Encyclopedia Astronautica
Proton



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UR-100 and UR-500
UR-100 and UR-500 Dynamic test models
Credit: © Mark Wade
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UR-500 ICBM
UR-500 ICBM version - cutaway drawing showing arrangement of N2O4 oxidiser tanks (green) and UDMH fuel tanks (orange). The UR-500 was designed so that its components could be rail-transported and field assembled in silos. Even Khrushchev considered the monster missile and its 100 MT warhead unaffordable - after he was deposed, the ICBM project was cancelled. The original third stage configuration with toroidal tanks was never flown.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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UR-500DH2
Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics, June 1994
Credit: © Dietrich Haeseler
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UR-500 First Concept
Drawing of the original design concept for the UR-500 heavy ICBM/space launcher. This consisted of a cluster of four UR-200 ICBM's, with a modified UR-200 second stage as the final stage. Dynamic tests were conducted of a model of this configuration, but it was abandoned by Chelomei due to poor payload performance.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Proton UR-500
Proton two stage configuration as flown in the first four launches. This version had a shorter second stage than the UR-500K that followed and only 40% of the payload.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Proton UR-500
Model of the Proton UR-500 two stage configuration as first flown.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Proton UR-500
The very first Proton UR-500 is enclosed by its launch gantry.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Proton 8K82
Proton 8K82 as flown in the first four Proton launches. This version had the shorter second stage of the GR-2 ICBM version, but lacked the cancelled UR-500 third stage. Payload with just two stages was hardly better than the much smaller Soyuz 11A511 launch vehicle.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Proton 8K82K
Proton 8K82K launch vehicle in its original form, with Chelomei's manned LK-1 circumlunar spacecraft as the payload.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Proton Launch Pad
Model of the Proton launch complex. This model shows the servicing structure enclosing the launch vehicle, already mounted above the flame pit. The pad is flanked by lightning and lighting towers. Bunkers for propellant storage lay along the rail line leading to the pad.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Proton K LV
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Proton 8K82K
Proton 8K82K launch vehicle with Kristall space station payload
Credit: Lockheed Martin
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UR-200 and UR-500
Dynamic test models of UR-200 ICBM and early Proton concept 'collection of UR-200's'
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Proton UR-500K
Cutaway drawing of the Proton UR-500K with Block D upper stage as developed for the Soviet manned circumlunar program. The same basic launch vehicle would eventually be Russia's most commercially successful launch vehicle.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Proton 8K82K/DM
Proton 8K82K / Block DM launch vehicle
Credit: Lockheed Martin
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Block D
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Proton liftoff
Credit: Lockheed Martin
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UR-500 / L1 Rollout
Credit: RKK Energia
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Proton w/ LK
Proton 8K82K Block D launch vehicle with Soyuz 7K-L1 manned circumlunar spacecraft.
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Proton 8K82K / 11S82
Proton 8K82K / 11S824M with Vega payload - COSPAR 1984-128
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Proton 8K82K / 11S82
Proton 8K82K / 11S824F with Phobos payload - COSPAR 1988-058
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Proton sunrise
Credit: Lockheed Martin
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R-7 vs Proton
R-7 / Proton LVs Cutaway
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Protpyld
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Proton launch
Credit: Lockheed-Martin
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Proton Iridium
Proton Iridium payload preparation in former Buran payload facility.
Credit: © Mark Wade
The Proton launch vehicle has been the medium-lift workhorse of the Soviet and Russian space programs for over forty years. Although constantly criticized within Russia for its use of toxic and ecologically-damaging storable liquid propellants, it has out-lasted all challengers, and no replacement is in sight. Development of the Proton began in 1962 as a two-stage vehicle that could be used to launch large military payloads or act as a ballistic missile with a 100 megaton nuclear warhead. The ICBM was cancelled in 1965, but development of a three-stage version for the crash program to send a Soviet man around the moon began in 1964. The hurried development caused severe reliability problems in early production. But these were eventually solved, and from the 1970's the Proton was used to launch all Russian space stations, medium- and geosynchronous orbit satellites, and lunar and planetary probes.

The Proton had its origin in the early 1960's, at a time when all Soviet rockets required military justification to be developed. At this time the military-political leadership formulated a requirement for a heavy rocket that could be used to launch large military payloads into space as well as act as a ballistic missile for nuclear warheads up to 100 MT in yield.

There were competitors for the original military Global Rocket 2 (GR-2) requirement.

The OKB-1 of S P Korolev had begun design of the enormous N1 lunar rocket, and had already put the Soviet Union first in ballistic missiles and space through use of its R-7 ICBM. Korolev was working on the successor R-9 ICBM, and the NII variant of the N1 (using the top two stages) could meet the GR-2 requirement.

M K Yangel's KB Yuzhnoye proposed creation of two related launch vehicles to fulfill the military requirement - the R-46 heavy ICBM and the R-56 launch vehicle. These would cover the entire range of military requirements. Yangel's OKB had already supplied the military with the great majority of its operational strategic rockets - the R-12 and R-14 IRBM's and the R-16 ICBM.

OKB-52, under V N Chelomei, proposed to create a related family of rockets, each designed from the beginning for dual use as ballistic missiles and space launchers - the medium UR-200, the heavy UR-500 and the huge UR-700 for lunar requirements.

By 16 March and 1 August 1961 the Central Committee and Politburo had approved development of the UR-200 (8K81) universal rocket. The UR-200 draft project was completed in July 1962.

