R-7 (rocket family)

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The R-7 family of rockets (Russian: Р-7) is a series of rockets, derived from the Soviet R-7 Semyorka, the world's first ICBM. More R-7 rockets have been launched than any other family of large rockets.

When Soviet nuclear warheads got lighter, the R-7 turned out to be impractical as a ballistic missile. It was not necessary to launch such heavy payloads in a military application. The rockets became useful in the Soviet, and later, Russian space programmes with long-term development. Their purpose shifted primarily to launching satellites, probes, manned and unmanned spacecraft, and other non-threatening payloads. The R-7 family consists of both missiles and orbital carrier rockets. Derivatives include the Vostok, Voskhod and Soyuz rockets, which as of 2017 have been used for all Soviet, and later Russian manned spaceflights. The type has a unique configuration where four break-away liquid-fueled engines surround a central core. The core acts as, in effect, a "second stage" after the other four engines are jettisoned.

These rockets are expendable.

Later modifications were standardised around the Soyuz design. The Soyuz-FG and Soyuz-2 are currently in use. The official Russian press announced that the Soyuz-FG is to be retired by 2019 or 2020 in favour of the Soyuz-2.1a.[1] R-7 rockets are launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Guiana Space Centre (since 2011, see Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre), and the Vostochny Cosmodrome (first launch 2016).

After the R-7/Soyuz-U and the Thor and Delta rocket families, the Kosmos launch vehicle , the best known of which is the Kosmos-3M, holds the 3rd place record for number of successful orbital launch attempts, that is, of placing a satellite in orbit.[2]

Some R-7 variants

Summary of variants[edit]

All the R-7 family rockets are listed here by date of introduction. Most of the early R-7 variants have been retired. Active versions are shown in green.

Name GRAU
index
Function N° Core
Stages[a]
Maiden flight Final flight Launches[b] Remarks
Total Success Failure
(+ partial)
R-7 Semyorka 8K71 ICBM 1 15 May 1957 27 February 1961 27 18 9 World's first ICBM
Sputnik-PS 8K71PS Carrier rocket 1 4 October 1957 3 November 1957 2 2 0 World's first carrier rocket
Launched Sputnik 1 and Sputnik 2
Sputnik 8A91 Carrier rocket 1 27 April 1958 15 May 1958 2 1 1 Launched Sputnik 3
Luna 8K72 Carrier rocket 2 23 September 1958 16 April 1960 9 2 7 Launched first Lunar probes
R-7A Semyorka 8K74 ICBM 1 23 December 1959 25 July 1967 21 18 3
Vostok-L 8K72L Carrier rocket 2 15 May 1960 1 December 1960 4 3 1
Molniya 8K78 Carrier rocket 3 20 January 1960 3 December 1965 26 12 14
Vostok-K 8K72K Carrier rocket 2 22 December 1960 10 July 1964 13 11 2 Used for manned Vostok missions
First rocket to launch a man into space
Molniya-L 8K78L Carrier rocket 3
Unbuilt
Vostok-2 8A92 Carrier rocket 2 1 June 1962 12 May 1967 45 40 5
Polyot 11A59 Carrier rocket 1 1 November 1963 12 April 1964 2 2 0
Voskhod 11A57 Carrier rocket 2 16 November 1963 29 June 1976 300 277 23 Launched manned Voskhod 1 and Voskhod 2 missions
Molniya-M 8K78M Carrier rocket 3 19 February 1964 30 September 2010[3] 297 276 21
Vostok-2M 8A92M Carrier rocket 2 28 August 1964 29 August 1991 94 92 2
Soyuz/Vostok 11A510 Carrier rocket 3 27 December 1965 20 July 1966 2 2 0
Soyuz 11A511 Carrier rocket 2 28 November 1966 24 May 1975 30 28 2 Launched several manned Soyuz missions
Soyuz-B 11K55 Carrier rocket 2
Unbuilt
Soyuz-V 11K56 Carrier rocket 2
Unbuilt
Soyuz-R 11A514 Carrier rocket 2
Unbuilt
Soyuz-L 11A511L Carrier rocket 2 24 November 1970 12 August 1971 3 3 0
Soyuz-M 11A511M Carrier rocket 2 27 December 1971 31 March 1976 8 8 0
Soyuz-U 11A511U Carrier rocket 2 or 3 18 May 1973 22 February 2017 786 765 22[4] Single most launched carrier rocket ever built
Used for a number of manned Soyuz launches
Soyuz-U2 11A511U2 Carrier rocket 2 23 December 1982 3 September 1995 72 72 0 Used for a number of manned Soyuz launches
Soyuz-FG 11A511U-FG Carrier rocket 2 or 3 20 May 2001 Active[when?] 60 60 0 Used for current manned Soyuz launches
Soyuz-2.1a / STA 14A14A Carrier rocket 2 or 3 8 November 2004 Active[when?] 31 29 1+1p
Soyuz-2.1b / STB 14A14B Carrier rocket 2 or 3 27 December 2006 Active[when?] 34 32 1+1p
Soyuz-2-1v 14A15 Carrier rocket 2 28 December 2013 Active[when?] 3 2 1p
  1. ^ Not including boosters
  2. ^ As of 17 September 2016

Korolev Cross[edit]

Korolev cross, Soyuz TMA-04M

The Korolev Cross is a visual phenomenon observed in the smoke plumes of the R-7 series rockets during separation of the four liquid-fueled booster rockets attached to the core stage.[5] As the boosters fall away from the rocket, they pitch over symmetrically due to aerodynamic forces acting upon them, forming a cross-like shape behind the rocket. The effect is named after Sergey Korolev; the designer of the R-7 rocket. When the rocket is launched into clear skies, the effect can be seen from the ground at the launch site.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zak, Anatoly. "Soyuz-FG's long road to retirement". Russian Space Web. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  2. ^ Kosmos 3 ranks third among world space launchers with nearly 450 orbital attempts, trailing only R-7 and Thor/Delta.
  3. ^ Mu, Xuequan (1 October 2010). "Russia sends military satellite into space". Xinhua. Retrieved 30 September 2010. 
  4. ^ In 1983, flight Soyuz T-10a took fire on the launch pad before the end of the countdown, so it is not counted in the list of launches; this is why adding successes and failures yields 787 launches instead of 786.
  5. ^ NASA TV coverage of Soyuz TMA-12 launch

External links[edit]