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Kosmos Broad Catagories


A. THE NEED FOR KOSMOS In the first five years of the Soviet space program, only 15 flights were successful in attaining orbit. All had come from Tyuratam, and all had used the large standard vehicle in its several forms, the A, A-l, A-2, and A-2-e. It is possible that only one or two launch pads were in use. In a sense, despite the very considerable achievements of the program, it represented a current operation on a shoe string, exploiting to the utmost the investment which had been made. Lead times suggest that by the time the first Sputnik flew, work undoubtedly was already well along in planning use of the upper stage which permitted the first Luna flights, and perhaps the Vostok manned ship was also under actual development. But the time had come as these early flights occurred to flesh out the Soviet space systems beyond proof of principle into both practical applications flights and more ambitious exploratory missions. One obvious need was to bring into operation a simpler launch vehicle which would be more economical for modest missions, in the same way that NASA uses not only its complex orbiting space observatories but also its simpler Explorer payloads. Secondly, the Soviet Union needed to be able to fire its launch rockets at additional inclinations, from places where these changes of azimuth would not risk dropping first stages on populated regions. Third, if the pace of such flights was to pick up, it would be useful to spread the launch range workload more widely.

The Soviet Union was in the slightly contradictory position of describing all of its space activity as devoted exclusively to scientific purposes, co-defined as peaceful in nature, and probably also self-defined to include all technological endeavors as automatically scientific. But at the same time they were exploiting to the utmost the concept of operational and strategic surprise, to keep their American rival off balance and their world image one of successful leadership. Startling predictions were made as to what they planned to do, but without a specific time table, and enough of these missions were accomplished to create that sought image of purposeful success. Information on failures was kept carefully hidden for many years, and constantly the theme was pressed that these sure successes were the direct result of the superiority of the socialist system. It was flatly stated repeatedly for the early years that there were no failures in the Soviet program. Secrecy was defended both on the score that the Soviet Union did not boast before it had accomplished deeds worth advertising, and that its use of powerful military missiles as carrier rockets, the front line of defense against aggressive imperialism, needed protection against Western spying designed to help the United States catch up in a field where the Soviet technical lead was said to be strong.

At the same time that the U.S.S.R. was drawing comparisons unfavorable to the United States by contrasting Soviet spacecraft weighing tons and U.S. Vanguards like grapefruit, they were reading in the American press about U.S. plans for Pied Piper, Big Brother, Sentry, and other project names -for further generations of U.S. military spacecraft in quite a different league from the first U.S. small scientific payloads. It would be hard to believe that Soviet technicians were any less aware than our own, that spaceflight provided new and interesting opportunities for applications of advanced technology. But how were such Soviet military applications to be made without undercutting their own propaganda contrasting their scientific and peaceful image, with their claims that the U.S. Department of Defense was already militarizing space for purposes of world aggression?

There was a body of Soviet literature which looked beyond the temporary license of the IGY agreements permitting over flights of national territories to proposals that all military flights in space should be subject to international prohibition. Observation from space was called spying, and not only the lawyers were critical, for military figures spoke of the need to take countermeasures. Premier Khrushchev spoke scathingly of people who peek into others' bedrooms, promising that satellites would meet the same fate as the U-2 had on May 1, 1960. If the Russians were to protect their own freedom of action in space while not sacrificing the peaceful image they were carefully constructing, they needed an appropriate cover plan.


The United States proved sensitive and defensive about the Soviet charges that it was practicing aggression in space, and the trauma of the Gary Powers capture and subsequent collapse of public information policies had produced a very secretive attitude within some segments of the United States Government. This Government knew that gathering information was important to maintaining peace, and that this was not aggressive by our standards. No one knew what the Russians were up to within their closed and compartmented society. National security required that U.S. work proceed on several fronts against all the possible contingencies of rapid expansion of Soviet strategic missile capabilities, of Soviet bombs in orbit, of Soviet interception of U.S. payloads. Because the Soviet Union disclosed so little information which could be verified by normal means, it was vital that some notion of the order of battle and disposition of military resources and hardware be known as a guide to the pacing of American protective developments. If there was a danger that our information gatherers were going to be "neutralized" by the Russians, then everything had to be done to protect the privacy of these U.S. national technical means, as well.

Some very carefully reasoned legal interpretations of the U-2 incident showed that such Government aircraft over flights in the airspace of other nations were not necessarily espionage and illegal.(11) But the political reality of the U-2 and the storm it produced went far beyond abstract legal principles. By contrast, flight through outer space could hardly be considered invasion of air space. No logic would support the concept of sovereignty extending outward from Earth to sweep limitless regions of the universe as the Earth rotated on its axis. Nonetheless, in the absence of firm international law on such points in these early years, a cautious policy seemed appropriate.

Hence, in the fall of 1961, the United States information policy on its military space operations progressively tightened to withhold details of hardware and operations plans. By November 22, the first U.S. launch of unannounced purpose occurred. The occasional launches of this one category of flight drew such added attention from the world press that information policies had to be tightened even more, and extended to most military space flights. After the launch of Discoverer 38 in late February 1962, no more names were announced for flights with the same characteristics, and information disappeared on recovery of any capsules returned from space by the military. This contrasted with the news releases urged upon the press about such recoveries until that time. Later, even the previously widely publicized navigation satellites called Transit went under cover.

Thus it became United States policy from March 1962 on to have no public names for its military space flights, aside from some later exceptions where a variety of other agencies were sharing in the scientific and technological experiments to gather environmental data, to develop communications techniques, or to test some supporting systems such as gravity stabilization devices or tracking devices. Although the names and descriptions for the bulk of U.S. flights disappeared, the flights did not become truly secret. First of all, the fact of launch was announced locally at the launch site, naming the launch vehicle used. This was hardly a disclosure as private citizens in the areas adjacent to the launch centers could observe the obvious. Second, the orbital elements of most of these flights later were published in the NASA Goddard Satellite Situation Report. In more recent years, secrecy has extended to excluding from the Goddard report the orbital elements of some of these Defense satellites. Third, under international agreements, the names of all launch vehicles including the orbital elements even of the satellites no longer listed by elements with NASA are registered at the United Nations, not only for the payloads, but for all associated pieces of debris. Even with this record of name hiding but ultimate openness on where the satellites are in orbit, there followed some years of continuing Soviet criticism about these military operations. They even planted the suspicion in the world that U.S. flights had gone beyond passive military (11) support to placement of weapons of mass destruction in or This latter possibility can be analyzed to show its complete absurdity, but will not be done here. At the height of Soviet "hysteria" about U.S. over flights, even the low resolution pictures taken by the NASA TIROS weather satellites were described by some Soviet writers as "spy in the sky" flights. (12)

It has already been suggested that the Russians faced an information handling crisis of their own in the very months that the United States was "unwriting" its own history of articles about space observation, and was trying to defuse a potentially bad situation by toning down and taking the spotlight bit. off U.S. military space flights and "provocative" program descriptions. Whether our policy was both correct and wise is a matter of opinion. In the long run it seems to have worked, but not necessarily for the reasons originally offered.

The Russians decided they wished freedom of action in a number of military space fields, and that their own withholding of information on coming programs could be protected with a very simple cover plan which gave as complete privacy as technology would permit while maintaining the wholly "peaceful" image of the first five years of spaceflight. This was simply to have a blanket, all-inclusive flight description which was generally correct or at least hardly challengeable which could be used for the bulk of their flights. At the same time 70 percent of all flights could be given the meaningless name Kosmos, and a serial number. This "openness' of name, immediate release of orbital elements, and peaceful Kosmos label, could be contrasted with the fact that half of U.S. flights were for the Department of Defense, had no name, no announced mission, and details on orbital path were withheld for weeks or months for belated release, sometimes after the flight was over. This Soviet practice was only a propaganda ploy although an effective one, when in fact a cover name, serial number, and vague description provided no real information. The Soviet release of orbital parameters was useful, but presumably told no more than was already evident to the tracking systems of the United States and Britain.

Here is the text of the Kosmos announcement of March 16, 1962:

A series of artificial Earth satellites will be launched from different cosmodromes of the Soviet Union during 1962. Another launching of an artificial Earth satellite was carried out in the Soviet Union on 16 March 1962 . The launching of the artificial Earth satellite continues the current program of studying the upper layers of the atmosphere and outer space in fulfillment of which a series of satellite launchings will be effected under this program from different cosmodromes of the Soviet Union in the course of 1962. The scientific program includes: The study of the concentration of charged particles in the ionosphere or investigating the propagation of radio waves; a study of corpuscular flows and low energy particles; study of the energy composition of the radiation belts of the Earth for the purpose of further evaluating the radiation dangers of prolonged space flights; study of the primary composition and intensity variation of cosmic rays; study of the magnetic field of the Earth ; study of the short wave radiation of the Sun and other celestial bodies ; study of the upper layers of the atmosphere; study of the effects of meteoric matter on construction elements of space vehicles; and study of the distribution and formation of cloud patterns in the Earth's atmosphere.

Moreover, many elements of space vehicle construction will be checked and improved. The launching of sputniks of this series will be announced in separate reports. This program will give Soviet scientists new means for studying the physics of the upper atmospheric layers and outer space. (13)

Then when the second launch occurred on April 6, it was named Kosmos 2, and reference was made back to the press release for Kosmos 1. This same pattern has been continued through subsequent years and hundreds of Kosmos flights. The first three Kosmos flights clearly came from a new orbital launch site, the one at Kapustin Yar, and they flew at an inclination close to 49 degrees to the equator.

But Kosmos 4, announced with the same kind of a press release, was flown at the older inclination of 65 degrees, and after three days the TASS announcement read:

The Soviet artificial Earth satellite Kosmos 4, launched on 26 April 1962, has been in orbit for more than three days and has flown in this period about 2 million kilometers. Throughout the world flight the systems and apparatuses on the satellite to carry out the exploration of cosmic space and the upper layers of the atmosphere worked well. In connection with the completion of the program of scientific research on 29 April, at a command from Earth, the successful landing of the satellite in a predetermined area of the territory of the Soviet Union was carried out. As a result of the launching of satellite Kosmos 4, valuable scientific data, which at present is being processed and studied, has been received."

Thus was signaled that many separate programs, many different launch vehicles, and several cosmodromes would be used by the U.S.S.R., with individual purposes released only selectively, and in a minority of instances, under the general blanket cover label of Kosmos. Also, they were able to announce their successful recovery of a payload on land without tying that work to a military program, which the United States managed to do when President Eisenhower displayed the first recovered Discoverer capsule after its ocean pick-up. The reference to using some flights to take cloud cover pictures was especially ironic, even humorous, after the earlier paroxysms the Soviet government went through when they put on display camera systems in Moscow, recovered from U.S. balloons launched to drift over the Soviet Union from West Germany, and intended for recovery in the area of Japan. The United States had described the purpose of the balloon flights to be that of gathering cloud pictures, but the Russians said they represented spying because of the resolution of the cameras.


Especially with the advantage of hindsight, it is possible to sort out the Kosmos flights in almost all instances into broad categories. This process has been carried out in part through earlier sections of this report. The identification of launch sites and the distinguishing of different launch, vehicles start this process. Beyond this the public record of orbital elements is very revealing as repetitive patterns are studied, and these characteristics are compared with possible missions which would use such paths around the Earth.

As time passes, the Soviet scientific community publishes experimental results on those Kosmos flights which are scientific. This accounts for some of them, including use of A, B, and C classes of launch vehicles, even though the bulk of all three categories have no findings reported in either scientific journals or popular sources. "When space applications flights for such functions as weather reporting, carrying human crews, and communications have appeared and ultimately been described by TASS, it has been possible to find within the

Kosmos label certain flights with the same characteristics of orbit or duration of flight. The manned flight precursors have been especially easy to spot not only for their orbital placement and recovery, but usually the radio frequencies used and sometimes even the broadcast of recorded human voices. For those Kosmos flights which ultimately are followed by scientific findings published, it is possible to note their special characteristics and identify follow-on flights of the same series even in advance of the ultimate publication of results.

Hence it is safe to say that Kosmos includes elements of programs devoted to science, to development of practical civil applications, and to testing precursors to manned ships to follow. There are two further categories of Kosmos flights which cannot be identified as to purpose on the basis of later Soviet publications anything like as directly, and these flights make up the overwhelming bulk of all Kosmos flights. The smaller portion of the unknowns are flight failures, whose malfunctions are ignored by issuing a routine announcement of the flight which also says that incoming data are being received and studied. Examples of these are the deep space flights whose orbital platforms for some reason have not sent a payload on its way to the Moon or a planet. But the greater part of the Kosmos flights are ones that seem to have functioned and where despite the fact they number on the order of 500, no scientific finding has ever been published. These are almost surely military in character, and their probable missions will be discussed in else where on this web site.


It has already been pointed out that the Soviet announcements alone when coupled with later publication of scientific findings and with later announced manned or applications flights permit positive identification of a substantial number of Kosmos missions, even though less than half the total. The nature of announced orbits even without elaboration provides a checklist of potential applications which would be consistent with the orbital location of the flights.

Beyond this, important indicators are supplied by the Goddard Satellite Situation Report which gives the orbital elements and then decay dates on not only the payloads but associated debris as well. Abandoned debris may reveal something about the staging and mode of operation or maneuver, if any, used by the flight. Dates of orbital decay over time may reveal something of the density or shape of the objects in orbit. If final decay from orbit occurs before natural decay by air drag would dictate, it is reasonably likely that retrofire was employed in a recovery attempt, or return to Earth was deliberately arranged to dump a large non-recoverable spacecraft in an ocean area. If pickaback payloads are separated later from the main payload, this fact generally can be noted in the public register. Clearly catastrophic events such as explosions in orbit are signaled by the large amount of debris, and the dispersion from the original single orbit tells something of the violence of the explosion. Payloads which were spin stabilized early in flight and then slowed down by unwinding "yo-yo" wires with weights are identifiable because these separated weights above and below the main payload are a standard tell-tale with such flights.

The Goddard report is inadequate by itself to answer all the questions that public sources of information could provide. The Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough in England gives a much more explicit description of all world flights, including Soviet, by labeling which objects are payloads, which are spent rocket casings, which are special capsules, and which are miscellaneous debris. The British also give the hour of launch which often helps to identify the launch site and sometimes the purpose of the mission. Because the RAE, too, is looking for repetitive patterns and they can add some data from optical or radar observations, they are able to list the shape, weight, and dimensions of most objects to the best of their estimating ability. They describe the orbit more completely than does Goddard by giving the date of orbit determination, sometimes with multiple entries, the estimated orbital life time, the semimajor axis, the orbital eccentricity, and the argument of perigee. This is in addition to the Goddard type information on apogee, perigee, inclination, and period.

Still more information on Kosmos flights is available from private observers whose findings may ultimately find their way to publication at least in summary form. The chief of these sources is provided from the team of observers linked with the Kettering Grammar School, Northants, England. Geoffrey E. Perry, the head science master of the school has led this effort with important support from his family, colleagues, and successive generations of pupils. Coordinated information comes from correspondent stations in Sollentuna and Maimo, Sweden, operated by Sven Grahn and Jan Ola Dahlberg, and one in Cyprus by Peter Wakelin. Horst Hewel in West Berlin and Richard S. Flagg in Gainesville at the University of Florida cooperate at times of manned space flight. Christopher D. Wood contributed data from Fiji until he returned to the United Kingdom.

The Perry effort first concentrated on the signal characteristics of the then mostly eight-day military recoverable photographic missions of the U.S.S.R. Doppler shift in signals made it possible to establish the flight path to a good degree of accuracy. When the flights were ready for recovery, the radio beacon was tracked, and the stages of retrofire, ionospheric blackout, parachute opening, touch down on the ground, and arrival of the pickup crew to turn off the final beacon could be logged with great precision.

Perry's studies proceeded to identify telemetry format so that even on the first revolution it has been possible to discern which flights fall into each of the several modes of operation, with most of the newer flights staying up 12 to 14 days. Often impending launches could be forecast because a spacecraft already in orbit would vacate its previous frequency, moving to a different one in order to free the original frequency for new launch coming within the day.

By study of the pen tracing of signals, Perry was able to correlate some of these readings with probable expenditure of photographic film during the flight, and to find some of the other housekeeping or environmental parameters being measured.

Hence, with the passage of time, these Kettering techniques have given a highly professional, consistently positive identification to many aspects of the Soviet space program from completely unclassified, private sources, which are not matched by any public release of data by the Soviet, United States, or British governments. The general public interested in data on Soviet flights owes a debt to the Kettering Grammar School whose published findings in a few instances may have been factors toward influencing the official bureauc-racies to ease up on the rigid suppression of what is essentially non-sensitive information about space flights. Perry has received recognition in many forms from both the scientific world and the lay world of government and press. His name appeared on the New Year's Honors List of January 1973, and he was personally invested with the order of MBE by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace on March 13, 1973. In January 1974, he was awarded the Jackson-Gwilt Medal and Gift of the Royal Astronomical Society.


As the foregoing discussion has suggested, the largest part of the Kosmos program is military. However, the program overall is so large that even the minority of flights which are scientific makes an impressively long list. By the techniques discussed above, it is usually possible to distinguish between scientific and military missions. The out and out military missions are discussed in detail else where in this web site. The scientific missions can be tagged tentatively as they occur, based on external characteristics, and often it is a matter of waiting from a year to several years until the tentative assignment can be confirmed or reevaluated on the basis of published scientific findings. In addition to those flights with a primary scientific mission, there are a number of military flights which carry a separable scientific payload in pickaback form, and there are other scientific experiments which are incorporated as part of the main military payload. To the extent any of these categories can be identified or have been disclosed, they will be accounted for in the text to follow.

For convenience these missions will be treated by launch vehicle and by date of launch.

1. Use of the B-l for Scientific Flights

The B-l vehicle is used to put up a more or less standardized Kosmos scientific payload which consists essentially of a short sealed cylinder with hemispheric ends. Most are spin stabilized during launch. Some carry internal chemical batteries only; others have solar cells either on the exterior of the cylinder or on panels that fold out from the body of the spacecraft. The instrumentation and booms, if any, vary with the experiments being conducted. Their weights have never been announced, but probably range from 260 to 425 kilograms. Two had a special stabilization system that depended upon use of the aerodynamics of the atmosphere still present in low orbit enough to influence vehicle performance. An annular ring was extended in orbital flight on telescoping booms well to the rear of the spacecraft. This was successful, but would only work for relatively short-lived low orbits.

Flights made at Kapustin Yar have flown at inclinations close to 49 degrees, or, from 1966 on at about 48.4 degrees. Only a few were announced as to the scientific purpose at the time of launch. An even smaller number of scientific payload launches were made at Plesetsk, either at 71 degrees or at 82 degrees. In more recent years, the Kosmos name was replaced by Interkosmos because the fights were carrying cooperative experiments of other countries of the Soviet bloc jointly with the Russians. In the B-l category, these have been phased out recently through a switch of such payloads to use of the larger and more versatile C-l launch vehicle.

Replicas of many of the B-l payloads have ultimately been put on display either in Moscow or in international exhibitions.

The table which follows sorts out the B-l launches by inclination and by orbital characteristics. The mission descriptions represent experiments or instrumentation referred to in the Soviet literature, often with added details or overlapping details becoming available over a period of time.

2. Use of the C-l Scientific Flights

The B-l launch vehicle came into use in 1962, and the C-l came into use in 1964. But while the B-l was used for scientific flights from the outset the C-l was restricted to military missions until 1970. This may be why the Russians released pictures, replicas, and measurements of the B-l in 1967, but even today have not done the same for C-1, but whose picture without other details finally was made public in 1975.

The last use of a B-l for a scientific mission came in 1973 and the growth in the use of the C-l has now completed the phased shift to the larger more versatile vehicle.

The preceding section noted that in some cases, it has not been possible to establish a B-l flight as scientific rather than military until well after the event, depending upon the appearance of references in scientific literature. Most C-l flights can be catalogued as to military versus civilian use on the basis of their announced flight parameters but there are exceptions, and hence any tabulation may need revision overtime. For example, Kosmos 381 was promptly announced as a scientific topside sounder, and many results have been published. Kosmos 385 has almost the same kind of orbit, but, nothing has been said of it, and it was followed by other flights which have been judged to be navigation satellites.

At least two C-l launches (Kosmos 426 and 546) look from their externals as if they should be scientific flights. Will the literature eventually reflect this, or are they instrumentation failures, or are they unidentified military missions? Another small group of exceptional flights with the C-l could be scientific when and if results of experiments are published, but have been counted as military even though not fitting the wholly regular and repetitive flights in the ferret, navigation, and store-dump communications categories. Since the B-l has been replaced by the C-l for scientific missions, the suspicion arises that, some of the minor military flights which look similar to scientific missions may also have been upgraded from use of the, B-l to use of the C-l. This leaves us, therefore, several missions which do not match other scientific missions or regular military C-l missions, but two of them match 'the kinds of orbits used for minor military B-l mission. These are Kosmos 660 and Kosmos 687. They may prove later to be scientific. Kosmos 708 also does not fit any other pattern: it, has the apogee and perigee of the navigation or geodesy series, but is at a unique inclination. It could be scientific. Kosmos 752 is also anomalous, but will be treated as probably military until shown otherwise by Soviet announcement.

Both the French Oreol (Aureole) payloads and the Indian Anabat (Aryabhata) payload have used the C-l launch vehicle.

The table which follows summarizes the tentative assignment of C-l flights to the scientific category. The table excludes Kosmos 256 which carried only supplemental scientific experiments to its main military missions and Kosmos 610 for the same reason.

3. Use of the A-l and A-2 for Scientific Supplemental Payloads

In addition to flights which serve primarily a scientific purpose, the Russians have used spare capacity on military flights often allowing recovery of the data in the case of military photographic missions, which would probably not justify their cost if operated as separate scientific missions.

But analysis of these flights is difficult, and is dependent upon Soviet announcements often which are not available until years after the flight. Analysis is difficult because in many cases the flights are launched into low Earth orbit, and after some days are recalled, and no external clue is revealed that the same flight is doing something else which may be scientific.

As the Russians have ultimately revealed something of the nature of supplemental experiments, one can retrospectively draw some tentative conclusions.

For example, one series of military photographic flights also gave engineering support to the techniques of launch, control, and recovery of manned flights to follow. Another group carried sensors and television cameras that gathered weather data which later led to a separate series of weather satellites in sustained, non-recoverable flight.

A working hypothesis has been that the military recoverable flights were essentially unmanned Vostok capsules, carrying camera systems instead of human crews. This belief was encouraged by the fact that an occasional Soviet photograph in a factory showed more Vostok capsules being manufactured than were ever required by the flights in the Vostok program that occurred. Also, just as most manned flights have been preceded by unmanned precursors, some of the Vostok's were preceded not only by the dog-carrying Korabi Sputniks, but also by military Kosmos flights which stayed up the same number of days as Vostok's which shortly followed.

If this is correct, then the military Kosmos payloads which carry supplemental experiments probably carry them for the most part in the main recoverable capsule. The military flights for some years were typically of about eight days duration. However, in 1968, a change occurred. Military flights started to stay up typically 12 or 13 days, and a very considerable number of them began to separate a component part toward the end of the flight. The Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) estimates this type of separated object as being about 2 meters in diameter. This raises a real possibility that the Vostok shell has been replaced by a Soyuz shell, consisting of a recoverable module with some lifting, steering capability during reentry, a more versatile service module which could have solar panels but may operate with chemical batteries alone as do the Soyuz ferry craft which went to Salyut 3 and 4, and also a third compartment equivalent to the orbital work compartment of Soyuz, and perhaps this is what is abandoned by most of the military recoverable photographic missions of recent years. If so, then the main cameras and film serving their military purpose are contained in the recovery module, while supplemental payloads are carried in the third compartment left in orbit, soon to decay without recovery. Some of these capsules seem to be an extra maneuvering unit which accounts for the many orbital adjustments these flights often make. Others of these may contain the supplemental scientific payloads. As such, they add to our statistics on number of functional payloads the Russians put up. The Russians do not help us because they have never discussed or otherwise disclosed what they do on these large payload military flights which constitute the largest single element in the Soviet program.

Analysis is difficult in the absence of Soviet information. The RAE lists all the capsules, not distinguishing between possible maneuvering units and containers for supplemental payloads. There is a good correlation among the appearance of these capsules late in flight, the changes of orbit during flight signifying maneuvers, and the collection of data on telemetry and beacon signals by Geoffrey E. Perry of the Kettering Group. Perry's data show which ones should maneuver, and they usually do, which ones should not maneuver and not separate a capsule, also borne out, and finally those that will not maneuver but will separate a capsule. These several bits of analytical procedure make it possible to sort out a tentative list of flights on which there may be supplemental scientific payloads, and to a point this works very well. By waiting patiently for the annual COSPAR report, one can learn from the Russians that indeed some of the flights Perry tagged did carry scientific payloads as well as their main military photograph system.

But there are complications. A few of the maneuvering military payloads that cast loose a capsule that hypothesis says are maneuvering engines also turn out to have scientific experiments on board. Are they carried in the capsule or in the main recoverable portion? Some capsules abandoned by non-maneuvering military payloads never have later scientific accounts of experiments. Perhaps some of the supplemental payloads are military instead of scientific.

On the basis of all this foregoing discussion, it will be recognized how tentative the list which follows must remain until the Russians make a fuller explanation. It does at least provide a starting place for better analyses in the future.


The text has already explained that most Kosmos flights serve military purposes. These are treated in detail in a separate web site area, and have been discussed here only in the context of identifying which are which and also those military flights which carry supplemental scientific payloads.


All that is necessary here is to provide a checklist of Kosmos flights which almost certainly were engineering tests and development flights leading to operational systems which carried other names. This class in some small degree may overlap space failures, which will be identified presently.

Voskhod Precursors (A-2 vehicles)

Kosmos 47, Kosmos 57

Soyuz Precursors (A-2 vehicles)

Kosmos 133, Kosmos 573

Kosmos 140, Kosmos 613

Kosmos 186, Kosmos 638

Kosmos 188, Kosmos 656

Kosmos 212, Kosmos 670

Kosmos 213, Kosmos 672

Kosmos 238, Kosmos 772

Kosmos 496

Zond Precursors (D-l-e vehicles)

Kosmos 146, Kosmos 154

Man-Related Special Precursors (Soviet Lunar Kabina)

Kosmos 379 (A-2-m vehicle), Kosmos 434 (A-2-m vehicle), Kosmos 398 (A-2-m vehicle)

Kosmos 382 (D-l-m vehicle) (Blok-D for Soviet Lunar Kabina Lunar Braking Module)

Venus Precursor (A-2-e vehicle)

Kosmos 21

Meteor Precursors {A-l vehicles')

Kosmos 44, Kosmos 144

Kosmos 58, Kosmos 156

Kosmos 100, Kosmos 184

Kosmos 118, Kosmos 206

Kosmos 122, Kosmos 226

Molniya 1 Precursors

Kosmos 41 (A-2-e vehicle), Kosmos 637 (D-l-e vehicle)


These are discussed in the context of their missions and all that is needed here is a checklist of mission failures which received Kosmos names.

Luna Failures

Kosmos 60 (A-2-e vehicle), Kosmos 111 (A-2-e vehicle)

Kosmos 300 (D-l-e vehicle), Kosmos 305 (D-l-e vehicle)

Venus Failures (A-2-e vehicle)

Kosmos 27 Kosmos 359, Kosmos 96, Kosmos 482, Kosmos 167

Mars Failure (D-l-e vehicle)

Kosmos 419

Salyut Failure (D-l vehicle)

Kosmos 557

I. SUMMARY ON KOSMOS FLIGHTS So much detail has been provided in the sections above that it may be helpful to recapitulate on the number of Soviet flights which have carried the name Kosmos, have carried other names, or have been unacknowledged, by various classes of missions for the time span 1957-1975 inclusive. Such a table follows:



11. Beresford Spencer M. High altitude surveillance in International law. Paper given in Stockholm. Sweden, August 16, 1960 at the llth Congress of the International Astronautical Federation.

12. Aleksandrov, Col. B. Spies in the Cosmos, Red Star, Moscow, July 23, 1961, P. A.

13. TASS, March 16, 1962, 1701, GMT.

14. TASS, April 29, 1962, 1232 GMT.

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