The GR-2 project required that the factory-completed modules of the rocket be transported by rail to the launch complex, quickly assembled at the site, followed by automatic erection and launch. Approval to proceed with the UR-500 8K82 was provided in the Central Committee decree of 24 April 1962. However Chelomei had begun studies on the design considerably earlier, in the second half of 1961.

At first the launch vehicle was simply to consist of 4 two-stage UR-200 rockets lashed together, the first and second stages working in parallel in clusters. A third stage would be modified from the UR-200 second stage. (Yangel proposed a similar solution, his R-56 rockets being composed of R-46's clustered together). However study of this configuration, which included manufacturing of a dynamic test article (now in the TsNIIMASH museum), indicated that the payload capacity could not meet the military's requirements.

The selected solution was to develop a conventional tandem three-stage vehicle. The upper two stages would be modified versions of the UR-200 first and second stages. However the first stage would have to be a new design. There were two logical solutions, both of which were implemented by the Americans in their rockets of the same class: to take a two stage rocket and attach large solid fuel boosters in parallel to the central body, as was done in the Titan 3C design; or to build a new powerful first stage, as was done on the Saturn I rocket. Chelomei additionally had to consider what would be needed for his UR-700 lunar launch vehicle. His solution was to build a core module of the largest possible rail-transportable diameter (4.15 m). This could consist of an oxidizer tank, or a fuel tank with the engine installation. The design had to meet requirements from two sides. On the one hand, the maximum length and diameter of the modules was dictated by the size of rail wagons and platforms, and existing rail tunnels, waterways, and turntables. On the other hand, the size of the rocket stage, and its corresponding volume and mass, were driven by the UR-500 launch mass and characteristics of the future UR-700.

Two variants of the first stage were considered: polyblock and monoblock. The monoblock approach was that the first stage be assembled from two separate modules with the same diameter: an upper oxidizer module and a lower fuel and engine block. In assembly trials of this design it proved difficult, because of the height of the first stage, to obtain access to the upper stages and payload atop the rocket. The payload advantage of this design was relatively small compared to the alternative. This variant was studied by Chelomei's Filial Number 1, Chief Designer V N Bugayskiy, under the lead engineer M S Mishetyan.

The second (polyblock) variant consisted of a centre large diameter oxidizer tank surrounded by several smaller diameter fuel tanks. This version could be assembled in a special rig with the lateral blocks being sequentially mounted on the centre. This had the advantage of easier installation of the upper stages and payload due to the smaller length of the first stage. This variant was studied in Filial 1 under the lead engineer E. T. Radchenko. In January 1962 this design was chosen as most advantageous, following studies that indicated improved wind loads and bending moment characteristics compared to the monoblock design. The polyblock design received patent number 36616 in 26 July 1966. Named on the patent were V N Chelomei, V N Bugayckiy, V A Birodov, G D Dermichev, N I Yegorov, V K Karrask, Yu P Kolesnikov, Ya B Nodelman, and E T Radchenko.

Another key issue was the selection of the engine for the first stage. In order that the rocket could meet the quick response requirements of the military, it was decided that it would use storable liquid fuels. These would allow the fuelled rocket to be held in readiness for quick launch over a wide range of temperature conditions and eliminate the need for thermostatically controlled storage of the rocket. Nitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) and unsymmetrical di-methyl hydrazine (UDMH) had already been selected as the propellants for the UR-200 and therefore for the corresponding upper stages of the UR-500. However the largest rocket engine developed for the UR-200 was the 50 metric ton thrust 8D45 engine of S A Kosberg's KBKhA design bureau. By the beginning of work on the UR-500 more than 700 trials of this engine had been undertaken, including 225 resource trials. The advantage of using this engine was that it could contribute to the desired short length of the first stage. However the drawback was that to achieve the required first stage thrust, 15 to 16 engines would have to be clustered, which, from the point of view of V N Chelomei, was much too many.

In November 1961 OKB-52 began to collaborate with V P Glushko's OKB-456 in developing a more appropriate engine. Glushko had completed a storable liquid engine design of 150 metric tons for use in Korolev's N1. However Korolev refused to accept this design, due to his refusal to use toxic propellants in his rockets and his belief that such propellants could never deliver the required specific impulse. Korolev insisted on development of an oxygen-kerosene engine; Glushko categorically refused to do so. As a result, the two leading Soviet rocket designers irrevocably split. Korolev had to turn for development of his N1 engines to the aviation engine OKB of N D Kuznetsov.

Since Chelomei agreed with Glushko on the selection of propellants, Glushko's N1 engine instead went into the first stage of the UR-500. In May 1962 advanced project UR-500 was published. The initial design featured four fixed Glushko engines mounted below the core, with four gimbaled Kosberg engines on the lateral tanks. The second stage of the UR-500 was a larger-diameter variant of the first stage of the UR-200, with the engines gimbaled for directional control. The third stage used the UR-200's fixed engine with a four-nozzle steering engine. In order to meet the constant diameter requirement the third stage used toroidal propellant tanks.

Development of the engines and further elaboration of the study led to modifications to the original design of the first stage. Glushko conducted tests of the new engine from 1961 to 1963, followed by tests of the clustered engine assembly from June 1963 to January 1965. Through use of a regenerative fuel pump cycle Glushko was able to improve the thrust of the engine by 12.5%. It was therefore decided to use only the large Glushko engine in the first stage. The first layout had one engine at the base of the core and 4 to 8 fuel tanks with peripheral engines. Now the centre engine was abandoned and the 'clean' oxidizer tank core was surrounded by six fuel tank/engine assemblies. This had the advantage of reducing the length of the stage while increasing the dry weight fraction.

