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Overview, Supporting Facilities and Launch Vehicles of the
Soviet Space Program *
With the inauguration of the Cosmos series of satellites in 1962, a second site was used at Kapustin Yar near Volgograd. This fulfills the same function at the U.S. Wallops Island, Virginia station and the White Sands, New Mexico test area, launching small satellites and sounding rockets. The B-vehicle, no longer operational, and the C-vehicle are the only ones to have been launched from this site and annual launch totals have never exceeded the eight of 1968.
The entry in the 1985 encyclopedia (16) the date of the foundation of the Kapustin Yar cosmodrome as 1946, but does not give a location. The first Soviet ballistic and geophysical rockets were tested there, under the guidance of Sergey P Korolev, from 1948 through 1956. It is equipped with pads for launching Cosmos and Intercosmos satellites as well as the Vertical geophysical and scientific research sounding rockets. There are the usual technical support positions and stations used to measure the flight parameters of the launch vehicles in the powered phase of their missions. In 1983, an article entitled "Kapustin Yar: A Look Through the Years," by special correspondent V. Gubarev, appeared in Pravda.(17) He writes that "the road to space began right here" immediately after the war. Conditions at that time were said to be unbelievably difficult-the bare steppe, no water and a shortage of food following the severe drought of 1946. By working for 18 hours a day they were able to launch the first ballistic rocket on 18 October 1947. A concrete memorial in the form of a rocket now marks the spot from which this launch took place and the road to the current launch pads runs past it. The workshops and drawing offices were of wooden construction and, gradually, roads and railway lines appeared. Eventually, through the use of irrigation, trees and grass were encouraged to grow and there is now a park in the center of the city. Academician N. Pilyugin recalled that 13 rockets were launched during the months of October and November 1947. Academician A. Blagonravov was chairman of the State Commission for the launching of the first "academic" rockets and has described the competition between differing scientific disciplines to obtain launches for their experiments. By the end of the 1940s, animals were being flown in the nose cones of sounding rockets. Pairs of dogs, some of which flew more than once, were used for gathering data on the reaction of living organisms to rocket flight. They were provided with life-support systems and instrumented for recording their physiological functions. Some difficulties arose in connection with returning the dogs to Earth. Some were ejected at altitude and returned to Earth by parachute. Nine experiments were conducted with pressure suits. It was reported that many of the scientists and engineers who started at Kapustin Yar transferred to the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and that when a third cosmodrome was established at Plesetsk, at the beginning of the 1960s, it seemed that use of Kapustin Yar might be discontinued. However, with the launch of Intercosmos 1, on October 14, 1969, it gained a new lease on life. Guests from all the Intercosmos countries were invited to witness the launch, although the satellite's instrumentation was provided only by the U.S.S.R., the German Democratic Republic and Czechoslovakia. These included the presidents of the various academies of sciences, scientists and specialists from the countries participating in the Intercosmos program. The claim that "four times in the course of the year Kapustin Yar saluted the Intercosmos program with rocket launches" (18) may be attributed to journalistic license since Intercosmos 4 was launched on the first anniversary of the launch of Intercosmos 1. As can be seen from table 25, the annual launch rate from Kapustin Yar is now only one or two per year with none at all in 1986. The C-vehicle has replaced the B-vehicle as the launcher and was used for the sub-scale spaceplane test flights in 1982-84.References:
1. SOVIET SPACE PROGRAMS: 1981-87, PILOTED SPACE ACTIVITIES, LAUNCH VEHICLES, LAUNCH SITES, AND TRACKING SUPPORT PREPARED AT THE REQUEST OF Hon. ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, Chairman, COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION, UNITED STATES SENATE Part 1, MAY 1988, Printed for the use of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON, D.C. 1988
12. National Geographic Magazine, October 1986, p. 422-423.
13. Aviation Week and Space Technology, September 1, 1986, p. 42-43.
14. Novosti Press Agency. London, U.S.S.R. Space Bulletin, SB21, October 21, 1987, p. 10.
15. Flight International, December 12,1987, p. 16.
16. Kosmonavtika Entsiklopediya, op. cit., p. 166.
17. Pravda, June 6, 1983, p. 3.
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