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US-A
US-A

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Manufacturer's Designation: US-A. Class: Surveillance. Type: Naval Radarsat. Nation: USSR. Manufacturer: NPO Kometa.

Nuclear powered RORSAT (Radar Ocean Reconnaisance Satellite). Beginning in the late 1950's, Chelomei began studying use of his encapsulated cruise missile technology for spacecraft. A whole family of unmanned spacecraft, dubbed Kosmoplans, would be built using modular elements. One variant of the Kosmoplan would conduct naval radar and signals reconnaissance, launched by the UR-200 rocket.

In 1959, as Chelomei laid out these plans, he knew a tremendous struggle would be required to wrest a piece of the space programme from Chief Designer Korolev. But Chelomei had stacked the deck against Korolev by hiring Khrushchev's son as a lead engineer at his OKB. By 30 May 1960 Korolev presented to the Soviet leadership a plan that now included participation of Chelomei. One project allocated to Chelomei was theme US - Upravlenniye Sputnik - a naval reconnaissance satellite using a P6 nuclear reactor for active tracking and targeting American warships. This was to be developed in 1962 to 1964. Chelomei was authorised by Decree 715-296 of 23 June 1960 'On the Production of Various Launch Vehicles, Satellites, Spacecraft for the Military Space Forces in 1960-1967' to complete a draft project on unpiloted Kosmoplans.

The Kosmoplan's UR-200 (8K81) launch vehicle was approved for production on 16 March and 1 August 1961 by the Central Committee and Politburo. The Kosmoplan and UR-200 draft projects were completed in July 1962. Trial flights of the ICBM version ran from 4 November 1963 to 20 October 1964.

On October 13, 1964, Khrushchev was ousted from power. The new leadership, under Brezhnev, was adverse to all projects Khrushchev had supported, particularly those of Chelomei. An expert commission under M V Keldysh decide to cancel the UR-200, while the US was assigned to NPO Kometa MPP (Chief Constructor A I Savin), to be redesigned for launch by Yangel's R-36 rocket.

Two separate versions of the spacecraft were to be developed. The reactor-powered US-A and the solar-powered US-P, which would provide ELINT services for the Soviet Navy. The spacecraft was still by TsKBM MOM (Chelomei), the US-P's radio intercept system by TsNII-108 and the US-A's radar by NPO Vega GKRE. Flight tests began in 1965 aboard Tsyklon 2 rockets in two phases. Phase 1 was the US-P (entered service in 1971) and US-A was phase 2 (entered service 1975). Serial production of the US-A was by the Arsenal Factory, Leningrad.

The US-A had the worst reliability and quality problems of any Soviet system. It was not available often enough for good exploitation of the data. This, together with political problems caused by the inadvertent falling to earth of satellite reactor cores, led to it being abandoned at the end of the 1980's.


Specification

Total Mass: 3,800 kg.


US-A Chronology


06 March 1961 US RORSAT authorised. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.

Decree 420∑1741 'On approval of work on the US satellite and UR-200 launch vehicle / ICBM' was issued.


16 March 1961 UR-200 (8K81) launch vehicle development authorised. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.

An enabling decree was issued on 1 August 1961 by the Central Committee and Politburo. The UR-200 was designed not only to send a thermonuclear warhead over a range of 12,000 km, but also to orbit all of the Kosmoplan military variants: the IS ASAT; the US nuclear-powered naval intelligence satellite; and the Kosmoplan combat re-entry vehicle.


03 June 1962 US RORSAT development plans. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.

Decree 'On course of work on the US reconnaissance satellite system launched on the UR-2OO' was issued.


01 July 1962 Kosmoplan and UR-200 draft projects completed. Launch Vehicle: UR-200.

Trial flights of the ICBM version ran from 4 November 1963 to 20 October 1964. Versions of the Kosmoplan would fly as the reactor-powered US-A and solar-powered US-P ELINT satellites and the I2P ASAT.


18 June 1964 USSR five-year military space plan issued.

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.


13 October 1964 Khrushchev ousted from power. Launch Vehicle: UR-200, Proton 8K82K.

Brezhnev faction assumes control of Politubro. Brezhnev was adverse to all projects Khrushchev had supported. These included those of Chelomei and his OKB-52.


24 August 1965 Development of R-36-O and Tsyklon launch vehicles authorised Launch Vehicle: R-36-O, Tsyklon, Tsyklon 2, UR-200.

Decree 'On Creation of an R-36 Based Carrier Rocket for Launching the IS and US KA--start of work on an R-36-based launch vehicle for the IS and US programs' was issued. After Khrushchev was ousted from power, Chelomei's projects were examined by an expert commission under M V Keldysh. It was found that Yangelís R-36 rocket was superior to Chelomeiís UR-200. The UR-200 was cancelled; the IS and US satellites would be launched by the R-36 11K67. The Tsyklon 2 definitive operational version replaced the 11K67 launch vehicle from 1969.


28 December 1965 Cosmos 102 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Vostok 11A510. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 205 km. Apogee: 267 km. Inclination: 64.9 deg.

Prototype RORSAT hardware using chemical batteries in place of nuclear reactor.


20 July 1966 Cosmos 125 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Vostok 11A510. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 204 km. Apogee: 260 km. Inclination: 64.9 deg.

Prototype RORSAT hardware using chemical batteries in place of nuclear reactor. Lost on the 52nd revolution as a result of a possible failure in the chemical power units placed on board instead of the nuclear BES-5.


01 July 1967 Tsiklon-2 launch vehicle authorised. Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2.

Council of Soviet Ministers (SM) Decree 'On use of the R-36-based launcher for the Kosmos and Meteor satellites' was issued.


21 July 1967 US Project reassigned; R-36-O booster development approved; Yantar-2K and Zvevda 7K-VI approved. Launch Vehicle: R-36-O, Tsyklon 2, Soyuz 11A511M.

Decree 715-240 'On the Creation of Space Systems for Naval Reconnaissance Comprising the US sat and the R-36-based booster -further work on the US naval reconnaissance satellite, approval of work on the Yantar-2K, and course of work on 7K-VI Zvezda'.

An entire family of Yantar spacecraft was proposed by Kozlovís design bureau during the initial development; information on two film return models has been declassified. Yantar was initially derived from the Soyuz spacecraft, including systems developed for the Soyuz VI military model. During design and development this changed until it had very little in common with Soyuz.

Following numerous problems in the first flight tests of the Soyuz 7K-OK, Kozlov ordered a complete redesign of the 7K-VI manned military spacecraft. The new spacecraft, with a crew of two, would have a total mass of 6.6 tonnes and could operate for a month in orbit. The new design switched the positions of the Soyuz descent module and the orbital modules and was 300 kg too heavy for the standard 11A511 launch vehicle. Therefore Kozlov designed a new variant of the Soyuz launch vehicle, the 11A511M. The project was approved by the Central Committee of the Communist Party, with first flight to be in 1968 and operations to begin in 1969. The booster design, with unknown changes to the basic Soyuz, did not go into full production.


27 December 1967 Cosmos 198 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 907 km. Apogee: 927 km. Inclination: 65.1 deg.

Prototype RORSAT hardware using chemical batteries in place of BES-5 nuclear reactor. First satellite to be boosted to 900 km storage orbit.


22 March 1968 Cosmos 209 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 876 km. Apogee: 927 km. Inclination: 65.3 deg.

RORSAT hardware, repreentative of production hardware, but using chemical batteries in place of BES-5 nuclear reactor.


25 January 1969 US-A Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. FAILURE: Failed to reach orbit. Mass: 3,800 kg.

RORSAT hardware, repreentative of production hardware, but using chemical batteries in place of BES-5 nuclear reactor.


23 December 1969 Cosmos 316 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 152 km. Apogee: 1,638 km. Inclination: 49.5 deg.

RORSAT hardware or unknown spacecraft test.


03 October 1970 Cosmos 367 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 915 km. Apogee: 1,022 km. Inclination: 65.3 deg.

Ocean surveillance; either chemical batteries or nuclear powered.


01 April 1971 Cosmos 402 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 965 km. Apogee: 1,011 km. Inclination: 65.0 deg.

Ocean surveillance; either chemical batteries or nuclear powered.