The 29 April 1962 decree ordered development of this powerful new rocket to be completed within three years. This was a difficult task, considering the factory and launch facilities that would have to be built to allow testing of the rocket to begin. Head of the original UR-500 development team was P A Ivensen. In 1962 this role was taken by Yu N Trufanov. At the project stage the technical parameters of the rocket were developed by D A Polukhin (subsequently chief of the team), V K Karrask, G D Dermichev, V A Virodov, E T Radchenko, E S Kulaga, N N Mirkin, Yu P Kolosnov, V F Gusev, and A T Tarasov.

The launch complex at Tyuratam was designed and built by GSKB Spetsmash in accordance with a decree of 26 May 1962. There were two pads, located 600 m apart and shielded against rocket explosions so that on-pad failure of a vehicle would not destroy the complex.

As payloads for the UR-500, Chelomei considered a broad spectrum of space craft, destined to solve defense, scientific investigation, and national economic tasks. These were to be called raketoplans - piloted spacecraft for solving military tasks in space. For example, orbital raketoplans were intended to fulfill intelligence, satellite inspection, and destruction tasks. For these purposes the raketoplan was to be equipped with an orbital maneuvering engine, targeting systems, rendezvous systems, and space-to-space weapons. Later raketoplans would be used for scientific tasks, including flight to the moon and return to earth, and economic exploitation of near-earth space. Due to their high lift to drag ratios, raketoplans could, after completing their tasks in space, make a guided descent into the earth's atmosphere with a landing on Soviet territory.

The draft project UR-500 was completed in 1963. The fundamental technological problems of the project had been solved by the end of 1964. In the early fall of that year, Khrushchev and the political leadership of the country visited Baikonur. Chelomei with great pride guided Khrushchev around a dummy UR-500 installed in its launch gantry at the new launch complex, presented the heavy transporters for the launch vehicle and showed a scale model of the launch silo planned for the combat version. Khrushchev's comment was 'what should we build - communism or silos for the UR-500?' It was clear that Khrushchev was not very supportive of the military version of the UR-500…

Soon thereafter Khrushchev was ousted from power and the new leadership, under Brezhnev, was adverse to all projects Khrushchev had supported. This included 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 universal rocket was superior to Chelomei's UR-200. The UR-200 was accordingly cancelled. The UR-500 was to continue, not as a huge ICBM but only in the space launcher role. The raketoplan was stopped, but work on the high-priority LK-1manned lunar flyby program continued.

In the spring of 1965, when Chelomei's activities were still under investigation, the Khrunichev factory completed construction of the first UR-500. In place of the third stage, an automated space physics laboratory 'Proton', for measurement of high energy particles, was built. The Proton satellites used the structural shell of the rocket's third stage.

All of the components were shipped by rail to Tyuratam for launch from the new rocket complex on the left ('Chelomeevskoy') arm of the range. The rocket was assembled in the Proton MIK assembly building at site 92 at Baikonur. The special transporter-installer took the rocket by rail from the MIK to launch site number 81, and the rockets was raised from the horizontal to the vertical position and installed on the launch table. Unlike the R-7 'Semyorka', the '500 was not suspended above the flame pit but fastened by its tail directly on the launch table. The UR-500 had a very cleanly designed compound umbilical cable which connected all services to a single coupling in the base of the core oxidizer tank. This umbilical remained connected until the rocket reached a height of 100 to 150 mm, then automatically detached and was retracted into a protective cover on the launch pad. Doors also closed on the launch vehicle, making a hermetic seal.

The first launch was not without problems. A leak in the oxidizer pipeline resulted in nitrogen tetroxide spilling on electrical wires. The question was: proceed with the launch or abort? Chelomei decided to go ahead, and on 16 July 1965 the first UR-500 successfully launched the Proton 1 satellite. In the first hours after launch specialists from OKB-52 could only receive signals in the first hours that indicated the satellite was 'alive'. However it later functioned normally and provided physics data for 45 days.

Aside from its index 8K82 and 'company' designation UR-500, at the first launch the rocket was called 'Gerkules' (other sources say 'Atlantis'), as indicated by the large symbol on the second stage skin. This name was however was not taken up. In the open press it was known only by the name of its first payload, 'Proton'.

Flight trials of the two-stage variant of the rocket went through 6 July 1966. In four launches three heavy Proton satellites reached orbit. The third launch failed when the second stage cut off, and the rocket crashed in the Akmolinsk region. The payload capacity of the Proton was given in the press as 12.2 metric tons; however this included the empty mass of the last stage. The payload of the two-stage version was really only 8.4 metric tons, only 24% more than Korolev's Soyuz rocket based on the R-7, even though the UR-500 was 75% larger. These deficiencies would be rectified in the three-stage version, fully developed in accordance with the decree of 3 August 1964.

Failures: 41. Success Rate: 88.05%. First Fail Date: 1966-03-24. Last Fail Date: 2008-03-14. Launch data is: continuing.

