Created: 12/1/1985

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Soviet Space Programs

National Inldlifieacc Estimate

VolumeJudgment* and Executive Summaiy




lafcoiutlmueccmbrf lOSs wit turd in lhe prcpiniun of Ihti EiKmiir. which wm approicd by ihr Ntlkinal Foreign iMrliiarace Ooant on ihii dale.



The following intelligence organizations participated in Ihe preparation of the Estimate:

Ihe Central Intelligence Agency, the (Were* Intelligence Agency, the Notional Security Agency, and Ihe tnleJtgence orgoniiation ol the Deportment ol Slate.

Also Participating:

The Ai&tont Chief of Staff for mlelTrgence, Deporlmenl of lhe Army Ihe Director of Naval Inleftgence, Deporlmenl al the Navy Ihe Aniitonl Chief of Sloff, Intelligence. Deporlmenl of the Air Force The Director of loiefcgcnce, Heodquorteri. Marine Corpt

11 StMr^l


Anuing Ircnd toward the increasing use of space assets by Soviet military forces is clearly foreshadowed by the large investments in spacef the past few years. We can expect to sec the payoff by then terms of expanded access to space for performanceariety of missions. In the long term, space systems would probably be an integral part of any advanced-technology strategic defense system the Soviets might develop and deploy, and we expect antisatclliteritical aspect of Soviet efforts to counter any space-based elementsotential future US strategic defense.

Ultimately, it is the sheer size and breadth of the Soviets' spacelhat gives them their greatest potential in the competition for leadership in space. The magnitude of the effort compensates for much of the inefficiency and technological deficiency that characterizes many individual Soviet programs. Furthermore, we cannot clearly account for all of the Soviet space support facilities in existence and underbureaus, production facilities, launchpads, and controlknown programs. Although some or even all of this additional capacity may be designated for relatively "benign" programs that we have not been able to detect, the possibility remains that developmentsore ominous nature await us, such as the eventual deployment of weapons in space. Another possibility is that more of the older facilities and launch vehicles will be phased out' than we have projected. Finally, it appears that the Soviets are providing themselves with the necessary support structure to ensure that they will be well positioned to make timely deployments of space systems based on any maior breakthrough in one or more areas in which wc know they arcwarfareSAT, or ballistic missile defense (BMD) technologies, for example.

Wc estimate that5 the costs of Soviet space programs areillion.0pace costs nearly doubled, largely because of the costs associated with the development of the heavy-lift launch vehicle. Since then, space programs have continued to expandate of nearlyercent annually (sechis level of invcslmcrit is equivalent lo aboutercent of the Soviet gross national product. The cosls of military space activities alone are about the same as those for strategic offensive forcesanned space programs have accounted for lhe bulk of increased expenditures and now amount to about one-fourth ol the toial costs of Soviel space

cfforts. The Soviets are making extensive use of man in space for performing research,on crilical military problemsQ

JWe expect the largest increases lo be noted in manned activities and communications programs over the next five


The Soviets currentlyedicated antisatellite interceptor and several other potential means to conduct ASAT operations. The orbital interceptor systemignificant threat to all low-altitude US intelligence and military support satellites but its effectiveness is limited by operational considerations and reliability. The Soviets' overall ASAT capabilities are somewhat limited, especially against satellites at higher altitudes. We expeel the Soviets to make significant improvements in their ASAT capabilities, particularly in the area of directed-energy technologies.

The Soviets use their space assets today principally to perform traditional military support missions of communications, targeting, reconnaissance and surveillance, navigation, meteorology, and geodesy; militarily, these functions will remain the most important spacein the near term, and most of the future developments we project arc extensions of these basic military support missions. In addition, the Soviet space effort supports civilian-oriented functions, such asremote sensing for agricultural and resource development, and scientific research.

The military importance of Soviet space assets has increased greatly in the pastears, and the Soviets increasingly value thesefor support of military operationsrisis or conflict, especially for reconnaissance and targeting, communications, and navigation. We iudgc that, although the USSR is not at present overly dependent on space systems for the effective conduct of military operations, satellites become more important to the Soviets as the level of conflict increases. In addition, as more near-real-time monitoring capabilities are(including mannede expect that Soviet space systems will become increasingly important in providing information on rapidly developing situations to both national-level decisionmakers and military commanders.

