Category Soviet Robots in the Solar System


image8"Tikhonravov, Mikhail Klavdievich 1900-1974

Deputy Chief Designer OKB-1 1956-1974

Although not chief of a design bureau, Mikhail Tikhonravov was a key member of Korolev’s team in the early days of OKB-1, and one of the pioneers of the Soviet space program. lie was an early glider enthusiast and worked with N. N. Polikarpov in the 1920s developing aircraft. In 1932 he joined GIRD and became interested in the theory of rocket flight and space technology, working with Korolev to build the first Soviet liquid propellant rocket.

Подпись: Mishin Tikhonravov escaped the terror of the late 1930s and during WW-II worked on Katyusha rockets and a rocket-powered fighter. After the war, he was fascinated with the German V-2 rocket and designed his ота liigh-altitude rocket for carrying a pilot into space. In late 1946 he became Deputy Chief of NII-4 in Moscow to manage research into ballistic missile development. There he began a pioneering study into multistage rockets and orbital flight that would later be applied in launch vehicle and spacecraft development. Following Tsiolkovsky, he originated the concept of ’packet’ design for multistage rockets adopted by Korolev for the R-7. On November 1, 1956, he was transferred to OKB-1 where he worked hand-in-hand with Korolev in developing robotic spacecraft for flights to the Moon, Venus and Mars, and space­craft for OK II-1 ‘s manned spaceflight program.

Mishin, Vasily Pavlovich 1917-2001

Chief Designer OKB-1 1966-1974

As Korolev’s deputy and protege, Vasily Mishin took over management of OKB-1 after his mentor’s unfortunate death during surgery in 1966. Tt was during Mishin’s tenure that OKB-1 attempted to develop Korolev’s giant N-l Moon rocket and the Soyuz spacecraft to send cosmonauts to the Moon.

When he took over, the project was plagued with technical problems and unrealistic schedules. Mis­hin was a well-regarded engineer and a kindly man, but did not possess Korolev’s leadership talent, nor the charisma and connections that Korolev used to mobilize the massive Soviet political and industrial
machine and to thwart his enemies. While NASA succeeded with Apollo, Mishin oversaw four disastrous N-l launch attempts, failures in lunar Soyuz test flights, failures in three space station missions, and the deaths of the pilot of Soyuz 1 in 1967 and the three-man crew of Soyuz 11 in 1971. He was deposed in 1974 by a coup orchestrated by Korolev’s bitter rival, Valentin Glushko. Two years later any further attempts to send cosmonauts to the Moon were terminated.

Mishin was exiled to the Moscow Aviation Institute and blamed as “the man who lost the Moon race”. He was unfortunate to have been the man in charge when the ambitious technological challenges began to crumble in the face of the relentless American Apollo juggernaut; he just didn’t have the ‘right stuff to overcome them. Although many in the West thought that he had been executed. Mishin resurfaced in the late 1980s and published a number of controversial accounts of the history of the Soviet space program.

image10"Glushko, Valentin Petrovich 1908-1989

Chief Designer OKB-456 1946-1974 Chief Designer NPO-Energiya 1974-1989

A contemporary of Korolev, Valentin Glushko began working on rocket engines in the 1920s and became head of the Gas Dynamics Laboratory. The military merged it with Korolev’s GIRD rocket research group in the 1930s. Like Korolev, Glushko was a victim of the purges. After WW-II he was made head of Design Bureau OKB-456 to develop rocket engines for missiles designed by Korolev’s OKB-1, Chelomey’s OKB-52 and У angel’s OKB – 586. When Korolev began to design a successor to the R-7 and ignored Glushko’s advice to use hypergolic propellants they became bitter enemies.

In fact, the animosity between the two harked back to the purges. Korolev w? as convinced that Glushko was responsible for his internment. Glushko was arrested first, and there is a story that under duress he denounced Korolev for undermining progress by preferring liquid rather than solid fuel rockets, and shortly thereafter Korolev was arrested. Glushko criticized Korolev’s plans for the Moon program and impeded Korolev’s progress by refusing to build the engines for the N-l, forcing Korolev to resort to an inexperienced supplier.

In 1974, with the N-l suffering spectacular failures, OKB-1’s enemies, including Glushko and Chelomey, convinced Brezhnev to fire Mishin. Glushko was appointed m Mishin’s place. TIis first act was to precipitously cancel the N-l program. Tie then absorbed OKB-1 into his own design bureau OKB-456. On gaining membership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party he also absorbed Chelomey’s design bureau to create a massive rocket engineering empire named NPO-Energiya. Then,
having defeated the legacy of Korolev, Glushko focused on building a new rocket and reusable spacecraft system in his own image – the Energiya and Buran – to replace the Soyuz system and compete with the US Space Shuttle. The Energiya rocket flew7 twice in the late 1980s and Buran once, unmanned, and were promptly canceled as unaffordable. They arc now’ only silent monuments to a man described by his critics as vain, stubborn, petty and manipulative. Nevertheless, the Energiya- Buran project is a monument to the skilled people in the Soviet Union who made this ambitious and complex project possible. By supreme irony, today Korolev’s Soyuz rocket and spacecraft arc still in front line service and the conglomerate that Glushko built bears Korolev’s name as the S. P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energiya.

Glushko was a superb engineer and designer of rocket engines and his OKB-456 created some of the most efficient engines ever produced. He managed to build closed-cycle engines that eluded the skills of American rocket engine makers. At the same time he was a stubborn critic of cryogenics, even though he built engines using liquid oxygen, and insisted that hydrogen was not a suitable rocket fuel while the US was using it for the upper stages of its most powerful launch vehicle, the Saturn V. Unable to eliminate combustion instability in large single-chamber engines, Glushko devised an ingenious solution using four smaller combustion chamber/nozzles which shared a common fuel/oxidizer feed. The four-chamber RD-107 and 108 engines he built for the R-7 are still in use today with the Soyuz launcher. In one of the ironies of the Cold War, the very powerful four-chamber RD-170 engine that he made for the Energiya rocket wras split in two and the two-chamber variant, the RD-180, is now7 in service powering the latest model of the US Atlas launch vehicle!

image11"Chelomey, Vladimir Nikolaevich 1914-1984

Chief Designer OKB-52 1955-1984

Vladimir Chelomey, a mathematician dealing with non-linear w7ave dynamics, began his career work­ing on cruise missiles. In 1955 he became head of OKB-52, and in 1958 began work on his first ICBM, the UR-100 (NATO designation SS-11), which became the Soviet Union’s answer to the US Minuteman. While Korolev never lost his prefer­ence for cryogenics, both Chelomey and Mikhail Yangel opted for storable propellants and their missiles were better suited to military requirements.

This led Korolev to focus on the politically – supported lunar cosmonaut program. Chelomey’s attention to military requirements gained him respect in the military establishment and access to far greater resources than Korolev.

In the early 1960s, Chelomey began development of the UR-500 Proton rocket intended to be a heavy lift ICBM. When the military canceled it, Chelomey, with

Keldysh’s support, used his political connections to save it for the Moon program. Chelomey had a rival plan to Korolev’s for development of rockets and spacecraft to take cosmonauts to the Moon. He proposed his plan in competition to Korolev when the USSR finally made its decision in 1964 to compete with the US Apollo program. Khrushchev (whose son was an engineer at OKB-52) was indebted to Chelomey for providing practical and vital military ICBMs, and so Chelomey managed to have his UR-500 chosen in preference to Korolev’s newr design for the test and circumlunar phases of the manned lunar program. However, the spacecraft would be the lunar Soyuz that Korolev proposed, and Korolev’s massive N-l Moon rocket was selected over Chclomey’s even larger UR-700 for the lunar landing missions. The Chclomey-Korolcv rivalry continued as both programs were separately managed and funded by Khrushchev and later by Brezhnev in a process that divided the backing required for an efficient and timely outcome. After a long run of early failures, the Proton was used to launch an automated Soyuz test spacecraft under the cover name of Zond on llights which looped around the Moon and returned to Earth. It went on to launch heavy satellites and modules for the Salyut and Mir space stations. Georgi Babakin at ihe Lavochkin Design Bureau, who had inherited Korolev’s robotic exploration program, recognized that the Proton was well suited to launch the heavy spacecraft that he was designing and, with upper stage modifications which included using one of the stages from Korolev’s N-1 rocket, the Proton became the launcher of choice for the Soviet lunar and planetary spacecraft of the 1970s and beyond. It is today a world standard for commercial heavy launch services.

image12"Bahakin, Georgi Nikolayevich 1914-1971

General Designer NPO-Lavochkin 1965-1971

As a self-taught engineer, Georgi Babakin did not gain a college degree until the age of forty-three. He worked on rocket control systems at N11-88 from 1949 to 1951, where he first met Korolev, and then designed military missile systems at OKB-301 for Chief Designer Semyon A. Lavochkin, where he rose to become a deputy chief designer and then General Designer (Director) of OKB-301, now – renamed NPO-Lavochkin. Meanwhile, OKB-1 had become overwhelmed with responsibility for both manned and unmanned programs, and was suffering a run of failures. Trusting Babakin implicitly, Korolev trans­ferred all robotic lunar and planetary space probes to Lavochkin. Subsequently, Babakin solved the quality control problems plaguing the Luna Ye-6 and 3MV planetary spacecraft, leading to a long run of successes at the Moon and Venus. The heavy Proton-launched, spacecraft were developed under his direction and he experienced their initial success with the Luna 16 sample return and Luna 17 rover.

He was a worthy successor to Korolev, but died suddenly at the early age of fifty-seven in August 1971 before his new Mars spacecraft reached their destinations.

Kryukov, Sergey Sergeyevich 1918-2005 ‘

Подпись: / Kryukov General Designer NPO-Lavochkin 1971-1977

Sergey Kryukov worked with Korolev, Tikhonra – vov and Mishin on the development of the R series of rockets, and rose to deputy chief designer to Korolev along with Mishin and others at OKB-1.

He had a falling out with Mishin over development of the Block D upper stage for the N-l (also used on the Proton) and transferred to Lavochkin. After less than a year, he became General Designer when Babakin died. He inherited the problems that would plague the Mars program and the successes that would come in the Venus program. After the 1973 Mars fleet disaster, he was tasked by Afanasyev to design new and even larger Mars missions to send rovers to the surface and to return samples. These missions turned out to be Loo complex and costly for the traumatized post-Apollo Soviet space program and were canceled in 1977 in favor of the rather less ambitious Phobos mission. Kryukov was replaced by Vyacheslav Kovtunenko and transferred to Glushko’s organization, where he worked until retirement in 1982.

image14"Kovtunenko, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich 1921-1995

General Designer NPO-Lavochkin 1977-1995

While working for Yangcl’s design bureau, Vya­cheslav Kovtunenko designed the Cosmos and Tsyklon rockets and was responsible for the Intercosmos series of small science satellites. On succeeding Kryukov as Director of Lavochkin, he developed the new generation Universal Mars Venus Luna spacecraft, which was essentially a renovation and upgrade of the heavy Venera spacecraft. He encountered obstacles to funding, not faring well against industry heavyweights such as Glushko, and the first of the new spacecraft was unable to be launched until 1988, as the Phobos mission. Kovtunenko would guide Lavochkin through the successes of Venera 11 to 16 and Vega 1 and 2. and the partial failures of Phobos 1 and 2, and the transition from the USSR to Russia leading up to the final Mars-96 debacle. He died in office in 1995.