Status: Active.
First Launch: 1965.07.16.
Last Launch: 2008.12.25.
Number: 334 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • LK-1 Russian manned lunar flyby spacecraft. Cancelled 1965. The LK-1 was the spacecraft designed by Chelomei for the original Soviet manned lunar flyby project. More...
  • TGR Russian military surveillance satellite. Study 1963. Two new directions were pursued in the Soviet Union for space optical reconnaissance systems in the mid-1960's: automated systems with television transmission of pictures, and manned systems. More...
  • Almaz APOS Russian manned space station. Cancelled 1966. The initial Almaz program planned in 1965 consisted of two phases. 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...
  • N-4 Russian cosmic ray astronomy satellite. 4 launches, 1965.07.16 (Proton 1) to 1966.07.06 (Proton 3). Physics experiments. Space station "Proton 1". Investigation of ultra-high-energy cosmic particles. More...
  • Soyuz 7K-L1 Russian manned lunar flyby spacecraft. 12 launches, 1967.03.10 (Cosmos 146) to 1970.10.20 (Zond 8). The Soyuz 7K-L1, a modification of the Soyuz 7K-OK, was designed for manned circumlunar missions. More...
  • N-6 Russian cosmic ray astronomy satellite. One launch, 1968.11.16, Proton 4. Cosmic ray measurements. Study of the nature of high and ultra-high energy cosmic rays and their interaction with atomic nuclei. Mass announced at time of launch 17,000 kg. More...
  • Luna Ye-8 Russian lunar rover. 3 launches, 1969.02.19 (Ye-8 s/n 201) to 1973.01.08 (Luna 21). More...
  • Mars M-69 Russian Mars orbiter. 2 launches, 1969.03.27 (M-69 s/n 521) to 1969.04.02 (M-69 s/n 522). Mars probe intended to enter Martian orbit and comprehensively photograph Mars. More...
  • Luna Ye-8-5 Russian lunar lander. 11 launches, 1969.06.14 (Ye-8-5 VA) to 1975.10.16 (Luna 24). Unmanned lunar soil sample return. More...
  • Soyuz 7K-L1E Russian manned lunar orbiter. 2 launches, 1969.11.28 (Soyuz 7K-L1E s/n 1) and 1970.12.02 (Cosmos 382). Modification of Soyuz circumlunar configuration used in propulsion tests of the Block D stage. More...
  • Salyut 1 Russian manned space station. 2 launches, 1971.04.19 (Salyut 1) and 1972.07.29 (Zarya s/n 122). Salyut 1 was the first DOS long duration orbital station. More...
  • Mars M-71 Russian Mars lander. 3 launches, 1971.05.10 (Cosmos 419) to 1971.05.28 (Mars 3). Mars spacecraft built by Lavochkin for 1971 campaign. The spacecraft consists of a bus/orbiter module and an attached descent/lander module. More...
  • Luna Ye-8-LS Russian lunar orbiter. 2 launches, 1971.09.28 (Luna 19) to 1974.05.29 (Luna 22). Lunar surface mapping. Lunar Orbit (Selenocentric). Investigation of the moon and near-lunar space from the orbit of an artificial satellite. More...
  • DLB Beacon Lander Russian lunar logistics spacecraft. Study 1971. In most Soviet manned lunar landing scenarios, versions of the Ye-8 unmanned landers would precede manned landings on the moon. More...
  • Almaz OPS-2 Russian manned space station. Cancelled 1979. The initial Almaz military space station program planned in 1965 consisted of two phases. More...
  • Almaz OPS Russian manned space station. 3 launches, 1973.04.03 (Salyut 2) to 1976.06.22 (Salyut 5). Vladimir Chelomei's Almaz OPS was the only manned military space station ever actually flown. More...
  • Almaz Russian manned space station. 3 launches, 1973.04.03 (Salyut 2) to 1976.06.22 (Salyut 5). Chelomei's Almaz space station was designed to conduct orbital research into the usefulness of manned observation of the earth. More...
  • Salyut 4 Russian manned space station. 2 launches, 1973.05.11 (Cosmos 557) to 1974.12.26 (Salyut 4). Four of the initial DOS-1 versions of a civilian Soviet space station were built using converted Almaz military stations. More...
  • Mars M-73 Russian Mars lander. 4 launches, 1973.07.21 (Mars 4) to 1973.08.09 (Mars 7). The M-73 spacecraft series was built for 1973 Mars missions. More...
  • Raduga First Soviet geosynchronous communications satellite. Operational, first launch 1974.03.26. A single orbital group of two Radugas could handle all communications of the Russian eastern regions. More...
  • Luna Ye-8-5M Russian lunar lander. 4 launches, 1974.10.28 (Luna 23) to 1976.08.09 (Luna 24 Return Vehicle). Lunar sample return. Conduct of further scientific investigation of the moon and circumlunar space. More...
  • Venera 4V-1 Russian Venus probe. 6 launches, 1975.06.08 (Venera 9) to 1981.11.04 (Venera 14). More...
  • Prognoz SPRN Russian military early warning satellite. 15 launches, 1975.10.08 (Cosmos 775) to 2008.06.26 (Cosmos 2397). Development began of the Soviet Union's Prognoz geosynchronous ballistic missile early warning satellite in 1980. More...
  • Mir-2 Russian manned space station. Study 1989. The Mir-2 space station was originally authorized in the February 1976 resolution setting forth plans for development of third generation Soviet space systems. More...
  • Ekran Russian communications satellite. 21 launches, 1976.10.26 (Ekran 1) to 1988.05.06 (Ekran 18). Ekran was the Soviet Union's first geosynchronous satellite. More...
  • TKS VA Russian manned spacecraft module. 13 launches, 1976.12.15 (Cosmos 881) to 1985.09.27 (Cosmos 1686). The VA reentry capsule was similar in configuration to the American Apollo, but 30% smaller. Reusable re-entry capsule. More...
  • OPS + TKS Russian manned space station. Cancelled 1976. Designation give to combined TKS+OPS Almaz station. More...
  • KSI Russian logistics spacecraft. Study 1977. Capsule designed to return film and data materials from the Almaz military space station. More...
  • TKS Russian manned spacecraft. 4 launches, 1977.07.17 (Cosmos 929) to 1985.09.27 (Cosmos 1686). More...
