Encyclopedia Astronautica

Credit: Ukrainian Space Agency
8K67 Model
Credit: © Mark Wade
Credit: Ukrainian Space Agency
R-36 Family
Credit: Ukrainian Space Agency
Structural test model of R-36 ICBM / Space launcher
Credit: © Mark Wade
Credit: © Mark Wade
Improved survival
Chart showing survivability of vented tunnel design for ICBM deployment
Credit: © Mark Wade
Nuclear effect
Chart showing effects of nearby nuclear explosion on conventional ICBM silo
Credit: © Mark Wade
Test model of R-36
Test model of R-36 ICBM
Credit: © Mark Wade
11K69 Model
Credit: © Mark Wade
Tsiklon on pad
Tsiklon on pad at Plesetsk
Tsiklon 3 on Pad
Credit: Ukrainian Space Agency
Credit: Ukrainian Space Agency
Tsyklon on pad
Credit: Ukrainian Space Agency
Credit: Ukrainian Space Agency
Ukrainian intercontinental ballistic missile. The R-36 ICBM was the largest ever built and the bogeyman of the Pentagon throughout the Cold War. Dubbed the 'city buster', the 308 silos built were constantly held up by the US Air Force as an awesome threat that justified a new round of American missile or anti-missile systems. On the other hand, the Americans were never motivated to build and deploy corresponding numbers of their equivalent, the liquid propellant Titan 2. Derivatives of the R-36 included the R-36-O orbital bombing system, the Tsiklon-2 and -3 medium orbital launch vehicles, and the replacement R-36M missiles. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the design and manufacturing facility ended up in independent Ukraine. Accordingly the missile was finally retired in the 1990's, conveniently in accordance with arms reduction agreements with the Americans.

Official development of the R-36 began with a decree on 16 April 1962. This called for development of a heavy rocket that could act as an ICBM, a FOBS 'global rocket', and a medium launch vehicle. The targets for the R-36 would be key American administrative and military-industrial centres, hardened military targets, and anti-ballistic missile facilities. The decree ordered development of three alternative launch facility designs: a hardened, above-ground launch facility like the R-9 Dolina; a silo group like the R-16 Sheksna-V; and a new isolated silo concept, with the silos operated from an individual hardened launch facility being sepearated by a dozen kilometres.

Yangel's approach was to develop an improved version of his existing R-16 ICBM. Just as in America the Titan 1 had been redesigned into the constant-diameter Titan 2 with a more powerful upper stage, the same concept was applied to the R-16. The missile could still use the basic silo designed for the R-16. However unlike the R-16, this would be the first Soviet missile to use nitrogen tetroxide oxidiser.

The R-36 was to join the UR-100 as the first 'ampulised' Soviet missiles. This means that the missile was loaded into the silo in its container, fuelled, and then was ready-to-launch at any time as a certified 'sealed round'. This was in contrast to earlier Soviet missiles. The R-1, R-2, and R-5 could only be held at launch readiness for 30 minutes, the R-9A for 24 hours, and the storable propellant R-12, R-14, and R-16 for thirty days. The new generation was to have a certified ready-to-launch guaranteed span of five years. The containerised missile would be transported by rail to the silo, inserted, fuelled, and then left completely unattended. The silos were to be isolated from one another by 8 to 10 km so that a single nuclear warhead could take out no more than one silo at a time.

The guidance system was to be inertial with radio update for higher accuracy. Although flight tests were made with this system, by the time the missile was deployed the pure inertial system had proved to have sufficient accuracy and the radio correction was abandoned.

The draft project was completed in June 1963, and that of the new 8F675 warhead (18 and 25 megaton versions) on 12 January 1964. By then the decision had been made to pursue only the isolated silo launch concept, in order to prevent multiple launchers being taken out by a single enemy warhead. For flight trials from Baikonur substantial new facilities designed by V P Petrov at KBTM were started in 1962 and completed in February 1963. Missiles were prepared at Area 4, then launched from a pad at LC-67, with the radio guidance system being at Area 68. These used the 8P867 launch pad, 8U225 launch gantry, and 8T178 missile transport trailer. The designs for these facilities were derived from those for the Tsiklon space booster. Countdown was automated and no personnel were required in the area during launch procedures. The 25th OIICh (Independent Engineering-Research Unit) was formed to conduct the flight tests.