Petrov, Georgi Ivanovich


Director of the Institute for Space Research (ІКГ) 1965-1973 ‘

A brilliant aerodynamics engineer having contrib­uted significantly to ICBM design, Georgi Petrov was selected in 1965 by Keldysh to be the first Director of the newly formed Institute for Space Research. Petrov worked hard to establish his institute iii the panoply of scientific communities, all of which were scrambling for funding in the new scientific space program. It was several years before IKI developed into a world-class institute for space research and the building of scientific instruments for space science missions. He established highly capable teams of space scientists and engineers and successfully motivated them to explore near-Earth space, the Moon, and the planets. IKI benefited immensely from his leadership, and mirrored his style of creativity and open discussion.

image16"Sagdeev, Roald Zinnurovich 1932-present

Director of the Institute for Space Research 1973—

1988 ‘

Roald Sagdeev was a nuclear physicist working in the remote ‘science city’ of Akademgorodok when, at the advice of the distinguished physicist Leo Artsimovich, he was tapped by Keldysh to replace Petrov at IKI. He took leadership of IKI as the second generation of heavy Venus spacecraft was being introduced by Lavochkin, and shared in its success. He reassigned planetary geology to the Vernadsky fnstitute and focused his own institute’s scientific efforts on planetary atmospheres and space plasma. These two institutes became domi – Sagdeev

nant and competitive centers for planetary science.

IKI remained the center for space astronomy.

A hallmark of Sagdeev’s experience in a ‘science city’ far from the Kremlin was a culture of open, questioning discussion with promotion on the basis of merit rather than on political connection. Although upon becoming Director and a member of the Communist Party he initially conformed to the Soviet system, he later imported the Akademgorodok attitudes to IKI, bringing perestroika (transformation) and
glasnost (openness) to his institute before Mikhail Gorbachov introduced it to the USSR. His most remarkable and enduring achievement was the opening of the Soviet planetary exploration program to international participation, leading his country into an era of scientific mission cooperation with the West as perestroika was driving the Soviet Union. Succeeding through charm, patience and shrew’d political judgment, first the Vega Vcnus-Halley mission and then the Phobos Mars mission were approved as progressively more open to international scientific participation. He was aided by the mass and size of Soviet spacecraft, which were able to accommodate a large number of foreign instruments to undertake comprehensive scientific missions. The new policy was highly successful at the outset, catching the US in the doldrums after its successes of the 1970s, and the Soviets overtook the US as international leader of planetary exploration in the 1980s.

After the success of the Vega missions in 1986, Sagdeev became a local hero and international celebrity. But the joy was short lived. The loss of the Phobos missions in 1988 raised an international furor in the space science community. This was not a comfortable situation for Sagdeev and he left IKI in 1988, married the daughter of Dwight Eisenhower, and moved to the US to become a Professor at the University of Maryland. He remained a force in international space science and exploration for a time, but his inll uence on space policy decreased as he focused his efforts more on East-West relations. The high level of international participation in the Vega and Phobos missions, and the ensuing Mars-96 mission, has never been equaled.

image17"Vinogradov, Aleksander Pavlovich 1895-1975

Director of the Vernadsky Institute of Geochemical and Analytical Chemistry 1947-1975

Alexander Vinogradov was the Soviet Union’s leading geochemist, head of the Vernadsky Institute and Vice President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences at the opening of the ‘space age’, and Chairman of the Moon and Planets Section of the Space Council MNTS KI. He was a pioneer in using chemical and isotope analysis to study the formation of minerals in Earth and meteoritic materials. He developed the use of gamma-ray spectroscopy to study the composition of planetary surfaces, and analyzed samples returned from the Moon. Under his leadership, the Vernadsky In­stitute developed many of the geochemistry instru­ments flown on missions to the Moon, Venus and Mars.

Barsukov, Valery Leonidovich 1928-1992

Подпись: Barsukov Director of the Vernadsky Institute 1976-1992

Valery Barsukov was a geologist experienced in field work. After taking over the Vernadsky Institute and its new role in planetary geology in 1976, he promoted missions and flight experiments with geochemical goals. He assumed leadership at a time when Mars exploration was in decline and Venus exploration was dominating the planetary program. He was an effective lobbyist for planetary geology missions and proved an effective rival to the Institute for Space Research led by Sagdeev.

Both Barsukov and Sagdeev were well connected and fought, sometimes bitterly, to establish their own space science missions.

With Sagdeev’s departure in 1988, Barsukov and the Vernadsky Institute assumed effective leadership of the Soviet planetary exploration program. Until his death in 1992, Barsukov pursued a complex Mars exploration plan even more international in scope than Sagdeev’s Phobos mission, with a particular focus on US involvement. Under the joint leadership of Barsukov from Vernadsky and Professor James Head from Brown University, the Vernadsky-Brown Symposium on Cosmochemistry was organized. This continues to function as a forum for Russian-American cooperative research in lunar and planetary science.



Luna Ye-8 series, 1969-1976

The Ye-8 series were much heavier and more complex, and were launched on the powerful new Proton rocket. The design centered on four large spherical propellant


Figure 5.2 Luna 17 Yc-8 lander with Lunokhod I aboard.


Figure 5.3 Luna 19 Ye-8LS orbiler in flight configuration including external drop tanks (courtesy NrO-Lavochkin).

image38tanks connected in a square using cylindrical inter-tank sections. The landing system and engine were mounted on the underside of this assembly and the lander payload on the upper side.

The principal goals of these spacecraft were first to deploy a lunar rover on the surface (the Ye-8 model) and second to return samples of the lunar surface to Earth (the Ye-8-5 model). Three Ye-8 lunar lander rover spacecraft were launched, two of which, Luna 17 and Luna 21. were successful. Of a total of eleven Ye-8-5 sample return spacecraft launched, only three were successful, Luna 16, 20 and 24. In fact, Luna 20 and 24 were advanced Yc-8-5M models. Two additional Ye-8 models were modified as Yc-8LS lunar orbiters and both flown successfully as Luna 19 and 22. The overall record for the Yc-8 was therefore seven successes of sixteen attempts.

New spacecraft, new failures


The short ilight of Venera 1 revealed much about the requirements for planetary spacecraft, and in the time remaining to the next launch windows Sergey Korelev’s engineers developed the 2MV design that was to become the basis for many Venera and Mars spacecraft in years to come.

Meanwhile, the Americans worked on their first true lunar spacecraft, which was much heavier than its precursors owing to the use of the new Atlas-Agena launcher. This Ranger lunar spacecraft was also the basis for the successful Mariner scries of planetary spacecraft, both built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The US skilled up by a process of trial and error, with the Ranger scries suffering six failures before the launcher and spacecraft were perfected. The Mariner scries was more successful at the outset and, ironically, the LTS had a successful mission to Venus in 1962 before it had one to the Moon! The Soviets were quite chagrined that the US had beat them to Venus despite their own early and extensive lead in rockets and spacecraft.

The Soviet Union launched six 2MV spacecraft in 1962, three for Venus and three for Mars. Only one survived its launch vehicle, Mars 1. Launch vehicle failures were to continue to be a major cause of lunar and planetary mission losses throughout the 1960s, with the dominant cause being fourth-stage problems. Mars 1 flew for almost 5 months and exposed numerous problems with the new spacecraft design before it finally failed in transit.


Campaign objectives:

Apollo 8 subjected the Soviets to the same anxiety felt by the Americans after the successes of the USSR in earlier years. A re-evaluation of Soviet plans resulted in a new resolution on January 8. 1969. The human circumlunar program would continue despite the clear recognition that relative to Apollo 8 it would appear both late and inferior to the world. Also, the human landing program would proceed even though it was evident that if they were not delayed by serious problems the Americans were likely to be first. Once the lunar programs were accomplished, the Americans would be upstaged in the late 1970s by using the N-l for Korolev’s originally envisioned destination, Mars. The space station program and robotic flights to the Moon, Mars and Venus were to be accelerated and represented in the press as the main thrust of the Soviet program.

The N-l rocket, the Soviet counterpart of the Saturn V, w;as a key element in this strategy since it w ould launch the spacecraft that w ould see cosmonauts land on the Moon. N-l development began in 1962 and the first launch was initially expected in 1965, but there were major delays due to organizational infighting, budgetary issues, and a total redesign of the vehicle in 1964. In particular, engine development was a key technological and organizational factor. As a result, development of the N-l fell behind relative to the Saturn V.

In early 1969 the N-l w as deemed ready for testing, hurried by the advance of the American manned lunar landing program. These launches carried orbital versions

Подпись: First spacecraft: Mission Type: Country і Builder: Launch Vehicle: Launch Date ': 7 7me: Outcome:Подпись:Подпись:Подпись: Spacecraft launched
7K-L1S No.3S

Lunar Orbit and Return Test Flight USSR TsKBEM ^


February 21, 1969 at 09:18:07 UT (Baikonur) First stage failed in llight.

7K-L1S No. SL

Lunar Orbit and Return Test Flight USSR, TsKBEM "


July 3, 1969 at 20:18:32 UT (Baikonur) First stage exploded at liftoff.

7K-LOK No.6A

Lunar Orbit and Return Test Flight



November 23, 1972 at 06:11:55 UT (Baikonur) First stage exploded in flight.

of the circumlunar Zond spacecraft. All the launch tests failed, in every case due to problems in the first stage. The first test was in February and the second in July, just as the US was preparing to launch Apollo 11. Although the race to Moon was nowr lost, the Soviets, still hoping one day to land cosmonauts on the surface, persisted in their automated testing of the cireumlunar spacecraft with back to back successes by Zond 7 and 8 in August 1969 and October 1970 respectively. Another N-l test failed in June 1971. as did the fourth in November 1972, a month before the final Apollo lunar landing. At this point the N-l was abandoned, ignominiously ending the Soviet manned lunar program.


The 7K-LOK lunar orbital Soyuz differed significantly from the circumlunar Zond. It had a wider skirt on the service module, which now had two engines. One was the standard Soyuz engine, which on an operational mission would perform lunar orbital rendezvous. The new engine was larger, and was to boost the LOK out of lunar orbit and back to Earth. An orbital module was included just like the Earth – orbital Soyuz, but it differed in some ways. It had more ports for lunar observation and an attitude control system and docking system on the front for rendezvous and docking with the returning lunar lander. It also had a large hatch. In contrast to Apollo, the cosmonaut was to transfer between the orbital module and the lunar


Figure 11.15 The Soyuz 7K-LOK lunar orbiler (courtesy Energiya Corp).

lander by spacewalking. As the 7K-LOK was the first Soviet spacecraft to have fuel cells for electrical power, it did not need solar panels.

On an operational mission the lunar orbital Soyuz would be carried above the LK lander, which would be on the Block D propulsion system, here serving as the fifth stage of the N-l. This whole stack would be accelerated out of parking orbit towards the Moon by the fourth stage, which would then be discarded. The Block D was to perform midcourse maneuvers, lunar orbit insertion, and preliminary maneuvers in orbit, before flying the lunar lander down to an altitude of about 1,500 meters, where it would be released and the lander would ignite its own engine for the final phase of the descent. This was quite different from the Apollo system.

The payloads for the first two N-l test launches were the Block D. a dummy LK and instead of the 7K-LOK, which was not ready, a 7K-L1S Zond cireumlunar test spacecraft fitted with an attitude control block for operations in lunar orbit. The plan was for these missions to insert the modified Zond into lunar orbit and then return it to Earth. However, as noted, both launches failed. The third N-l was basically just a test of the launcher itself, and it carried only spacecraft mockups. However, for the fourth test it was decided to launch a complete 7K-LOK lunar Soyuz and a dummy LK lunar lander. The plan called for spending 3.7 days in lunar orbit, during which the spacecraft would image future landing sites before returning to Earth.

N-l test launches:

N-l no. l: 7K-L1S No.3S circumlunar vehicle and dummy LK lunar lander.

N-l no.2: 7K-L1S No.5L circumlunar vehicle and dummy LK lunar lander.

N-l no.3: Mockup LOK and LK spacecraft.

N-l no.4: 7K-LOK No.6A lunar Soyuz and dummy LK lunar lander.

7K-L1S launch mass: 6,900 kg

7IC-LOK launch mass: 9,500 kg

Mission description:

The first test of the N-l failed on February 21. 1969. Two of the thirty engines in the new first stage booster shut down just before liftoff, but the rocket was designed to handle this situation by burning the remaining engines for longer. At 5 seconds a gas pressure line broke and at 23 seconds an oxidizer line broke, resulting in a fire in the array of engine noz/lcs that burned through engine control system cables and caused the booster to shut down at the 70 second mark. The automatic escape system drew the Zond clear and the capsule landed safely 35 km from the launch site. The debris from the exploding vehicle fell 50 km away. The blast shattered windows across a wide area, including those in assembly buildings and a local hotel.

The second N-l test failed spectacularly on July 3, 1969, just thirteen days before the launch of Apollo 11. After ignition, the massive rocket rose to a height of about 200 meters and then fell back onto the pad in a huge explosion that totally destroyed the pad and severely damage buildings across a wide area. A US spy satellite caught an image of the aftermath. At the 0.25 second mark the oxidizer pump in one of the first stage engines had been damaged by ingesting a foreign object through its feed lines and it exploded. The resulting fire quickly engulfed the engine compartment of the booster. At the 10 second mark the control system shut dowm most of the engines and the vehicle fell and exploded. The 7K-L1S escape system worked perfectly and the capsule was recovered 2 km away. This disaster banished the hope of using this rocket to compete with the Americans as they prepared for their first manned lunar landing.

N-l launches did not resume until long after the race to the Moon was settled. The third test failed on June 28, 1971. Booster roll control was lost 48 seconds into the flight and the vehicle broke up. The fourth and final test failed on November 23. 1972, when the first stage exploded at 107 seconds into the flight, just a few seconds before it was to have shut down and handed over to the second stage. Ironically, the cause may have been excessive shock to the engine array arising from the sequenced shutdown of the central engines. Any remaining hopes the Soviets had for sending cosmonauts to the Moon were lost in this final failure.


Figure 11.16 Third N-l launch attempt just before clearing the tower.




Campaign objectives:

With the survival of the Venera 8 capsule on the surface of Venus in 1972, the 3MV spacecraft had reached the limit of its capability and the Soviets were ready for the next step. They now had enough data on the atmosphere of Venus and conditions at the surface to design a very capable lander that included sophisticated imaging and surface science instruments. The challenge was to enable this apparatus to operate in such harsh conditions. Also, the new heavy Proton-launched Mars spacecraft had proved itself in 1971 with the Mars 2 and 3 missions. Both orbiters were successful, and the Mars 3 lander was successfully delivered to the surface. This orbiter served as the basis for designing the Venus spacecraft. However, the entry vehicle had to be completely redesigned. For the first time since their initial launch to Venus in 1961, the Soviets skipped a Venus opportunity in October 1973 while they w’orked on their new spacecraft.

The main difference between the heavy Proton-launched spacecraft for Mars and for Venus was the entry system. A vehicle to enter the rarefied atmosphere of Mars needs a broad conical aerobrake lor rapid deceleration in the upper atmosphere and large robust parachutes to slow to a safe speed before reaching the surface. The thick atmosphere of Venus, on the other hand, is much more forgiving and permits the use
of a simpler entry system. The new system for Venus was a hollow spherical vessel that contained the heavy lander and its parachute system. The previous probes had revealed the atmosphere to be so thick that to reach the surface in a reasonable time the new system w as designed to jettison its parachute high in the atmosphere and let the lander fall using an aerobrake. and since the free-fall velocity at the surface was slow enough for the impact to be survivable there w as no requirement for a terminal retro-rocket.

Spacecraft launched

First spacecraft:

Venera 9 (4V-1 Ко.660)

Mission Type:

Venus Orbiter/Lander

Conn try j Builder:

USSR /NPO-Lavochkin

Launch Vehicle:


Launch Daie] І ime:

June 8, 1975 at 02:38:00 UT (Baikonur)

Lncoun ter Date/ 7 і me:

October 22. 1975

Or hi ter Ter minuted:

March 22, 1976



Second spacecraft:

Venera 10 (4V-1 Ко.661)

Mission Type:

Venus Or bi ter / Lander

Conn try j Builder:

USSR, NPO-Lavochkin

Launch Vehicle:


Launch Date ‘: 7 ime:

June 14, 1975 at 03:00:31 UT (Baikonur)

Lncoun ter Date/ 7 ime:

October 25. 1975

Orbi ter Terminated:

March 22, 1976



There were minor modifications to the spacecraft, including changes in the size and position of the solar panels, the thermal systems, and increased reliability. One key change was to replace the dircet-to-Harth communications system of the lander with a system to relay via the or biter, which greatly improved the data rate from the lander. The mission plan for Venus differed from that for Mars. The orbiter lander w’as first targeted at the atmospheric entry point, rather than at the orbital insertion point. Several days from Venus the passive entry system w’as released. Immediately afterwards, the spacecraft made a deflection maneuver for the orbital insertion point. The timing was such that by the time the lander started to transmit, the spacecraft would have just completed its orbit insertion burn and have a line of sight to relay the transmission.

The principal scientific goal of the lander w^as to obtain the first panoramic image on the surface of Venus. This determined the minimum time that the lander must be able to operate on the surface and also the data rate of the relay through the orbi ter. These new* capabilities, and the large mass available on the lander, meant a number of instruments that had never been flown before could be carried Гог descent science. These included instruments to measure the vertical structure of aerosols w’ithin and under clouds, the vertical and spectral distribution of solar flux penetrating through

the clouds for several look angles, chemical and isotopic analysis of the atmosphere, and direct measurements of the winds at the surface. To undertake the first science from orbit, the spacecraft had experiments to report upon the plasma environment around the planet and its atmospheric structure, upper cloud layers, and outgoing thermal radiation.

Early on, consideration had been given to using a flyby spacecraft to support the lander mission but NPO-Lavochkin and IK I argued hard for the orbiter in order to obtain the additional and original science that only an orbiter could provide. And, of course, being first to place a spacecraft in orbit around the planet would be another significant first achievement in space exploration.


As the first of another generation of spacecraft, Venera 9 and 10 were five times heavier than their predecessors and were launched by the more powerful four-stage Proton-K. This launcher was introduced in 1969 for the Ye-8 lunar missions and then used for the M-69, M-71 and M-73 campaigns. These new spacecraft consisted of an orbiter with the entry system strapped on top, inside of w hich w as the lander. The new entry system and lander were extensively tested in wind tunnels and by airdrops.

The two spacecraft for this opportunity were essentially identical, but Venera 10 was slightly heavier and required a larger fuel load for its longer orbit insertion burn.

Подпись:kg (Venera 9) 5,033 kg (Venera 10) kg (Venera 9) 1,159 kg (Venera 10) kg (Venera 9) 2,314 kg (Venera 10) kg

The orbiter was based on the M-71 spacecraft. The IJDMH and nitrogen tetroxide tanks formed a cylindrical body. At 110 cm in diameter, this was narrower than the 180 cm Mars version and it was also 1 meter shorter. Below’ was the KTDU-425A restartable rocket engine which could be throttled between 9,856 and 18,890 N for a total of 560 seconds. The avionics and science instruments were in a pressurized toroidal module with a diameter of 2.35 meters that was attached at the base of the cylinder, with the gimbaled engine nozzle protruding through the donut. Navigation optics attached to the exterior of the instrument module included a number of solar sensors mounted in a linear cluster, bordered either side by duplicate down-looking telescopic Canopus sensors. The Earth sensor was installed in such a way as to point in the same direction as the parabolic high gain antenna. With the entry system on top, the spacecraft was 2.8 meters tall.

Tw o 1.25 x 2.1 meter solar arrays extended from opposite sides of the cylinder with an overall span of 6.7 meters. These supported cold gas attitude control jets, the


Figure 14.1 Venera 9 spacecraft.

magnetometer booms, and a relay antenna for the entry system and lander. Also on the side of the cylinder were thermal control gas radiators and tanks which contained nitrogen at 350 bar for the attitude control system. During the interplanetary cruise, louvers on the entry shell provided passive thermal control of the entry system. Communications from the entry system and lander were received by the orbiter and relayed to Earth. There was a 1.6 meter diameter parabolic high gain antenna on the side of the cylinder for communicating with Earth on decimeter and centimeter bands. Six omnidirectional helical antennas were attached near the parabolic antenna, four for Earth and two for the lander. The command uplink was by the helical antennas at 769 MHz. There was a 16 megabyte magnetic tape system for data storage. The downlink to Earth was phase modulated PCM at 3 kbits/s via the


Figure 14.2 Venera 9 and Venera 10 spacecraft: 1. Orhiter bus; 2. Descent capsule; 3. Science instruments; 4. High-gain antenna; 5. Propellant tank; 6. Thermal control pipes; 7. Earth sensor; 8. Science instruments; 9. Canopus sensor; 10. Sun sensor; 11. Omnidirectional antenna; 12. Science instrument module; 13. Science instruments; 14. Altitude control gas tank; IS. Thermal control radiator; 16. Attitude control jets; 17. Magnetometer; 18. Solar panels.


Figure 14.3 Venera 9 in test at NPO-Lavoehkin. The shutters on the entry vehicle are for thermal control during flight.

high gain antenna, or in an emergency at a much slower rate using the helical antennas. Data from the lander was retransmitted through the parabolic antenna to Earth in real-time and also stored on tape for later backup transmission. The spacecraft computers were similar to those carried by the M-71 missions.

