This page no longer updated from 31 October 2001.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

Spacecraft: OS.

On 23 June 1960 Korolev wrote to the Ministry of Defence, again trying to obtain support for a military orbital station (OS), on which a decision had been deferred to the end of the year. The station would have a crew of 3 to 5, orbited at 350 to 400 km altitude. The station would conduct military reconnaissance, control other spacecraft in orbit, and undertake basic space research. The N-I version of the station would have a mass of 25 to 30 tonnes and the N-II version 60 to 70 tonnes. Korolev pointed out that his design bureau had already completed a draft project, in which 14 work brigades had participated. Missions the station could accomplish included:

  • Reconnaisance
  • Combat operations against enemy spacecraft
  • Strike against any point on earth
  • Communications and relay functions
  • Military applications studies
  • Defence against enemy ballistic missiles
  • Study of the space environment
  • Study of the earth and planets
  • Astronomical observations
  • Weather observation
  • Interorbital communications
  • Study of the sun
  • Biological research
  • Radiation control studies

Korolev would not obtain a positive response to this proposal. As the N1 launch vehicle design grew, this intial OS grew into the much larger TKS of 1961.

Spacecraft: TKS Heavy Space Station.

The TKS (Heavy Space Station, also known as TOSZ - Heavy Orbital Station of the Earth) was Korolev’s first 1961 project for a large N1-launched military space station. The draft project was completed on 3 May 1961 and marked the beginning of a long struggle throughout the 1960’s to get such a station built and launched.

Spacecraft: OP.

Korolev’s next attempt to win military support for development of the N-I was his fantastic ‘Orbitalniy Poyas’ (OP -Orbital Belt) scheme of 20 April 1962. Anticipating Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative by 25 years, he painted a picture of an invincible Soviet space force patrolling the heavens. Two to three large N-I launched military manned stations would control a constellation of strategic assets. Geosynchronous nuclear-powered satellites would provide secure communications. Piloted reconnaissance spacecraft would surprise the enemy, observing military preparations without warning. The orbital stations would provide continuous observations of the territory of the imperialist block. They would control combat sputniks, manoeuvrable anti-satellites that would control the heavens from altitudes of 300 to 2,000 km. Using docking methods, the stations would be remanned, providing fresh crews to control anti-ballistic missile interceptors in 150 to 100 km orbits and to deploy separately targetable warheads at a variety of altitudes.

There is not evidence the military was any more impressed with this justification than those previously put forth.

Spacecraft: OS-1 (1965).

Work on the OS-1 began on 25 September 1962. Following a meeting between Khrushchev and chief designers at Pitsunda, Khrushchev ordered the start of a project to put a 75 tonne manned platform with nuclear weapons into low earth orbit (dubbed elsewhere as 'Battlestar Khrushchev'. Korolev was authorized to proceed immediately to upgrade the three stage N vehicle to a maximum 75 tonne payload in order to launch the station. By 1965 the mockup of the huge station had been completed. This is the original OS-1 configuration according to Vick.

Spacecraft: OS-1962.

On 10 March 1962 Korolev approved the technical project "Complex docking of spacecraft in earth orbit - Soyuz". This contained the original Soyuz L1 circumlunar design. The Vostok-Zh could be used on another mission to assemble a 15 tonne orbital station with the mission of observing the earth. It would consist of three separately-launched blocks: a ZhO living section, BAA scientific apparatus block, and the Soyuz spacecraft itself. This closely resembled Sever, another contemporary study project at OKB-1.

Spacecraft: OS-1 (1969).

By 1969 the OS-1 had evolved to this configuration, as described in the offical RKK history. In 1991 engineers from Energia and other design bureaus taught a course on "Russian Manned Space" at MIT. Among them was Dr. Vladimir Karrask, the first chief designer for the UR-500 (Proton), who told of a shroud he designed for the N-1. The shroud was cylindrical - 6 m diameter x 30 m long - with a very "Proton-like" blunt conical top. He indicated that it had flown on the N-1. Another engineer, S. K. Shaevich, stated that flight hardware (including a backup) was ready for the N-1 flights. There are those who believe that the last two N-1 flights had the Karrask shroud, and possibly the OS-1 station, mounted on them. It is not known if any OS-1 stations actually reached any stage of completion. All plans for the OS-1 had to be constantly deferred until the N1 booster proved itself. This did not prevent the design team from undertaking an even more grandiose study - the MKBS - in which OS-1 derived modules would form mere subunits of a huge space complex. At any rate the termination of the N-1 launch vehicle program ended any possibility of launching the station - unless it was the same as the Mir 2 jumbo space station that was planned for launch by the Energia booster in the 1990's.

Spacecraft: OS-1 Lunar. A version of the OS-1 station was proposed for use in lunar orbit. No other details beyond this sketch.

Spacecraft: MKBS.

The culmination of ten years of designs for N1-launched space stations, the MKBS would be cancelled together with the N1. But the technical legacy would live on in new designs for Soyuz and Progress space station logistics spacecraft used with Salyut and Mir.

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Last update 28 March 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .