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Yangel OKB Boosters
Yangel OKB Boosters - Yangel OKB launch vehicles

Credit: © Mark Wade. 5,163 bytes. 369 x 323 pixels.

Yangel was the third prominent Chief Designer of liquid propellant rockets. He was put in charge of the OKB-586 in the Ukraine in order to mass-produce and further develop ballistic missiles that originated with Korolev's OKB-1. Very quickly he proved to be a major competitor. The R-12 and R-14 intermediate range ballistic missiles went into mass production and were deployed for 25 years until demobilized under treaty at the end of the Cold War. The R-16, built in competition with Korolev's R-9, was the first ICBM deployed in large numbers in Russia, and was the backbone of the Soviet Union's 'Missile Shield' in the mid-1960's. While the R-26 lost the light ICBM competition to Chelomei's UR-100, Yangel was triumphant when the R-36 was selected over the Korolev GR-1 and Chelomei UR-200 for the heavy ICBM role. The R-36 evolved into a series of powerful ICBM's and the Tsyklon space launcher series, still in use at the end of the century. The R-46 was beaten by Chelomei's UR-500 for the monster ICBM/heavy space launcher competition, and the R-56 was in third place to the Korolev N1 and Chelomei UR-700 moon launchers. But the R-46 eventually evolved into the Zenit launch vehicle and Energia booster strap-ons, and was eventually commercialized by Boeing in the Sea Launch venture.

Launch Vehicle: R-12. Payload 390 kg. Range 1500 km. Maximum altitude 398 km. Time of flight 11.8 minutes. Max velocity at burnout 3530 m/s. Accuracy 6 km in range, 5 km laterally. Source: wall chart, Russian Space Agency HQ, Moscow.

Launch Vehicle: Kosmos 63S1.

The Soviet government decreed development of a lightweight launch vehicle in 1960 for launch of payloads not requiring R-7 family of boosters. The R-12 IRBM was selected as the first stage; a new high-performance second stage was developed using a unique Lox/UDMH propellant combination. After two failures, the first successful flight was on March 16, 1962. Since the R-12 was built for silo launch (it could not be held on a surface pad exposed to the elements), the existing R-12 silo 'Mayak-2' at Kapustin Yar was adapted. A swing-back shelter above the top of silo covered the second stage and payload during launch preparations. The 63S1 was used through May 1966 for a total of 40 launches, of which 12 were failures. The Mayak complex was built for missile launches and was not durable enough for repeated space launches. A launch complex is a virtual 'launch chimney' - it has to endure the flames of many launches and accomodate many different payloads. Therefore the 'Voskhod' and 'Raduga' complexes were designed for later R-12 and R-14 derived space launchers. The same military cadres designed and built the R-7 Angara complex and missile sites.

Launch Vehicle: R-16. Range 12,000 km. Tsniimash has 1:10 structural simulation model. Two stage ICBM with nitric acid oxidizer. Developed 1956-1961. Entered service 1961. Chief designer Yangel. Source: Placard, TsNIIMASH.

Launch Vehicle: R-56 Polyblock.

One design approach considered for Yangel's R-56 superbooster of the 1960's was a polyblock design limited to rail transport restrictions (4 x 3.8 m diameter stages clustered together). Although a dynamic test model was built and tested at Tsniimash, Yangel finally reached the conclusion that a monoblock design was clearly superior to polyblock versions. Further work on the polyblock design was abandoned. Tsniimash exhibits in its small museum the 1:10 structural simulation model of the 3.8 m diameter polyblock design.

Launch Vehicle: R-26.

ICBM developed in competition with UR-100 but not put into service. Orevo has sectioned hardware. Tsniimash has 1:10 structural simulation model. All figures accurate except empty masses estimated. Performance 1500 kg warhead to 12,000 km range. Total length 23.73 m with warhead. Source: placards, TsNIIMASH, Orevo.

Launch Vehicle: R-56.

After drawing back from the 'cluster of R-16's' approach of the SK-100, Yangel conducted some trade studies to determine the optimum design for his bureau's first Ďsuper rocketí. The booster was to be capable of serving as a first-strike military global rocket or as a heavy launch vehicle, placing 40 tonne payloads into a 200 km polar orbit. The selected monoblock design could be transported on the Soviet internal canal system from the factory to the launch site.

The R-56 would have been 67.8 m long and consisted of three stages, the first two with a basic diameter of 6.5 m. The first stage had a flared 8.2 m diameter base to accommodate the 16 RD-253 engines.

By 1965 Yangel had decided that the bitter fight between Chelomei and Korolev over control of manned programs was damaging the Soviet space effort. He proposed a collaborative effort: Yangel would design and build the launch vehicle; Korolev the manned spacecraft; and Chelomei the unmanned spacecraft.

However this was not to be. The other Chief Designers objected that use of the R-56 for a manned lunar landing would require two R-56 launches in the place of one UR-700 or N1 launch. This would mean use of untried earth orbit rendezvous techniques to assemble the spacecraft in earth orbit. Development of the R-56 was not authorised, and for once in his career Yangel gave up the fight.