As it did for Mars, this design served as the basis for all Venus spacecraft starting in 1975, and the Proton-K became the singular planetary launch vehicle in the Soviet inventory.

Entry system:

The sophisticated new lander was contained within a 2.4 meter diameter spherical entry system, and was deployed after the rate of descent through the atmosphere had been reduced to subsonic. The entry vessel was a simple sphere covered by ablative material that consisted of asbestos composite over honeycomb, and it was stabilized during entry by placing the center of mass towards leading side. The entry angle was shallower than for the 3MV capsules, reducing the peak load from around 450 G to a more modest 150 to 180 G. After entry, the sphere would split into hemispheres, releasing the lander and its parachute system.


Figure 14.4 Venera 9 and Venera 10 entry capsule (from Space Travel Encyclopedia): 1. Heat shield; 2. Lander instrument compartment; 3. Lander insulation; 4. Parachute; 5. Descent instruments; 6. Descent brake; 7. Landing ring shock absorber; 8. Transmitter helical antenna; 9. Electronics; 10. Science instruments; 11. Panoramic camera; 12. Anemometer; 13. Illumination lamp.


Figure 14.5 Venera 9 lander with shock absorbing lander ring, spherical pressurized instrument compartment, and upper disk drag brake with cylindrical wound antenna ‘top hat’. A camera pod can be seen at right under the disk brake next to the ‘paint – roller’ gamma-ray densitometer folded up against the sphere. The spectrophotometer housing is under the disk at the left. Floodlights are attached to the shock absorber struts to illuminate the fields of view of the two cameras. An anemometer for surface winds is mounted on the top of the disk at left. The outer insulating layers are removed. The two severed pipes on the left are for pre-cooling by the orbiter before separation.


The lander was 2 meters in height, which was much larger than the 3MV capsules, and capable of carrying more scientific instruments. Previous Venera probes were limited to a transmission rate of 1 bit/s by their direct communications link to Earth. The lander was battery powered and transmitted to the orbiter through two VHF channels at 256 bits/s for relay to Earth using the high gain antenna.


Figure 14.6 Venera 9 lander during tests. The central band segment of the pressure vessel

is removed for access. The engineer is looking at a camera.

The lander was basically a hermetically sealed titanium spherical pressure vessel 80 cm in diameter, containing most of the instrumentation and electronics. This was affixed to a ring-shaped landing cushion by a set of shock absorbers. Above was a disk-shaped aero brake 2.1 meters diameter, to slow the rate of descent during free – fall. This disk also acted as a reflector for the cylindrically wound omnidirectional antenna above. Inside this 80 cm diameter 40 cm tall cylinder were the parachutes and some of the descent instruments. The sphere consisted of several sections bolted together with gold wire seals. It was surrounded with a 12 cm layer of honeycomb insulating material and a thin surface of titanium. The inside of the sphere was also lined with a polyurethane foam insulating material. The thermal design was similar to the earlier landers. The lander was pre-chilled to -10°C by cold air from the main spacecraft via two pipes through the entry vessel. A lithium nitrate trihydrate phase – change material which melted at 33°C absorbed heal that penetrated the insulation, and a gas circulation system distributed it evenly. These measures, and the life of the batteries, allowed operation for about an hour after landing.

Entry, descent and, landing:

The midcourse maneuvers were to target the spacecraft for the entry point. The entry system w’ould be released 2 days from Venus to make a ballistic approach and enter the atmosphere at 10.7 km/s at an angle in the range 18 to 23 degrees. Six seconds later it would experience the peak deceleration of 170 G. After 20 seconds, having slowed to 250 m/s and under a 2 G load at an altitude of about 65 km. the small pilot

parachute would deploy with a ripcord to draw out the 2.8 meter drogue parachute. The spherical shell would then split into hemispheres and the drogue would pull the upper hemisphere and attached lander away from the lower hemisphere, at the same time deploying a second braking parachute. After 11 seconds, by now at an altitude of 60 to 62 km and descending at 50 m/s, the upper hemisphere would release the lander, in the process extracting the three 4.3 meter diameter main parachutes from the cylindrical section on top of the lander.

Once on its main parachutes, the lander would activate its instruments. It would spend about 20 minutes descending through the cloud layer at a rate of about 50 m/s. On reaching an altitude of 50 km, the lander would shed its parachutes and spend the next 55 minutes free falling, with the drag of the disk-shaped aerobrake slowing its rate of descent as it penetrated the thicker air close to the surface. This strategy was selected to minimize heat inflow during descent, and hence extend the lifetime of the lander on the surface. The terminal velocity on reaching the surface would be 7 m/’s, and the impact would be cushioned by the compressible, metal annular landing ring.


Figure 14.7 Approach geometry and relay operations for the lander. The entire vehicle is initially targeted for the impact point on the sunlit side, out of view of Earth. Two days out, the entry vehicle is released and the orbiter makes a deflection maneuver to place it in position for an orbit insertion burn before the entry vehicle arrives. Shortly after orbit insertion, the orbiter is in position above the landing site for relay operations during entry, descent and landing.



1. Panoramic ultraviolet cloud cameras, 345 to 380 nm and 355 to 445 nm

2. Cloud infrared spectrometer (1.6 to 2.8 microns)

3. Cloud thermal infrared radiometer (8 to 28 microns)

4. Cloud ultraviolet imaging spectrometer (352 and 345 nm) [USSR-France]

5. Cloud photopolarimeters (335 to 800 nm)

6. Lyman-alpha H/D photometer

7. Airglow spectrometer (300 to 800 nm).

8. Triaxial magnetometer

9. Plasma electrostatic analyzer

10. Charged particle traps

11. Cherenkov energetic particle detectors

12. Centimeter and decimeter radio occultation experiment

13. Bistatic 32 cm radar mapping experiment

The two cloud cameras were the same as the linear scanning photometer cameras of the Mars 4 and 5 orbiters. providing cross-track scanning of 30 degrees and using the motion of the spacecraft to scan along the orbital track. The Venus cameras used violet and ultraviolet filters, scanned 500 cycles/line at 2 lines/second. Images were usually transmitted at 256 pixels/line with 6 bits/pixel. Panoramas were typically

6,0 pixels in length. For a periapsis at about 5,000 km the resolution at the cloud tops was on the order of 6 to 30 km.

Between them, the spectrometers and photometers could make measurements of the clouds throughout the ultraviolet, visible and infrared parts of the spectrum. The photopolarimeters were an improved form of those of the M-71 and M-73 missions, with design help from the French. The cloud infrared spectrometer used a circular – ramp interference filter and made high resolution spatial scans across the planet. The thermal infrared instrument used two horn radiometers for bands at 8 to 13 microns and 18 to 28 microns, both of which were relatively transparent in an atmosphere of carbon dioxide. The French-built cloud ultraviolet imaging spectrometer measured spatial profiles across the planet at two wavelengths with a resolution of 16 seconds of arc. The particle detectors included low energy electron, proton and alpha particle sensors, three semiconductor counters, two gas discharge counters, and a Cherenkov detector.


Entry and descent:

1. Broadband photometer with three visible and two infrared channels for radiation flux

2. Narrow-band infrared photometer with three channels near 0.8 microns for radiation flux ratios in water, carbon dioxide and background bands

3. Back scatter and multi-angle nephelomctcrs at 0.92 microns for light scattering between the altitudes of 63 and 18 km

4. Pressure and temperature measurements from 62 km to the surface

5. Accelerometers for atmospheric structure between 110 and 76 km

6. Mass spectrometer for atmospheric composition from 63 to 34 km altitude

7. Doppler experiment for wind and turbulence


Figure 14.8 Venera 9 and Venera 10 descent sequence (from Space Travel Encyclopedia): 1. Capsule release two days before entry; 2. Atmospheric entry, 170 G max; 3. Pilot chute withdraws first parachute; 4. First chute pulls top away and deploys second braking chute. Radio and instruments activated; 5. Main chutes open at 62 km, bottom shell jettisoned. Science investigations conducted during 20 min descent through clouds; 6. Lander released at 50 km altitude; 7. Lander on the surface 55 min later.


In comparison to Venera 8, the new photometers were greatly improved and more complex. Both up welling and down welling integrated radiation was measured in the range 0.440 to 1.160 microns using green, yellow, red. IR1. and IR2 glass filters for five wavelength hands with widths of 0.1 to 0.3 microns. This was complemented by an near-infrared photometer operating in three channels, one centered on the carbon dioxide band at 0.78 microns, another on the water band at 0.82 microns, and a third background channel at 0.80 microns, with each band being only 0.005 microns wide. Both back scattering and angular scattering nephelometers were carried. These were new, measuring how7 the atmosphere scattered light from a pulsed light source. This information could be used to infer the size distribution, refractive index, and density of cloud droplets. The sensors for the photometers and nephelometer w ere mounted in the external environment, had their own thermal protection, and were linked by fiber optics to the instruments inside. The mass spectrometer was a radio-frequency monopole unit with a pressure regulator designed for input pressures of 0.1 to 10 bar. The Doppler experiment was facilitated by an ultra-stable master oscillator for the transmitter.


1. Panoramic imaging system, two cameras with floodlights

2. Surface wind rotary anemometer

3. Gamma-ray spectrometer (uranium, potassium, and thorium) for surface rocks

4. Gamma-ray densitometer

The scanning photometer imaging camera w as similar to that carried by the M-71 landers and had a mass of 5.8 kg. There were tw o, in sealed insulated containers on either side of the lander just beneath the disk of the aero brake to give a vantage point 90 cm off the ground. The rotational axis of the mirror system was tilted from the landers vertical by 50 degrees in order that the center of the image was the surface directly in front of the camera at a distance of 1.5 to 2 meters, with the field of view extending 90 degrees to either side in order to include a small section of the horizon. The cameras peered through 1 cm thick cylindrical quartz windows using a lens to compensate for refraction and provide a total angular field of 40 x 180 degrees. Each 128 x 512 panorama consisted of a 115 x 512 image. w7ith the first 13 bits of each line containing a calibration pattern. Each measurement consisted of a 6 bit picture element and 1 bit for parity checking. The quality of the imagery w7as limited by the projected 30 minute surface lifetime and the transmission rate of 256 bits s. To send a panorama at 3.5 seconds per line would require 30 minutes. The panoramas w7ere to be transmitted simultaneously on separate VHF channels. Because scientist were worried after Venera 8 that the illumination at the surface would be very weak, each camera was provided with a 10,000 lux floodlight system with tw7o lamps in order to ensure that there would be sufficient light to acquire an image.

The deployable densitometer had a cesium-137 irradiation source and detectors to measure the gamma rays reflected back by the environment. During the descent this measured atmospheric scattering. Immediately after landing it deployed a 4 x 36 cm


Figure 14.9 Television system mounted on Venera 9 and Venera 10 landers showing (a) camera and illuminator mounting, line-of-site FOV, and (b) imaging panorama and illuminator footprints (from Space Travel Encyclopedia): 1. Panoramic camera; 2. Insulation; 3. Camera port; 4. Scanning тіїтог; S. Lens; 6. Mirror; 7. Pressure diaphragm; 8. Photometer; 9. Landing ring; 10. Illumination lamp.