Soviet efforts to acquire space technology will increase in the face of intensified military-technological competition with the United States. The proliferation of commercial space capabilities among the Western allies and the establishment of cooperative space programs will widen the available targets for Soviet access Through suchasl amount of valuable space-related technology already has been and continues to be obtained directly from US sources and US allies in Western Europe and Japan Critically sought-after missile and space

technologies include those related to development of space-based laser and other directed-energy weapons and antimissile defense systems. Open source publications, particularly NASA documents and NASA-funded contractor studies, constitute the largest and most important source of US space technology.

The scope and direction of the Soviet space effort, the extensiveto acquire Western space technology, and the military nature of Soviet manned space experiments are ultimately disquieting. Although we judge that overall the Soviets remainignificant technological disadvantage relative to the United States in space, we are concerned about the possibility that they may be headingajor military advance, Our concern stems primarily from the considerablewe face in several key areas: the Soviet efforts in advanced weapon technologies, the purpose of the Soviet use of man in space, and the great increase in the infrastructure the Soviets are providing for space system operations. Their efforts in these areas could lead to important military advantages.

Tho foregoing information It Seerei


Overercent of Soviet space launches jic (of mililary purposes al present and have been lor wine years: most of (he remainder serve both mililary and civil purposes The Soviets ate irtcteasint iheir space efforts in overall. booster site and payload capabilities, and number and types olIn orbit. Much of the increase is due to Ihe growing use of satellite systems lo support military operations. We have identifiedoviet space systems that are probably in development and are likely to undergo testing in the neilears (see figure 2}

Soviet approach to space differs from the US approach. In general, tlie Soviets conduct theirin space In much the same way they conduct alt their military activities. Space assets are integrated into the various elements of Soviet mililary forces and arc not subordinatedeparate entity suchpace command- In the Soviet view, any major conflict on Earth cannot be conducted without involving space Soviet military precepts, auch as the importance of suipttse. tlie necessity of confusing the enemy, and the use of overwhelming force to secure militaiy objectives, are also likely to apply to Soviet militaiy operations in spacear. -

A. Key Developments

developments since3 NIE on The Soviet Space Program pointontinuingSoviet effort to acquiremature and robust setcapabilities in space:

Satellite Network. Tbe Soviets have increased the number of operational satellites typically on orbit to. This larger and more sophisticated network is more capable ol supporting Soviet mililary forces and operations thanalellite network of just Iwo yean ago

Capabilities Tbe Soviets have further broadened satellite support lo military mtuano including reconnaissance, communications,other purposes Noteworthy develop-mrnt) include Ihe introductionrototype near-real-time imaging syslem and development

ew ocean fesearch satellite (or navalsuch as locating ice-free routes andArctic submarine operations The Soviets have also increased the use and sophistication of their military comsat networks.

.proved Readiness Posture. Thesehave Improved the Soviet posture with regard to augmentation needsrisis.two years ago, aboutdditional satellites would have been needed to fill out existing peacetime networks in order to support crisis or wartime needs,equirement probably has been reduced tooecause of the larger number of satellites and upgraded ivstems now on orbit. In addition, demonstration of ato store on orbit some communications,and reconnaissance satellites indicatesintentions lo reduce even further their need to launch additional spacecraftrisis.

-ehe Soviets have taken preliminary steps to improve the timeliness of their space-based reconnaissance. |


By, the ring some satellite-derived information to field commanders within aboul two hoars of collection by reconnaissanceapability essential for combatin which mobility characterises Ihe lorces ol both tides.

Suruioabilitv. We have noted some Soviet el-forli to improve the survivability of Soviet space control facilities. Launch facilities and the mam control lacilities are fund, however, and remain vulnerable to attack.

Loim Duration Manned Spaceflight Soviel cosmonautsorld recordontinuous days tn spaceingle Might, part of the Ions; term Soviet effort toeimanrnt mannedpace The Soviets also dcmomtiated the capability to bring the dam-

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Figure 1

Soviet Space Systems likely To Be in Development


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cosmonauts performing repairs on orbit These eiperiences willasis for long-duration, continuously manned, earlh-orbiling Space stalions. and possibly manned lunar or interplanetary mission!.


pace Support Activities

ther important developments representSoviet investmentnd infrastructure to

support more diverse and ambitious space programs in


Proercw continues on major new construction projects at space support facilities. Significant expansion has occurredumber of major design and production facilities in lhe past fewn some cases,observed expansion in excess ol identified protects. The capacity of the mace control nctwoik to deal wilh iricreaiinr-

volumes o( dala. and it* efficiency andare being impiovcd wilh ihr introduction ol more computer capabilities. Ealenuve construe tion continues at Soviet space launch centeri. eipeciallv at Tyuratam, which supports all inannn) launches and bunches of heavy pay-loads The preparation of three huncbutei for the new heavy-lift launch vehicle indicates plans for its eilensive use (sec figure 3}

