characteristics of rocket R-9
Aimed firing range, km:
Payload unit mass, kg
12000 - 13000
3000 - 3500
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
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Installation of rocket R-9
to the launch pad
Rocket R-9 installed
on the launch pad
A rocket serving as weapons is required to stay in a ready-for-action
state ¹1 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.
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.
Rocket R-9A liftoff
from launch complex Dolina
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Launch silo for rocket R-9A
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At the State Specialized Design Office "Spetsmach" a system
for high-speed fueling of the rocket with kerosene T-1 has
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
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.