‘paint roller’ on the surface in order to measure soil scattering. In addition, a sodium iodide gamma-ray spectrometer similar to that of Venera 8 was carried inside the sphere for measurement of potassium, uranium and thorium soil abundances. Two anemometers were mounted on the upper side of the aerobrake disk.

Mission description:

Venera 9 orbitev:

Venera 9 was launched on June 8, 1975. It maneuvered on June 16 and October 15 to align its trajectory with the desired entry point in the atmosphere of Venus. After releasing its entry system on October 20, it performed a 247.3 m/s deflection burn to head for the orbit insertion point, where on October 22 it made a 922.7 m/s burn and inserted itself into an orbit with a period of 48.30 hours. The relay of the transmission from the entry system and lander followed immediately thereafter. This was the first spacecraft to enter orbit around the planet. The initial orbit was 1.500 x 111,700 km inclined at 34.17 degrees. This was changed to 1,300 x 112,200 km and finally to 1,547 x 112,144 km at 34.15 degrees. The orbiter conducted 3 months of scientific observations which were terminated by the failure of its transmitter.

Venera 9 lander:

The entry system penetrated the atmosphere of Venus at a speed of 10.7 к m/s and at an angle of 20.5 degrees. At 05:13 UT on October 22 the lander touched down at a speed of 7 to 8 m/s on the day-side of the planet at 31.01 N 291.64 E, where it was 13:12 Venus solar time and the solar zenith angle was 33 degrees. The site was on a slope of 15 to 20 degrees and the lander was tilted a further 10 to 15 degrees by the uneven, rocky surface. It immediately began its surface activities, relaying its data to Earth via the orbiter until that flew out of range 53 minutes later, by which time the temperatures inside the lander had risen to 60 C.

Venera 10 orbiter:

After launch on June 14. 1975, Venera 10 flew7 almost the same route as Venera 9. making trajectory corrections on June 21 and October 18, releasing its entry system on October 23 and then making a 242.2 m s deflection burn. On October 25 it made a 976.5 m/s insertion burn. Its initial orbit was 1,500 x 114.000 km inclined at 29.50 degrees with a period of 49.38 hours. This was later changed to 1,651 x 113,923 km at 29.10 degrees. After relaying the transmission from the entry system and lander, the orbiter began its scientific observations. It succumbed 3 months later to the same problem as disabled its partner.

Venera 10 lander:

The entry system penetrated the atmosphere of Venus at an angle of 22.5 degrees at 01:02 UT on October 25. The lander touched down at 02:17 UT at a speed of about 8 m/s at 15.42 N 291.5UE, about 2,200 km from w here Venera 9 landed. It was on the day-side, at 13:42 Venus solar time with a solar zenith angle of 27 degrees. The surface was fairly level but the lander was perched on a rocky mass that tilted it at about 8 degrees. The lander was still transmitting when the orbiter flew out of range, curtailing the relay operation after 65 minutes.


Venera 9 lander:

Entry and decent science

The Venera 9 lander inferred atmospheric density from accelerometer data between the altitudes 110 and 76 km. It directly measured atmospheric temperature, pressure, composition and light levels from 62 km to the surface. Light scattering data from the nephelometer. together with the photometer data, indicated clouds with a base at an alii Hide of 49 to 48 km and a lower loading of aerosols extending down to about 25 + 5 km. The clouds were similar to a light fog. with much smaller drop size than normal for Earth and a visibility of several kilometers. Distinct layers were detected at altitudes of 60 to 57 km, 57 to 52 km and 52 to 49 km. The refractivity index was measured to be as high as 1.46; much higher than for water ice and consistent with sulfuric acid droplets. The cloud particles all scattered light but there was absorption in the blue and this, along with heavy Rayleigh scattering, led to increasing orange color with depth. The atmosphere below 25 km appeared to be free of aerosols. Red light was found to reach further towards the surface than blue, shifting the spectrum towards longer w avelengths, producing both orange colored skies and, by reflection, an orange tinted surface. Doppler data provided altitude profiles of horizontal wind speed and direction.

The detailed chemical composition measurements attempted by the first landers of this type gave poor results. The mass spectrometers did not function properly due to inappropriate cleaning procedures prior to launch and apparent clogging of the inlet system by cloud particles. The mixing ratio of molecular nitrogen to carbon dioxide was determined. Argon was deteeted in the atmosphere. A large ratio of argon-36 to argon-40 was measured and confirmed by later missions, but went unreported owing to mistrust of the instrument. Near-infrared photometer results for the water vapor mixing ratio proved to be spurious when spectral measurements were conducted on later missions.

Surface science

The photometers detected dust raised by the landing, but this quickly settled. The surface conditions were 455 + S C and 85 + 3 bar, and there w? as a light w? ind of 0.4 to 0.7 m/s.

Only one 180 degree panorama was taken because the cover for the other camera failed to deploy. This back-and-white image was the first picture from the surface of another planet. It showed a level landscape with a variety of flat, apparently young angular rocks without much erosion. Л portion of the image extended to the horizon, and there w’as no indication of dust in the atmosphere. The illumination was similar to Earth mid-latitudes on a cloudy summer day, and the light scattering did not east shadows. The floodlights for the camera were not triggered on. They were eliminated from subsequent missions. The visibility was a pleasant surprise to the scientists who, after reviewing Venera 8, had predicted a dark, murky and dusty atmosphere in which only the near field would be available for inspection.


Figure 14.10 Venera 9 lander 180 degree panorama (processing by Ted Stryk).

The indistinctness and apparent nearness of the horizon in all of the images from the Venera landers were due to the high refractivity of the dense atmosphere which made Venus appear to be a small-diameter spherical body with a horizon much less than 1 km away. The phenomenon is similar to a terrestrial mirage and is probably a function of the observer’s height above the ground.

The gamma-ray composition analysis of the surface material measured potassium, uranium and thorium abundances more typical of terrestrial basalt than meteorites. The fact that the surface rocks differed from primitive meteorites in a way consistent with trends observed in terrestrial rocks indicated that Venus must have been thermal differentiated into a core, mantle and crust. The reflectivity of the surface in five wavelengths was consistent with material of a basaltic composition. The penetrometer indicated a rock density of 2.7 to 2.9 g/’cc.

Venera 10 lander:

Entry and descent science

The Venera 10 lander inferred atmospheric density from accelerometer data between the altitudes 110 and 63 km. ft directly measured atmospheric temperature, pressure, composition and light levels from 62 km to the surface, and structure, microphysical properties and composition of the clouds. The three distinct cloud layers observed by Venera 9 were confirmed. Doppler data profiled the horizontal wind speed and direction during the descent, and then an anemometer measured wind velocity on the surface. As the results were generally in agreement with Venera 9, some conclusions could be drawn on atmospheric convective stability and turbulence. The profile of temperature and pressure showed 33 bar and 158"’C at 42 km, 37 bar and 363°C at 15 km, and 91+3 bar and 464 + 5°C at the surface.

Surface science

As in the case of Venera 9, one of the camera covers failed to deploy and this lander also only provided a single 180 degree black-and-white panoramic image. It showed a surface that was smoother with large, more eroded pancake rocks interspersed with lava or other weathered rocks. The horizon was visible and there was no evidence of dust in the atmosphere. As with Venera 9, the photometers detected some dust raised on touchdown which quickly settled. A surface albedo of 0.06 was derived from the imaging and photometers on both landers.


figure 14.11 Venera 10 lander 180 degree panorama (processing by Ted Stryk).

The surface winds were light at 0.8 to 1.3 m/s. The gamma-ray results and surface reflectivity were suggestive of a basaltic composition. Apparently both landers came down on young volcanic shield structures with lavas close in composition to the tholeiitie basalts that emerge from oceanic spreading ridges on Earth. The penetrometer indicated a surface density of 2.7 to 2.9 g/cc, just as at the Venera 9 site. The surface of Venus appeared to be harder than the Moon or Mars.

Venera 9 and 10 orbitersi

The panoramic cameras returned 1,200 km long images taken using several different filters to distinguish cloud structures and some surface features, although the latter were poorly defined. The results included imagery of the clouds in the ultraviolet, infrared radiometry, photometry, spectrometry of both day and night sides, photo- polarimetry, radio occultation and plasma data. Orbital data suggested a cloud base at an altitude of 30 to 35 km with three distinct layers. The orbiters obtained data on the clouds above 64 km, which is the altitude at which the descent data started. The day-time temperature of the upper cloud was -35°C. warming by about 10 degrees at night. The night-time atmosphere was found to glow in the visible spectral range in bands that later investigation established to be a molecular oxygen band system that is not excited in the Earth’s atmosphere owing to its lower concentration of carbon dioxide.

The airglow spectrometer on the Venera 9 orbiter found optical evidence of night-side lightning, but Venera 10 did not. Reflection spectra of clouds in the infrared at 1.7 to 2.8 microns measured the aerosol scale height near their upper boundary, and infrared wide band radiometry in the range 8 to 28 microns prompted the conclusion that outgoing radiation is systematically stronger on the night-side than the day-side.

The dual frequency radio occult ations at wavelengths of 8 and 32 cm gave a set of temperature and pressure profiles for altitudes in the range 40 to 80 km that revealed details of the night-side ionosphere and the existence of a large diurnal variation of ionospheric electron density. The bistatic radar experiment mapped fifty-five strips of the surface 100 to 200 km wide by 400 to 1,200 km long. Early analysis provided onc-dimensional terrain profiles at a resolution of 20 to 80 km. Later processing of the Venera 10 data produced a two-dimensional local topography for live regions at a resolution of 5 to 20 km.

Measurements of the scattering of solar Lyman-alpha radiation by the hydrogen corona that surrounds Venus, including its line width, gave an estimate of 450°C for


Figure 14.12 Mosaic of the planet from images by the Venera 9 orbiter (courtesy Ted Strvk).

the temperature of the atmosphere at the exobase. Many features of how the solar wind interacts with the ionosphere were measured. No intrinsic planetary magnetic field was detected. Nonetheless, the interaction of the solar wind with the ionosphere created a magnetic plasma tail.

As the first spacecraft to enter Venus orbit, Venera 9 and 10 were able to provide the first long-term survey of the Venusian atmosphere with a comprehensive battery of scientific instrumentation. Their landers performed marvelously, returning the first pictures of the surface of the planet. These missions began what became an unbroken string of successes running to Venera 16 in 1983 and ending with the two Vega missions that made flybys in 1985.

Key institutions


In the Soviet Union there were three separate organizations that ran the country – the Communist Party, the government and the military. The Party was in overall charge through its Central Committee and the executive Politburo. The Party business was managed by a Secretariat that included a Secretary of Defense Industry and Space, and a Department of Sciences. The Soviet Academy of Sciences, while claiming to be independent, was implicitly part of the Department of Sciences and hence a Party organization. It ran the Inter-Department Scientific and Technical Council on Space Exploration (MNTS KI; Mezliduvedomstvennyi Nauchno- Tckhnichcskii Soviet po Kosmicheskim Isslcdovaniyam) which was nominally responsible for specifying the national policy and strategy for the space program.

The Soviet government comprised the Council of Ministers and its executive the Presidium. The Presidium had a Commission for Military Industry (VPK; Voenno- Promyshlennaya Komissiya) which included the various ministers controlling ihe defense industries. The Ministry of General Machine Building (MOM; Ministerstvo Obshchego Mashinostroenija) controlled the planning and budget for the Soviet space program. MOM was the closest equivalent to NASA in the USSR but it had a much wider remit, including the design and production of rockets and space systems for the military. It established, controlled and funded the various design bureaus (OKBs) that developed the rocket and space systems, and the scientific research institutes (Nils) that provided the science and technical support required for space projects. There was no separation of civilian and military space programs. MOM was the focal point of the powerful Soviet military industrial complex. It controlled a massive industrial system, providing funding enormous in scale, and operating in complete secrecy.

How this dual system functioned between Party and government, sitting atop a large and convoluted system of industry, design bureaus and research institutes, is somewhat mystical. It was complicated even more by the third force in the Soviet system, the military. The Armed Service’s Strategic Missile Forces was the

W. T. Huntress and M. Y. Marov, Soviet Robots in the Solar System: Mission Technologies 23

and Discoveries, Springer Praxis Books 1, DOl 10.1007/978-1-4419-7898-1_3,

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011 heavyweight competing for funding from MOM. and the military controlled the launch pads, the launch ranges, and the і гаек in g stations. In reality, the personal power and political influence of the Chief Designers of the design bureaus such as Korolev, Glushko. Chelomey. Yangel and Babakin were most influential for planning and execution, especially in the early years. These powerful men competed mightily with one another for influence and funding, sometimes bitterly, as between Korolev and Glushko or between Korolev and Chelomey.

Lunar Soyuz (Zond), 1967-1970

As early as 1959 the Soviets had a plan for manned circumlunar flights. When the Americans decided in mid-1961 to go to the Moon, Korolev was already designing the Soyuz spacecraft for these missions. It was the same three-module arrangement with w’hich we are all familiar, with a support module containing all the resources required for power, propulsion, communication, navigation and consumables for the cosmonauts, a descent module to carry them aloft and to return them to Earth, and a compartment to provide more room for the cosmonauts on long flights. After the Vostok and Voskhod manned capsules, this system was introduced and remains the reliable Russian system still in use today.

wwamttw* ■mv w:*5i’

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Figure 5.4 Soyuz 7K-L1 ‘Zond’ circumlunar spacecraft (from Space Travel Encyclope­dia).

The Soyuz 7K-L1 was a version of the 7K-LOK lunar orbital spacecraft modified to perform a circuit! lunar mission. Although the three-stage R-7 used for Soyuz flights in Earth orbit was replaced by the more powerful four-stage Proton, mass limitations meant that the 7K-L1 did not have the ‘orbital’ module and was designed to carry only two cosmonauts. The idea was to fly circumlunar missions with two astronauts using the 7K-L1 as a precursor to performing a lunar landing using the 7K-LOK version of the Soyuz (which would have an orbital module) and the LK lunar lander, all launched by the massive N-l rocket. To prepare for the manned circumlunar missions, several automated flights of the 7K-L1 were conducted, the first two in Earth orbit and then nine others over the years 1967-1970 either to lunar distance or performing actual circumlunar flights. Zond 4 reached lunar distance before returning to Earth, but in a direction away from the Moon in order to simplify navigation, and Zond 5 to 8 each made circumlunar flights. Zond 4 self – destructed on re-entry, Zond 5 had significant but non-fatal problems with on board systems, and Zond 6 crashed on landing only a few weeks before the Apollo 8 mission. Although Zond 7 and Zond 8 were complete successes, the Soviets never used the system for a manned circumlunar flight.


After the failures of the 1M Mars missions in October 1960 and the 1VA Venus missions in February 1961, Korolev resolved to develop an improved, second

W. T. Huntress and M. Y. Marov, Soviet Robots in the Solar System: Mission Technologies and Discoveries, Springer Praxis Hooks 1, DOl 10.1007/978-1-4419-7898-1 8,

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Launch date


Подпись: Upper stage failed second burn Upper stage failed second burnПодпись:23 Aug Ranger 1 lunar mission test

18 Nov Ranger 2 lunar mission test


26 Jan Ranger 3 lunar hard lander

23 Apr Ranger 4 lunar hard lander

22 Jul Mariner 1 Venus flyby

25 Aug Venera entry probe

27 Aug Mariner 2 Venus flyby

1 Sep Venera entry probe

12 Sep Venera flyby

18 Oct Ranger 5 lunar hard lander

24 Oct Mars flyby

1 Nov Mars 1 flyby

4 Nov Mars entry probe generation planetary spacecraft. In the spring of 1961 lie directed that a new multi­mission spacecraft be designed that could be configured for either flyby or entry probe missions at either Mars or Venus. This new scries was the first modular interplanetary spacecraft, with a standardized multipurpose ‘orbital’ module (in the US vernacular this was a carrier vehicle) to guide the spacecraft to either planet, and a separate module to carry a science payload tailored to the planet and mission type. Two standard types of science module were provided, the first a pressurized vessel to accommodate instruments for studying the planet during a flyby, and the second an entry vehicle for atmospheric probe or lander missions. For the latter, the entry vehicle was detached at arrival and the carrier vehicle discarded and left to burn up in the atmosphere. This was a major improvement over the 1VA design, where the probe was retained and simply expected to survive the destruction of the spacecraft on entry.

The communications, attitude control, thermal control, entry, and propulsion systems were much improved over the 1M and 1VA spacecraft. This new generation set the design precedent for all Molniya-launched planetary missions until the more capable Proton launcher was introduced. The initial design, designated 2MV, lasted only for the 1962 Mars and Venus opportunities. Six were built and launched, three for Venus and three for Mars. Korolev also upgraded the 8K78 launcher to lift these heavier spacecraft by improving the strap-on booster engines and lengthening both the interstage between the third and fourth stages and the aerodynamic shroud. Only one 2MV survived its launch vehicle, Mars 1. After the 1962 campaign, the design was upgraded to produce the 3MV.

For the 1962 launch opportunity for Venus the Soviets prepared two 2MV-1 entry probe spacecraft and one 2MV-2 flyby spacecraft. The mission of the entry probes was to penetrate belowr the veil of clouds, survive landing, and return data profiling

Подпись: First spacecraft: Mission Type: Country і Builder: Launch Vehicle: Launch Date ': 7 'ime: Outcome:Подпись:Подпись:

Подпись: Spacecraft launched

2MV-1 No.3 [Sputnik 19]

Venus Atmosphere,’Surface Probe



August 25, 1962 at 02:18.45 UT (Baikonur)

Failed to leave Earth orbit, fourth stage failure,

2MV-1 No.4 [Sputnik 20]

Venus Atmosphere.’Surface Probe



September E 1962 at 02:12:30 UT (Baikonur)

Failed to leave Earth orbit, fourth stage failure,

2MV-2 No. l [Sputnik 21]

Venus Flyby USSR ОКБ-1 Molniya

September 12, 1962 at 00:59:13 UT (Baikonur)

Failed to leave Earth orbit, third and fourth stage failures.

the temperature, pressure, density, and composition of the atmosphere, and then the composition of the surface. The flyby spacecraft would photograph the planet using an upgraded version of the camera originally intended to fly on the 1M spacecraft. Frustratingly, all three spacecraft would be lost to failures of the launcher’s fourth stage.


The 2MV spacecraft was 1.1 meters in diameter and 3.3 meters long in total, and measured 4 meters across the solar panels with the thermal radiators deployed. It was divided into two attached parts. The main spacecraft, known as the ’orbital’ (or carrier) module, was 2.7 meters long including the 60 an long propulsion system at one end. The carrier s pressurized compartment contained the flight system avionics and scientific instrumentation. The propulsion system used cold gas jets for attitude control and the KDU-414 gimbaled engine that delivered a thrust of 2 kN and was capable of more than one midcourse correction, for a total firing time of 40 seconds. Attached to the other end of the carrier module was either a 60 cm long pressurized flyby instrument module or a detachable 90 cm diameter spherical entry probe.

In addition, significant changes were made to the communication system. A 1.7 meter parabolic antenna and radio system transmitting at either 5, 8 or 32 cm was provided for high rate communications during the interplanetary cruise and for data transmission on arrival at the target. A separate omnidirectional antenna and meter


Figure 8.1 The 2MV flyby spacecraft (courtesy Energiya Corp): 1. Pressurized orbital module; 2. Pressurized imaging module; 3. Propulsion system; 4. Solar panels; 5. Thermal control radiators; 6. High gain parabolic antenna; 7. Low gain omnidirectional antennas; 8. Low gain omnidirectional antenna; 9. Meter-band antenna; 10. Emergency omni antenna; 11. Camera and planet sensor port; 12. Science instruments; 13. Meter band antenna; 14. Sun and star tracker; IS. Emergency radio system; 16. Continuous sun sensor; 17. Earth tracking antenna; 18. Attitude control nozzles; 19. Attitude control nitrogen tanks; 20. Attitude sensor light baffle; 21. Coarse sun tracker; 22. Sun tracker.

band transmitter was added to supplement the decimeter high gain directional unit. Commands were received at 39 cm (768.96 MHz) using semi-directional antennas attached to the thermal radiators, which were also used for transmission at 32 cm (922.776 MIIz) in the vicinity of Earth and at a reduced rate at longer range in the event of an emergency. A backup 1.6 meter band radio was provided for operations


Figure 8.2 The 2MV probe spacecraft (courtesy Energiya Corp): 1. Orbital module; 2. Entry capsule: 3. Propulsion system; 4. Solar panels; 5. Thermal control radiators; fi. High gain antenna; 7. Medium gain antennas; 8. Entry capsule test antenna; 9. Meter band transmit antenna; 10. Meter band receiver antenna; 11. Magnetometer and boom antenna; 12. Low gain antennas; 13. Earth sensor; 14. Science instruments; 15. Sun/Star sensor; 16. Emergency radio system; 17. Sun sensor; 18. Attitude control nozzles; 19. Nitrogen tanks; 20. Sun sensor.

near Earth at 115 and 18.3.6 MHz using whip antennas mounted on top of the solar panels. For flyby missions, the camera in the instrument module had its own 5 cm band impulse transmission system. The high gain antenna was fixed, pointing in the opposite direction to the solar arrays. To use it, the spacecraft was required to adopt Earth-pointing attitude. An onboard tape recorder was provided to store data while Sun pointing and to replay it when the high gain antenna had locked on. The power supply system consisted of 2.6 square meters of solar cells that supplied 2.6 kW to a 42 amp-hour NiCd battery array.

