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Spacecraft: Vega 5VK.

Probe designed for investigations of the planet Venus and Halley's Comet. Original plans called for two versions, 5VS and 5VP. The 5VP Venus orbiter would be a relay station for a big Soviet-French balloon, to be dropped into the Venusian atmosphere by the 5VP Halley's comet probe as it flew by Venus. In 1981, it was decided to cancel the 5VS orbiters and redesign the 5VP to expand the Halley research programme (this may have been in response to the cancellation of the US Halley probe the same year).

On the resulting Vega 5VK spacecraft the big Soviet-French balloon was replaced by a smaller Soviet-built balloon and a Venera 4V-1 type lander (minus camera). The flyby bus was equipped with the same solar panels as the Venera 4V-2 and carried a scan platform with remote sensing instruments to study Halley as well as extra dust protection shields.

The Vega 5VK spacecraft were fitted with scientific apparatus and equipment built in the USSR, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, German Democratic Republic, Poland, France, Federal Republic of Germany and Czechoslovakia.


Spacecraft: Vega 5VS.

An unflown series of Venus probes (which also served as the basis for the Granat satellite). Original plans called for two versions, 5VS and 5VP, both weighing 4850 kg. 5VS was a Venus orbiter which would act as a relay station for a big Soviet-French balloon. The balloon was to be dropped into the Venusian atmosphere by the 5VP probe as it flew by Venus. Thereafter the 5VP would head for Halley's comet. The plan was to launch two 5VS probes in November 1984, followed by two 5VP probes on 6 and 11 December 1984.

The 5VP bus was able to carry only 50 kg of equipment to study Halley's comet. In 1981, while the development of both 5V versions was well underway, it was decided to cancel the 5VS orbiters and redesign the 5VP probes to expand the Halley research programme (this may have been in response to the cancellation of the US Halley probe the same year). This resulted in a spacecraft code-named 5VK, later named Vega. On the Venus package the big Soviet-French balloon was replaced by a smaller Soviet-built balloon and a 4V-1 type lander (minus camera). The flyby bus was equipped with the same solar panels as Veneras-15 and 16 and now carried a scan platform with remote sensing instruments to study Halley as well as extra dust protection shields.


Spacecraft: Fobos 1F.

The 1F spacecraft was flown on the Phobos mission to Mars, consisting of 2 nearly identical spacecraft. The mission included co-operation from 14 other nations including Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, France, West Germany, and the United States (who contributed the use of its Deep Space Network for tracking the twin spacecraft). The objectives of the dual mission were to 1) conduct studies of the interplanetary environment, 2) perform observations of the Sun, 3) characterise the plasma environment in the Martian vicinity, 4) conduct surface and atmospheric studies of Mars, and 5) study the surface composition of the Martian satellite Phobos.


Spacecraft: Mars M1.

The Russian Mars 96 mission was designed to send an orbiter, two small autonomous stations, and two surface penetrators to Mars to investigate the evolution and contemporary physics of the planet by studying the physical and chemical processes which took place in the past and which currently take place. The Mars 96 Orbiter was a 3-axis sun/star stabilized craft based on the Phobos design with two platforms for pointing and stabilizing instruments. The propulsion units were mounted on the bottom and two large solar panels extended out from opposite sides of the craft. The two penetrators were mounted on the bottom by the propulsion system, the two small stations were connected on top of the spacecraft, and a dish antenna extended off one of the sides perpendicular to the solar panels. The Mars 96 spacecraft had a launch mass (including propellant) of 6180 kg. Mars 96 was scheduled to arrive at Mars on 12 September 1997, about 10 months after launch, on a direct trajectory. About 4 to 5 days before arrival the small surface stations would have been released. The orbiter was to go into an elliptical 3-day transfer orbit about Mars, and the two penetrators to descend to the surface during the first month of orbit. The final orbit would have been a 14.77 hour elliptical orbit with a periapsis of 300 km.

The Mars 96 Orbiter carried 12 instruments to study the surface and atmosphere of Mars, 7 instruments to study plasma, fields, and particles, and 3 instruments for astrophysical studies. There were also radio science, a navigation TV camera, and a radiation and dosimetry control complex. The instruments were located directly on the sides of the craft, on one of the two platforms attached to the sides of the craft, or on the edges of the solar panels.


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