CHIEF DESIGNERS AND DIRECTORS OF THE DESIGN BUREAUS
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 ‘
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.
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.
DIRECTORS OK THE SCIENCE INSTITUTIONS
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.
Sagdeev, Roald Zinnurovich 1932-present
Director of the Institute for Space Research 1973—
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.
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
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.