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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 took shape with humanity's improving understanding of the Universe. Before any flying machines could attempt to escape the Earth gravity, generations of astronomers were building a realistic stage for space exploration, while their tools served as the earliest space research instruments. See also: Visual history of astronomical tools

EARLIEST EXPERIMENTAL SATELLITES
Sputnik-1

After millennia of dreams, centuries of scientific research and decades of engineering experimentation, the Space Age has 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

Buran

BTS

BTS-002 GLI

LK

Soyuz

Mir

Kliper

Parom

PTK NP

LOS

OPSEK

Docking

Docking

Inflatable

Inflatables

The Soviet Union started human conquest of space sending the first piloted spacecraft into orbit in 1961. Since then, several generations of the transport ships and orbital stations have been developed in the country. Much more ambitious projects of giant orbital settlements, lunar bases and expeditions to Mars have been conceived, but could not be implemented due to tremendous cost. Yet, along with the United States, Russia 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 designers on both sides of the Atlantic drafted the plans for planetary exploration. The Soviet space probes opened 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

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 of Russian lunar plans in 2012

Luna-Grunt

Lunny Poligon


New, April 2: 3MV (Zond) project

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

In depth:


Unmanned missions beyond Mars and Venus

In depth:

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

An invisible army of military satellites was orbiting Earth since the down of the space era. In fact, the absolute majority of satellites the Soviet Union had launched during its existence served military purposes. Ironically, for several decades, the USSR would not even admit the existence of the military space program in the country. As a result, numerous spacecraft have never been seen or heard of 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.

In depth:

 

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 satellites, the Soviet Union developed during its existence, originated as defense-related systems, many of them were slowly making their way into civilian sectors of the Russian economy. While some spacecraft combined their military and civilian roles, a number of satellites was built specifically for civilian purposes.

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

A very first satellite the Soviet Union launched in 1957 helped to advance the understanding of the upper atmosphere. Since then, the Russian spacecraft made their contribution in the mankind's understanding of the Universe. The Earth-orbiting satellites studied cosmic radiation, distant objects and physical phenomena in deep space.

In depth: