Launch Vehicle Vostok

Rocket R-7 with stage E and interplanetary station "Luna-1"

Accommodation of lunar interplanetary station on stage E

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 vibration.
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 t, the spacecraft mass is 4 725 kg.

Three-stage launch vehicle Vostok

Stage E integrated with Vostok

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