Foton (satellite)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Foton (space programs))
Jump to: navigation, search
For the Chinese automaker, see Foton Motor. For the elementary particle, see photon.
Foton 6's re-entry capsule on display at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon

Foton (or Photon) is the project name of two series of Russian science satellite and reentry vehicle programs. Although unmanned, the design was adapted from the manned Vostok spacecraft capsule. The primary focus of the Foton project is materials science research, but some missions have also carried experiments for other fields of research including biology. The original Foton series included 12 launches from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome from 1985 to 1999. The second series, under the name Foton-M, incorporates many design improvements over the original Foton, and is still in use. So far, there have been three launch attempts of the Foton-M. The first was in 2002 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, which ended in failure due to a problem in the launch vehicle. The last two were from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, one in 2005 and one in 2007, both were successful. Both the Foton and Foton-M series used Soyuz-U (11A511U and 11A511U2) rockets as launch vehicles.


The Foton capsule has limited thruster capability. As such, the reentry path and orientation can not be controlled after the capsule has separated from the engine system. This means that the capsule has to be protected from reentry heat on all sides, thus explaining the spherical design (as opposed to Project Mercury's conical design), which allows for maximum volume while minimizing the external surface. However, the lack of lift means the capsule experiences high forces on reentry, up to 8 to 9g.

ESA participation[edit]

Starting with the Foton-7 mission, the European Space Agency has been a partner in the Foton program.[1]

Foton launches[edit]

Designation Launch Date Recovery Date Mission Payload(s) Notes
Foton-1 1985-04-16  ?
Foton-2 1986-05-21  ?
Foton-3 1987-04-24  ?
Foton-4 1988-04-14  ?
Foton-5 1989-04-26  ?
Foton-6 1990-04-11  ? Re-entry capsule on display at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, USA[2]
Foton-7 1991-10-04  ?
Foton-8 1992-10-08  ?
Foton-9 1994-06-14  ?
Foton-10 1995-02-16  ?
Foton-11 1997-10-09  ?
Foton-12 1999-09-09[3] 1999-09-24[3] Re-entry capsule on display at the European Space Research and Technology Centre in Noordwijk, Netherlands[4]
Foton-M1 2002-10-15 N/A Lost due to a launch failure
Foton-M2 2005-05-31 2005-06-16
Foton-M3 2007-09-14 2007-09-26 Young Engineers' Satellite 2

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Foton". ESA. 
  2. ^ "Aircraft and Exhibits". Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Foton-12 mission". 19 January 2001. ESA. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Focus on Foton". ESA. 19 December 2001. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 

External links[edit]