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Recent additions:

Gaia

Gaia satellite


Vozvrat-MKA

Vozvrat-MKA


Aist

Aist


Bion

Bion


karat

Karat platform


Spektr-RG

Spektr-RG


Intergelio

Intergelio-Zond


 

 

 

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.

An overview of science and research spacecraft developed in the former USSR:

The project name
Launcher Developer Purpose First launch Mission details
Aist (147KS)
Soyuz
SGAU
Earth science
2013
Experimental, educational satellite
Aist-Struve
-
-
Astronomy
-
-
Astron (1A No. 602)
NPO Lavochkin
Astronomy
1983
UV-telescope
Astron-2
?
IA RAN
Astronomy
-
A study during 2010s
Astrogon
-
NPO Lavochkin
-
- A proposal
AUOS
KB Yuzhnoe
-
1976
Launched within Interkosmos and Coronas programs
Bion (12KS)
Soyuz
TsSKB Progress
Life science
1973 Oct. 31
The IMBP experiments
Bion-M (12KSM)
TsSKB Progress
Life science
2013 April 19
Launched, second planned
Efir (36KS)
-
TsSKB
Physics
1984
Zenit-based, to study high-energy rays
Elektron
-
OKB-1
Space physics
1964
Geo magnetism, solar radiation studies
Energia (13KS)
-
TsSKB
Astrophysics
1972
Zenit-based spacecraft
Foton/Foton-M (34KS)
TsKB MOM
Material science
1985 April 16
A civilian version of the reconaissance spacecraft (120)
Gamma
NPO Energia
Gamma-ray astronomy
1990
Soyuz-based autonomous module
Gamma-400
-
NPO Lavochkin
Astronomy
-
Geomag
-
NPO Lavochkin
-
-
A proposal for a scientific satellite to study the Earth's magnetic field
GFS
Proton (?)
OKB-52
Magnetic field measurement
-
Preliminary design in 1963
Granat (1AS)
NPO Lavochkin
Astrophysics
1989
X-ray and gamma telescope
Intergelio-Zond
NPO Lavochkin
Solar physics
In development
Interkosmos
KB Yuzhnoe
Geophysics
1969
Developed in cooperation with East-Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czheckoslovakia, Poland
InterKosmos-Bulgaria 1300
-
VNNIEM
Geophysics
-
-
Ionosphernaya Stantsiya
-
KBPM
-
1970 Dec. 2
First experimental satellite built at Krasmash mechanical plant in Krasnoyarsk-26. (555)
Ionosfera (Zond)
-
VNIIEM
Geophysics
-
In development; ionospheric research
Ionozond
-
NPO Lavochkin
-
-
In development; an ozone-measuring mission
IRDT
Soyuz/Fregat Volna
NPO Lavochkin
Inflatable reentry technology testing
2000
Partially financed by the European Space Agency
Kanopus-Vulkan
-
VNIIEM
-
-
-
Kanopus-ST
-
PO Polyot
-
-
In development as of 2009 (322)
Kolibri
Students (Australia, Russia)
Space physics, geomagnetism
2002.03.20
A 20.5-kilogram sat launched from the Progress cargo ship, departing the ISS
Kompass
Shtil
KB Mashinostroenia
Earthquake forecasting
2006
-
Koronas-Foton
VNIIEM
-
-

Kosmos-1
(Solar Sail)

Volna
NPO Lavochkin Planetary Society
Solar sail tests
2001
Did not reach orbit due to launch vehicle failures; Partially financed from the private funds in the US
LIDA
-
NPO Lavochkin
-
- A proposal
Lomonosov
-
NPO Lavochkin
Astronomy
- A proposal around end of 1970s.
LORD
-
NPO Lavochkin
-
- A proposal
Lunnaya Doroga
-
NPO Lavochkin
-
- A proposal
MiR
-
ISS Reshetnev/SibGAU
Experimental
2012
-
MKA FKI PN1 Zond-PP
NPO Lavochkin
-
2012 July 22
Launched successfully. A remote-sensing satellite with an L-band radiometer. Failed in 2013
MKA FKI PN2 (Monika) Relek
-
NPO Lavochkin
-
2013
In development, ionospheric research
MKA FKI PN3 Konus-M (372A353)
-
NPO Lavochkin
-
- In development
MKA FKI PN4 Strannik
-
NPO Lavochkin
-
- In development
MKA FKI PN5 ARKA
-
NPO Lavochkin
-
2007-2015 (327) In development (Program based on the Karat platform)
MKA-AVKP
-
NPO Lavochkin
-
- A proposal
Nauka (1KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
1968
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (2KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (5KSA)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (9KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback; Gamma-telescope
Nauka (15KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (16KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (17KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (19KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (20KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (22KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (23KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (25KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
-
Nauka (26KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (27KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (30KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (31KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (32KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nauka (33KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Launched along with Zenit-2M as a piggyback
Nuklon
-
PO Polyot
-
-
In development as of 2009. (322)
Obzor (8KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Related to Nauka-series sub-satellites
OKA-T-MKS (52KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
A man-tended platform within ISS project
OLVE (Orbital laboratory of high energy)
-
-
-
after 2025
A proposal circa 2014
OM (5KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Related to Nauka-series sub-satellites
Oreol
-
Physics
1971
Soviet-French Arkad experiments
Oreol-2
-
Physics
1973
Soviet-French experiments
Plazma-A
KB Arsenal
Technology
1987
Kosmos-1818, 1867 plasma engine testing
Predvestnik
-
Arsenal
Earthquake forecasting
-
-
Prognoz
NPO Lavochkin
Geo-physics
1972-85
Geo magnetism, solar radiation studies
Regatta-Astro
-
IKI
Astrometry
1994-1997
A 203-kilogram spacecraft proposed around 1989
Rentgenovsky Mikrofon
-
-
Astrophysics
-
Preliminary studies as of 2012
Rezonans (MKA FKI)
-
NPO Lavochkin
Magnetic field