Development work continues on lhe new medium- and heavy-lift launch vehicles, and further progress has been made ineusable space transportation systemanned spacehe Soviet thuttleprobably begannd the shuttle orbtter is sirnilar to the US space shuttle, the result of eilensive ongoing efforts on the part of the Soviets to acquire Western space technology (see figurenitial flight testing of the medium-lift launch vehicle began ine anticipate tbe first lest flights of the boavy-lifl launch vehiclehe Soviet shuttle will probably first go into orbituitable Uunchpad Is completed. These hunch vehicles svillide variety of military and civil missions, and will provide try support for the establish mem of larger space stationsontinuous manned presence in apace. The heavy-lilt launch capability will abo give the Soviets the option of orbiting large power sources and other potential components for future space, weapons

The Soviets continue to increase their use of com ii in ni<'a lions satellites for their military,and civilrotected developments will have the advantages ofimproving llie speed, nciibility. andof command and control and otherThe Soviets are activelyomprehensive program lot geostationarysyitemi thai could include satellites thai serve more than one communicationsmlenatfllitc crossfinkirtg, and laser com-iii'ini'ji mm links.



C. Monned Space Efforts

Observed efforts in the area of manned space operations illustrate several aspects of the Soviet approach:

Military applications have

_lpropoiiton of Soviet mannea*space activity.^


such tests on manned platforms overcomes some of Ihe limitations for the Soviets of remote instrumentation and highly complei, unmanned,

Prestige is another kev aspect. ScientificIn space arc important to the Soviet leadership for both domestic and international political purposes Moscow is apparently willing to invest substantial resources to maintain high visibility In this area The announce: Soviet goalontinuously manned space station in near-earth orbit is uiidoubtedly motivated in part by pi est Ise consions

oviel space stations have been in orbit nearly continuously, periodically occupied by Soviel cosmonauts Within three years, and possibly as soon as noil year, the Soviets will haveermanent manned presence in space TheSoviet manned program will probably consist of several functionally interrelated components including

odular space stationrew of three toersons

Laterrge space baserew ofo 20


A reusable space shuttle arbiter, which will be launched by theeavy-lift launch vehicle.

paceplanc which, il developed, will probablv be bunched by lheedium lift bunch vehicle.

7 Much ol ihe Soviet manned space effort is not fully explainable, nor can we be certain how much progress lheave made ll is urscsear whether ihey envision man's role in space as limited to PAD functions, or whether they Intend to give htm some major function in eventual operational systems We ate skeptical that tho Soviets will find an effective and efficient way to put man in the loop In space for space warfare systems, bul, on the other hand, we haveery limited understanding of what their syslem concepts look like.

D. Spoco Worfore Copabilitios

he Soviets use theii space assets todayto perform traditional military support rnissions of communications, taigetlng. reconnaissance andnavigation, meteorology, and geodesy;these functions will remain the most important space activities In the near term, and most of the future developments we protect are extensions of these basic miliury support missions.risis or cecJlict, Soviet space assets would enhance existing terrestrial capabilities, especially by collecting and transmitting critical dataore timely manner. Examples include warning of US ballistic missile launches and availability of reconnaissance data on strategic targets in near real time In some cases. Soviet space systems comprise unique capabilities, including providingtargeting information on Western surface naval forces lo Soviet naval combatants, and providing continuity for long-distance communications.

9 The Soviets have long had the objective of acquiring the capability to deny the military benefits of space lo their adversaries. Soviet military doctrine calls for efforts to blind enemy reconnaissance and dutupl enemy communications In the event ofCurrent Soviet sysloms with potential antlsatellile capabilities Include

A nonnuclcar orbital Interceptor that has been operational since the.

Galosh ABM interceptors that may have an ASAT mission There is an alternative view that holds lhat there is insufficient evidence to alter the previous aavnmeni thai an ASAT role for the Galosh is unlikely

Two ground based high energy lasers at the Sary-shagan test range with potential ASAT capabilities

The technological capability, using activewarfareo attempt lo interfere with enemy space systems. We have no directthat enables us lo lodge the extent of these capabilities We believe, however, that theintend to use active EW to attempt to interfere with some space systems Potentialactive EW pbtlornu Include many lixed. Iraiupottable. and mobile transmitters, however, we have no evidence of Soviet equipment or organizations with an ASAT EW mission. There is an alternative view that evidence is insufficient to support the Judgment of Soviet intent to use active EW against utelllte*'

urrent Soviet ASAT capabilities are limited and fall short of meeting the apparent requirement to be able to deny enemy use of space In time of war.