  • Salyut 6 Russian manned space station. One launch, 1977.09.29. The Salyut 6 space station was the most successful of the DOS series prior to Mir. It was aloft for four years and ten months, completing 27,785 orbits of the earth. More...
  • Gorizont Russian communications satellite. 35 launches, 1978.12.19 (Gorizont 1) to 2000.06.06 (Gorizont). Gorizont-1 was designed specifically to support broadcast of the 1980 Olympic Games from Russia. More...
  • Mars 5M Russian Mars lander. Cancelled 1978. The 5M was a second attempt by the Lavochkin bureau to design and fly a Soviet Martian soil return mission. Design and development was undertaken from 1974 to 1978. More...
  • USB Russian military anti-satellite system. Study 1978. As platforms for operational versions of space-borne weapons NPO Energia designed a Universal Service Block, based on the DOS-7K space station, in the late 1970's/early 1980's. More...
  • 37K-Mir Russian manned space station. Cancelled 1983. The basic 37K design consisted of a 4.2 m diameter pressurized cylinder with a docking port at the forward end. It was not equipped with its own propulsion system. More...
  • Iskra Russian amateur radio communications satellite. 3 launches, 1981.07.10 (Iskra) to 1982.11.18 (Iskra 3). Launched from Salyut 7 airlock. Conduct of experiments in the field of amateur radio communications. More...
  • Salyut 7 Russian manned space station. One launch, 1982.04.19. Salyut 7 was the back-up article for Salyut 6 and very similar in equipment and capabilities. More...
  • Potok Russian military communications satellite. 10 launches, 1982.05.18 (Cosmos 1366) to 2000.07.04 (Cosmos 2371). Potok was one element of the second generation global command and control system (GKKRS) developed according to a decree of 17 February 1976. More...
  • Glonass Russian navigation satellite. Operational, first launch 1982.10.12. Glonass was a Soviet space-based navigation system comparable to the American GPS system. More...
  • Astron Russian x-ray astronomy satellite. One launch, 1983.03.23. Astrophysics satellite based on the Venera 4V-2 bus design. Electrophysical research of galactic and extragalactic sources of ultraviolet ray and X-ray emission. More...
  • Venera 4V-2 Russian Venus probe. 2 launches, 1983.06.02 (Venera 15) to 1983.06.07 (Venera 16). Venera radar mappers which used an 8 cm band side-looking radar to study the surface properties of Venus. More...
  • LKS Russian manned spaceplane. Mock-up stage when cancelled in 1983. The LKS was a Chelomei design for a reusable manned winged spacecraft, similar to the later European Hermes spaceplane. More...
  • Tselina-2 Ukrainian military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 25 launches, 1984.09.28 (Cosmos 1603) to 2007.06.29 (Cosmos 2406). More...
  • Vega 5VK Russian Venus probe. 2 launches, 1984.12.15 (Vega 1) to 1984.12.21 (Vega 2). The Vega 5VK spacecraft was designed for a mission combining a flyby of the planet Venus followed by an encounter with Halley's Comet. More...
  • Luch Russian military communications satellite. 5 launches, 1985.10.25 (Cosmos 1700) to 1995.10.11 (Luch 1). More...
  • AS 4000 American communications satellite. 8 launches, 1985.11.27 (Satcom K2) to 1998.02.04 (Inmarsat 3 F5). 3-axis stabilization with momentum wheels, magnetic torquers, Earth sensors and 16 blowdown monopropellant hydrazine thrusters. More...
  • Vega 5VS Russian Venus probe. Cancelled 1985. Unflown series of Venus probes (which also served as the basis for the Granat satellite). Original plans called for two versions, 5VS and 5VP, both weighing 4850 kg. More...
  • Mir Russian manned space station. One launch, 1986.02.20. Improved model of the Salyut DOS-17K space station with one aft docking port and five ports in a spherical compartment at the forward end of the station. More...
  • Almaz-T Russian civilian surveillance radar satellite. 3 launches, 1986.11.29 (Almaz-T s/n 303 Failure) to 1991.03.31 (Almaz 1). The results of the manned Almaz flights showed that manned reconnaissance from space was not worth the expense. More...
  • Ekran-M Russian communications satellite. 6 launches, 1987.01.30 (Cosmos 1817) to 2001.04.07 (Ekran-M No. 18). Ekran-M provided unique direct television broadcasting service to community users in the central Russian Federation region (Zone 3). More...
  • Kvant Russian manned space station. One launch, 1987.03.31 (Kvant 1). The Kvant spacecraft represented the first use of a new kind of Soviet space station module, designated 37K. More...
  • Eurostar 2000 French communications satellite. 24 launches, 1988.03.11 (Telecom 1C) to 2006.11.08 (Badr 4 ARABSAT 4B). More...
  • Fobos 1F Russian Mars orbiter. 5 launches, 1988.07.07 (Phobos 1) to 1988.07.12 (1F PPS). The 1F spacecraft was flown on the Phobos mission to Mars, consisting of 2 nearly identical spacecraft. More...
  • KS Russian military orbital bombing system. Study 1988. To co-ordinate the actions of multiple space combat units, NPO Energia proposed in the 1980's a KS space station. More...
  • Etalon Russian earth geodetic satellite. 2 launches, 1989.01.10 (Cosmos 1989) to 1989.05.31 (Cosmos 2024). Passive geodetic satellites, 1415 kg, 1.294 m in diameter, covered with 306 antenna arrays, each with 14 corner cubes for laser reflection. More...
  • FS-1300 American communications satellite bus. Operational, first launch 1989.06.05. More...
  • Raduga-1 Russian communications satellite. 8 launches, 1989.06.21 (Raduga 1-1) to 2007.12.09 (Raduga-1). The Raduga-1 geosynchronous communications satellite was to have been the basis for the YeSSS-2 second generation Unified Satellite Communication System. More...
