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Proton's second stage

The second stage of the Proton rocket has a traditional shape of a cylinder. After four test launches of Proton's original version in 1965 and 1966, the second stage was stretched and it has kept its new dimensions ever since.

Previous chapter: Stage I of the Proton rocket

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Proton's second stage, view from the front.

In first four missions of the Proton rocket, its second stage was equipped with three RD-0208 engines and one RD-0209 engine, all suspended in a special gymbal system designed to steer the rocket in flight. However beginning in 1967, Proton-K's second stage was upgraded to RD-0210 and RD-0211 engines, respectively.

Over the years, modifications to Proton second stage, currently designated 8S811KM, included structural reinforcement of the forward portion of the stage, in order to carry greater payload and to withstand higher aerodynamic loads. Minor structural weight reductions were also implemented.

During a typical mission of the Proton-K rocket, the second stage ignited slightly more than two minutes after launch, while still connected to the first stage. The separation between the first and second stage takes place around four seconds later with the help of 20 pyro-bolts.

The second stage would end its firing five and a half minutes after liftoff and separate in the stratosphere at an altitude of more than 120 kilometers, with the help of six small solid-propellant motors firing in the direction of the flight. Its total burn time normally lasts around three and a half minutes.

The second stage normally falls at the impact site No. 310 on the border between Eastern Kazakhstan and the Altai Republic in Southern Russia, some 1,620 kilometers from its launch site.


Next chapter: Stage III of the Proton rocket



Technical specifications of the second stage of the original Proton-K rocket:

Dry mass
11,730 kilograms
Fueled mass
236,590 kilograms
Liftoff mass
236,400 kilograms
Oxidizer mass
112,230 kilograms
Fuel mass
43,280 kilograms
The end mass
82,780 kilograms
Liftoff to end mass ratio
Propulsion system thrust to liftoff mass ratio
Burn time
213.3 seconds



Technical specifications of the second stage of the original UR-500, Proton-K and Proton-M rockets:

4.1 meters
4.1 meters
4.1 meters
A total length of the first stage
14.56 meters
17.5 meters
17.5 meters
Propulsion system
Four RD-0208/0209
Four RD-0210/0211
A total thrust of the second stage in vacuum
- meganewtons
2.3 meganewtons
2.4 meganewtons
A total dry mass of the second stage
12,100 kilograms
11,715 kilograms
11,400 kilograms
A total mass of propellant in the second stage
- kilograms
156,113 kilograms
157,300 kilograms
Separation time
T+210-230 seconds*
T+327.3 - 331.3 seconds*
T+- seconds*
Separation speed
4,399.0 meters per second*
4,380.8 meters per second
Separation altitude
121.7 kilometers*
126.4 kilometers*

*Varies depending on a particular mission

Read much more about the history of the Russian space program in a richly illustrated, large-format glossy edition:



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Page author: Anatoly Zak;

Last update: October 30, 2016

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A second stage of the proton rocket during its assembly in Moscow. Credit: GKNPTs Khrunichev

Stage 2

The second stage of the Proton rocket on its railway trailer in Baikonur. Credit: GKNPTs Khrunichev



A scale model of the RD-0210 engine. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2008 Anatoly Zak