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Tsikada -

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Second Generation Space Systems

In November 1966 TsUKOS MO (Central Directorate of the Space Forces of the Ministry of Defence) formed the first permanent unit for military space operations with Col A I Udaltsov as its Chief. In the period 1966 to 1969 the unit prepared and put into operation formal technical procedures. These were issued up in June 1969 in the manual, 'Organisation, Maintenance, and Military Operation of Space Systems'.

These were followed by plans Epokha (1965), Koltso (1968), and Oblako (1970). These formalised the military-political structures for space operations, and determined the optimal groupings of earth- and space-based forces in military operations.

The theoretical plan Koltso (1966-1968) defined an organised method for scientific development of space forces and showed that they could be operated in fundamentally the same way as other arms of the military. In 1968 4 NII MO (Fourth Scientific Research Institute of the Ministry of Defence) formed Filial 4 for scientific research. In April 1970 two directorates were formed, one for Military Space Units Research and the other for Mathematical-Modelling Military Research. These consisted of five new science units, and 12 laboratories. They conducted ballistic calculations for the RVSN Rocket Forces and Space Forces and prepared the TTT and TTZ specifications for new projects.

A Defence Ministry directive of 6 November 1968 laid out the actions to be taken in the late 1960's and early 1970's for unit programming for military utilisation (Plans Mars, Osnova, Orion). The objective was to integrate space forces into overall military planning, taking into account the most cost-effective use of resources. This included basic space research for military and national economy purposes.

Methodical operations planning began mainly in Filial 4 NII MO from 1967, and was completed in 1970 with Plans Prognoz and Sirius Phase I. These established the development plans for the space forces in the period 1971-1980. These plans set the following objectives:

The plans included not just systems and spacecraft, but also infrastructure improvements. The military program 'Space Military Units 1971-1980' laid out recommendations for space units, tactical-technical characteristics, and stages of development. It included 27 space systems, 22 unmanned and 5 manned.

Sirius Phase I was the first space project based on recommendations of the Scientific-Technical Committee of the Rocket Forces, headed by General N N Alekseyev. This first project plan was include in the ninth Soviet Five Year Plan (1971-1975).

The Soviet military units responsible for space operations went through several reorganisations. From October 1964, the Third Directorate of the GURVO (Main Directorate of the Rocket Forces), was responsible for Baikonur and Plesetsk operations. From March 1970 GUKOS MO (Main Directorate of the Space Forces of the Military of Defence) was formed and took over this responsibility. It reported directly to the General Staff.


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Development of the first nine systems of the second generation was completed in 1974-1975 and flight trials were conducted in the second half of the 1970's. The second group of second generation systems were developed in the second half of the 1970's and deployed in the first half of the 1980's. They provided crucial intelligence that helped maintain the USA-USSR balance of power.

Second generation systems were to be designed for practical application of space technology by all parts of the state (military, economic, science, control, agricultural, international co-operation, etc.). The resulting policy decisions included:


To implement these policies, the following systems were planned for 1971-1975:

Launch Vehicles - Second Generation

Light medium launch vehicle: The Kosmos 11K65M continued in service for all lighter satellites. The Kosmos 11K63 was retired.

Medium launch vehicle: The Tsyklon-2 continued in service for the US and IS payloads which were equipped with rocket engines for orbital insertion. Work on the Tsyklon-3 began in the early 1970's. The specification was to deliver 4 tonnes into low earth orbit with high accuracy, requiring minimum adjustment of the operational orbit by the payload. To achieve this a new third stage was developed. A new launch complex for the Tsyklon-3 began construction at the beginning of the 1970's at Plesetsk. The first pad was put into operation in 1977 and the second in 1979.

Heavy launch vehicle: The UR-500K (Proton 8K82K) itself underwent flight trials from March 1978 to February 1970, a total of 20 flights. The original Block D configuration (Proton 8K82K / 11S824) was used until 1976, at which time it was replaced by a modernised version (Proton 8K82K / 11S86) equipped with N2O4/UDMH verniers for precise placement of payloads in geosynchronous orbit. This was accepted into military service in 1978 with the first Raduga launch. Project work began in 1970, with construction starting in 1972, on Launch Complex LC-200 for the Proton and a new MIK-KA for spacecraft integration. The first pad was completed in 1977, the second in 1978, and the MIK-KA was first used in 1981. These facilities supported launch of the military's second and third generation systems.

R-7: The Soyuz 11A511U was a standardised, modernised version of the R-7 launch vehicle with higher performance first and second stage engines. Improvements were made to the launch complexes, including unified test-launch ground support equipment. This was first used on the Apollo-Soyuz launches in the mid-1970's. Military applications included Zenit and Yantar. A modernised Vostok 8A92M launcher remained in service for sun-synchronous orbit payloads. First use was the Meteor launch on 29 June 1977.

Continued in Soviet Space History - Generation 3.

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Last update 12 March 2001.
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