The history of the intercontinental ballistic missile R-7


55 years ago from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakhstan) launched the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile R-7.

August 21, 1957 made the first successful flight of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the R-7 (SS-6, Sapwood - NATO classification), developed by a team of the Special Design Bureau 1 (OKB-1), under the leadership of Chief Designer Sergei Korolev.
R-7 - two-stage intercontinental ballistic missile with a separating warhead. She was carrying a thermonuclear warhead, and could deliver it almost anywhere in the territory of a potential enemy. The rocket was not only a formidable new weapon, but the basis for creation of the launch vehicle to bring to space ships and space vehicles, including manned.

Sergei Korolev

The R-7 was known as the "Group of Seven", and in the technical documentation is called "product 8K71."
History of the R-7 rocket began long before the first start - in the late 1940's - early 1950's. Then based on the results of single-stage development of ballistic missiles R-1, R-2, R-3 and R-5, led by Korolyov, it became clear that in order to achieve a potential enemy territory on another continent needs much more powerful component multistage rocket, an idea which was Konstantin Tsiolkovsky proposed already.
In 1947, Michael Tikhonravov organized at the Research Institute of Artillery Sciences group, which began to systematically study the possibility of creating composite (multi-stage) ballistic missiles. After reviewing the results obtained by this group, Korolev decided to conduct preliminary design powerful composite rocket. May 20, 1954 issued a decree of the government, which officially before the OKB-1 was given the task of creating a ballistic missile capable of carrying a thermonuclear charge for intercontinental range.

Designer rocket launchers, missile and space launch facilities and combat, USSR Academy of Sciences Vladimir Pavlovich Barmin.

Powerful new engines for the R-7 in parallel developed by OKB-456, directed by Valentin Glushko. Management system designed Pilyugin Nikolai and Boris Petrov, the launch site - Vladimir Barmin. This work was involved, and a number of other organizations.
At the same time raised the issue of a new testing ground for intercontinental missiles. In February 1955 there was a decision of the Government of the Soviet Union to start construction of the landfill, which was given the name of the 5th Research and testing site of the Ministry of Defence (NIIP-5). The landfill was decided to build in the village Baikonur patrol Tura-Tam (Kazakhstan). Baikonur was built as highly classified subject, and in April 1957 launch complex for the R-7 was ready.
Design of the R-7 was completed in July 1954, and November 20, 1954 the creation of the R-7 was approved by the Council of Ministers. In early 1957 the missile was ready for testing.
Since the middle of May 1957, was held the first series of missile tests, which showed the existence of serious shortcomings in the design of the R-7.
May 15, 1957, the first launch. By visual observations flight proceeded normally, and then in the tail section were noticeable changes in the flame flowing gases from engines. After processing telemetry data revealed that 98 seconds of fell off one of the side blocks, and the rocket lost stability. The cause of the accident was the fuel line leak fuel.
Scheduled for June 11, 1957 following a missile launch failed because of engine failure of the central unit. July 12, 1957 rocket took off, but at 33 seconds of flight lost stability and began to deviate from the desired path. The cause of the accident was the closure of the housing of the control signal of the integrating circuit device via rotation.
It was only the fourth launch of the R-7, on 21 August 1957, was successful, and the missile for the first time reached the target area. 8K718 product with the head part M1-9 started from Baikonur (Tyuratam), spent the active part of the trajectory, and head belonging to a given square of the Kamchatka Peninsula. The main disadvantage of this was the start of the destruction of the head in the dense layers of the atmosphere on a downward trajectory.
August 27, 1957 in the Soviet newspapers reported the successful test of the USSR super-range multistage rocket.
The positive results of missiles R-7 to boost phase allowed to use them to launch the first two satellites on October 4 and November 3 this year. Conceived as a combat missile R-7 has energy capabilities to help bring into space (in orbit) payload considerable mass, which was used in the launch of satellites.
For the first six starts of the R-7 were modified front section (replaced by the new) system and its affiliates, used slot antennas telemetry system. March 29, 1958 for the first time completely successfully launch of R-7 (head portion has reached the target without breaking). Even during the 1958 and 1959 conducted flight tests, the results of which have been made improvements in the design of R-7.

R-7 - the first intercontinental ballistic missile

The R-7 is fundamentally different from all previously developed missiles its layout and power schemes, size and weight, power propulsion systems, and assigning systems etc. The two-stage missile R-7 was carried out on the circuit with parallel dividing stages (on the "packet" scheme). Her first step was a four side blocks, each 19 meters in length and maximum diameter of 3 meters, which are symmetrically attached to the central unit (the second stage of the rocket). According to the internal layout of the lateral and central blocks were similar to a single-stage missile with a front-oxidizer tank. Fuel tanks of all blocks are bearing. At start of the rocket propulsion of all five units running simultaneously. The advantage of this scheme is the ability to run all the engines on the ground, not in flight (in a vacuum). Each block is equipped with four-sustainer liquid rocket engine open circuit running on liquid oxygen and kerosene.
To operate the turbopump assembly of rocket engines used hydrogen peroxide, and to pressurize the tanks - liquid nitrogen.
The length of the R-7 was 31.4 meters in diameter - 11.2 meters. It had a launch weight of 283 tons, including 250 tons of fuel mass, has the ability to deliver at a distance 8000 kilometers warhead weighing 5.4 tons, carrying a thermonuclear charge capacity from 3 to 5 megatons.
The head part was attached to the instrument compartment central unit with three pirozamkov. Characteristics allow the head of a large area target hit by both air and ground nuclear explosion.
The R-7 was equipped with a combined system of governance. An autonomous subsystem provides an angular stabilization and stabilization of the center of mass in the boost phase. Radiofrequency subsystem corrects lateral motion of the center of mass at the end of the boost phase and issue commands to the engine turned off, increasing accuracy. The executive of the control system is turning the camera steering engines and aircraft wheels.
The first R-7 were produced in the suburban city of Kaliningrad (now Korolev) - Factory 88, which was a pilot production OKB-1.
Pilot plant capabilities were limited, so in February 1958 leading designer "Seven" Dmitry Kozlov was assigned to Kuibyshev (now Samara) for the organization on the basis of one aircraft plant (plant "Progress" now FSUE "State Research and Production Space Rocket Center "TsSKB - Progress"), which were made bombers, mass production of R-7. And in December 1958 the assembly line of the plant went down the first production of the product.
From December 1958 to November 1959 were joint flight tests R-7, which were to give an answer to the question about the possibility of making rockets into service. These trials were launched 16 rockets, eight of which were produced at the production plant.
January 20, 1960 intercontinental ballistic missile R-7 was put into service.
For the deployment of the missiles in 1958, it was decided to start the construction of military station (a "Hangar") near the town of Plesetsk Arkhangelsk region. January 1, 1960 she was ready, and by July 16 for the first time in the armed forces independently conducted two training combat launch from the start position. Before the start of the missile delivered from a technical position in the railway transport and installation carriage and mounted a massive starter. The whole process of prelaunch lasted more than two hours.
In parallel with the R-7 was the development of missile systems R-7A with longer range (12,000 kilometers), improved management, more reliable engines and lighter warhead. The R-7A equipped with a lighter warhead fitted with more powerful engines and had some increased fuel by reducing the free volume of the tanks. Already 12 September 1960 ICBM R-7A entered service.
Missile range was cumbersome, vulnerable and very expensive and difficult to maintain. Besides Wet missile could be no more than 30 days. For creating and updating an adequate supply of oxygen for the deployed missiles needed a whole plant. The complex had a low alert. Was insufficient and accuracy. It became clear that the R-7 and its modification can not be put on combat duty in bulk quantity. Only four were built starting construction. By the end of 1968 both the missiles removed from service.
Reliability design ICBM R-7 and R-7A has created on the basis of their whole family of launch vehicles, "East", "Sunrise", "Lightning", "Union" and their variations have been used to launch the first satellites, lunar and interplanetary stations, human space flight, and still in use to this day.


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