48.4 N 45.8 E
Overview, Supporting Facilities and Launch Vehicles of the
Soviet Space Program *
The third Soviet launch site is near Kapustin Yar on the Volga River below the city of Volgograd at about, 48.4° N. latitude, 45.8° E. longitude, also in European Russia. Indirectly the site has been finally acknowledged by the Soviet Government, as some sub orbital launches as referred to as coming from "Volgograd Station". The area has been used for a long time as a rocket test station. In the middle 1950's before the first Sputnik, Aviation Week magazine revealed the United States had a radar station in Turkey which used radar to follow missile and test rocket firings from this point. (10) Magazines of the period said that Soviet short and medium range missiles were launched south eastward from there toward the Kyzylkum Desert near the Aral Sea as the principal test range. In fact, this launch site was so well known that for several years after 1957, the American press assumed that it was used for the launch of the early Sputniks and Luna flights when in fact they came from the Tyuratam ICBM test center.
It was not until 1962 that payloads were placed in orbit from the Kapustin Yar site, using the smallest of the Soviet launch vehicles, and only in 1973 did they start space launches from Kapustin Yar which used the intermediate size of launch vehicle. All the "B" class small launch vehicles from there put payloads into an inclination of 48.4 to 49 degrees. All the intermediate "C" class vehicles put payloads into an inclination of about 50.7 degrees inclination.
The combination of use of the smaller launch vehicles and the use of the site for launching vertical probes make this site seem to parallel a combination of the Wallops Island, Virginia station, and the White Sands, New Mexico test area. Some Western observers speculated that when the day came that the Soviet Government would ease its security rules sufficiently to open a launch site to outside visitors that Kapustin Yar was most likely to be the first to "go public". This view was encouraged when finally Soviet bloc scientists were permitted to go there in connection with the launch of Interkosmos flights which began in 1969. (1)
Sary Shagan, the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) test station to intercept rockets fired from Kapustin Yar, was also found in Landsat pictures. (12)
Table 1-6 which follows summarizes the known successful launches by site, worldwide, to provide a perspective on their relative levels of activity for orbital launch purposes. The figures do not reveal additional sub orbital or missile launchings. The table reveals that Plesetsk has conducted more successful orbital launches than any other base in the world with Vandenberg and Tyuratam running neck and neck, and Cape Canaveral a poor fourth.
1. SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMS, 1971-75, OVERVIEW, FACILITIES AND HARDWARE MANNED AND UNMANNED FLIGHT PROGRAMS, BIOASTRONAUTICS CIVIL AND MILITARY APPLICATIONS PROJECTIONS OF FUTURE PLANS, STAFF REPORT , THE COMMITTEE ON AERONAUTICAL AND SPACE .SCIENCES, UNITED STATES SENATE, BY THE SCIENCE POLICY RESEARCH DIVISION CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE, THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, VOLUME – I, AUGUST 30, 1976, GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON : 1976,
10. Aviation Week, New York , October 21, 1957 , p. 26.
12. Aviation Week, New York , November 25, 1974 , pp. 20-21.
Corona Mission 1116-2
6 May 1972
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