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Gamma -

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Manufacturer's Designation: 19KA30. Class: Astronomy. Type: Gamma Ray. Nation: USSR. Manufacturer: OKB-1.

The Gamma USSR/France gamma/x-ray astronomical telescope spacecraft was derived from the Soyuz manned spacecraft and had an unusually long gestation. The basic design was first conceived in 1965 as part of a 'Cloud Space Station' - a primary space station from which a number of man-tended, free-flying spacecraft would operated. This evolved by the early 1970's into the MKBS/MOK space station complex. Various spacecraft with specialised laboratories or instrument sets would fly autonomously away from the huge N1-launched main station. Gamma was originally to be a free-flyer of this complex. The Soyuz propulsion system was used, but the descent and orbital modules were replaced by a large pressurised cylinder containing the scientific instruments.

Work on the instrument payload for Gamma began in 1972, and French participation began in 1974. However that same year the N1 launch vehicle, and the MKBS space station, were cancelled.

The Soviet space program was completely reformulated in a resolution of February 1976, which included authorisation to develop the free flyer in conjunction with the DOS-7/DOS-8 space station (which would eventually evolve into Mir). The draft project for Gamma was completed in 1978, and production was authorised together with Mir on 16 February 1979. At this point Gamma included a passive docking port so that the spacecraft could be serviced by Soyuz manned spacecraft. It was planned that at six and twelve months into its one year mission Gamma would be visited by a two-crew Soyuz, who would replace film cassettes and repair or replace instruments. This approach was dropped in 1982 when it became apparent that the spacecraft was overweight and that all planned Soyuz would be needed for support of the Mir station itself. All film systems were removed and replaced with purely electronic data return methods.

By that time Gamma was scheduled originally for launch in 1984, but further severe technical delays resulted in a 1990 launch, 35 years after it was first conceived. In the end the satellite's research in the field of high-energy astrophysics, conducted jointly with France and Poland, did not produce many noteworthy results.


Total Length: 7.7 m. Maximum Diameter: 2.7 m. Total Mass: 7,350 kg.

Gamma Chronology

17 February 1976 Energia, Buran, Mir, Luch, Potok approved; N1 formally cancelled. Launch Vehicle: N1, N1F, Energia.

Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On work on Energia-Buran, DOS-7K nos. 7 and 8, Gamma. Geyzer (Potok), and Altair (Luch) and cancellation of the N1' was issued. The design of an improved model of the Salyut DOS-17K space station was authorised as part of the third generation of Soviet space systems in a decree. At that time it was planned that the two stations (DOS-7 and DOS-8) would be equipped with two docking ports at either end of the station and an additional two ports at the sides of the forward small diameter compartment. Luch and Potok were elements of the second generation global command and control system (GKKRS) deployed in the first half of the 1980's. Luch satellites, analogous to the US TDRS, provided communications service to the Mir space station, Buran space shuttle, Soyuz-TM spacecraft, military satellites, and the TsUPK ground control center. They also served to provide mobile fleet communications for the Soviet Navy.


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11 July 1990 Gamma Program: Salyut. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Soyuz 11A511U. Mass: 7,350 kg. Perigee: 382 km. Apogee: 387 km. Inclination: 51.6 deg. Duration: 1,388.41 days.

Spacecraft mission was research in the field of high-energy (gamma/x-ray) astrophysics conducted jointly with France and Poland. The satellite was based on the Soyuz manned spacecraft and had an extremely long gestation - conceived in 1965, authorised in 1976, scheduled originally for launch in 1984, but further severe technical delays resulted in a 1990 launch.


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Last update 12 March 2001.
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