The orbital interceptor, the Galosh, and the lasers have the potential to destroy or Interfere with satellites in near-Earth orbit Electronic warfare currently represents the only potential threat lo unprotected satellites in higher orbits. Some ICBMs, with modifications, and scene space boosters have the capability to be used against satellites at all altitudes, bul we doubt tbe Soviets would use them Inole.

The orbilal interceptor, because It is nonnuclcar. would be used at lower levels of conflictuclear ASAT weapon The orbital interceptor systemignificant threat to all low-altitude US Intelligence and militaiy support satellites. However, ilemonstrated success rate of about GO percent. It Is susceptible to evasive maneuvers or other countcrmcasures

il could

not rapidly attack key low-all it udrTsa tell

nudear-arrned Calash ABM interceptor used as an ASAT weapon would offset several deficiencies of the orbital interceptor The Ca-losh would be less susceptible to counter measures because its direct ascent flight profile allows it lo stuck targets within several minutes from launch. It would need touclear warhead.

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ntil limitations could affect the military utility of tbe teat lasers at Sar> shagan. such lasers could be used only on leiatively cloud (ire diw and only on orbiti when taiget satellites pass near SaryshagaiL

he military importance of the Soviel l' own space assets has increased greatly in the pastears, and the Soviets increasingly value these assets for support of military operationsrisis or conflict, especially for reconnaissance and targeting, cornmuni' cations, and navigation. In general, in the prospective main area of confrontationATO-Warsaw Pact conflict, space assets are becoming increasinglvto the conduct of Soviet military operations, but Soviet dependency on them is mitigated because they are backed up by alternate and redundant means of terrestrial support. The importance of space systems also tends to be high with respect to Soviet ambitions to proloct power to distant areas of the world,when this entails the use of naval forces

c estimate that during an intenseconflict involving direct US-Soviet militaiyllie Soviets probably would attempt lo destroy or Interfere with US satellites. However, tlse Soviet military establishment has Its own growing need for access to space inonflict, and would be concerned about possible US retaliation. The dilemma posed by ihese potentially incompatible objectives is likely to emerge in Soviet plinnlru; and pobcy due lo this growing reliance on space assets and to the prospective emergence of better US capabilities lo interfere with the Soviets' own space systems and access to space. However, we cannot judge whetherlikelihood of Soviet use of ASAT capabilities will decrease in the futureesult of these

n tlse future, it Is highly unlikely that Soviel leaders would forgo lhe military capability to actually interfere with or destroy US space systems in the event of conflict- We believe they will seek to keep open tbe option to employ ASAT means and abo toeterrent capability. This would be consulenl with Soviet military planning, which seeks to provide the political leadership with maximum flexibility In the uncertain conditions preceding andonflict Il would also be consistent with the Soviet tendency in pan arms control negotiations to protect their own programs raiher than, to sacrifice important Soviet capabilities in tin- mlereil of limiting thee

a Soviel poinl of view, il is essentialaccess to space for iheir assetssupport to Soviet militaiy opera liomprobably iccognire that technologies oflikely to be developed in the USInitiative (SDI) could lead lo capabilitiesspace assets long before they would beloomprehensive ballistic miSoviet leaders arc concerned lhat tbe USwill force them to change lhe scope andtheir own piogrum in ways that lax (heirand stiess areas of Soviet weakness such asdata processing.

E. Advanced Space Warfare Tcchrsolooies

Soviets have concluded that theyloajor advantage lo thein space and space technologic. Theyto compete with the United States and.achieve superiority over il- especiallytechnologies applicable to ASAT and tospace assets. But. in the Soviet mind, thisin space is not inconsistent with seeking to slowthe US SDI and antisatellite programsRather, their minimum goal isbe able lo buy enough time to develop iheirtechnology systems so as to be abletheir guaranteed access to, andthe medium of space.

he Soviet potential for applying advanced technology lo space warfare missions Is substantial. We have strong evidence of Soviet efforts to develop high energy laser weapons

On the basts of the high-energy laser efforts we have been able to observe, weaser weapon program of this magnitude would cost roughly II billion per year if carried out in the United States The evidenceeavy emphasis on ground-based Users