25 December 1971 Cosmos 469 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 948 km. Apogee: 1,006 km. Inclination: 64.5 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered. First RORSAT flight confirmed by Russian source to have had BES-5 nuclear reactor.


21 August 1972 Cosmos 516 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 906 km. Apogee: 1,038 km. Inclination: 64.8 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


25 April 1973 RORSAT failure Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. FAILURE: Failed to reach orbit. Mass: 3,800 kg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered. American 'sniffer' aircraft flew over the Pacific after this failure looking for radioisotopes traces in order to characterise the reactor.


27 December 1973 Cosmos 626 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 907 km. Apogee: 982 km. Inclination: 65.4 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


15 May 1974 Cosmos 651 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 890 km. Apogee: 946 km. Inclination: 65.0 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


17 May 1974 Cosmos 654 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 924 km. Apogee: 1,006 km. Inclination: 64.9 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


02 April 1975 Cosmos 723 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 899 km. Apogee: 961 km. Inclination: 64.7 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


07 April 1975 Cosmos 724 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 852 km. Apogee: 943 km. Inclination: 65.6 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


01 October 1975 US-A and Tsiklon-2 accepted into military service. Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2.

Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On adoption of US-A with Tsiklon-2 into armaments' was issued.


12 December 1975 Cosmos 785 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 907 km. Apogee: 1,004 km. Inclination: 65.1 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered; failed immediately after reaching orbit.


02 July 1976 Cosmos 838 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 428 km. Apogee: 440 km. Inclination: 65.1 deg.

Ocean monitoring; exploded June/July '76.


17 October 1976 Cosmos 860 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 923 km. Apogee: 995 km. Inclination: 64.7 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


21 October 1976 Cosmos 861 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 928 km. Apogee: 987 km. Inclination: 64.9 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


16 September 1977 Cosmos 952 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 911 km. Apogee: 990 km. Inclination: 64.9 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


18 September 1977 Cosmos 954 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 251 km. Apogee: 265 km. Inclination: 65.0 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered; re-entered over Canada, spreading radioactive debris.


29 April 1980 Cosmos 1176 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 873 km. Apogee: 962 km. Inclination: 64.8 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered; test flight of modified design.


05 March 1981 Cosmos 1249 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 904 km. Apogee: 976 km. Inclination: 65.0 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


21 April 1981 Cosmos 1266 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 911 km. Apogee: 941 km. Inclination: 64.8 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


24 August 1981 Cosmos 1299 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 926 km. Apogee: 962 km. Inclination: 65.1 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


14 May 1982 Cosmos 1365 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 881 km. Apogee: 979 km. Inclination: 65.1 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


01 June 1982 Cosmos 1372 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 919 km. Apogee: 966 km. Inclination: 64.9 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


27 August 1982 Cosmos 1402 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 250 km. Apogee: 266 km. Inclination: 65.0 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


02 October 1982 Cosmos 1412 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 886 km. Apogee: 998 km. Inclination: 64.8 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


29 June 1984 Cosmos 1579 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 914 km. Apogee: 970 km. Inclination: 65.1 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


31 October 1984 Cosmos 1607 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 908 km. Apogee: 994 km. Inclination: 65.0 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


01 August 1985 Cosmos 1670 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 893 km. Apogee: 1,007 km. Inclination: 64.9 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


24 August 1985 Cosmos 1677 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 880 km. Apogee: 1,001 km. Inclination: 64.7 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


21 March 1986 Cosmos 1736 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 936 km. Apogee: 995 km. Inclination: 65.0 deg.

Ocean surveillance.


20 August 1986 Cosmos 1771 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 909 km. Apogee: 1,000 km. Inclination: 65.0 deg.

Ocean surveillance.


19 June 1987 Cosmos 1860 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 900 km. Apogee: 992 km. Inclination: 65.0 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.


12 December 1987 Cosmos 1900 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 688 km. Apogee: 750 km. Inclination: 66.1 deg.

Ocean surveillance.


14 March 1988 Cosmos 1932 Program: RORSAT. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2. Mass: 3,800 kg. Perigee: 920 km. Apogee: 1,008 km. Inclination: 65.1 deg.

Ocean surveillance; nuclear powered.



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Last update 12 March 2001.
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