Launch Vehicle: SK-100.

The SK-100 was Yangel's first design for a large clustered rocket. With a lift-off mass of 2,000 tonnes it was to place payloads of 100 tonnes into low earth orbit. The SK-100 first stage was to consist of six R-16 first stages, clustered around a single R-16 first stage as the second stage / vehicle core. The third stage would be derived from the R-16 second stage.

While superficially attractive, this cluster concept would have resulted in 24 first stage engine chambers firing simultaneously (4 chambers per stage x 6 stages). Failure of a single chamber could be catastrophic. Furthermore the clustered stages presented complex dynamic interaction and resonance problems. Another new technical challenge was zero-G start-up of the second stage. Propellant settling prior to engine ignition was solved by using ullage motors. These liquid fuel engines were pressure-fed using diaphragm-contained propellants. This 'low thrust system' would find application in later Yangel missile designs.

Work on the SK-100 reached the point of testing of a sub-scale dynamic model, and detailed design of the inter-stage structural elements and engine feed plumbing. But Yangel, noting the 'gigantomania' that was driving Korolev, Chelomei, and Glushko to propose ever more complex super-booster designs, decided to 'go back to the drawing board' with a clean sheet of paper. The result would be the R-56, a third way to large booster design between that of Chelomei's UR-700 and Korolev's N1.

Launch Vehicle: Kosmos 65S3.

Prototype of light satellite launcher using as a first stage the Yangel R-14 (8K65) IRBM. In 1961 Isayev and Reshetnev developed the Voskhod space launch system on the basis of the R-14. The initial version of the two stage rocket was designated Kosmos-1. The first 'Voskhod' launch complex was at Baikonur, a modification of one of the pads at the R-16 ICBM launch complex 41. The protoype system was launched eight times before production was handed over to the Krasnoryarsk Machine Factory.

Launch Vehicle: Kosmos 63S1M.

Modernized version of 63S1 initial configuration of the first Kosmos launcher and the prototype for the production 11K63 launch vehicle. Suborbital launches from Plesetsk from 1965 at from the modified R-12 silo 'Dvina'. Flown only a few times in 1965-1967. Succeeded by the 11K63 production model launched from the 'Raduga' complex.

Launch Vehicle: R-36-O.

The Global Rocket 1 (GR-1) requirement of 1961 called for a system to place a large nuclear warhead equipped with a deorbit rocket stage into a low earth orbit of 150 km altitude. The warhead could approach the United States from any direction, below missile tracking radar, so little warning was available. Not only could such a missile hit any point on earth, but the enemy would also be uncertain when it would be deorbited onto target. The main disadvantage was lower accuracy of the warhead in comparison to an ICBM.

Chelomei proposed his UR-200 for the requirement, while Yangel offered the R-36, and Korolev the 8K713. Development problems with the 8K713ís NK-9 engine resulted in continual delays, resulting in cancellation of Korolevís competitor in 1964. Following Khrushchevís ouster from power in October 1964, Chelomeiís UR-200 project was reviewed and cancelled. This left Yangelís R-36 for the mission.

Flight trials of the system were conducted 1965 to 1972. Since orbiting of nuclear weapons was a violation of international treaty, the Soviet Union conducted all tests on a 'fractional orbit' basis - i.e. the test warheads were deorbited after less than one orbit of the earth. The system was in service at 18 siloes at Baikonur from 1969 to 1983.

Launch Vehicle: Kosmos 11K63.

Series production version of satellite launcher based on Yangel R-12 IRBM. Succeeded 63S1M prototype from 1965, using same 'Dvina' launch complex. From March 16, 1967 orbital launches from Plesetsk from purpose-built 'Raduga' launch complex LC133. Total of 123 launches, of which 8 were failures.

Launch Vehicle: Kosmos 11K65. Initial serial production version was the Kosmos-3, built at the Krasnoryarsk Machine Factory. Flew only four times, with two failures, before being succeeded by the modernized production version under the responsibility of NPO Polyot.

Launch Vehicle: Kosmos 11K65M.

Definitive and prolific production version of satellite launcher based on Yangel R-14 IRBM. After further development at NPO Polyot (Omsk, Chief Designer A S Klinishkov), the modified Kosmos-3M added a restartable second stage with an orientation system. This booster was launched form two 'Cusovaya' launch complexes from 1967. The second stage used low thrust rockets using gas generator output to adjust the final velocity of the stage

Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon.

On 16 March and 1 August 1961 the Central Committee and Politburo approved development of Chelomeiís UR-200 (8K81) universal rocket. The UR-200 was to orbit Chelomeiís IS (Istrebitel Sputnik) ASAT; the US (Upravlenniye Sputnik) nuclear-powered naval intelligence satellite; and the Raketoplan combat re-entry vehicle. Trial flights of the missile began on 4 November 1963.