  • Kvant-2 Russian manned space station. One launch, 1989.11.26, Kvant 2. Kvant-2 was a utility module launched to the Mir station. It provided an airlock, additional electric power, and additional gyrodynes for orienting the station. More...
  • Granat Russian x-ray astronomy satellite. One launch, 1989.12.01. Granat was a Lavochkin design with the mission of making gamma ray observations in energy ranges of 3 to 200 keV. More...
  • HS 601 American communications satellite bus. First launch 1990.01.09. 3-axis unified ARC 22 N and one Marquardt 490 N bipropellant thrusters, Sun and Barnes Earth sensors and two 61 Nms 2-axis gimbaled momentum bias wheels. More...
  • Kristall Russian manned space station. One launch, 1990.05.31. Kristal was a dedicated zero-gravity materials and biological science research module for the Mir space station, launched in January 1990 More...
  • Tellura Russian earth land resources satellite. Study 1990. In 1990 KB Salyut proposed an unmanned derivative of the TKS manned ferry to conduct earth resources experiments. More...
  • Mak Russian earth atmosphere satellite. 2 launches, 1991.06.17 (Mak 1) and 1992.10.27 (Mak 2). Launched from Mir airlock. Investigation of features at the Earth's atmosphere. More...
  • Spektr - Original Russian military anti-satellite system. Study 1989. Chelomei designed a spacecraft bus for space based weapons based on his TKS space tug. This was an alternate / competitive design to the NPO Energia USB. More...
  • Almaz-1B Russian civilian surveillance radar satellite. Study 1993. More...
  • Gals Russian communications satellite. 2 launches, 1994.01.20 (Gals) and 1995.11.17 (Gals-2). Direct broadcasting satellite (new generation of satellites) intended for development of the Russian television system and international cooperation. More...
  • Ekspress Russian communications satellite. 15 launches, 1994.10.13 to 2009-02-11. The Ekspress series communications satellite closely resembled the Gals spacecraft and shared a similar spacecraft bus. More...
  • Elektro Russian earth weather satellite. One launch, 1994.10.31. Elektro was to be the geostationary component of a third generation Soviet meteorological system. Following extended development, it flew only once, in 1994. More...
  • Spektr Russian manned space station. One launch, 1995.05.20. Spektr was a module of the Mir space station. It began life as a dedicated military research unit. More...
  • Almaz-2 Russian civilian surveillance radar satellite. Study 1995. Plans for an even more sophisticated and capable civilian Almaz 2 spacecraft were made in the early 1990's. Almaz 2's payload mass of 6. More...
  • Priroda Russian manned space station. One launch, 1996.04.23. Priroda was the last Mir module launched. It was originally an all-Soviet remote sensing module for combined civilian and military surveillance of the earth. More...
  • AS 2100 American communications satellite. Operational, first launch 1996.09.08 (GE 1). Cost per satellite $100 million for the spacecraft including ground support equipment, but not including launch costs. 3-axis stabilized. More...
  • Mars M1 Russian Mars orbiter. 5 launches, 1996.11.16 (Mars-96 (Mars 8)) to (Mars-96 (Mars 8)). More...
  • LM 700 American communications satellite. 98 launches, 1997.05.05 (Iridium 8) to 2002.06.20 (Iridium SV98 ). The LM 700 had its first use in the Iridium system, a commercial communications network comprised of a minimum of 66 LEO spacecraft. More...
  • Arkon-1 Russian military surveillance satellite. 2 launches, 1997.06.06 (Cosmos 2344) to 2002.07.25 (Cosmos 2392). More...
  • Star bus American communications satellite bus. Operational, first launch 1997.11.12 (Cakrawarta 1). The Orbital Star bus was designed for reliable and robust performance in a variety of LEO and GEO missions. More...
  • Kupon Russian military communications satellite. One launch, 1997.11.12. Kupon was originally developed by Lavochkin for the third generation GKKRS (Global Space Command and Communications System). Other satellites in the network included Potok and Geizer. More...
  • Yamal Russian communications satellite. 4 launches, 1999.09.06 (Yamal 101) to 2003.11.24 (Yamal-200 KA-2). The Yamal communications satellite bus was developed by RKK Energia for Gazprom. More...
  • LMI Russian communications satellite. One launch, 1999.09.26. Lockheed Martin Intersputnik's LMI-1 satellite was a joint Russian-American venture. LMI-1 provided communications services to Eastern Europe and Central Asia. More...
  • HS 702 American communications satellite bus. Operational, first launched 1999.12.22. More...
  • ISS Zvezda Russian manned space station. One launch, 2000.07.12, Zvezda. The Zvezda service module of the International Space Station had its origins a quarter century before it was launched. More...
  • Integral European gamma ray astronomy satellite. One launch, 2002.10.17. INTEGRAL (INTErnational Gamma Ray Astrophysics Laboratory) was a European (ESA) astrophysics satellite. The four-ton (with fuel) cylindrical (5 m height and 3. More...
  • Spacebus 4000 European communications satellite bus. Operational, first launch 2005.02.03. The Spacebus 4000 represented a new larger platform to meet customer demand. More...
  • Eurostar 3000 French communications satellite bus. Operational, first launch 2005.03.11 (Inmarsat 4-F1). Third generation of Matra Marconi Space GEO satellite platforms serving mainly commercial telecommunications applications. More...
  • Yakhta Russian communications satellite. One launch, 2006.06.17, Kazsat 1. RKK Energia-developed communications satellite, believed to be a larger development of the Yamal. More...