2012 (327) 2014 (388)
2019

OKR (in development)
Roy
Soyuz/Fregat
-
Plasma studies
NIR (preliminary studies)
Selesta
-
-
-
2020?
Motions and parallaxes of stars within the accuracy of sub-millisecond of arc. (368)
Soyuz-SAT-O
-
PO Polyot
-
-
In development as of 2009. (322)
Spektr-M
NPO Lavochkin
Astronomy
after 2025
Under consideration since around 2008
Spektr-Obzor-K (14KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
-
Spektr-RG (Roentgen-Gamma)
Zenit, (originally Proton)
NPO Lavochkin
X-ray, gamma-ray astronomy
X-ray orbital observatory
Spektr-R (Radioastron)
Zenit, (originally Proton)
NPO Lavochkin
Radio-astronomy
A space-based radio telescope
Spektr-S (Submillimetron)
-
NPO Lavochkin
Astrophysics
-
A space-based telescope proposal
Spektr-UF
Zenit, (originally Proton)
NPO Lavochkin
UV-astronomy
A space-based UV telescope
Sputnik-1 (PS-1)
OKB-1
Upper atmosphere research
World's first artificial satellite
Sputnik-2 (PS-2)
OKB-1
First biological test in space
World's first biologoical satellite; carried dog Laika
Sputnik-3
OKB-1
Space rays, etc
1958
A multi-purpose space research satellite
Start-M
-
IKI
Radiotelescope
1968-1970
Space-based interferometers
SVCh-RK
-
NPO Lavochkin
-
- A proposal
Tsvetok
-
NPO Lavochkin
-
- A proposal
Vega (3KS)
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Related to Nauka series sub-satellites
Vulkan
-
VNIIEM
Ionospheric research
-
-
Vulkan-Astrogon
-
VNIIEM
Hyperspectral sensors
-
-
Vulkan-E
-
VNIIEM
High-resolution optical remote sensing
-
-
Vertikalny Kosmichesky Zond
-
NPO PM
-
-
-
Vozvrat-MKA
-
TsSKB Progress
-
-
Zond-PP (MKA-FKI)
NPO Lavochkin
Earth science
The first mission in the Karat series

Recent developments

Russian sub launches inflatable reentry device

Published: 2002 July 12; updated July 16

A Russian strategic submarine launched a ballistic missile carrying an inflatable reentry device designed to return cargo from orbit to Earth.

The Volna rocket blasted off at 03:58 Moscow Time from the Ryazan strategic nuclear submarine stationed in the Barents Sea, a representative of the Russian Navy said. (The Volna is the "civilian designation" for the R-29RL submarine-based ballistic missile.) The launch targeted the Kura testing ground located on the Kamchatka Peninsula, however several days after the launch, the search team in the area was unable to locate the reentry device and its experimental payload, designated Demonstrator-2.

The inflatable reentry technology, known as IRDT, was originally developed by the Khimki-based NPO Lavochkin design bureau for a Martian lander, within the Mars-96 project. Later the technology was adapted for use in low-Earth orbit and tested in three different configurations during two launches in 2000 and 2001. Only in one previous case, an experimental payload, called Demonstrator, was successfully returned to Earth. Attempts to return a solar-sailing spacecraft in 2001 failed. (See below). In 2000, the Fregat upper stage was believed to be successfully reentered the atmosphere using the IRDT, however, the search for the stage in the landing area yielded no results.


Russia plans space observatories

Published: 2006 Dec. 9

On August 29, 2006, speaking at the 5th International Aerospace Congress in Moscow, Deputy Chief of the Federal Space Agency, Vitaly Davydov said that a fleet of three astronomy observatories of the Spektr series, along with Koronas-Foton and Intergelio-Zond spacecraft were promised funding.


Russia plans small science satellites

Published: 2006 Dec. 9

On December 6, 2006, Russian space agency, Roskosmos, revealed plans for five launches in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015 within an umbrella program called "Small spacecraft for fundamental space science." The program was based on a low-cost satellite platform developed by NPO Lavochkin with non-federal funding. At the time, one or two of these missions were expected to go into lunar orbit, according to Roskosmos.