On October 13, 1964, Khrushchev was ousted from power. The new leadership, under Brezhnev, was adverse to all projects Khrushchev had supported. These included those of Chelomei. An expert commission under M V Keldysh was directed to examine all of Chelomeiís projects and make recommendations as to which should be cancelled. Keldysh found that Yangelís R-36 rocket was superior to Chelomeiís UR-200 and that the Raketoplan was technically overly ambitious. The UR-200 and Raketoplan were accordingly cancelled, while the IS and US satellites were redesigned for launch by the R-36.

A government decree of 24 August 1965 formalised the decision and the Yangel bureau began design work in 1966. Required modifications to the R-36 were minimal; the IS and US Raketoplan-derived payloads had their own engines for insertion into final orbit. The Tsyklon 11K67 first test version was an adaptation of the 8K67 (SS-9 Mod 1) two stage ICBM and flew only briefly (1967 to 1968). It was quickly replaced by the definitive 11K69 Tsyklon 2 launch vehicle. The military project manager was L A Dolnikov.

Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 2.

A government decree of 24 August 1965 ordered development by Yangel of a version of his R-36 rocket to orbit Chelomei's IS (Istrebitel Sputnik) ASAT and US (Upravlenniye Sputnik) naval intelligence satellites. The Tyklon 2 definitive operational version replaced the 11K67 launch vehicle from 1969 and was an adaptation of the 8K69 (SS-9) two stage ICBM. The IS and US Raketoplan-derived payloads had their own engines for insertion into final orbit.

Launch Vehicle: R-36.

The Global Rocket 1 (GR-1) requirement was to provide the Soviet Union with a single launch vehicle for several unmanned space combat vehicles. The primary ICBM mission was to send a large thermonuclear warhead over a range of 12,000 km. Chelomei proposed his UR-200 for the requirement, while Yangel offered the R-36, and Korolev the 8K713. Korolev's GR-1 experienced delays due to engine development and was cancelled before flight tests could begin. The UR-200 entered flight test; but the Yangel R-36 was found to be superior and selected after the downfall of Chelomei's patron, Khrushchev. 318 were deployed in five versions from 1966. This missile tilted the strategic balance and became known to the West as the awesome SS-9 Scarp 'city buster'.

Launch Vehicle: Tsyklon 3.

Filial 4 of NII MO began work in 1967 on military operations plans for the 1971-1980 period. These were completed as plan Prognoz and Sirius Phase I in 1970. One objective of the plans was to reduce the number of military space launch vehicles from ten to three. The medium category space launch vehicle would replace the Vostok launcher and be used for multiple payload launches of Strela-class store-dump communications satellites, and single payload launch of Tselina-D ELINT and Meteor weather satellites. Development work was authorized by a government decree of 2 January 1970. The booster was a modification of the 8K68 (SS-9 Mod 2) ICBM with an S5M third stage. In comparison with the Tsklon 2, the launch vehicle increased payload to 4 tonnes, provided for completely automated launch operations, and had increased orbital injection accuracy. The S5M stage was a development of the R-36-O deorbit stage. Later in its life Tsyklon 3 was also used for launch of AUOS scientific and Okean-O radar satellites. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian manufacturer ended up in a different country, inappropriate for a launcher used for national security payloads. Existing stocks of the vehicle were used, but no new ones were built. In 1998 the launch team at Baikonur was dissolved and only four remained in reserve storage.

Launch Vehicle: Kosmos 65MP. Adaptation of 11K65M launcher for suborbital and single orbit test of subscale prototypes of Spiral and Buran manned spaceplanes (BOR-4 and BOR-5).

Launch Vehicle: Zenit-2.

Zenit was to be a modular new generation medium Soviet launch vehicle, replacing the various ICBM-derived launch vehicles in use since the 1960's (Tsyklon and R-7 derivatives). But it was built by Yuzhnoye in the Ukraine; when the Soviet Union broke up planned large-scale production for the Soviet military was abandoned (Angara development was begun as an indigenous alternative). A version of first stage was used as strap-ons for the cancelled Energia heavy booster. Launch pads were completed only at Baikonur; those at Plesetsk were never finished and are planned to be completed as Angara pads.

Launch Vehicle: Dnepr. Launch vehicle based on decommissioned 15A18 ICBMs. By the end of 1999, the R-36M2 ICBM had launched 168 times, with four anomalies related to the payloads, and no booster failures.

Launch Vehicle: RS-20K. RS-20 ICBM converted to use as a space launcher. Liftoff mass 211 tonnes; manufacturer KB Yuzhnoye.

Launch Vehicle: Zenit-3SL.

From the beginning of the program a Zenit-3 version was proposed for geosynchronous launches using the N1/Proton Block D third stage. This had the potential of replacing the Proton in the role of geosynchronous launcher. It was considered for launch from Australia / Cape York in the 1980's. Finally a joint US-Norwegian-Ukraininan-Russian consortium was formed to launch the three stage commercial Zenit from a floating launch platform in the Pacific Ocean,

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Last update 3 May 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .