This page no longer updated from 31 October 2001.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

History of the Soviet Space Program

The true history of Soviet spaceflight is predominantly the story of Soviet military space. Manned or scientific space missions could often only be justified as part of larger military projects. Less than 20% of Soviet launches were for 'national prestige' purposes (civilian manned flights, scientific and planetary).

Military space projects were developed in co-ordination with Soviet five year plans. The planing process resulted in a cycle where development of new space systems was authorised in one five year plan, followed by operational use in the next five year plan. This resulted in Soviet space systems falling into three generations before the fall of the Soviet Union. Prior to these three generations a few projects were begun on the initiative of the rocket and spacecraft Chief Designers, before the military fully accepted or understood the usefulness of space systems.

The following articles provide additional historical information not included in this outline:

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Last update 12 March 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .