Kosmos Launch Vehicle "C"
THE FLEXABLE INTERMEDIATE LAUNCH VEHICLE (“C”)
Interkosmos/Kosmos-3M Series SL-8
Overview, Supporting Facilities and Launch Vehicles of the
Soviet Space Program *
Small, relatively modest Soviet payloads for five years came only from Kapustin Yar, and after that also from Plesetsk, but not from Tyuratam. In 1964, however, a new series of flights began at Tyuratam with a vehicle which was neither a B-l, nor the large A class. It can be designated the C-l, and starting in 1967 it also came into use at Plesetsk. It was first used for a space launch from Kapustin Yar in 1973.
As first used, it put up multiple payloads, initially three at a time, then five at a time, and now eight at a time. Starting at the end of 1965 and most of the flights since have been single payloads. The earliest launches were in eccentric orbits, and then came flights with circularized orbits, and these have been at increasing altitudes.
This performance seemed in excess of what could be expected of the B-l launch vehicle both because of the many multiple payloads, and the demonstrated capacity to 'achieve circularized orbit at higher altitudes. In addition to that the appearance of the flights from a cosmodrome not used for the regular small Kosmos or B-l flights was a further indication. Even where flights of the B-l and the C-l come from the same cosmodrome, there are marked differences in inclination, suggesting the use of different launch pads.
As Western analysts sought a military missile which might fit the needs of a first stage of the C-l, the SS-5 or Skean came to mind. This had been paraded in Moscow , and was believed to have a range as a missile of close to 4,000 kilometers. It was also known as the missile which followed the Sandal into Cuba and posed an added threat then because of its greater range.
The Skean-based C-l type of launch vehicle has not yet been put on display by the Russians, but finally some photographs are appearing, and they confirm the use of this particular missile for the first stage. The first photograph was obtained in the West by Maarten Houtman of the Netherlands . The exact dimensions are not known, but some ratios have been developed by Phillip S. dark of the United Kingdom . The vehicle may be as much as 2.5 meters in diameter although it may be 2.4 or 2.25 meters and about 31.6 meters long. It probably could put over 1,000 kilograms into low Earth orbit but has not been used that way. More likely the payloads range from about 900 to 500 kilograms, decreasing with altitude. The reticence to disclose anything about its rocket engines or performance again suggest a role which is largely military. Even the Skean missile when paraded in Moscow carried a plate to hide its power plant. Kenneth Gatland says it has four nozzles.References:
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,
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