For initial silo tests individual silos at LC-80, a Sheksna facility originally built for the R-16, were modified in 1964 to accommodate R-36 or UR-200 missiles. A prototype of the new command point and six-silo group planned for the R-36 were also built at Baikonur. The hardened command point for these silos was at Area 111, and the silos at LC's-102, -103, -109, -140, -141, and -142. Flight trial tests were conducted from these facilities from 28 September 1963 to 29 March 1966, with the first silo launch taking place on 14 January 1965. The first launch from LC-140 came on 27 April 1965. This was the first launch controlled and commanded via a 10 km long buried cable. At total of 130 trials launches were made.

In July 1965 the first R-36 was launched with the 'List' countermeasures system designed to confuse enemy anti-ballistic missile defences. This system had been developed by Aksel Berg at NII-108 (originally established on 4 July 1943 to develop radar systems). The system had several components:

  • Berba - these were false warhead targets, made of thin metal tape, which deployed from a container and unfolded into the shape of a re-entry vehicle. Hundreds could be deployed, spreading dozens of kilometres from the real warhead
  • Kaktus - these were stealth coverings fitted as a 'slip cover' on the exterior of the re-entry vehicle. It absorbed incoming radar waves and converted it to thermal energy, reducing the radar cross-section of the warhead by a factor of ten.
  • Krot - this was an active noise jammer, actually a miniature spacecraft in its own right. It flew in space far from the warhead and hindered and spoofed enemy radars.

Trials, code-named 'Kupol', were conducted of these systems in 1962-1963, and they proved the importance of such countermeasures in assuring warhead survival in the face of enemy anti-ballistic missile systems. Development continued at NII-108 from 1965-1988 under the new Chief Designer Vitaliy Gerasimenko. They produced the countermeasure systems List, Palma (for the UR-100), Bereza, Kashtan, Magnolia, Lavr, Vyaz, and Kiparis. They also developed the TLTS heavy decoy unit. Light decoy units could be discriminated by enemy radars since they would brake more strongly once the warhead entered the upper layers of the atmosphere. The TLTS did not brake in the atmosphere, could resist high temperatures, and could perform dogleg manoeuvres to mislead enemy defences all the way to the earth's surface.

Production of the R-36 and the List countermeasures system was undertaken at the Yuzhnoye YuMZ factory in Dnepropetrovsk. The first regiment became operational on 5 November 1966 at Uzhur, and the missile was formally accepted for military service on 21 July 1967. A peak total of 260 R-36's were deployed by 1970. A total of 308 missile silos for the R-36 and its follow-on versions were built at Aleisk (30), Kartaly (46), Derzhavinsk (52), Zhangiz-Tobe (52), Dombarovskiy (64), and Uzhur (64). Operational tests were conducted periodically during service, including seven firings from silos in the Uzhur field to the Kura impact area. The final R-36's were retired in 1979, their places in the silos begin replaced by later versions. The missile was shown publicly at a Moscow parade on 7 November 1967, although to create confusion the external vernier engines of the second stage were removed and a non-standard warhead was fitted. Declassified CIA reports show that American intelligence was not fooled, although Western missile 'experts' were.

In 1965 the R-36 was selected over Korolev's GR-1 and Chelomei's UR-200 for the 'Global Rocket' and military medium launch vehicle requirements (see separate R-36-O, Tsiklon-2 and Tsiklon-3 entries). An improved silo with five times the blast resistance was studied in the 1960's but not adopted due to the expense (a super-hardened silo was finally developed in the late 1970's for the next generation of missiles).

The missile structure was of AMG-6 aluminium alloy. An avionics section was located in the intertank area of the first stage. The first stage had a fixed six-nozzle Glushko RD-251 engine, with attitude and roll control by four RD-68M verniers designed by Yuzhnoye. The second stage used a two-nozzle Glushko RD-252, with four RD-69M verniers. Four small solid rocket motors fired to back the second stage away from the warhead after burnout.

Unlike the R-16, which had its launch azimuth set by a rotating launch table, the R-36 was fixed on its launcher. Therefore after clearing the silo it had to roll to the desired target azimuth. The inertial guidance system by Vladimir Sergeyev of NII-692 had a total mass of 752 kg, and was updated just before launch by an optical data link. The first five trials flights used the radio correction system of Mikhail Borisenko, but this was abandoned as unnecessary on production models.