The attitude control system was upgraded by providing an Earth sensor for high gain antenna pointing, instead of using a radio bearing. And based on the Venera 1 experience, the Sun, Earth, and star sensors were repositioned inside the controlled environment of the carrier module, looking out through a quartz window dome. New’ and more reliable sequencers were used, with element-by-element redundancy. As with Venera 1, several orientation modes were provided. While cruising, ihe spacecraft was to maintain a low-precision З-axis Sun pointing mode in order to keep the solar panels illuminated. To avoid losing control of the spacecraft as with Venera 1, it was decided never again to turn off the receivers during the cruise phase of a planetary mission. For high gain transmission sessions, the spacecraft would terminate solar panel Sun pointing and reorient itself to high gain antenna Harth pointing using Sun and Earth optical sensors in conjunction with gyroscopes for precise attitude eontrol. For mid course maneuvers, the required engine orientation relative to the Sun and the star Canopus was controlled by the gyroscope system. The gyro stabilization system also provided feedback to adjust the angle of the engine during the burn and terminated the burn when integrating aeeelerometers detected the specified velocity change. The orientation of the spacecraft during its planetary encounter would be controlled using optical sensors associated with the imaging system in the instrument module.

Thermal control was improved by abandoning the motorized shutters in favor of a binary gas-liquid thermal control system that had two liquid hemispherical radiators mounted on the ends of the solar panels. Separate heating and cooling lines carrying different liquids were coupled by heat exchangers to the dry nitrogen circulating in the interior. The spacecraft were also covered with metal foil and insulating blankets of fiberglass cloth that do not show7 in the available photographs.

The carrier module had instruments for cruise science, measurements in the near­vicinity of the planet and, on entry missions, in the ionosphere prior to destruction. For entry missions, the carrier module deployed the probe by a command from Earth that triggered a timer just prior to entering the atmosphere. Pyrotechnic charges w ere fired to release the restraining straps and the entry probe w as ejected by a spring-like mechanism. The entry system was a 90 cm diameter sphere protected by an ablative aeroshell material. In addition to the science instruments, the entry probe contained a three-stage parachute system, silver-zinc batteries, and a decimeter band radio with a semi-directional antenna for direct transmission to Earth. Based on the best guess of surface conditions at the time, the probes were designed to survive pressures up to 5.0 bar and temperatures up to 77 C. The Venus and Mars probes were almost identical, but those for Venus had thicker shells and smaller parachutes and w hereas the Mars probes were cooled by air circulation the Venus probes were cooled using a passive ammonia-based system. Unlike Venera 1, the new probes were chemically sterilized by being soaked in an atmosphere of 60% ethylene oxide and 40% methyl bromide in order to prevent biological contamination of the surface of their target on landing.

Launch mass: 1.097 kg (probe version)

— 890 kg (flyby version)

Probe mass: ^305 kg


Carrier spacecraft:

1. Magnetometer to measure the magnetic field

2. Scintillation counters to detect radiation belts and cosmic rays

3. Gas discharge Geiger counters

4. Cherenkov detector

5. Ion traps for electrons, ions and low energy protons

6. Radio to detect cosmic waves in the 150 to 1,500 meter band

7. Micromctcoroid detector

This list is for the Mars 1 payload, and it is assumed here that the carrier modules of all the 2MV series were similarly instrumented. The magnetometer was mounted on a 2.4 meter boom, and ribbon antennas were extended for the cosmic wave radio detector. Starting with these 2M V spacecraft, piezoelectric micromctcoroid detectors with a total area of 1.5 square meters were attached to the rear of the solar panels.

Descent! landing capsule:

1. Temperature, pressure and density sensors

2. Chemical gas analyzer

3. Gamma-ray detector system to measure radiation from the surface

4. Mercury level wave motion detector

The chemical gas analyzer consisted of simple chemical test cells, precursors for the proper chemical lest instruments that would be flown on later missions. Platinum wire resistance thermometers were utilized, and the density gauge was an ionization chamber for measurements in the upper atmosphere where the pressure was less than 10 millibars.

Vlyhy instrument module:

Instrumentation was probably the same as the Mars flyby module with the exception of the infrared spectrometer, which for Venus was designed to study the atmosphere instead of the surface.

1. Facsimile imaging system to photograph the surface

2. Ultraviolet spectrometer in the camera system for ozone detection

3. Infrared spectrometer to study the thermal balance of the atmosphere

The imaging system was complex and heavy. It weighed 32 kg and was mounted inside the pressurized instrument module, peering out through portholes on the end. It focused 35 mm and 750 mm lenses on 70 mm film with a capacity of 112 images, alternately shot with square frames and 3 x 1 rectangular frames. Individual frames could be scanned or rescanned at 1,440, 720, or 68 lines and stored on wire tape for later transmission. An ultraviolet spectrograph projected its spectrum onto the film alongside the images. The imaging system had a dedicated 5 an (6 GHz) impulse transmitter housed inside the instrument module. This transmitter would issue short 25 kW pulses with an average power output of 50 W. The transmission rate was 90 pixels/second, requiring about 6 hours to transmit a high resolution image of 1.440 x 1,440 pixels. The pixels were probably encoded as analog pulse position rather than as binary values. The infrared spectrometer was on the exterior of the instrument module and bore-sighted with the camera.

Mission description:

All three missions were lost to fourth-stage failures after successful insertion into parking orbit. On the 2MV-1 No.3 mission, only three of four ullage eontrol solid rocket motors on this stage fired, causing it to somersault after 3 seconds. The main engine did ignite, but because of the tumbling motion it burned for only 45 of the planned 240 seeonds. Several pieees were left in orbit. On the 2M V-l No.4 mission, a stuck valve blocked the fuel line and the fourth stage failed to reignite.

The 2MV-2 No. l Venus flyby spacecraft was lost due to a violent shutdown of the third stage. An engine in the third stage exploded at shutdown because the LOX valve did not close, continuing to feed LOX into the combustion chamber. The third stage broke up into seven pieces. The fourth stage eontinued into parking orbit, but the tumbling imparted to it by the destruction of the third stage induced cavitation in the oxidizer pump which caused the engine to shut down less than a second after it was reignited for the escape burn.




Campaign objectives:

Since their origins in 1960 the Soviet Mars and Venus programs had been strongly intertwined, using slightly different versions of the same spacecraft. When NPO – Lavochkin took over the planetary program it set out to transform OKB-l’s 3MV-3 design into a 1,000 kg spacecraft to be launched on an upgraded Molniya-M at the 1967 flight opportunity to Mars. But this approach was soon abandoned. The Mars program had been a disaster. Seven attempts in the period 1960 through to 1964 had failed, including one test mission. Then the Zond 2 Mars flyby spaeeeraft created an embarrassment by failing as Mariner 4, launched by the US at almost the same time, went on to make a successful flyby in July 1965. In that same month Zond 3, after operating successfully at the Moon, failed its Mars deep space test flight objectives. Aware that the US was turning away from Venus in favor of Mars, starting with dual flybys planned in 1969 and with orbiters and landers to follow, perhaps as early as 1973. the Soviets decided to perfect a Mars lander that would outdo the American flyby missions.

Spacecraft launched

First spacecraft:

М-69 Ко. 521

Mission Type:

Mars Orbitcr

Country; Builder:

l JSSR NPO-L avoc h к і п

Launch Vehicle:


Launch Date; Time:

March 27, 1969 at 10:40:45 UT (Baikonur)


Launch failure, 3rd stage explosion.

Second spacecraft:

М-69 Ко.522

Mission Type:

Mars Orbiter

Country і Builder:

USSR, NPO-Lavochkin

Launch Vehicle:


launch Date ‘: 1 їте:

April 2, 1969 at 10:33:00 UT (Baikonur)


Launch failure, booster explosion.

The entry vehicle for the 3MV Mars spacecraft had been designed in the early 1960s on the presumption that the atmospheric pressure at the surface was between 80 and 300 millibars. The Mariner 4 flyby in July 1965 showed it to be a mere 4 to 7 millibars. The design of the 3MV entry probe was therefore fatally flawed. A new technique would be required to perform entry, descent and landing in such a rarefied atmosphere. In October 1965 NPO-Lavochkin abandoned the 3MV for Mars, but retained it for Venus because it was suitable for that dense atmosphere. The Soviets skipped the 1967 Mars launch opportunity to develop a more capable spacecraft for the 1969 opportunity.

The powerful Proton launch vehicle made its debut in 1965. It doubled the mass that could be delivered to low Earth orbit compared to the three-stage Molniya. and when augmented by the Block D fourth stage (as the Proton-K) it facilitated a whole new generation of heavier, more capable and complex lunar and planetary spacecraft than the Molniya-launched 3MV. Capable of dispatching over 4 metric tons onto an interplanetary trajectory, the Proton-K became the standard launcher for lunar and Mars missions after 1966, and for Venus missions after 1972.

The engineering requirements for new Mars and Venus missions during the time period 1969 73 were defined in March 1966 by the head of NPO-Lavochkin, Georgi Bab akin:

1. Use of the Proton-K to achieve parking orbit and escape onto an interplanetary trajectory

2. IJsc of a "universal” multi-purpose, modular on board propulsion system for trajectory correction while coasting and then insertion into an orbit around the target with a pericenter about 2,000 km and apocenter not exceeding

40.0 km

3. Use of descent-from-flyby and descent-from-orbit mission designs for soft landers to place instruments on the surface

4. Use of the main spacecraft as either a flyby vehicle or an orbiter to relay information from the lander at about 100 bits/s to the Earth

5. IJsc of a telemetry system capable of transmission from the main spacecraft of about 4,000 bits/s.

It was decided that in addition to trajectory correction maneuvers, entry vehicle targeting and planetary orbit insertion and trim maneuvers, the universal propulsion system should also participate in establishing the desired interplanetary trajectory by firing after the spent Block D stage was jettisoned.

These requirements were not applied to Venus until the successful Venera type of the 3MV had fulfilled all of the objectives for that planet in 1972, but they were applied immediately to Mars for the 1969 opportunity. Also, it was decided that for the initial Mars mission the descent module would be an atmospheric probe to obtain the data required for designing a landing system for that rarefied atmosphere. Another key objective was to improve the ephemeris for Mars for future missions. The science objectives for Mars missions using this new spacecraft system were: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] opportunity that was only 33 months away, an incredibly short period of time in which to try to develop a spacecraft of such an unprecedented complexity. And by devoting part of this time to modifying the 3MV to score a success at Venus in 1967 they left themselves with only 20 months to develop the new spacecraft. Then problems with the design left them with only 13 months. Given the intense pressure to outdo the US at Mars, the risks taken were enormous.

The workload was intense during the last years of the 1960s as the Soviets tried to compete with Apollo. NPO-Lavochkin was overloaded developing the Luna rover and sample return missions, continuing to milk the successful Venus missions, and making a valiant effort on M-69. This was a brand new spacecraft like none built before, and the rushed development showed. Nothing went smoothly. The spacecraft suffered from the same development problems as OKB-l’s early rushed designs and engineers were not terribly optimistic about its chances. The winter of 1968-69 was exceedingly harsh, pipes burst and heating systems failed, creating near-impossible working conditions. Control and telemetry systems were plagued with troubles and the design of the spacecraft actually prevented easy access for servicing. The entry probe had to be deleted very late in the process due to insufficient time and system mass growth, and was replaced by a compartment for additional orbital instruments.

