars Soviet Mars probes were intended to photograph Mars on flyby trajectories, followed by Mars orbit, landing, and Phobos reconnaisance missions. Essentially all of the series failed. More...
  • Venera Russian series of spacecraft that explored the planet Venus. Venera spacecraft made the first soft landings on the surface of Venus and returned the first images from the surface. More...
  • Vostok World's first manned spacecraft, it was later developed into the Voskhod, and numerous versions of Zenit recoverable reconnaisance, materials, and biological research satellites which remained in service into the 21st Century. 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...

Associated Stages
  • Molniya 8K78-2 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 24,300/2,000 kg. Thrust 294.00 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 330 seconds. More...
  • Molniya 8K78M-3 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 6,660/1,160 kg. Thrust 66.60 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 340 seconds. Standardized improved version for Molniya-type communications satellite payloads. More...
  • R-7A 8K74-1 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 101,700/7,300 kg. Thrust 940.40 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 315 seconds. More...
  • Vostok 8A92-0 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 43,300/3,700 kg. Thrust 995.30 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 313 seconds. More...

Molniya 8K78 Chronology


1960 January 15 - . LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78.
  • Molniya 8K78 design begins - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev. Summary: Korolev signed the order for development of a four stage rocket based on the R-7..

1960 May 10 - . LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78.
  • Molniya 8K78 draft project completed - . Nation: USSR. Summary: The original design was intended for launch of unmanned probes toward Mars, but it had universal uses..

1960 June 4 - . LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78.
  • Molniya launch vehicle and initial Vostok flights approved. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Vostok. Summary: Central Committee and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 587-238 'On the Realisation of the Plan to Master Cosmic Space in 1960 and the First Half of 1961 -creation of a four-stage launcher for interplanetary missions and schedule for the Korabl-Sputniks'.

1960 October 10 - . 14:27 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 L1-4M. FAILURE: At T+300.9 sec, the launcher went out of control and the destruct command was given at T+324.2 sec - the engine of Stage 3 cut off after 13.32 s of burning.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Mars probe 1M s/n 1 failure. - . Payload: 1M s/n 1. Mass: 640 kg (1,410 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Mars. Class: Mars. Type: Mars probe. Spacecraft: Mars 1M. Decay Date: 1960-10-10 . COSPAR: F601010A. This was the Soviet Union's first attempt at a planetary probe. Mars probe intended to photograph Mars on a flyby trajectory. The possible cause lay in resonance vibrations of upper stages during Stage 2 burning, which led to break of contact in the command potentiometer of the gyrohorizon. As a result a pitch control malfunctioned and the launcher began to veer off the desired ascent profile. On exceeding 7 degrees of veering in pitch, the control system failed. The upper stage with the payload reached an altitude of 120 km before burning up on re-entry into the atmosphere above East Siberia.

1960 October 14 - . 13:51 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 L1-5M. FAILURE: At T+290 sec Stage 3's engine 8D715K failed to ignite because a LOX leak froze kerosene in the fuel inlet to the pump on the launch pad due to a faulty LOX valve seal.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Mars probe 1M s/n 2 failure. - . Payload: 1M s/n 2. Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Mars. Class: Mars. Type: Mars probe. Spacecraft: Mars 1M. Decay Date: 1960-10-14 . COSPAR: F601014A. Summary: Mars probe intended to photograph Mars on a flyby trajectory. This was the Soviet Union's second attempt at a planetary probe. The upper stages and payload broke up on re-entry into the atmosphere..

1961 January 18 - . LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78.
  • Venera preparations - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Mars 2MV-2. The VVS contingent arrives at Tyuratam at 23:45 aboard an Il-14 for the Venera launch. Chertok is in charge of launch preparations. Due to various radio system problems, there can be no launch until 26 January. The death of Nedelin and the others still hangs over the cosmodrome.

1961 February 1 - . LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78.
  • Venera rolled out to pad - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Mars 2MV-2. Summary: The booster is 5 to 7 m taller than the Vostok. One gyroscope has to be replaced on the pad. Fuelling begins at 23:30. At 02:00 the launch is scrubbed due to continuing gyro problems. Next attempt is set for 4 February..

1961 February 4 - . 01:18 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 L1-7. FAILURE: At T+531 sec, the fourth vernier chamber of Stage 3's 8D715K engine exploded because the LOX cut-off valve had not closed as scheduled and LOX flowed into the hot chamber.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Sputnik 7 - . Payload: 2MV-2 s/n 1. Mass: 6,483 kg (14,292 lb). Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev; Glushko. Agency: RVSN. Program: Venera. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Venera 1VA. Decay Date: 1961-02-26 . USAF Sat Cat: 71 . COSPAR: 1961-Beta-1. Apogee: 318 km (197 mi). Perigee: 212 km (131 mi). Inclination: 64.9000 deg. Period: 89.80 min. The escape stage entered parking orbit but the main engine cut off just 0.8 s after ignition due to cavitation in the oxidiser pump and pump failure.. The payload attached together with escape stage remained in Earth orbit.

    The booster launched into a beautiful clear sky, and it could be followed by the naked eye for four minutes after launch. The third stage reached earth parking orbit, but the fourth stage didn't ignite. It was at first believed a radio antenna did not deploy from the interior of the stage, and it did not receive the ignition commands. Therefore the Soviet Union has successfully orbited a record eight-tonne 'Big Zero' into orbit. The State Commission meets two hours after the launch, and argues whether to make the launch public or not, and how to announce it. Glushko proposes the following language for a public announcement: 'with the objective of developing larger spacecraft, a payload was successfully orbited which provided on the first revolution the necessary telemetry'. Korolev and the others want to minimize any statement, to prevent speculation that it was a reconnaissance satellite or a failed manned launch. Kamanin's conclusion - the rocket didn't reach Venus, but it did demonstrated a new rocket that could deliver an 8 tonne thermonuclear warhead anywhere on the planet. The commission heads back to Moscow.


1961 February 12 - . 00:34 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 L1-6B.
  • Venera 1 - . Payload: 1VA s/n 2, Venera 1 (Sputnik 8, AMS). Mass: 644 kg (1,419 lb). Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev. Agency: RVSN. Program: Venera. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Venera 1VA. USAF Sat Cat: 80 . COSPAR: 1961-Gamma-1. Venera 1 was the first spacecraft to fly by Venus. The 6424 kg assembly was launched first into a 229 x 282 km parking orbit, then boosted toward Venus by the restartable Molniya upper stage. On 19 February, 7 days after launch, at a distance of about two million km from Earth, contact with the spacecraft was lost. On May 19 and 20, 1961, Venera 1 passed within 100,000 km of Venus and entered a heliocentric orbit. This failure resulted in only the following objectives being met: checking of methods of setting space objects on an interplanetary course; checking of extra-long-range communications with and control of the space station; more accurate calculation of the dimension of the solar system; a number of physical investigations in space. Additional Details: here....

1962 August 25 - . 02:18 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 T103-12. FAILURE: At T+60 min 50 sec one of the four solid motors of the escape stage's BOZ unit did not fire. The resulting asymmetric torque caused the stage to lose correct attitude and three seconds after ignition of the main engine S1.5400A1 it began to tumble.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Sputnik 19 - . Payload: 2MV-1 s/n 1. Mass: 890 kg (1,960 lb). Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Kuznetsova; Ponomaryova; Solovyova; Tereshkova; Yerkina. Agency: RVSN. Program: Venera; Vostok. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Mars 2MV-1. Decay Date: 1962-08-28 . USAF Sat Cat: 371 . COSPAR: 1962-A-Pi-1. Apogee: 252 km (156 mi). Perigee: 173 km (107 mi). Inclination: 64.9000 deg. Period: 88.70 min. Attempt to launch a probe towards Mars. The launch went well, but the fourth stage motor burnt for only 45s of the planned 240s. The stage remained in Earth orbit. However Kamanin notes that it was good that the launch of the basic vehicle was a success - it gave the visiting female cosmonauts confidence in the rocket they will have to ride.

1962 September 1 - . 02:12 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 T103-13. FAILURE: At T+ 61 min 30 sec the fuel valve did not open.; the ignition command was blocked from going to the main engine of Stage 4.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Sputnik 20 - . Payload: 2MV-1 s/n 2. Mass: 6,500 kg (14,300 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Venera. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Mars 2MV-1. Decay Date: 1962-09-06 . USAF Sat Cat: 381 . COSPAR: 1962-A-Tau-1. Apogee: 246 km (152 mi). Perigee: 185 km (114 mi). Inclination: 64.7000 deg. Period: 88.80 min.

1962 September 12 - . 00:59 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 T103-14. FAILURE: At T+531 sec, the fourth vernier chamber of Stage 3's 8D715K engine exploded because the LOX cut-off valve had not closed as scheduled and LOX flowed into the hot chamber.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Sputnik 21 - . Payload: 2MV-2 s/n 1. Mass: 6,500 kg (14,300 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Venera. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Mars 2MV-2. Decay Date: 1962-09-14 . USAF Sat Cat: 389 . COSPAR: 1962-A-Phi-1. Apogee: 218 km (135 mi). Perigee: 179 km (111 mi). Inclination: 64.9000 deg. Period: 88.40 min. Summary: The escape stage entered parking orbit but the main engine cut off just 0.8 s after ignition due to cavitation in the oxidiser pump and pump failure..