The warheads for the missile were developed at Chelyabinsk-70, with production at Penzensk Factory 592 (later NPO Start). These included the original 18 and 25 megaton 8F675, and later 5 and 10 megaton alternate warheads. The missile had a five year guaranteed storage life, later extended to 7.5 years with in-service testing. A missile prepared for launch (with the guidance platform spun up) could be launched in five minutes from the turn of the launch key. The OS-67 silo was designed by Yevgeni F Rudyak at GSKB Spetsmash. Each silo was 41.5 m deep, 8.3 m in diameter, and had a 4.64 m diameter interior bore. The silo was hardened to an overpressure of 20 atmospheres. Six silos, separated by 8-10 km from each other, were controlled and launched from a single command point.

Failures: 33. Success Rate: 91.95%. First Fail Date: 1963-09-28. Last Fail Date: 2004-12-24. Launch data is: continuing. Standard warhead: 5,825 kg (12,841 lb). Maximum range: 10,200 km (6,300 mi). Number Standard Warheads: 1. Warhead yield: 10,000 KT. CEP: 1.30 km (0.80 mi). Alternate warhead: 3,950 kg (8,700 lb). Maximum range with alternate warhead: 15,500 km (9,600 mi). Number Alternate Warheads: 1. Alternate RV: 8F675. Alternate warhead yield: 5,000 KT. Alternate warhead CEP: 1.90 km (1.10 mi). Boost Propulsion: Storable liquid rocket, N2O4/UDMH. Cruise Thrust: 940.400 kN (211,410 lbf). Cruise Thrust: 95,900 kgf. Cruise engine: RD-252. Initial Operational Capability: 1967.

AKA: SS-9 Mod 1; 8K67; Scarp.
Status: Active.
Gross mass: 183,890 kg (405,400 lb).
Payload: 5,825 kg (12,841 lb).
Height: 31.70 m (104.00 ft).
Diameter: 3.00 m (9.80 ft).
Span: 3.35 m (10.99 ft).
Thrust: 2,366.00 kN (531,897 lbf).
Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).
First Launch: 1963.09.28.
Last Launch: 2009.01.30.
Number: 409 .

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • OGCh Russian military orbital bombing system. 24 launches, 1965.03.05 (FOBS) to 1971.08.08 (Cosmos 433). More...
  • US-A Russian military naval surveillance radar satellite. 38 launches, 1965.12.28 (Cosmos 102) to 1988.03.14 (Cosmos 1932). The US-A (later known as RLS) was a nuclear powered RORSAT (Radar Ocean Reconnaissance Satellite). More...
  • IS-A Russian military anti-satellite system. 22 launches, 1967.10.27 (Cosmos 185) to 1982.06.18 (Cosmos 1379). First operational ASAT. Tested in 1967-1971 and deployed through the late 1970's. Design as revised by Yangel and Korolev from Chelomei's original. More...
  • IS-P Russian military anti-satellite system target satellite. 4 launches, 1968.04.24 (Cosmos 217) to 1970.10.20 (Cosmos 373). ASAT Target, launched by R-36. Evidently a derivative of the first IS-A ASAT itself. More...
  • Tselina-D Ukrainian military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 77 launches, 1970.12.18 (Cosmos 389) to 1994.05.25 (Tselina-D). The Tselina D was the detailed observation portion of the two-satellite Tselina ELINT satellite system. More...
  • US-P Russian military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 37 launches, 1974.12.24 (Cosmos 699) to 1991.01.18 (Cosmos 2122). The US-P (later known as RTR) was a solar powered EORSAT (Electronic Ocean Reconnaissance Satellite). More...
  • Meteor-2 Russian earth weather satellite. 22 launches, 1975.07.11 (Meteor 2-01) to 1993.08.31 (Meteor 2-21). Successor to the Meteor-1 weather satellite. The Meteor-2 had a longer design operational life (one year vs. More...
  • Taifun-2 Ukrainian military target satellite. 31 launches, 1976.04.28 (Cosmos 816) to 1995.03.02 (Cosmos 2306). In 1969 KB Yuzhnoye introduced targets for exercise and test of PVO air defense and space tracking systems. More...
  • AUOS Ukrainian technology satellite. 14 launches, 1976.06.19 (Intercosmos 15) to 2009.01.30 (Koronas-F). Standardized bus for low earth orbit scientific studies and testing of new systems and components of satellite under space flight conditions. More...
  • Magion Czech earth magnetosphere satellite. 5 launches, 1978.10.24 (Magion 1) to 1996.08.29 (Magion 5). The Czechoslovak satellite MAGION researched the magnetosphere and ionosphere of the earth. More...
  • Radio Russian amateur radio communications satellite. 9 launches, 1978.10.26 (Radio Sputnik 1) to 1994.12.26 (Radio-ROSTO RS-15). More...
  • Okean-E Ukrainian earth resources radar satellite. 2 launches, 1979.02.12 (Cosmos 1076) to 1980.01.23 (Cosmos 1151). First prototype of Okean series. Development of methods for obtaining operational information on the Pacific Ocean. More...
  • Geo-IK Russian earth geodetic satellite. 14 launches, 1981.01.23 (Geo-IK no. 1) to 1994.11.29 (Geo-IK). Development of a second generation geodetic satellite system began in 1977. More...
  • MicroSat-70 British technology satellite. 14 launches, 1981.10.06 (Oscar 9) to 2002.11.28 (Picosat). Basic Surrey Microsat bus. More...
  • Okean-OE Ukrainian earth resources radar satellite. 2 launches, 1983.09.28 (Cosmos 1500) to 1984.09.28 (Cosmos 1602). More...
  • Meteor-3 Russian earth weather satellite. 7 launches, 1984.11.27 (Cosmos 1612) to 1994.01.25 (Meteor 3-06). Meteor-3 began in 1972 as an improved replacement for the Meteor-2 weather satellite. More...
  • Strela-3 Russian military store-dump communications satellite. Operational, first launch 1985.01.15. Said to have initially been developed for the GRU. More...
  • Okean-O1 Ukrainian earth resources radar satellite. 9 launches, 1986.07.28 (Cosmos 1766) to 2004.12.24 (Sich-1M). Third generation Soviet oceanographic research satellite, equipped with a side-looking radar, radiometer, and multi-spectral scanner. More...
  • Plazma-A Russian ion engine technology satellite. 2 launches, 1987.02.02 (Cosmos 1818) to 1987.07.10 (Cosmos 1867). In 1987 two experimental Plazma-A satellites (Cosmos 1818 and 1867) were launched with new-generation Topaz reactors. More...
  • Taifun-3 Russian military target satellite. 2 launches, 1988.12.23 (Cosmos 1985) to 1989.12.27 (Cosmos 2053). Specifications for a third generation Taifun-3 system were developed in 1980 with flight trials to have started in 1984. More...
  • Tubsat German communications technology satellite. 7 launches, 1991.07.17 (Tubsat-A) to 2007.01.10 (Maroc-Tubsat). Germany's Technical University of Berlin (TUB) built a successful series of 40 kg 'Tubsat' experimental technology satellites. More...
  • Gonets-D1 Russian civilian store-dump communications satellite. 15 launches, 1992.07.13 (Cosmos 2199) to 2005.12.21 (Gonets D1M 1). Commercial version of GRU Strela-3 military store-dump satellite. More...
  • US-PU Ukrainian military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 13 launches, 1993.03.30 (Cosmos 2238) to 2006.06.24 (Cosmos 2421). More...
  • Temisat Italian communications technology satellite. One launch, 1993.08.31. Temisat's primary mission was demonstration of a data relay system. More...
  • MS-1 Ukrainian earth land resources satellite. 2 launches, 2004.12.24 (Mikron) to 2007.04.17 (MisrSat 1). Ukrainian microsatellite bus that could be equipped with imaging or other scientific or technical equipment. More...

Associated Engines
  • RD-251 Glushko N2O4/UDMH rocket engine. 2643 kN. R-36-0 stage 1, Tsyklon 2 stage 1. In production. Assembly of 3 RD-250-type units. Isp=301s. First flight 1965. More...
  • RD-855 Yuzhnoye N2O4/UDMH rocket engine. 328 kN. Tsyklon stage 1 attitude control engine. Out of Production. Isp=292s. Four-chamber pump-fed single-run engine burned hypergolic propellants in a gas generator scheme. More...
  • RD-856 Yuzhnoye N2O4/UDMH rocket engine. 54.230 kN. Tsyklon stage 2 attitude control engine. Out of Production. Isp=280s. Autonomous four-chamber pump-fed single-run engine burned hypergolic propellants in a gas generator scheme. More...

