Tag Archives: Baikonur Cosmodrome

18 March 1965

Voskhod-2/11A57 launch vehicle on launch pad at Site 1, Baikonur Cosmodrome (Space Facts)

18 March 1965, 07:00:00 UTC (10:00:00 Moscow Time): Cosmonauts Павел Иванович Беляев (Pavel Ivanovich Belyaev) and Алексей Архипович Леонов (Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov) were launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a Voskhod-3KD spacecraft, Восход-2 (Voskhod-2). The launch vehicle was a Voskhod 11A57 two-stage liquid-fueled rocket. Voskhod-2 entered a 167 × 475 kilometers (90 × 256 nautical miles) elliptical orbit with a period of 90 minutes, 54 seconds.

As the Voskhod entered its second orbit, co-pilot Major Leonov exited the vehicle. An expandable air lock was used. This was the first time that a human had left a vehicle in space. he floated freely, though remained connected by an umbilical. This would be known as an Extravehicular Activity (an “E.V.A.,” or “space walk”). Leonov remained outside for 12 minutes, 9 seconds, establishing the first FAI World Record for Extravehicular Duration in Space. ¹

Алексей Архипович Леонов (Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov) outside the Voskhod-2 spacecraft, 18 March 1965. (collectspace.com)

Both cosmonauts wore full-pressure suits (a “space suit”) for protection in the vacuum of space. With his suit fully inflated by pressurized air, Leonov was both larger and more rigid than was expected. He had great difficulty re-entering the Voskhod, requiring that he vent the suit pressure.

Leonov wrote about it for Air & Space:

With some reluctance I acknowledged that it was time to reenter the spacecraft. Our orbit would soon take us away from the sun and into darkness. It was then I realized how deformed my stiff spacesuit had become, owing to the lack of atmospheric pressure. My feet had pulled away from my boots and my fingers from the gloves attached to my sleeves, making it impossible to reenter the airlock feet first.

I had to find another way of getting back inside quickly, and the only way I could see to do this was pulling myself into the airlock gradually, head first. Even to do this, I would carefully have to bleed off some of the high-pressure oxygen in my suit, via a valve in its lining. I knew I might be risking oxygen starvation, but I had no choice. If I did not reenter the craft, within the next 40 minutes my life support would be spent anyway.

The only solution was to reduce the pressure in my suit by opening the pressure valve and letting out a little oxygen at a time as I tried to inch inside the airlock. At first I thought of reporting what I planned to do to mission control. But I decided against it. I did not want to create nervousness on the ground. And anyway, I was the only one who could bring the situation under control.

But I could feel my temperature rising dangerously high, with a rush of heat from my feet traveling up my legs and arms, due to the immense physical exertion all the maneuvering involved. It was taking longer than it was supposed to. Even when I at last managed to pull myself entirely into the airlock, I had to perform another almost impossible maneuver. I had to curl my body around in order to close the airlock, so pasha could activate the mechanism to equalize pressure between it and the spacecraft.

Once Pasha was sure the hatch was closed and the pressure had equalized, he triggered the inner hatch open and I scrambled back into the spacecraft, drenched with sweat, my heart racing.

“The Nightmare of Voskhod,” by Alexey Leonov, Air & Space Smithsonian, January 2005

Leonov  in the shadow of his spacecraft in orbit around the Earth, 18 March 1965.(collectspace.com)

On 19 March, Voshkod-2’s apogee set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Altitude in Elliptical Orbit of 497,7 kilometers (268.7 nautical miles/309.3 statute miles). ²

The space craft began to lose pressure, with it’s oxygen tanks dropping by two-thirds during Orbit 13. It was thought that the mission might have to be cut short.

It was planned for Voskhod-2 to reenter on the 16th orbit, however the automatic landing system failed to fire the spacecraft’s retrorockets. Using the Voskhod’s primary engine, a manual reentry was initiated during the 18th orbit. The crew also had to oreint the spacecraft manually, and this caused them a delay of 46 seconds before initiating reentry. They overshot there expected landing point by approximately 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles).

Voshkod-2 landed in remote area of Perm Krai at 09:02:17 UTC on 19 March. The duration of the flight was 1 day, 2 hours, 2 minutes, 17 seconds.

Having landed in a dense forest hundreds of miles from the nearest recovery teams, Belyaev and Leonov were were located about four hours later and a rescue team arrived the next day. A landing zone was cut in the forest and the cosmonauts were flown out by helicopter on 21 March.

Voskhod-2 landed in dense forest. The cosmonauts were not recovered for two days.

¹ FAI Record File Number 9336

² FAI Record File Number 9335

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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19 February 1986

Mir DOS-7/Proton 8K82K launch at Baikonur Cosmodrome, Site 200, 21:28:23 UTC, 19 February 1986.
Mir DOS-7/Proton 8K82K launch at Baikonur Cosmodrome, Site 200, 21:28:23 UTC, 19 February 1986.

