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Start family:

Manufacturer index
Base rocket
US DOD designation

NATO designation

EKA-1, Zeya, EarlyBird
Gurwin, Unamsat, EKA-2

Start-1 and Start launcher tech dossier:

Number of stages
Length of the vehicle
22.7 meters

28.9 meters

1.8 meters
1.8 meters
Weight (fueled)
47 tons
60 tons
First launch 1993 1995
Last launch Dec. 5, 2000 1995?
Launch sites Plesetsk, Svobodny Plesetsk
Stage 1
Stage 1 weight 27.8 tons

27.8 tons

Stage 1 length 8.1 meters

8.1 meters

Stage 1 diameter 1.8 meters 1.8 meters
1st stage propulsion 1 solid motor 1 solid motor
Stage 2
Stage 2 length

4.6 meters

4.6 meters

Stage 2 diameter 1.55 meters 1.55 meters
2nd stage propulsion 1 solid motor 1 solid motor
Stage 3
Stage 3 length 3.9 meters

4.6 meters

Stage 3 diameter 1.34 meters 1.55 meters
Stage 3 propulsion 1 solid motor 1 solid motor
Stage 4
Stage weight (fueled) - -
Stage 4 length ? 3.9 meters
Stage 4 diameter ? 1.34 meters
Stage 4 propulsion ? 1 solid motor
Stage 5
Stage 5 length - ?
Stage 5 diameter - ?
Stage 5 propulsion - ?
320 - 550 kg to 300 - 700-kilometer polar orbit
320 - 850 kg to 300 - 1,000-kilometer polar orbit

Start launcher development team:

Element Developer Chief Designer Location
Overall design
Moscow Teplotechics Institute (MIT)
Y. Solomonov
Votkinsk Plant
V. Tolmachev
Votkinsk, Udmurt Republic
NPO Soyuz
B. Zhukov
Lyubertsy (Moscow)

Start program developments:

1996 October: Akjuit Aerospace of Canada and NTTs Complex of Russia signed an agreement to launch Start boosters from a commercial spaceport in Northern Manitoba near Churchill, Manitoba. The construction of the "Spaceport Canada" was scheduled to start in the summer of 1997 and the first launch was expected in late 1998. Both Canadian and Russian government reportedly endorsed the project. (104)

Start launch log:

1993 March 25: A Start-1 launch vehicle lifted off from Plesetsk for the first time successfully delivering an experimental EKA-1 satellite.

1995 May 24: A Start launch vehicle failed to reach orbit after a liftoff from Plesetsk destroying the Russian EKA-2, an Israeli Gurwin (Techsat) and the Mexican Unamsat satellites.

1997 March 4, 05:00 local time (2 a.m. GMT): A Start-1 launch vehicle successfully delivered the 87-kilogram Zeya experimental satellite from Svobodny Cosmodrome into a Sun-synchronous orbit. The Zeya satellite was developed at NPO PM design bureau in cooperation with Mozhaisky Academy under a contract with the Russian space forces, VKS.

1997 Dec. 24: Start-1 placed EarlyBird satellite for the US company Earth Watch Inc, into sun-synchronous orbit after launch from Svobodny Cosmodrome in Western Siberia.

2000 Dec. 5: Start-1 booster successfully placed an Israeli-built EROS-A1 commercial imaging satellite into the sun-synchronous orbit after the launch from Svobodny Cosmodrome in Western Siberia.

2001 Feb. 20, 11:48:27 Moscow Time: Start-1 booster launched Odin research satellite from Svobodny Cosmodrome. The satellite separated from the fourth stage of the launch vehicle at 12:04:35 Moscow Time.

2006 April 25, 20:46 Moscow Summer Time (16:46 GMT): (planned time: 20:47:16) A converted ballistic missile delivered an Israeli remote-sensing satellite, after a blastoff from a launch site in the Russian Far East. The Start-1 launch vehicle, carrying the EROS-B1 satellite, blasted off from a mobile launcher deployed at the Svobodny.

The payload entered a nominal 508-kilometer circular polar orbit with the inclination 97.3 degrees toward the Equator approximately 16 minutes after the launch. The solar panels of the satellite had been successfully deployed some 30 seconds later.

The mission of the EROS-B1 received more attention from the media that those of its predecessor, in light of recent threats to Israel from the Iranian government. The world press emphasized that the Israeli government, as one of the major customer of the satellite's data, could use it to monitor Iranian military activities, including its nuclear and missile programs.

The launch was delayed from the fourth quarter of 2005 and March 21, 2005.

Text by Anatoly Zak; Last update: March 12, 2013

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A five-stage Start launcher blasts off on an ill-fated mission in 1995. Credit: MIT


Integration of the payload section, KGCh, with the Start-1 booster. Credit: SSC

Start rocket

The rollout of the Start-1 mobile launcher in Svobodny. Credit: MIT

Start-1 launch

The Star-1 launch vehicle lifts off from Svobodny Cosmodrome. Credit: MIT