Two facilities at the Saryshagan lest range are assessed to have high-energy lasers with the potenlial to function as ASAT weapons

Sovsct researchroject to develop-energy laser weapons for use in space We ludge thereigh probabilityrototype lugli energy, space-based laser ASAT weapon will be developed- We estimate there is anutrototype will be letted in loiv

orbit in theven il letting were successful,ystem probably could not be operational before thehe Soviets could, however, choose to demonstrate lower nower User technology in Space well before the deploymentigh-power prototype; thereossibility ofemomlration in the near term.

he Soviets have beenarge facility on topountain nearin the southernmost area of tlse USSR. Il is too early to nidge with much confidence what the function of the Dushanbe facility will be. when il might be operational, or what capabilities it will have.irected-energy weapona laseradiofrequency (RF) ASATmost consistent with the available,omewliat less likely, but still plausible, function is deep space surveillance and/or space object identification. P"

lternative view holds that lhe evidence is insufficient to judge the purpose^

The Soviets are also conducting research under military Sponsorship for the purpose of acquiring the ability to develop particle beam weaponsut the site and scope of this effort are unknown. We believe the Soviets will eventually attempt topace-based PBW. but the technical requirements are severe, including those for power generation, power conditioning, and beam pointing, and we estimate thereow probability they willrototype before thelthough allowing for ouril is possible they couldrototype in the.

The Soviets are strong in the technologies ap-piopriate lo develop radiofrequency weapons tothe electronicsarget. Wc judge they are capable ofrototype RF weapon system, and byhereoderate likelihood that the USSR willround-based RF ASAT weapon potentially capable of damaging unprotected satellites.

e do not know whether the Soviets have anv plans to develop hypcrvclocity kinetic-encrgy weapons

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for stialcgic applications, but we have recentlyevidence that Ihey have expended significant resources since then research andon technologies with potential applications for such weapons.

n analysis of Soviet collection requirements for missile and space technology indicates that the four most critically sought-after technological areas were related to land- and sea-based slralegic offensive missiles, ballistic missile warheads, development of space-based laser and Oliver directed energy weapons, and antimissile defense systems Half of these were for Ihe technologies themselves and half were fortechnologies for manufacturing future weapon systems. In the, the Soviets had high-priority collection requirements for Westernto support their space-based laser efforts, and lliey succeeded in obtaining certain key technical reports and technologies

recognizes that the US pursuit olhave potentially far-reaching consequencesstrategic force planning, including Iheirfor the development and application ofwarfare technologies. The efforts describedare part of vigorous and innovativeand development programs in advancedwith potential ASAT applications. InSDI. we anticipate lhat the Soviels willdisruptions in the defense sector and directefforts to the design ol longer termhave intrinsic value to Soviet strategicof the outcome of the SDI effort itselfjudge that the Soviets will include, infuture responses to SDI, an emphasisoperational capabilities lo suppressof SDI systems. Including Improvements inantisatellite capabilities and expandedfuture systems. Improved AS AT systems arcbe an early result of continuingdevelopments, and the Soviets probablythat space-based components would be theclement of the SDI. paiticularly inpluses of development

F. International Competition

USSR hasew steps towarda compclitor in internationalcommercial space launch services. Inmight enter the market providingdata, navigation and meteorologicalmaterials processing andpace

Success in such compel it Ion would bring increased prestige and respect, and over ihc lancet term would provide lhe Soviet Union an important supplement lo its hard currency earnings. In addition, opportunities for technology transfer could be improved bySoviel involvement in cooperative and commercial space ventures

lie Soviets recently announced theof. an agency which will be responsible for Soviet space scientific and conimercial-itation efforts Tlitsajor departure from past Soviet efforts in two ways: tlie Soviets arc Intent on actively pursuing the economic and political potential ol iheir space program, probably with an eye towatd the prospects for acquisition of Western computer and telecommunications technologies, and itore open approachort km ol their civilian space

ellorls. The publicity for4 Vega mission to Venus and flallev's Comet (including televisedof thend the submission of booster informationumber of satellite manufacturers alto indicate Soviet intentions for active compeillton with NASA and the European Space Agency for providing lew-cost space services.

hereonsiderable worldwide interest In the manufacture of high-value, low-volume producls in space. Activities on board Salyut space stationsthe Soviets have moved beyond the initialphase and may be able to manufacturefor commercial markets in the. The Soviets probably view production and sale of even small amounts of new and unique productsin space as an important means of increasing national prestige.


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