Kosmos 186/188 docking. Soyuz-R and OIS would have had a similar appearance.
Credit: © Mark Wade. 29,841 bytes. 485 x 366 pixels.
In December 1962 Sergei Korolev released his draft project for a versatile manned spacecraft to follow Vostok. Among the designs was the Soyuz P interceptor and Soyuz R (Razvedki, intelligence) command-reconnaissance spacecraft. The VVS and the Strategic Rocket Forces supported these variants of the Soyuz. They were fully aware that the US Air Force’s Manned Orbiting Laboratory was in the advance concept stage (it would be approved for development on December 10, 1963). But Korolev had no time to work on Soyuz ‘side-lines’. Therefore he decided to 'subcontract' the military projects Soyuz-P and Soyuz-R to OKB-1 filial number 3, based in Samara (then Kuibishev), headed by Chief Designer Dmitri Ilyich Kozlov.
The Soyuz-R system consisted of two separately launched spacecraft, with the docked complex having a total mass of 13 tonnes. The small orbital station 11F71 would be equipped with photo-reconnaissance and ELINT equipment. This station was based on the Soyuz 7K, but the descent apparatus and living module were replaced with a storage section for modular equipment (this would later be developed further as a free-flyer spacecraft for the giant MOK orbital complex 19K, finally resulting in the 1990 (!) autonomous spacecraft 19KA30 Gamma). It is interesting to note that the external appearance of the Soyuz-R was very similar to pictures published on 1 November 1967 of the docking of Kosmos 186 and 188. These spacecraft were actually 11F615 7K-OK Soyuzes, but at that time the configuration was still secret. Therefore the configuration of the by-then cancelled 7K-R was used for the public release.
|Soyuz R - Soyuz R military research laboratory (conceptual drawing based on description).|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 32,334 bytes. 614 x 379 pixels.
For Kozlov development of military spacecraft was nothing new. In 1961 he completed the technical documentation for the serial production of the photo reconnaissance satellite 11F61 Zenit-2, and from 1964, filial 3 undertook development of the 11F69 Zenit-4 reconnaissance satellite from draft project to production. Samara was also responsible for future development and production support of derivatives of the R-7 family of launch vehicles.
Soyuz-R was included by the Defence Ministry in the 1964-1969 five-year space reconnaissance plan. The decree on this subject was issued by Marshal Malinovksiy on 18 June 1964. By 1965 the Soviet Academy of Sciences, the military organs, and Ministry of General Machine Building had approved the advanced design project. Kamanin, the head of the cosmonaut corps, noted problems in training cosmonauts for the complex planned missions.
Vladimir Nikolaevich Chelomei headed a competing space design bureau OKB-52 and was Korolev’s arch-rival. He had prospered in the early 1960’s when he was backed by Khrushchev. On 12 October 1964, only two days before the overthrow of his patron, Chelomei obtained permission to begin development of a larger military space station, the Almaz. This 20 tonne station would take three cosmonauts to orbit in a single launch of his UR-500K Proton rocket. Therefore in 1965 there were two competing projects in development for the same mission - Almaz and Soyuz-R.
|Military Soyuz - Comparison of military variants of Soyuz. From left to right: Soyuz P, Soyuz PPK, Soyuz R, Soyuz VI (Kozlov), Soyuz VI/OIS (Mishin)|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 27,972 bytes. 634 x 369 pixels.
Craft.Crew Size: 2. Total Length: 15.0 m. Maximum Diameter: 2.7 m. Total Habitable Volume: 18.00 m3. Total Mass: 13,000 kg.
The draft project for a versatile manned spacecraft included the Soyuz-A circumlunar spacecraft, the military Soyuz-P fighter and Soyuz-R reconn bird.
Aside from the baseline Soyuz-B circumlunar mission, the draft project also proposed the Soyuz-P space interceptor and the Soyuz-R command-reconnaissance spacecraft. The military projects Soyuz-P and Soyuz-R were ‘subcontracted’ to OKB-1 Filial Number 3, based in Samara. The Soyuz B circumlunar version did not receive the same level of financial support.
KB Kozlov began active development of the military applied versions of the Soyuz. A new version of the R-7 launch vehicle, the 11A514, was put into development to support launch of the Soyuz-P, now designated the 7K-PPK (pilotiruemovo korablya-perekhvatchika, manned interceptor spacecraft). The Soyuz-R would include the small orbital station 11F71 with photo-reconnaissance and ELINT equipment. To dock with the 11F71 station Kuibishev developed the transport spacecraft 11F72 7K-TK. This version of the Soyuz was equipped with rendezvous, docking, and transition equipment, including an airlock, that allowed the two cosmonauts to enter the station without using EVA. The launch vehicle for the 7K-TK would be the 11A511, known today as the Soyuz.
Ministry of Defence Decree 'On military space programs for 1964-69, including the R spaceplane' was issued. The decree was issued by Defence Ministry Marshal Rodiono Yakovlevich Malinovksiy. Included in this plan were new versions of the automatic Zenit, More-1 (US series) spacecraft, the Spiral spaceplane, the Soyuz-R manned combat spacecraft, and others. Chelomei's Raketoplan spaceplane was cancelled.
The day before the overthrow of his patron, Chelomei obtained permission to begin development of a larger military space station, the Almaz. This 20 tonne station would take three cosmonauts to orbit in a single launch of his UR-500K Proton rocket. Therefore there were now two competing projects for the same mission - Almaz and Soyuz-R. First flight of the Almaz, with a one year operational period, was set for 1968.
Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM) Decree 145ss 'On approval of the 7K-TK as transport for the Almaz station' was issued. It was decided that the 11F71 Soyuz-R space station would be cancelled and the Almaz would be developed in its place. Almaz was assigned the index number previously allocated to the Soyuz-R station, and Kozlov was ordered to hand over to Chelomei all of the work completed in relation to the station. However Kozlov's Soyuz 7K-TK ferry was to continue in development to transport crew to the Almaz.