1962 October 24 - . 17:55 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 T103-15. FAILURE: 16 seconds after ignition of Stage 4, Block L's S1.5400A1 engine exploded. A lubricant leak resulted in the jamming of a shaft in the turbopump gearbox and break up of the turbine.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Sputnik 22 - . Payload: 2MV-4 s/n 3. Mass: 6,500 kg (14,300 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Mars. Class: Mars. Type: Mars probe. Spacecraft: Mars 2MV-4. Decay Date: 1962-10-29 . USAF Sat Cat: 443 . COSPAR: 1962-B-Iota-1. Apogee: 260 km (160 mi). Perigee: 202 km (125 mi). Inclination: 65.1000 deg. Period: 89.10 min. Mars probe intended to photograph Mars on a flyby trajectory. The spacecraft broke into many pieces, some of which apparently remained in Earth orbit for a few days. This occurred during the Cuban missile crisis and was picked up by U.S. military radar installations, who originally feared it might by the start of a Soviet nuclear attack.

1962 November 1 - . 16:14 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 T103-16.
  • Mars 1 - . Payload: 2MV-4 s/n 4 / Sputnik 23. Mass: 894 kg (1,970 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Mars. Class: Mars. Type: Mars probe. Spacecraft: Mars 2MV-4. USAF Sat Cat: 450 . COSPAR: 1962-B-Nu-3. Mars probe intended to photograph Mars on a flyby trajectory. Launched from Sputnik 23 in a 157 x 238 km, 65 degree parking orbit. Sixty-one radio transmissions were held in which a large amount of data was collected. On March 21, 1963, when the spacecraft was at a distance of 106 million km communications ceased, possibly due to a malfunction in the spacecraft orientation system. Mars 1 closest approach to Mars occurred on June 19, 1963 at a distance of approximately 193,000 km, after which the spacecraft entered a heliocentric orbit. Announced mission: Prolonged exploration of outer space during flight to the planet Mars; establishment of inter-planetary radio communications; photgraphing of the planet Mars and subsquent radio-transmission to Earth of the photographs of the surface of Mars thus obtained.

1962 November 4 - . 15:35 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 T103-17. FAILURE: After T+260 sec, a malfunction of the pressurization system of the central sustainer led to cavitation in the oxidizer pipeline and LOX pump, followed at T+292s by the fuel pump.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Sputnik 24 - . Payload: 2MV-3 s/n 1. Mass: 890 kg (1,960 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Mars. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Mars 2MV-3. Decay Date: 1962-11-05 . USAF Sat Cat: 451 . COSPAR: 1962-B-Xi-1. Apogee: 170 km (100 mi). Perigee: 170 km (100 mi). Inclination: 64.8000 deg. Period: 87.90 min. Mars probe intended to make a soft landing on Mars. Although the escape stage and payload reached orbit, the strong third stage vibrations shook a fuse loose from its mount in the main nozzle of the escape stage Block L's engine. The engine could not be ignited and remained in Earth orbit. It decayed about two months after insertion.

1963 November 11 - . 06:23 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 G103-18. FAILURE: During unpowered coast in parking orbit the escape stage Block L lost stable attitude. Engine ignition occurred in an incorrect direction.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Cosmos 21 - . Payload: 3MV-1A s/n 1. Mass: 890 kg (1,960 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: Korolev. Program: Mars. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Venera 3MV-1A. Decay Date: 1963-11-14 . USAF Sat Cat: 687 . COSPAR: 1963-044A. Apogee: 231 km (143 mi). Perigee: 192 km (119 mi). Inclination: 64.8000 deg. Period: 88.70 min. Summary: The stage with payload remained in Earth orbit as Cosmos-51 and burnt up on re-entry..

1964 June 4 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 R103-34. FAILURE: At T+104 sec the tank draining of core Block A failed due to jamming of the servo-motored throttle and break down of the motor's circuit The launcher was destroyed on impact downrange from the pad.. Failed Stage: 0.
  • Molniya-1 s/n 2 Failure - . Payload: Molniya-1 s/n 2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-1. COSPAR: F640604A. Summary: Unsuccessful first attempt to launch Molniya communications satellite..

1964 August 22 - . 07:12 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 R103-36.
  • Cosmos 41 - . Payload: Molniya-1. Mass: 1,500 kg (3,300 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: Korolev. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-1. Decay Date: 2004-04-09 . USAF Sat Cat: 869 . COSPAR: 1964-049D. Apogee: 39,169 km (24,338 mi). Perigee: 1,023 km (635 mi). Inclination: 68.4000 deg. Period: 714.50 min. Successful launch of first Soviet communications satellite. This is the second Molniya launch attempt. (the first was a launch failure). The failure of the antennae to deploy means the spacecraft can only be tested in a limited manner and cannot be used for the planned relay of television.

1964 November 30 - . 13:12 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78.
  • Zond 2 - . Payload: 3MV-4A s/n 2. Mass: 890 kg (1,960 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: Korolev. Program: Mars. Class: Mars. Type: Mars probe. Spacecraft: Mars 3MV-4A. USAF Sat Cat: 945 . COSPAR: 1964-078C. Mars probe intended to photograph Mars on a flyby trajectory. Zond 2 was launched from an earth parking orbit towards Mars to test space-borne systems and to carry out scientific investigations. Zond 2 carried six electric rocket engines of plasma type that served as actuators of the attitude control system. The communications system failed during April 1965. The spacecraft flew by Mars on August 6, 1965, at a distance of 1500 km.

1965 April 10 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 R103-26. FAILURE: Stage 3's engine 8D715K failed due to depressurization of the nitrogen pipeline of the LOX tank pressurization system of Block I.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Luna failure - stage 3 engine failure. - . Payload: E-6 s/n 8. Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Decay Date: 1965-04-10 . COSPAR: F650410A. Summary: The upper stages fell apart on re-entry into the atmosphere...

1965 April 23 - . 01:55 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 U103-35.
  • Molniya 1-01 - . Payload: Molniya-1. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-1. Decay Date: 1979-08-16 . USAF Sat Cat: 1324 . COSPAR: 1965-030A. Apogee: 39,300 km (24,400 mi). Perigee: 538 km (334 mi). Inclination: 65.5000 deg. Period: 707.30 min. Summary: First announced launch of Soviet communications satellite. Television programme transmission and long range two way multi channel telephone and telegraph communications. Orbital characteristics after correction of 2 May 1965..

1965 July 18 - . 14:38 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78.
  • Zond 3 - . Payload: 3MV-4A s/n 3. Mass: 959 kg (2,114 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Mars. Class: Mars. Type: Mars probe. Spacecraft: Mars 3MV-4A. USAF Sat Cat: 1454 . COSPAR: 1965-056A. Zond 3 was towards the moon and interplanetary space. The spacecraft was equipped with a TV system that provided automatic inflight film processing. On July 20, during lunar flyby, 25 pictures of very good quality were taken of the lunar farside from distances of 11,570 to 9960 km. The photos covered 19,000,000 km square of the lunar surface. Photo transmissions by facsimile were returned to earth from a distance of 2,200,000 km on July 29 and were retransmitted later from a distance of 31,500,000 km, thus proving the ability of the communications system. After the lunar flyby, Zond 3 continued space exploration in a heliocentric orbit. Those pictures showed clearly the heavily cratered nature of the surface. This mission dramatized the advances in space photography that the U.S.S.R. had made since its first far-side effort six years earlier.

1965 September 4 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 s/n U103-27.
  • E-6 Launch Postponement - . Payload: E-6. Nation: USSR. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Summary: The launch was delayed due to malfunction of the RKS system of the Stages 1/2's control system during pre-launch service..

1965 October 4 - . 07:56 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 U103-27.
  • Luna 7 - . Payload: E-6 s/n 11. Mass: 1,504 kg (3,315 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Decay Date: 1965-10-07 . USAF Sat Cat: 1610 . COSPAR: 1965-077A. Summary: Lunar soft landing attempt. The Luna 7 spacecraft was intended to achieve a soft landing on the Moon. However, due to premature retrofire and cutoff of the retrorockets, the spacecraft impacted the lunar surface in the Sea of Storms..

1965 October 14 - . 19:40 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 U103-37.
  • Molniya 1-02 - . Payload: Molniya-1. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: Molniya-1. Decay Date: 1967-03-17 . USAF Sat Cat: 1621 . COSPAR: 1965-080A. Apogee: 39,921 km (24,805 mi). Perigee: 487 km (302 mi). Inclination: 65.2000 deg. Period: 718.80 min. Summary: France - USSR communications link. Second communications satellite 'Molniya-1'. Television programme transmission and long-range, two-way multi-channel telephone, phototelegraph and telegraph communications..

1965 December 3 - . 10:46 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC31. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 U103-28.
  • Luna 8 - . Payload: E-6 s/n 12. Mass: 1,550 kg (3,410 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Decay Date: 1965-12-06 . USAF Sat Cat: 1810 . COSPAR: 1965-099A. Lunar soft landing attempt failed. Luna 8's objectives were to test a soft lunar landing system and scientific research. Weighing 1,552 kg (3,422 lbs), the spacecraft was following a trajectory close to the calculated one and the equipment was functioning normally. However, the retrofire was late, and the spacecraft impacted the lunar surface in the Sea of Storms. Tass reported that "the systems were functioning normally at all stages of the landing except the final touchdown." The mission did complete the experimental development of the star-orientation system and ground control of radio equipment, flight trajectory, and other instrumentation.

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