Russia introduces two new satellite families

Published: 2012 July 20; updated July 22

A Russian rocket lifted off Sunday with a cluster of five satellites, among them a pair of new-generation spacecraft inaugurating platforms for future scientific and commercial applications.

A Soyuz-FG/Fregat rocket blasted off from Site 31 in Baikonur on July 22, 2012, at 10:41:39 Moscow Time, carrying Russian Kanopus-V No. 1 remote-sensing satellite along with a similar BKA spacecraft built for the government of Belarus. As secondary payloads, the mission carried a Russian MKA-FKI science satellite, an exactView satellite for a Canadian company and a TET-1 experimental satellite funded by the German space agency, DLR.

According to the Russian space agency, the Fregat upper stage separated from the third stage of the launch vehicle at 10:50 Moscow Time and started its own flight including five firings of its main engine.

All five payloads reached orbit successfully. BKA separated from the Fregat at 11:26 Moscow Time, followed by Kanopus-V at 11:31, TET-1 at 11:33, exactView-1 and MKA-FKI at 13:00:33 Moscow Time, when flying over the Pacific Ocean beyond the communication range of Russian ground stations. The Fregat upper stage then conducted a deorbiting maneuver and reentered the Earth atmosphere at 13:50:53 Moscow Time. A ground control team responsible for MKA-FKI spacecraft confirmed establishing normal contact with the satellite shortly after it had entered the communication range at 13:55:21 Moscow Time. Industry sources also reported that Kanopus and BKA satellites estblished contact and downlinked telemetry during the second orbit of the mission.

Both Russian spacecraft onboard this Soyuz rocket represented new types of standard carriers, which are scheduled to be customized for future missions. The Kanopus platform is intended primarily for remote-sensing commercial applications, while a smaller Karat bus is well suited for a wide variety of low-cost science experiments. Both platforms already have a backlog of future missions waiting for launch.


This page is maintained by Anatoly Zak;

Last update: August 28, 2014

All rights reserved

PICTURE GALLERY

The replica of the first "simplest satellite," PS-1, known in the West as Sputnik-1. Although it lacked any real scientific instruments, the spacecraft helped to determine the density of the upper atmosphere. Copyright © 2000 Anatoly Zak


The Sputnik-2 launched in November 1957, carried a live dog, however the spacecraft had no reentry and soft-landing systems. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak


Sputnik-3 launched in 1958 was the first truly scientific spacecraft launched in the USSR. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak


Copyright © 2000 Anatoly Zak

Electron-1 (top) and Electron-2 (bottom) spacecraft, launched in 1964, provided data on space radiation. Copyright © 2000 Anatoly Zak


A full-size replica of the Proton-1 satellite (top) and a scale model of the Proton-4 -- a series of satellites built as a "fast-reaction" payloads for the test flights of the UR-500 (Proton) rocket in mid-1960s. The spacecraft were equipped with the detectors for the experiments in astrophysics. Copyright © 2000 Anatoly Zak


The Vertikalny Kosmichesky Zond (Vertical Space Probe) reached an altitude of 4,400 kilometers after its launch from Baikonur on October 12, 1967. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak


The DS-U1-G spacecraft launched under name Kosmos-108 and 196 in 1966 and 1967 helped to determine the density of the upper atmosphere and to register UV radiation from the Sun. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak


The DS-MO spacecraft (Kosmos-149) employed unique aerodynamic stabilization system during the experiments in the upper atmosphere. Copyright © 2001 Anatoly Zak


The DS-U2-M spacecraft, launched under name Kosmos-97 and 145 in 1965 and 1967, tested Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. Copyright © 2000 Anatoly Zak


The DS-U3-IK-3 spacecraft represents only one in the numerous family of science spacecraft built by KB Yuzhnoe. This particular version, launched under name InterKosmos-7 in 1972, was customized to register X-ray radiation. Copyright © 2000 Anatoly Zak


The DS-U2-IK-6 spacecraft, launched under name InternKosmos-14 in 1975, studied electrical and magnetic fields in the Earth orbit. Copyright © 2000 Anatoly Zak


The AUOS-Z bus, first launched in 1976 became a platform for many geophysical experiments in orbit. Copyright © 2000 Anatoly Zak


The Prognoz ("Forecast") spacecraft, launched for the first time in 1972, were used to study solar activity and Earth's magnitosphere. Copyright © 2000 Anatoly Zak


Astron

A body of a UV-telescope for the Astron orbital telescope built by NPO Lavochkin. Copyright © 2000 Anatoly Zak


Karat

NPO Lavochkin developed a full-scale mockup of the light-weight Karat satellite bus developed by for a variety of applications. Click to enlarge. Copyright © 2008 Anatoly Zak


Spektr UV

The Spektr UF telescope: original architecture (top) and the latest configuration (bottom). Copyright © 2008 Anatoly Zak