SID: A RETROSPECTIVE VIEW OF SOVIET ICBM AND SPACE DEVELOPMENT

Created: 12/1/1971

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Over the pastears, the Soviets have demonstrated that they are capable of good

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launch vehicles. Inuge investment-both In terms of the budget and the allocation or scientific and technical resources-and the Soviet are continuing to introduce new hardware. They are nowo large new space boosteri

Through the, the Soviet space program usee! launch vehicles adapted from proven ballistic missiles, and it still relics heavily on that family of space boosters. More recently, the USSR has begun to design and build more powerful launch vehicles solely for that purpose, but developmental problems have beenwith those newer systems.

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Ovfr the yean, the mushrooming Soviet space program has demanded an ever-broadening array of launch vehicles. Thus fir. the USSR has developed eight distinct space boosters with various capabilities adapted lo specific space missions.

The space boosters introduced by the Soviets through thes were based on proven ballistic missile*

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'raise missile desigm sunpnned space booster development, but problems were encountered with some of the upper slages which were newly des.Ti.ed for the space program. The majority of the Soviet space effort still relies on these ballistic missile-based launch vehicles, which by now haveeputation for high reliability.

7 the Soviets introduced theheoster designed solely for their space

program. During its fint four yean, theas plagued with designhere wereailures In Ihe fustaunch attempts (one tint-stage, four second-stage, three third-stage, and five fourth-stageespite thisrecord, the Soviets continued to fire theelaxed pace, and it now appears to be showing an acceptable reliability record.

While the Soviets were working the "bugs" out of theuge new space booster-theai being readied for flight testing. That vehicle, like theas designed from the ground up for the Soviet space program. It, too, appear* to be encountering design problems-thc two launch attempts thus far both haveirst stage failures.

Once it becomes operational, theillayload capabilityimes that of Ihehe height of the gantry at thes launcht Tyuratam-lseet higher than the vehicle as it is now configured, Therefore, It seems likely that the facility ultimately Is intendedtill larger vehicle. One possibility is that the Soviets are planning to equip theith new upper stages using liquidfuel.ehicle could more than double thes payload capability. However,ery unlikely that the Soviets will add high energy upper stages to then the near future.

With both missiles and space boosters, Lhe Soviets traditionally have treated each research and development launchull system test. They generally still do so in Ihe case of missile development, but appear to be gradually turningore methodical approach In flight testing space boosten. In the past-when new space launch vehicles were adapted from reliablesystems by adding one or two new upper stages-the Soviets were willing to risk (he lossayload by conducting each launchest of all stages of the booster togetherive payload. If the launch vehicle or the payload failed, that subsystem would be returned to the drawing board lo correct the fault. On the other hand, if the mission were successful, Soviet space exploration would be accelerated, short-cutting the stage-by-stage approach used by the US. However, the increasing complexity and expense of new space boosters and pay loads probably is forcing the USSR toore conservative flight testing technique. In several instancesthe past few yean, the Soviets have conducted what appear to be purely engineering tests of new space boosters,that they already have begun to swing away from their traditional "all up" testing

In general, the Soviets' new spacetended to be less reliable than theirICBM research andigher priority thin theand probablyreaterthe USSR's technological resourcesarge scfrmcnl of theeffort is devoted-directlynd those programsbe likely totrong voice inof research and developmentmanpower. In most cases, then, thereliabilities probably do not stem fromin the technological resourcesto the space program. Historically, thehas been due largely toand quality control techniques.case of the more recent space boosten,probably have accentuated lheare inevitable with the introduction of

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