See also
  • Proton The Proton launch vehicle has been the medium-lift workhorse of the Soviet and Russian space programs for over forty years. Although constantly criticized within Russia for its use of toxic and ecologically-damaging storable liquid propellants, it has out-lasted all challengers, and no replacement is in sight. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Chelomei Russian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Chelomei Design Bureau, Reutov, Russia. 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.
  • Johnson, Nicholas L, The Soviet Reach for the Moon, Cosmos Books, Washington, DC, 1994.
  • Isakowitz, Steven J,, International Reference to Space Launch Systems Second Edition, AIAA, Washington DC, 1991 (succeeded by 2000 edition).
  • Kaesmann, Ferdinand, et. al., "Proton - Development of A Russian Launch Vehicle", Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 1998, Volume 51, page 3.
  • Pesavento, Peter, "An Examination of Rumored Launch Failures in the Soviet Manned Program", Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 1990, Volume 43, page 379.
  • Pauw, H, "New Facts About Soviet Space Stations", Spaceflight, 1994, Volume 36, page 89.
  • "Rossiya. V polyote 'Kosmos-2345'", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1997, Issue 17, page 31.
  • "Zapushchen sputnik 'Gorizont'", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1996, Issue 2, page 24.
  • "Kommentariy k zapysky KA 'Kosmos-2291'", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1994, Issue 22, page 47.
  • "Na Mars!", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1996, Issue 20, page 53.
  • Clark, P S, "Soviet Spacecraft Masses for Earth Orbital Programmes", Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 1985, Volume 38, page 19.
  • Clark, P S, "Soviet Spacecraft Masses for Deep Space Missions", Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 1985, Volume 38, page 25.
  • Pesavento, Peter, "Soviet Circumlunar Programme Hardware Revealed", Spaceflight, 1994, Volume 36, page 390.
  • Placard, TsNIIMASH Museum,
  • Placard, Baikonur Museum,
  • Mission Planner's Manual - Proton Commercial Launch Vehicle, Space Commerce Corporation, Houston, TX 1989.
  • Afanasyev, Igor, "35 let RN Proton", Novosti kosmonavtiki, 1998, Issue 5, page 40.
  • Vladimirov, A, "Tablitsa zapuskov RN 'Proton' i 'Proton K'", Novosti kosmonavtiki, 1998, Issue 10, page 25.
  • NASA GSFC Orbital Parameters,
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Launch Log, October 1998. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • National Space Science Center Planetary Page, As of 19 February 1999.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Ludueña, Alejo M, "Personal communication, describing crash of Salyut 7.", E-mail of 27 February 1999..
  • Chertok, Boris Yevseyevich, Raketi i lyudi, Mashinostroenie, Moscow, 1994-1999.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Kamanin, N P, Skritiy kosmos, Infortext, Moscow, 1995.
  • Vekshin, Boris, "Letter to the editor", Novosti kosmonavtiki, Number 5 - 1999.
  • Przybilski, Olaf, Almaz-Proton: Das supergeheime Aufklaerungssystem der UdSSR, Schriftenreihe der Deutschen Raumfahrtausstellung eV, TU Dresden, 2. Auflage, 1999..
  • Yeteyev, Ivan, Operezhaya vremya, Ocherki, Moscow, 1999..
  • Melnik, T G, Voenno-Kosmicheskiy Siliy, Nauka, Moscow, 1997..
  • 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..
  • NASA/GSFC Orbital Information Group Website, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Space-Launcher.com, Orbital Report News Agency. Web Address when accessed: here.

