Rocket R-7 with stage E
and interplanetary station
(30 920 bytes)
Accommodation of lunar interplanetary station
on stage E
(57 733 bytes)
Successful launches of the first artificial Earth's satellites
showed that spacecraft were able to remain functional in
space environment for long periods of time, however, to
make interplanetary missions feasible would require a launch
vehicle capable of inserting into the artificial Earth's
satellite orbit not only a spacecraft, but also an upper
stage to enable its start from the near-Earth orbit and
generate an escape velocity (beyond 11.2 km/s).
Development of the three-stage LV followed from the Government
Decree of March 20, 1958. It was expected to derive the
new rocket from R-7 in an attempt to achieve an escape velocity
and bring an automatic station to the Moon (Option 1), or
to fly by the Moon with the automatic station (Option 2).
A preliminary design of the R-7 stage III called "stage
E" was released in 1958. The stage E launch mass was 8 t,
its payload mass was 350-450 kg, an engine thrust - 5 tf.
Stage III was burning oxygen and kerosene as propellant
components. Stage E was stabilized via specially designed
nozzles using exhausted gas discharged down flow of a pressurization
pump on commands from an autonomous control system. The
package design and the engine ignition in space environment
was assumed for the first time. The engine for stage E was
developed in cooperation by OKB headed by S. A. Kosberg
and OKB-1 (M. V. Melnikov). The stage control system was
developed at NII under leadership of N. A. Pilyugin.
Stage E gave the benefit of inserting interplanetary stations
E1 (for fly-by close to the Moon), E1A (to descent to the
lunar surface), E2, E2A, E3 (fly-by of the Moon, taking
pictures of its reverse side and transmission of images
to the ground stations).
To save time and hardware, the three-stage rocket was being
verified simultaneously with the lunar program implementation.
The LV carrying lunar station E1 was first launched on September
23, 1958. However, the mission terminated with the LV accident
occurred at 87s of flight because of increased longitudinal
A repeated launch on October 12, 1958 also completed with
an accident at 104s caused by the same reason. Physics of
this phenomenon was studied and a longitudinal vibration
damper built in the propulsion unit fuel line appeared for
the first time in the world practice of rocket building.
On December 4, 1958, at 245s of flight, an accident happened
again because of the hydrogen peroxide metering pump fault.
And only on January 2, 1959 all mission phases of all three
stages were a success.
Further on, this LV was also employed for launching spacecraft
"Zenit", "Electron", and "Vostok". On April 12, 1961 aboard
Vostok spacecraft the first cosmonaut of our planet Yuri
Gagarin was flown to the artificial Earth's satellite orbit.
After this mission the launch vehicle was named "Vostok".
The LV Vostok launch mass is about 287 kg, the spacecraft
mass is 4 725 kg.
(25 401 bytes)
Stage E integrated
(42 971 bytes)