19 February 1986: The core module of the Mir space station (DOS-7) (Dolgovremennaya Orbitalnaya Stanziya) was launched from Site 200 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a Proton 8K82K rocket. This was the first section of the space station. It consisted of living quarters and environmental systems, engines, and four air locks to which additional modules would be attached.

The Mir was unmanned when it was placed in low Earth orbit. The first two-man crew arrived 15 March 1986 and began bringing the space station systems online. The first expedition stayed aboard for 51 days.

The Mir Core Module was 13.13 meters (43.077 feet) long with a diameter of 4.15 meters (13.616 feet). The solar arrays had a span of 20.73 meters (68.012 feet). The habitable volume of the module was 90 cubic meters (3,178 cubic feet). At launch  it had a mass of 20,400 kilograms (44,974.3 pounds).

The Proton 8K82K was a four-stage liquid-fueled heavy lift rocket. The first stage, Proton K-1, was 21.20 meters (69.554 feet) long with a diameter of 4.15 meters (13.616 feet). Fully fueled, it had a mass of 450,510 kilograms (993,205 pounds). It carried enough hypergolic fuel to power the six RD-253 engines for 124 seconds, producing 67,821.2 kiloNewtons (15,246,812 pounds) of thrust. The second stage, Proton K-2, was 14.00 meters (45.932 feet) long, with the same diameter as the first stage. Its fully-fueled mass was 167,828 kilograms (369,997 pounds). Its four RD-0210 engines burned for 206 seconds, producing 9,596.8 kiloNewtons (2,157,447 pounds) of thrust. The Proton K-3 stage was 6.50 meters (21.326 feet) long, and again, had a diameter of 4.15 meters. The gross mass of the third stage was 50,747 kilograms (111,878 pounds). The single RD-0212 engine burned for 238 seconds, producing 630.2 kiloNewtons (141,675 pounds) of thrust. The final, fourth stage, Proton 11S824, was 5.50 meters (18.045 feet) long with a diameter of 3.70 meters (12.139 feet). Gross mass was 13,360 kilograms (29,454 pounds). It had a single RD-58M engine which burned liquid oxygen and kerosene. It produced 85.02 kiloNewtons (19,113 pounds) of thrust for 610 seconds.

The Proton 8K82K could place a 20,000 kilogram (44,092 pound) payload into low Earth orbit. The rocket was first launched in 1965 and was used until 2003. More than 300 of them were launched.

The Mir space station was continually expanded. It was occupied for 4,592 consecutive days. It remained in orbit until 23 March 2001.

The Mir space station core module (DOS-7) in Earth orbit with solar panel array extended.
The Mir space station core module (DOS-7) in Earth orbit with solar panel array extended.

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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4 January 1959

Replica of Luna 1 on display at the Kosmos Pavilion of the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy of the USSR. (RIA Novosti Archive)
Replica of Luna 1 on display at the Kosmos Pavilion of the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy of the USSR. (RIA Novosti Archive)

4 January 1959: At approximately 16:40 UTC, the Soviet automatic space probe First Cosmic Ship came within 5,995 kilometers (3,725 miles) of the Moon. It was the first man-made craft to arrive in the vicinity of Earth’s natural satellite.

First Cosmic Ship (which was later known as Мечта (Mechta, “Dream”) and today is called Luna 1) was launched from the Scientific-Research Test Range No. 5 at Tyuratam, Kazakhstan (later named the Baikonur Cosmodrome) at 16:41:21 UTC, 2 January 1959, aboard an 8K72 three-stage launch vehicle.

Mechta was the fourth in a series of lunar probes, and was intended to impact the surface of the Moon.  It was spherical with several antennas, and weighed 361 kilograms (795.9 pounds). The probe carried a magnetometer, Geiger counter, scintillation detector and micrometeorite detector. It was powered by batteries. Radio telemetry equipment relayed the data to Earth.

Luna I trajectory.

It was intended that the spacecraft would impact the lunar surface, but an error in programming the third stage burn time caused a near miss. After 34 hours of flight, the probe passed within 5,995 kilometers (3,725 miles) of the lunar surface.  It then entered a solar (heliocentric) orbit between Earth and Mars, where it remains today, circling the Sun every 450.0 days.

The Vostok-L 8K72 was a modified R-7 Semyorka intercontinental ballistic missile. The R-7 rocket was designed by Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, known as The Chief Designer.

The 8K72 version consisted of two core stages with four external boosters. The first stage and each of the boosters were powered by a four-nozzle RD-107 rocket engine burning kerosene and liquid oxygen. Total thrust was approximately 1,100,775 pounds. The second stage used a RD-0105 engine, producing 11,015 pounds of thrust. The Luna 1 was propelled by a third stage which remained attached during the translunar coast phase of flight.

