Missiles Systems

Rocket R-9

Principal characteristics

Aimed firing range, km:

  • maximum
  • minimum

Launch mass, t

Payload unit mass, kg


12000 - 13000
3000 - 3500




Rocket R-9A

Rocket R-9 installed   on the launch pad Following from the achievements gained by the beginning of 1958 in developing more cost saving engines and warheads of lower mass carrying nuclear charges, the Board of Chief Designers forwarded a proposal to the USSR Government to develop new intercontinental rocket R-9 burning oxygen-kerosene propellant and having a launch mass of 100 t.
After further studies OKB-1 proposed to design two options of the rocket distinguished by propellant components and propulsion units: R-9A (on cryogenic propellants - kerosene and liquid oxygen) and R-9B (on hypergolics - kerosene and nitric acid). Such a proposal was attributed to the fact that at the given juncture it was not completely clear what pair of propellants would ensure better operational conditions in the forces and a shorter pre-launch processing time. That depended on the complexity of systems maintaining propellants in a proper condition for filling, toxicity of propellants, time required for the rocket fueling, and time needed to run-up gyroscopes before a launch. Having regard to the fact that the pre-launch readiness time was about the same for both versions and kerosene-oxygen propellants were preferable from the viewpoint of operational characteristics including the rocket handling safety, OKB-1 insisted on further development of rocket R-9A.

Transportation of rocket R-9 on a transporter-erector  to the launch pad Installation of rocket R-9  to the launch pad

A rocket serving as weapons is required to stay in a ready-for-action state 1 for a maximum possible time and to be processed for a launch in a minimum time. It was easier to solve those tasks through storing the fueled rocket for a long time, however this was practically impossible for the oxygen rocket. It was necessary that the R-9 fueling time did not exceed the rocket processing total time. Thus, a necessity of a durable storage of the fueled rocket have been avoided. The Government Decree on the development of rocket R-9 of May 13, 1959 stated that supercooled oxygen should be used in the capacity of oxidizer. That would allow to store oxygen in ground tanks and fill it practically without losses in a time not exceeding the time needed for pre-launch processing of the control system instruments (time required for pre-launch processing of gyroscopes was a main "limitation").
In working out the preliminary design, consideration was given to five versions of the rocket ensuring required performance with a maximum possible simplicity, mobility, and a minimum possible mass of the structure.
The goal has been achieved through making a number of design solutions, e. g. through using open truss compartments for mating the rocket stages, a jettisonable aft compartment of stage II, pressurization vapors of a fuel tank of stage II for separation of the warhead, etc.
The rocket dimensions were selected as required for its transportation in an assembled state in one railway car and for the use of welding-stamping equipment of rocket R-7 to manufacture stages of rocket R-9.
The rocket R-9 control system was designed and developed under a leadership of Chief Designer N. A. Pilyugin.
V. P. Barmin (the State Specialized Design Office "Spetsmach") was appointed a Chief Designer of the ground complex.
The stage I engine was designed at OKB headed by V. P. Glushko, the stage II engine - at OKB headed by S. A. Kosberg.
The propulsion unit was designed with the consideration of high-speed filling of fuel tanks with oxygen and kerosene, keeping of the rocket in a fueled state for 24 hours, remote control of operations executed at the launch pad, maximum automation of pre-launch processing, ignition of the stage I engine, both automatically, on a signal of tankage filling completion, and manually, at a required time, not opening hatches and without an access of ground personnel to the rocket equipment and instruments.
Rocket R-9A liftoff  from launch complex Dolina Chambers of the stage I engines were gimbaled with a newly developed central hydraulic drive using kerosene as working medium discharged downstream the main engine pressurization pump. On stage II the rocket was controlled via turn nozzles using exhausted turbine gas.
The rocket was remarkable in that the launch pad adapter frame was integrated in it. Consequently, a scope of work on the launch pad was dramatically reduced, since all "ground-space" links were now mated at the processing facility after the adapter frame has been attached to the rocket. And a sufficiently lower number of "ground-adapter frame" utilities had to be mated at the launch pad.
The other dominant feature of the rocket R-9 complex was a system-level solution of problems associated with durable storage of liquid oxygen. A system for overcooling, durable storage, and high-speed filling of the rocket with supercooled liquid oxygen has been developed and the problem of durable storage of oxygen without losses has been solved.
Performance requirements for rocket R-9 assumed the development of two types of ground complexes: "Desna-H" for a ground launch and "Desna-B" for a silo launch. Flight tests of rocket R-9 started on April 9, 1961. The first successful launch took place on April 21, 1961. Initially, many accidental launches were occurring (15 accidental launches from the first 32). Herewith, drawbacks of configuration and structure of certain parts of the launch pad and the adapter frame have been revealed. The adapter frame appeared to be rather cumbersome and heavy. Its mass reached 4.5 t and made 50% of the rocket dry mass. The entire technological cycle of pre-launch processing lasted about two hours. All this led the launch system "Desna-N" to be recognized as not meeting performance requirements and not recommended to enter service. It should be noted that the launch system "Desna-N" was rejected not because of gross design errors. To make feasible high fighting characteristics and performance of rocket R-9A proved through flight tests required the development of a perfect launch site of high combat readiness. The rocket and the launch site had to be approached as a united whole.
OKB-1 became a leading organization and a main ideologist pursuing the ground launch complex for rocket R-9. A new adapter frame three times lighter than the previous one has been designed and manufactured.
At the State Specialized Design Office "Spetsmach" a system for high-speed fueling of the rocket with kerosene T-1 has been designed.
At the Central Design Office of Machine Building an efficient device controlled by one operator and capable to install the rocket on the launch pad in 30 seconds has been designed.
At OKB-1, for the first time, an automatic pre-launch processing system has been developed and manufactured at the "Krasnay Zarya" plant. Classic solutions used in the system design were further employed to develop a number of new launch vehicles.
Launch silo for rocket R-9A On February 22, 1963 the first successful launch of the rocket from the new launch site "Dolina" took place. That the automatics allowed to exclude the crew participation almost completely was striking. A self-propelled dolly carrying the rocket exited the assembly & test facility and, upon reaching the launch pad lugs, mated with an erector-installation device that lifted it in a vertical position, automatically mated all utilities and fastened the rocket on the launch pad. Then, using the high-speed fueling system, the rocket was filled with propellants and the control and pointing system was made ready for operation. The aforesaid operations have been accomplished in 20 minutes instead of 2 hours required when using the "Desna-N" complex.
Further, a launch silo "Desna-B" was developed for rocket R-9A. The State Specialized Design Office "Spetsmach" was a prime contractor (with V. P. Barmin as the Chief Designer). On September 27, 1963 the first launch of the rocket from the silo took place. The launch was successful.
Upon completion of flight tests, rocket R-9A and its silo and ground launch complexes ("Desna-B" and "Dolina") entered service on July 21, 1965.
Combat rocket complexes including rocket R-9A have been on sentries for more than 15 years and were highly evaluated by the forces.

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