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ORIGINS OF SPACE FLIGHT

Book

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Astronomy

Astronomy: a prequel to space flight

Over many centuries, the idea of space travel has been taking shape with the humanity's improving understanding of the Universe. Before flying machines could attempt to escape the Earth's gravity, generations of astronomers had been bluilding a realistic stage for space exploration, while their tools served as the earliest space research instruments.

EARLIEST EXPERIMENTAL SATELLITES
Sputnik-1

After millennia of dreams, centuries of scientific research and decades of engineering experimentation, the Space Age began in 1957 with the launch of the Earth's first artificial satellite.

Sputnik: The Soviet satellite project | Sputnik-2: Laika's mission | Sputnik-3: The multi-purpose orbital science lab

MANNED SPACECRAFT

Hot topics:

Preparation

Vostok mission

Aftermath

Valentina Tereshkova

Voskhod

Voskhod

Soyuz

Soyuz

LK

LK

Buran

BTS

BTS-002 GLI

Mir

Kliper

Parom

PTK NP

LOS

OPSEK

Docking

Docking

Inflatable

Inflatables

The Soviet Union pioneered human conquest of space sending the first piloted spacecraft into orbit in 1961. Since then, several generations of transport ships and orbital stations were developed in the country. Much more ambitious projects of giant orbital settlements, lunar bases and expeditions to Mars were conceived, but could not be implemented due to their tremendous cost. Yet, along with the United States, Russia had remained one of two nations in the world sending people in space in the 20th century.

HISTORICAL PROJECTS

The pioneers: Early manned space flight projects, Vostok and Voskhod missions (1946-1966)

Reusable spacecraft (Abstract page)

The Moon Race: The early Soyuz missions, L1, N-1/L3 programs (1967-1974)

Mars mission: Russian plans for a manned expedition to the Red Planet (1960s-1990s)

First space stations: Salyut-1-7 (1969-1985)

The Almaz military space station program: OPS-1; OPS-2; OPS-3; OPS-4; Almaz-205; Almaz-206

LKS: Vladimir Chelomei's alternative to Buran (1974-1983)

Spiral orbiter | Spiral's technical description

Buran: Energia-Buran reusable spacecraft program (1974-1993)

Mir: The first permanent manned outpost in space (1986-2001)

Kliper: A study of a reusable orbiter to replace Soyuz (2000-2006)

TKS follow-on: Proposals for a follow-on series to the TKS spacecraft by Khrunichev enterprise (2005-2009)


FLYING TODAY

Russian manned space program strategy in 2010s

International Space Station: A multinational effort to build human forepost in the Earth orbit


PLANS FOR THE FUTURE

OPSEK: A project of a space station to succeed the ISS

PTK NP: A program of development of the next-generation manned spacecraft

Retrievable Progress cargo ship

Parom orbital tug

Lunar Orbital Station, LOS

Missions to Lagrangian points

Space Exploration Initiative, SEI: A NASA program for a manned lunar base, which could involve international partners, including Russia

PLANETARY SPACECRAFT

Hot topics:

Luna

Lunar missions

Luna-Resurs

Luna-Resurs

Luna-Grunt

Luna-Grunt

Poligon

Lunny Poligon

Fobos

Phobos (Fobos)

Phobos Grunt main

Phobos-Grunt

Laplas

Laplas

Apophis

Apophis

Intergelio

Intergelio-Zond

MSR

Mars Sample Return

Expedition-M

Expedition-M

INTO DEEP SPACE

As soon as rockets learned to fly beyond the atmosphere, the spacecraft developers on both sides of the Atlantic drafted the plans for planetary exploration. The Soviet space probes opened the race to the Moon, Venus and Mars. The projects of unmanned missions to Mercury and Jupiter were also under consideration in the former USSR.

Russian unmanned planetary exploration program as of 2013

NEW, Aug. 3: Russian unmanned planetary exploration program in 2014


UNMANNED MISSIONS TO THE MOON

Historical missions:

Luna-1

Luna-24

Plans for the future:

Luna-Glob (Origin of the project)

Luna-Resurs (Origin of the project)

Rethinking Russian lunar plans in 2012

Luna-Grunt

Lunny Poligon


UNMANNED MISSIONS TO MARS

Historical missions:

Mars-69 missions

Phobos (Fobos) mission

Mars-96

Phobos-Grunt (Fobos-Grunt) main page

Plans for the future:

ExoMars 2016

ExoMars 2018

Phobos-Grunt-2 (Bumerang)

Mars-NET

Mars sample return


UNMANNED MISSIONS TO VENUS

Historical missions:

Venera-7

Venera-72 No. 671 (Kosmos-482)

Venera-9 and 10

Plans for the future:

Venera-D


UNMANNED MISSIONS BEUOND MARS AND VENUS

Historical missions

3MV (Zond) project

Plans for the future

Intergelio-Zond mission to explore our Sun

NEW, Aug. 15: Solnechny Parus solar-sailing mission

Laplas mission to Jupiter and its moons

Missions to Mercury

Missions to comets and asteroids

MILITARY SPACECRAFT

Hot topics:

Persona

Persona

Kondor

Kondor

Geo-IK-2

Geo-IK-2

GLONASS-K

GLONASS-K

Musson

Musson

IN THE UNIFORM: Military satellites

A vast majority of satellites that the Soviet Union had launched from 1961 to 1991 carried out military missions. Publicly, however, the USSR denied the very existence of the military space program. Not surprisingly, numerous military space projects were not publically known until the last decade of the 20th century. As their US counterparts, the Russian satellites served as spies for the government, as space sentries looking for the incoming missiles, provided secret communications and weather forecasting and scanned surface of the oceans in search for potential targets for the Soviet cruise missiles.

 

COMMERCIAL AND APPLICATION SPACECRAFT

Hot topics:

Resurs-P

Resurs-P

Kanopus

Kanopus series

Elektro

Elektro-L

Luch-5A

Luch-5A

BUSINESS IN SPACE: Application and commercial satellites

Although most Soviet satellites had originated as defense-related systems, they eventually began contributing into civilian sectors of economy. Huge progress in satellite communications, weather forecasting and observations of the Earth's surface created a great demand for dedicated non-military satellites. While many application spacecraft still have a dual purpose, their transfer under jurisdiction of civilian agencies, along with their declassified and often commercial nature put such spacecraft into a distinct category.

Remote-sensing satellites

Communications satellites

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY SPACECRAFT

Hot topics:

Vozvrat-MKA

Vozvrat-MKA

Bion

Bion

karat

Karat platform

Spektr-RG

Spektr-RG

Spektr-UF

Spektr-UF

SPACELABS: Science satellites

The very first satellite launched by the USSR in 1957 helped to advance the understanding of the upper atmosphere. Since then, Russian spacecraft have been making significant contributions in the mankind's understanding of the Solar System and the broader Universe. The Earth-orbiting satellites studied cosmic radiation, distant objects and physical phenomena in deep space. They also helped to advance material science and space biology.

Astrometria star-mapping satellite

AUOS spacecraft bus

Bion project home page

COROT astronomy satellite

Cosmos-1 solar sailing spacecraft

Foton material science satellite

Foton-M4

Gaia satellite

Karat (MKA-FKI) platform home page

Kompas

Koronas-Foton

Navigator platform

Spektr-R home page

Spektr-M (Millimetron) orbital observatory

Spektr-RG (Rentgen) X-ray orbital observatory

Spektr-UF (Ultrafiolet, WSO) ultraviolet observatory

Vozvrat-MKA