The first two stages were 30.84 meters (101.18 feet) high and weighed 277,000 kilograms (610,680 pounds). The Luna 1 third stage weighed 1,472 kilograms (3,245 pounds), empty. It was 5.2 meters (17.06 feet) long with a diameter of 2.4 meters (7.87 feet).

The 8K72 rocket was capable of launching a 4,000 kilogram (8,818.5 pound) payload into Low Earth Orbit. The last launch of an 8K72 was in 1960, but the current Soyuz launchers are based on this early rocket.

Luna 1 was the first space vehicle to reach escape velocity and leave Earth’s gravitational field; the first to reach the vicinity of the Moon, and the first man-made device to orbit the Sun.

Luna 1 was launched from Tyuratam at 16:41:21 UTC, 2 January 1959.
Luna 1 was launched from Tyuratam at 16:41:21 UTC, 2 January 1959.

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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2 January 1959

Luna 1 was launched from Tyuratam at 16:41:21 UTC, 2 January 1959. (Sovfoto/UIG)

2 January 1959: First Cosmic Ship (which was later known as Мечта (Mechta, “Dream”) and today is called Luna 1) was launched from the Scientific-Research Test Range No. 5 at Tyuratam, Kazakhstan (later named the Baikonur Cosmodrome) at 16:41:21 UTC aboard a Vostok-L 8K72 three-stage launch vehicle.

Mechta was the fourth in a series of lunar probes, and was intended to impact the surface of the Moon.  It was spherical with a diameter of 0.9 meters (35.4 inches) and had several antennas. The probe weighed 361.3 kilograms (796.5 pounds). The probe carried a magnetometer, Geiger counter, scintillation detector and micrometeorite detector. It was powered by batteries. Radio telemetry equipment relayed the data to Earth.

Luna I probe installed in upper stage. (Don P. Mitchell)

Data received from the space probe revealed that The Moon has no magnetic field, and the existence of a “solar wind”, an ionized plasma coming from The Sun.

It was intended that the spacecraft would impact the lunar surface, but an error in programming the third stage burn time caused a near miss. After 34 hours of flight, at 02:59 4 January 1959 (UTC), the probe passed within 5,995 kilometers (3,725 miles) of the lunar surface at approximately 8,900 kilometers per hour (5,530 miles per hour). It then entered a solar (heliocentric) orbit between Earth and Mars, where it remains today, circling the Sun every 450.0 days.

Replica of Luna 1 on display at the Kosmos Pavilion of the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy of the USSR. (RIA Novosti Archive)
Vostok-L 8K72 (RKK Energia)

The Vostok-L 8K72 was a modified R-7A Semyorka intercontinental ballistic missile. The R-7 rocket was designed by Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, known as The Chief Designer.

The 8K72 version consisted of two core stages with four external boosters. The first stage and each of the boosters were powered by a four-nozzle RD-107 rocket engine burning kerosene and liquid oxygen. Total thrust was approximately 1,100,775 pounds of thrust (4,896.49 kilonewtons). The second stage used a RD-0105 engine, producing 11,015 pounds of thrust (48.997 kilonewtons). The Luna 1 was propelled by a third stage which remained attached during the translunar coast phase of flight.

The first two stages were 30.84 meters (101.18 feet) high and weighed 277,000 kilograms (610,680 pounds). The Luna 1 third stage weighed 1,472 kilograms (3,245 pounds), empty. It was 5.2 meters (17.06 feet) long with a diameter of 2.4 meters (7.87 feet).

The 8K72 rocket was capable of launching a 4,000 kilogram (8,818.5 pound) payload into Low Earth Orbit. The last launch of an 8K72 was in 1960, but the current Soyuz launchers are based on this early rocket.

Luna 1 was the first space vehicle to reach escape velocity and leave Earth’s gravitational field; the first to reach the vicinity of the Moon, and the first man-made device to orbit the Sun.

The Chief Designer, Sergei Pavlovich Korolev, photographed in 1938. (The Russian State Archive of Scientific and Technical Documents)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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15 November 1988

Space shuttle Buran is launched at Baikonur Cosmodrome, 0300 UTC, 15 November 1988.
Space shuttle Buran is launched at Baikonur Cosmodrome, 0300 UTC, 15 November 1988.

15 November 1988: At 0300 UTC, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics launched the space shuttle Buran from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. This was an unmanned flight, with all the systems preprogrammed. The launch vehicle was an Energiya rocket.

The Energiya was powered by four RD-170 and four RD-0120 rocket engines. The RD-170 burned kerosene and liquid oxygen. Its sea level thrust was 1,697,300 pounds (7,549.967 kilonewtons). The RD-0120 burned liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. Its thrust was 341,000 pounds (1,516.844 kilonewtons). Total thrust of all eight engines was 8,153,200 pounds (36,267.240 kilonewtons).

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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