The Soviets were to fail in their first attempt with this new spacecraft in 1969, but the engineering and science requirements for the M-69 program set a precedent for all of the Mars mission designs that were to follow7. At that time almost nothing was known of these missions in the West, and 30 years would elapse before they were described in any detail.


The initial design:

As Babakins engineers worked with their OKB-1 colleagues in 1966-67 to prepare a 3MV spacecraft for what would become the successful Venera 4 mission, others at NPO-Lavochkin were working on a new7 spacecraft for the Luna series that would be launched by the Proton-K instead of the Molniya. Unlike the previous 2MV, 3MV and Luna series spacecraft where the avionics compartment was the main structural element, this time a quartet of spherical propellant tanks connected together in the shape of a square using cylindrical inter-tank sections became the element on w7hich everything else was mounted.

Given the short period of time available for the development of a Proton – launched Mars spacecraft, it was decided to exploit this work. The initial M-69 design had the entry probe attached to the tank assembly where the lunar rover w7ould otherwise be carried, and the remaining systems attached to the underside’. The two solar panels were spread out from opposite sides of the square, and the antenna and engine were opposite each other on the remaining sides. This design could meet the schedule, but was not easily reconfigured and failed to satisfy some of the requirements. Also, the designers struggled with a number of engineering


figure 11.17 Drawing of the original Mars-69 concept.

problems in trying to adapt a lunar spacecraft for Mars exploration. The main issues centered on the fundamental tank design, and ultimately it was abandoned, forcing a total redesign 13 months before the launch date.

The final design:

The new design used a single large spherical tank at the center of the spacecraft as the main structural element. The tank had an internal baffle to separate the UDMH fuel from the nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer. The Isayev engine was attached to the base of the tank. A cylindrical interstage with a pressurized container for electronics was attached to the top of the tank, and the entry vehicle was installed above that. Two hermetically sealed cylindrical modules were attached on opposite sides of the tank, one for communication, navigation systems and optical orientation sensors, and the other for science instruments including the cameras. There were also science sensors attached to the outside of ihe spacecraft.

The antenna system, including both a large high gain and small conical antennas, was affixed to the cylindrical interstage. The two 3.5 square meter solar panels were mounted outboard of the instrument modules. The panels were supplemented with a NiCad. battery that delivered power at 12 amps with a 110 amp-hour capacity. Both passive insulation and active thermal control vrere employed. The active system operated in the pressurized compartments and consisted of a ventilation and air circulation system to route air between two radiators, one exposed to sunlight and the other to shadow. The thermal control radiators were inboard of the solar panels, between the modules across the main tank. The avionics of the M-69 spacecraft were


Figure 11.18 Final Mars-69 spacecraft design: 1. Parabolic high-gain antenna; 2. Entry system (not flown); 3. Fuel tank; 4. Solar Panels; 5. Propulsion system; 6. Attitude control; 7. Thermal control-cooling side nozzles; 8. Camera viewports; 9. Instrument compartment; 10. Thermal control-heating side; 11. Omni antenna; 12. Navigation system.

much improved over the 3MV series. It was the first Soviet planetary spacecraft to carry a computer. .An advanced data processing system weighing only II kg was provided that could program the instruments and acquire, process and compress the data from both engineering and science systems for transmission to Earth.

A new telemetry system was provided that consisted of a transponder-receiver for


Figure 11.19 Mars-69 spacecraft under test.

non-imaging data and an impulse transmitter for images, a 2.8 meter parabolic high gain directional antenna and a trio of low gain semi-directional conical antennas for decimeter and centimeter bands. The arrangement of the conical antennas was such that when the solar panels were pointed at the Sun, they would be pointing at Earth. The transponder-receiver had two transmitters and three receivers in the decimeter band at 790 to 940 MHz with 100 W of power, and facilitated Doppler tracking at a transmitted data rate of 128 bits/s with 500 data channels. These transmitters and receivers could use either the conical antennas or the high gam. One receiver was always on and connected to one of the conical antennas for continuous reception. The remaining receivers and the transmitters were cycled through these antennas by timers in order to ensure the reliability of the system. As part of the payload, a new film camera system with facsimile processing was developed. The imaging system had a 5 cm impulse 50 W transmitter for a data rate of 6 kbits/s using short pulses at 25 kW.

For the attitude control system, new Sun and star sensor systems and new nitrogen gas micro-engines were developed. There were two Sun sensors, two star sensors, two Earth sensors, and two Mars sensors. Nine helium-pressurized tanks provided nitrogen gas stored in ten separate tanks to eight attitude control thrusters,
two each for pitch and yaw and the other four for roll. The nitrogen lank pressure of 350 bar was regulated to 6 bar for maneuvering and 2 bar for attitude maintenance. During cruise and routine operations the vehicle used one set of sensors to maintain itself in a rough attitude that faced the solar panels towards the Sun. For high gain antenna operations, midcourse maneuvers, and orbital mapping, it used a more accurate set of sensors for precise З-axis stabilization. Both optical sensors and gyroscope control were provided for the altitude control system.

The entry system was a prototype of that which would be used in 1971, and was to have been deployed w hile 2 days from Mars. But it was ultimately deleted from the 1969 mission due to mass growth of the spacecraft and insufficient time to test the parachute descent system in balloon drops. The entry probe w as designed around a large spherical tank with three attached pressurized compartments. No other details are available.

Подпись: 4,850 kg (fueled but without probe) 3,574 kg 260 kgLaunch mass:

Or hi ter mass:

Probe mass:


Or biter:

1. Facsimile imaging system (FTU)

2. Infrared Fourier spectrometer (UTV1) for atmosphere and surface studies

3. Infrared radiometer (RA69) for surface temperature

4. Ultraviolet spectrometer (USZ) for reflected radiation

5. Water vapor detector (I VI)

6. Mass spectrometer for ionosphere composition and hydrogen, helium detection (UMR2M)

7. Multi-channel gamma-ray spectrometer (GSZ)

8. Low – energy ion spectrometer (RIB803)

9. Charged particle deteetor (KM69) for solar electrons and protons

10. Magnetometer

11. Micrometeoroid detector

12. Low frequency radiation detector

13. Cosmic ray and radiation belt detector

14. X-ray radiometer

15. Gamma-ray burst detector

Total mass: 85 kg.

The new FTU was an advanced film facsimile imaging system consisting of three cameras, each with red, green and blue color filters. The image format was 1,024 x 1,024 pixels. One camera had a 35 mm lens, a second had a 50 mm lens and a field of view of 1,500 x 1,500 km, and the third had a 250 mm lens and a field of view of 100 x 100 km with a best resolution of 200 to 500 meters. The film was processed on

board, encoded digitally and supplied to the impulse transmitter. The film was to be chemically activated upon arrival at Mars in order to avoid damage by radiation in cruise. Each camera had sufficient film for 160 images.

Atmosphere probe (deleted):

1. Pressure sensors

2. Temperature sensors

3. Accelerometers for atmospheric density

4. Chemical gas analyzer

Total mass: 15 kg.

Mission Description:

The plan was to use the first three stages of the Proton and the Block D upper stage to achieve parking orbit. After one orbit, the Block D would be reignited for the first part of the escape sequence under the control of the spacecraft. After burnout of the Block D and separation, the spacecraft would fire its main engine for the final boost onto the interplanetary trajectory. This would be the first time that this new scheme was used, adding more risk to an already challenging project. The spacecraft engine w ould also be used for two trajectory corrections during the 6 month cruise to Mars, one 40 days out from Earth and the other 10 to 15 days prior to arrival. The fourth burn of the engine would be made at the closest point of approach to Mars in order to enter a 1.700 x 34,000 km orbit inclined at 40 degrees to the equator with a period of 24 hours. No immediate trim burns were planned, despite the expectation that the errors would be considerable. After some photography and other science from this initial orbit over several weeks, the periapsis would be lowered to about 600 km for an additional 3 months of imaging and data collection. At that point the mission was expected to be concluded.

Unfortunately, neither spacecraft even reached Earth orbit. М-69Л was lost to a third-stage explosion when a rotor bearing malfunction caused a turbopump to fail and catch fire. The engine shut down at the 438 second mark and the stage exploded. M-69B was lost when one of the six first stage engines exploded just at launch. The vehicle continued to climb on the five remaining engines until the 25 second mark, at which time it tipped over to the horizontal at an altitude of 1 km. The remaining engines shut down and 41 seconds into the flight the vehicle fell to the ground 3km from the pad and exploded. Remarkably, the second stage landed intact.

The failure of the Soviets to exploit the 1969 opportunity for Mars passed largely unnoticed in the West, mainly because the two attempted launehes failed so early in flight. But the Protons may have saved the Soviets from the larger embarrassment of another Mars mission failing due to the spacecraft being rushed too hard through its design and development. As one of its designers remarked, M-69 was an example of how’ not to build a spacecraft.



The Proton was experiencing its worst period in development at this time, with a very high failure rate. It was responsible for the loss of many spacecraft including a large number of lunar missions. The failure of the M-69 launches was a bitter pill for the spacecraft team to swallow after all the difficult and frantic work that had gone into the preparation. To rub salt into the wound, soon thereafter the US achieved the Apollo 11 lunar landing and the successful Mariner 6 and 7 flybys of Mars.

Repeating success at Venus

TIMELINE: 1977-1978

With nothing left to accomplish on the Moon, and having abandoned Mars for the immediate future, Soviet scientists and engineers focused their robotie exploration solely on Venus. In 1978 they launched a second pair of spacecraft which were near duplicates ol" Venera 9 and 10. Because the energetics for this opportunity were less favorable, it was not practicable to send an orbiter/1 under and instead the lander was to be delivered by a spacecraft that would perform a flyby and relay to Earth the data from the entry system and lander. Although both of the Venera 11 and 12 landers touched down, they suffered a number of problems and in particular were unable to provide imagery.

The US also sent spacecraft to Venus in 1978, but these were very much smaller. The Pioneer 12 Venus orbiter was an outstanding success, reporting information on the upper atmosphere for many years. Pioneer 13 adopted a collision course and deployed one large and three small entry probes, all of which successfully returned atmospheric data during their descent.

Launch date


20 Aug

Voyager 2 Outer Planets Tour


5 Sep

Voyager 1 Outer Planets Tour



20 May

Pioneer 12 Venus orbiter


8 Aug

Pioneer 13 Venus multi-probe


12 Aug

International Comet Explorer

Success flyby of comet G-Z

9 Sep

Venera 11 flyby/lander

Success, lander imager failed

14 Sep

Venera 12 flyby/lander

Success, lander imager failed

W. T. Huntress and M. Y. Marov, Soviet Robots in the Solar System: Mission Technologies and Discoveries, Springer Praxis Hooks 1, DOl 10.1007/978-1-4419-7898-1 15,

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011