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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Soviet Solid Rockets - 1950s

Following the developments of the potential adversary, the Soviet government, with the aim of developing the raw material and production base to ensure the development of solid fuel in the country, by Order No. 1229-562 of September 12, 1957, obliged the State Committees of the USSR in Chemistry, Aviation and Defense Technology, and the Academy of Sciences USSR in 1959-1965. work on the creation and development of serial production of high-calorific solid rocket fuels.

The development of a new promising direction in rocket technology - solid fuel, taking into account foreign experience, in the country in the late 50's. OKB-1 SP Koroleva, Design Bureau (Chief Designer M. Yu. Tsirulnikov, Perm, now Iskra), TsKB-7 (Chief Designer PA Tyurin, now time CB "Arsenal"), a little later they joined NII-1 (Chief Designer A D. Nadiradze, now MIT - Moscow Institute of Heat Engineering). Naturally, OKB-586 could not stay away.

The NII-4 Institute undertook the first attempt to develop a solid-propellant long-range ballistic missile during 1955–59. General Andrey Sokolov was director of NII-4 at that time, and Sokolov’s deputy was Colonel Georgiy Tyulin. Boris Zhitkov, Doctor of Technical Sciences, supervised the development of the PR-1 solid-fuel missile with a range of 60 to 70 kilometers. This missile was successfully tested at Kapustin Yar in 1959.

NII-4 obtained a Council of Ministers special decree for the development of the PR-2 solid-fuel guided missile. With a missile mass of 6.2 metric tons, it was capable of carrying a warhead weighing 900 kilograms to a range of 250 kilometers. This missile was the solid-propellant analog of the R-11 liquid-oxygen missile developed by Korolev’s OKB-1. While working on these projects, formulas for high-energy composite solid-propellants, thermal protective coatings, erosion-resistant materials, and swiveling control nozzles were developed. However, industry and even the Ministry of Defense failed to support the initiative of NII-4 scientists.

Chertok noted that several "concurrent factors made Korolev the first of our chief designers and missile strategists to rethink, to alter the choice whereby strategic missile weaponry had been oriented exclusively toward liquid-oxygen missiles. For various reasons, historical works on rocket-space technology and studies of Korolev’s creative legacy fail to devote proper attention to his work in this area. "The first impetus to begin work at OKB-1 on solid-propellant missiles was the abundance of information that had accumulated in early 1958 on the Americans’ intent to develop a new type of three-stage intercontinental missile....

"The second impetus to begin operations on solid-propellant missiles came from Yuriy Pobedonostsev, ... an old compatriot from GIRD, RNII, and NII-88.... At NII-125, Pobedonostsev was one of those who initiated the development of a manufacturing process for shells in the form of a set of charges with a diameter as large as 0.8 to 1 meter and a total length of up to 6 meters..... Together with NII-125, a so-called group, in which 40-year-old Sadovskiy was the most experienced solid-propellant expert, published a three-volume report proving that it was possible to produce a medium-range missile using “ballistite” powder, which was supposed to be produced in the form of large-diameter pressed powder charges.... "

Ballistite is a type of smokeless powder, or smokeless rocket propellant, composed of roughly equal proportions of the explosives nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine. Ballistite was the original double based smokeless powder, invented and produced by Nobel, in England. From this was developed Cordite and other double-based powders. Originally tried as a powder for rifle cartridges, it was found too erosive (burnt the metal in the chamber throats and rifling); it was found ideal for shotgun and some pistol cartridges. Paul Vieille tested in the 1880's smokeless Cordite and Ballistite, in addition to his own poudre B.

During the Great Patriotic War, the United States supplied the Soviet Union with a double-base smokeless powder, Russian cordite, that was manufactured according to Soviet specifications. By 1960 a RAND study noted that "Soviet open literature contains no direct information concerning rocket propellant developments.... the Soviet literature is singularely lacking in information on composite propellants as such. There is, however, considerable information on certain possible components for oxidizers and binders."

Sadovskiy noted that “the Americans ... have succeeded in developing a fundamentally new high-efficiency propellant that chemists call composite solid-propellant. Our industry doesn’t yet know how to make charges out of this propellant. Research has just begun on our initiative. Perhaps, in a year or two the formulas and manufacturing process for composite solid-propellant charges will be developed."

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