Molniya (rocket)

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Colour drawing of the Russian (former Soviet) Molniya-M carrier rocket
For other uses, see Molniya (disambiguation).

The Molniya 8K78 (Russian: Молния, meaning "lightning") was a modification of the well-known R-7 Semyorka rocket and had four stages.

The 8K78 resulted from a crash program by the Korolev Bureau to develop a booster for launching planetary probes. A larger third stage was added along with a fourth stage (Blok L) that was designed to fire in-orbit to send the payload out of LEO. The basic R-7 core was also structurally strengthened and given more powerful engines. A rushed development produced multiple malfunctions of the upper stages, which led to its being replaced by the improved Molniya M in 1964.

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