This page no longer updated from 31 October 2001. Latest version can be found at TKS VA

TKS VA capsule
TKS VA capsule - The landing capsule of the three crew military TKS transport/resupply spacecraft for the Almaz space station. Called ‘our Apollo’ by cosmonaut Leonov. After separation of the capsule from the Almaz the retrorocket assembly at top deorbited the capsule. TKS capsules (VA is the Russian acronym) flew 13 times between 1976 and 1983, ten times in capsule tests, three times as part of complete TKS spacecraft which docked with Salyut space stations. They were never flown manned.

Credit: © Mark Wade. 41,449 bytes. 394 x 579 pixels.

Other Designations: Merkur; VA Vozvrashchaemiy Apparat. Article Number: 11F74. Manufacturer's Designation: TKS VA. Class: Manned. Type: Spacecraft. Nation: USSR. Manufacturer: OKB-52.

TKS VA capsules were launched in pairs by Proton boosters in 1976 to 1979 in a seemingly exhaustive series of flight tests to prove the design. They also flew as part of the complete TKS ferry spacecraft Cosmos 929, 1267, and 1443 in 1977-1983. Despite this, they were never flown manned.


Craft.Crew Size: 3. Design Life: 1.3. Orbital Storage: 400.00 days. Total Length: 3.6 m. Maximum Diameter: 2.8 m. Total Habitable Volume: 4.56 m3. Total Mass: 3,800 kg. Total Payload: 2,235 kg. Electrical System: Batteries.

TKS VA Chronology

15 December 1976 Cosmos 881 Program: Almaz. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K. Mass: 4,250 kg. Perigee: 201 km. Apogee: 241 km. Inclination: 51.6 deg. Duration: 0.06 days.

Double reentry test of TKS-VA capsule of TKS orbital shuttle. Spacecraft each weighed 9,090 kg. One was placed into a lower 189 X 213 km orbit, the other at the higher orbit indicated. After one orbit, both recovered at 44 deg N, 73 deg E, on December 15, 1976 3:00 GMT.

04 August 1977 TKS VA s/n 009P/P Program: Almaz. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K. FAILURE: Failure.
30 March 1978 Cosmos 998 Program: Almaz. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K. Mass: 4,250 kg. Perigee: 200 km. Apogee: 230 km. Inclination: 51.6 deg.

Dual reentry test of two TKS-VA capsules. Recovered March 30, 1978 after one orbit.

20 April 1979 TKS VA s/n 103 Program: Almaz. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K. FAILURE: Engines ignited but immediately shut down on launch pad. Mass: 4,250 kg.
23 May 1979 Cosmos 1100 Program: Almaz. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Proton 8K82K. Mass: 4,250 kg. Perigee: 193 km. Apogee: 222 km. Inclination: 51.6 deg. Duration: 0.06 days.

TKS capsuleTKS capsule - TKS capsule at Khrunichev

Credit: Khrunichev. 18,542 bytes. 220 x 330 pixels.

Dual test of TKS-VA manned capsule. One vehicle reentered and landed after two orbits, the other after one orbit. The top capsule was to have been manned, but the inability to demonstrate two consecutive failure free launches of the Proton/TKS-VA combination made that impossible. This launch successfully demonstrated the reusability of the TKS-VA capusle; the same pair had flown as Cosmos 997/998 on 30 March 1978.

TKS capsule interiorTKS capsule interior - Left control panel of the descent capsule of the TKS spacecraft. The TKS crew instruments were assembled from the same building blocks as those used in the Soyuz series of spacecraft. The standard clock, used since Vostok, is in the top middle of the panel. The large central panel was used to call up sequences of automated spacecraft procedures.

Credit: © Mark Wade. 67,412 bytes. 574 x 395 pixels.


TKS capsule interiorTKS capsule interior - At the junction of the left and right instrument panels of the TKS was a Vzor optical device, as used in Vostok and Soyuz. The Vzor allowed the crew to line up the spacecraft for retrofire and return to earth even if all other spacecraft systems failed.

Credit: © Mark Wade. 50,371 bytes. 571 x 399 pixels.

TKS capsule hatchTKS capsule hatch - The crew of the TKS went from the descent capsule to the main spacecraft cabin through this hatch in the heat shield of the capsule. The central crew couch folded up to give access to the hatch. A similar arrangement was to be used in Gemini B for the USAF MOL (Manned Orbiting Laboratory).

Credit: © Mark Wade. 82,306 bytes. 568 x 397 pixels.


20,057 bytes. 563 x 338 pixels.

Back to Index
Last update 12 March 2001.
Contact Mark Wade with any corrections or comments.
Conditions for use of drawings, pictures, or other materials from this site..
© Mark Wade, 2001 .