Proton Chronology


1961 August 15 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton.
  • Chelomei begins UR-500 Proton design studies. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei. Manufacturer: Chelomei. Program: GR-2. At first the launch vehicle was simply to consist of 4 two-stage UR-200 rockets lashed together, the first and second stages working in parallel in clusters. A third stage would be modified from the UR-200 second stage. However study of this configuration, which included manufacturing of a dynamic test article, indicated that the payload capacity could not meet the military’s requirements.

1961 November - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton.
  • Preliminary design work by Chelomei on UR-500 (Proton) rocket. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev; Glushko; Chelomei. OKB-52 began to collaborate with V P Glushko’s OKB-456 in developing an appropriate engine. Glushko had completed a storable liquid engine design of 150 tonnes for use in Korolev’s N1. However Korolev refused to accept this design, due to his refusal to use toxic propellants in his rockets and his belief that such propellants could never deliver the required specific impulse.

1961 November 15 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton.
  • Development of RD-253 engine begun. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Glushko; Korolev. Manufacturer: Chelomei. Program: GR-2. OKB-52 began to collaborate with V P Glushko’s OKB-456 in developing a high thrust storable propellant engine for the UR-500 Proton launch vehicle. Glushko had completed a storable liquid engine design of 150 tonnes for use in Korolev’s N1. However Korolev refused to accept this design, due to his categorical refusal to use toxic propellants in his rockets and his belief that such propellants could never deliver the required specific impulse. Korolev insisted on development of an oxygen-kerosene engine; Glushko categorically refused to do so. As a result, the two leading Soviet rocket designers irrevocably split. Korolev had to turn for development of his N1 engines to the aviation engine design OKB of N D Kuznetsov.

1962 January - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton.
  • Proton design selected - . Nation: USSR. Summary: This 'polyblock' design was chosen for the Proton launch vehicle, following studies that indicated improved wind loads and bending moment characteristics compared to the monoblock design..

1962 January 15 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton.
  • Proton configuration selected. - . Nation: USSR. Manufacturer: Chelomei. Program: GR-2. Summary: The 'polyblock' design was chosen as most advantageous, following studies that indicated improved wind loads and bending moment characteristics compared to the conventional 'monoblock' design..

1962 April 24 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton.
  • Approval to proceed with the UR-500 (8K82) was provided in a Central Committee decree - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: LK-1. Council of Soviet Ministers (SM) Decree 'On start of work on the UR-500 missile and carrier-rocket' was issued. The rocket was to be built initially for the GR-2 requirement - a heavy rocket that could be used to launch large military payloads into space as well as act as a ballistic missile for multiple nuclear warheads up to 100 MT in yield. The decree ordered development of this powerful new rocket to be completed within three years. This was a difficult task, considering the factory and launch facilities that would have to be built to allow testing of the rocket to begin. The draft project UR-500 was completed in 1963.

1962 May - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton.
  • Advanced project for the Proton UR-500 completed - . Nation: USSR. The initial design featured four ungimballed Glushko engines mounted below the core, with four steerable Kosberg engines on the lateral tanks. The second stage of the UR-500 was a larger-diameter variant of the first stage of the UR-200, with the engines gimballed for directional control. The third stage used the UR-200’s fixed engine with a four-nozzled steering engine. In order to meet the constant diameter requirement the third stage used toroidal propellant tanks.

1962 May 15 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton.
  • UR-500 advanced project published. - . Nation: USSR. Manufacturer: Chelomei. Program: GR-2.

1963 June - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton.
  • Tests of clustered Proton engines begun - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Glushko. Glushko conducted tests of the new engine from 1961 to 1963, followed by tests of the clustered engine assembly from June 1963 to January 1965. Through use of a regenerative fuel pump cycle Glushko was able to improve the thrust of the engine by 12.5%. It was therefore decided to use only the large Glushko engine in the first stage. The first layout had one engine at the base of the core and 4 to 8 fuel tanks with peripheral engines. Now the centre engine was abandoned and the ‘clean’ oxidiser tank core was surrounded by six fuel tank/engine assemblies. This had the advantage of reducing the length of the stage while increasing the dry weight fraction.

1963 June 15 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton.
  • First tests of RD-253 engine cluster for Proton. - . Nation: USSR. Manufacturer: Chelomei. Program: GR-2. Summary: Ground tests of the clustered engine assembly ran from June 1963 to January 1965..

1965 October 25 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton.
  • L1 manned circumlunar mission taken from Chelomei, given to Korolev. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei; Korolev. Spacecraft: Soyuz 7K-L1; Soyuz 7K-OK; LK-1. Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On the Concentration of Forces of Industrial Design Organisations for the Creation of Rocket-Space Complex Means for Circling the Moon--work on the UR-500K-L1 program' was issued. As a result of a presentation to the Military Industrial Commission, Afanasyev backed Korolev in wresting control of the manned circumlunar project from Chelomei. The Chelomei LK-1 circumlunar spacecraft was cancelled. In its place, Korolev would use a derivative of the Soyuz 7K-OK, the 7K-L1, launched by Chelomei’s UR-500K, but with a Block D translunar injection stage from the N1. He envisioned launch of the unmanned 7K-L1 into low earth orbit, followed by launch and docking of a 7K-OK with the 7K-L1. The crew would then transfer to the L1, which would then be boosted toward the moon. This was the original reason for the development of the 7K-OK.

1965 November 13 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton.
  • Industrial orders to cancel LK-1 spacecraft and implement L1. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Soyuz 7K-L1; LK-1. Summary: Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 'On work on the UR-500K-L1 program' was issued..

1966 April 27 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton.
  • Soyuz L1 full scale development, LK-1 cancellation approved. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Soyuz 7K-L1; LK-1. Summary: Decree 10 'On approving the work plan to build the p8loted spacecraft 7K-L1 -- approving the plan for for the UR-500K-L1 and terminating the UR-500K-LK-1' was issued..

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