See also
  • Tsiklon The R-36 ICBM was the largest ever built and the bogeyman of the Pentagon throughout the Cold War. Dubbed the 'city buster', the 308 silos built were constantly held up by the US Air Force as an awesome threat that justified a new round of American missile or anti-missile systems. On the other hand, the Americans were never motivated to build and deploy corresponding numbers of their equivalent, the liquid propellant Titan 2. Derivatives of the R-36 included the R-36-O orbital bombing system, the Tsiklon-2 and -3 medium orbital launch vehicles, and the replacement R-36M missiles. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the design and manufacturing facility ended up in independent Ukraine. Accordingly the missile was finally retired in the 1990's, conveniently in accordance with arms reduction agreements with the Americans. More...
  • missile Guided self-propelled military weapon (as opposed to rocket, an unguided self-propelled weapon). More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Yuzhnoye Ukrainian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Yangel Design Bureau, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. More...

  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Krebs, Gunter, Gunter's Space Page, University of Frankfurt, 1996. 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).
  • Wilson, Andrew, editor,, Jane's/Interavia Space Directory, Jane's Information Group, Coulsdon, Surrey, 1992 et al.
  • Sorokin, Vladislav, "'Yantarnaya istoriya'", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1997, Issue 17, page 57.
  • Zak, Anatoly, "Cosmos Launcher", Spaceflight, 1996, Volume 38, page 416.
  • Agapov, V, "K zapusku pervovo ISZ serii 'DS'", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1997, Issue 6.
  • "Rossiya. Zapushcheni 3 KA 'Gonets' i KA 'Kosmos-2337, 2338, 2339'", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1997, Issue 4, page 54.
  • "Zapushchen sputnik 'Geo-IK'", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1994, Issue 24, page 23.
  • "Zapushchen sputnik 'Meteor-3' No.7", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1994, Issue 2, page 30.
  • "AUOSi prodolzhayut rabotu", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1995, Issue 21, page 43.
  • Placard, TsNIIMASH Museum,
  • Zheleznyakov, Aleksandr, "Istrebitel Sputnikov", Istoriya Rossiyskoi Sovetskoi Kosmonavtiki, Aleksandr Krasnikov Web Page, 1998. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA GSFC Orbital Parameters,
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Launch Log, October 1998. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Rudenko, Mikhail, "The Rocketplanes of Constructor Chelomey", Vozdushniy Transport1995 #47, 48-49, 51, 52, and 1996 #2, 5, 7, and conclu, 1995 #47, 48-49, 51, 52, and 1996 #2, 5, 7. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • National Space Science Center Planetary Page, As of 19 February 1999.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Isakowitz, Steven J, Hopkins, Joshua B, and Hopkins, Joseph P, International Reference to Space Launch Systems, AIAA, Washington DC, 2004.
  • 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.

Associated Stages
  • R-36--1 N2O4/UDMH propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 122,300/6,400 kg. Thrust 2,651.70 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 301 seconds. Verniers 4 x RD-68M, 285 kN, maximum 42 degree gimbal angle. More...
  • R-36-2 N2O4/UDMH propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 49,300/3,700 kg. Thrust 940.40 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 317 seconds. Verniers 4 x RD-69M, 54.3 kN, maximum 50 degree gimbal angle. More...

Tsiklon Chronology

1965 January 12 - . LV Family: Tsiklon. Launch Vehicle: Tsiklon.
  • R-36 'sealed round' version development authorised. - . Nation: USSR. Summary: State Committee for Defence Technology (GKOT) Decree 'On Detailed Work on Ampulized R-36 and R-36-O Missiles--design work on the R-36 and R-36-O missiles' was issued..

1967 July 21 - . LV Family: Tsiklon. Launch Vehicle: Tsiklon.
  • R-36 ICBM accepted into service. - . Nation: USSR. Summary: Decree 'On approval of the R-36 ICBM variant with countermeasures to overcome anti-ballistic missiles and on adoption of the R-36 ICBM into armaments' was issued..

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