ISS-64 mission


ISS crew:

Commander -
Sergey Ryzhikov
Flight engineers:
Sergey Kud-Sverchkov
Kathleen Rubins
Michael Hopkins
Victor Glover
Shannon Walker
Soichi Noguchi



60 years of the Launch of Interplanetary Station Venera-1

February 12, 2021

On February 12, 1961 a four-stage launch vehicle Molniya lifted off from the Baikonur Launch Site carrying an automatic interplanetary station (IS) Venera-1. It became the worlds first man-made object launched from the Earth to reach another planet of the solar system.

The development of the first interplanetary scientific and research spacecraft was initiated by the Chief Designer of OKB-1 S.P. Korolev and academician M.V. Keldysh back in the middle of 1958. To implement this program, scientists from the Institute of Mathematics of the USSR Academy of Sciences theoretically justified the earliest dates and possible mission profiles towards Mars and Venus. At the same time, design engineers of OKB-1 (now RSC Energia) began to develop a four-stage launch vehicle capable of injecting a required payload to specified trajectories. The new heavy-lift rocket Molniya 8K78 equipped with upper stage L was developed on tight schedule based on intercontinental ballistic missile R-7.

Unified Venera spacecraft of 1VA series having a lift-off mass of 643.5 kg were built on the basis of the first Martian stations 1M, which launches were a failure at the end of 1960. They were equipped with a set of research equipment, and were primarily designed for checking the methods of injecting space objects into an interplanetary route while testing very-long-haul radio communications and remote control aids. And for the case of direct reaching Venus, both stations carried a descent capsule with Soviet state symbolic items. In addition, a ground-based automated radio engineering complex was first deployed to control AIS, measure their flight trajectory and provide communication at a distance of up to 100 million km.

The program managers used the February 1961 astronomical window to launch 1VA AIS. 1VA No.1 lifted off on February 4, but due to problems with block L ignition, it remained in a low-earth orbit. The second AIS went to the point of its destination on February 12, 1961 and was named Venera 1. An unstable radio communication was established with the spacecraft, which by February 22 at a distance of 2 million km from the Earth was finally lost due to interruption of the onboard power supply due to the off-nominal operation of the solar-pointing control system. Further attempts to re-establish contact using a 76-meter radio telescope of the British Jodrell Bank Observatory had also failed. According to trajectory calculations, by May 20, 1961, Venera-1 AIS flew by Venus at a distance of about 100 thousand km and entered a heliocentric orbit.

The mission of Venera-1 was be of great practical consequence for further development of the national rocket and space technology. With its help, the extra-long-range two-way communication through a parabolic antenna was tested for the first time, the technology of three-axis solar and celestial orientation of the spacecraft was tested, as well as unique data from measurements of solar wind, cosmic rays and meteoric conditions in the inter space was obtained.





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