Encyclopedia Astronautica

Babakin, Georgi Nikolayevich (1914-1971) Russian chief designer. Chief Designer of Lavochkin design bureau, 1965-1971.

Under his supervision the unmanned spacecraft were developed that returned soil from the moon, placed the Lunokhod rover on the lunar surface, and landed probes on the surfaces of Mars and Venus.

Babakin completed radio specialists school in 1930 and began his career in the People's Commissariat for Communications. From 1937-1943 he was a researcher in the Community Economic Academy, and from 1943-1945 at various military research institutes. In 1949 he began working on rocket electronics and eventually moved to the Lavochkin design bureau to specialise in surface-to-air missiles. In 1957 he completed additional formal education at the All Union Electrotechnical Institute for Communications. In 1965 he was named Chief Designer for spacecraft at the Lavochkin bureau. In this position he took over all future design, development, and production of planetary probes from Korolev's bureau. Babakin oversaw the development of large new satellite designs for launch by Proton rockets to the moon, Mars, and Venus. His sudden demise at age 57 was a final demoralising shock to Soviet space workers, coming just after the death of the Soyuz 11 crew and the loss of the third N1 super booster on the pad at Baikonur.

Born: 1914.11.14.
Died: 1971.08.03.

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
Associated Programs
  • Venera Russian series of spacecraft that explored the planet Venus. Venera spacecraft made the first soft landings on the surface of Venus and returned the first images from the surface. More...

  • Melnik, T G, Voenno-Kosmicheskiy Siliy, Nauka, Moscow, 1997..

Babakin Chronology

November 1964 - . LV Family: N1; R-56; UR-700.
  • Korolev's admits that N1 cannot attain payload needed for single-launch mission - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev; Kozlov; Khrushchev; Ustinov; Brezhnev; Yangel; Chelomei; Babakin; Lavochkin. Program: Lunar L3. Spacecraft: LK; Soyuz 7K-LOK; LK-700. Korolev speaks privately to Chertok. Kozlov has told him it will be impossible to build an N1 with the 93 tonne payload capability until the fourth flight article. The L3 concept was still the same as in the August decree - 2 cosmonauts aboard the LOK orbiter, one aboard the LK lander. Korolev asks Chertok to take 800 kg out of the weight budget for the L3. Chertok informs him that they are already 500 kg over the August budget. This is still without all the unknowns of the automated lunar landing being solved. Additional Details: here....

1965 March 2 - .
  • Babakin takes over Lavochkin OKB - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei; Korolev; Babakin. Program: Lunar L3. Class: Manned. Type: Manned space station. Spacecraft: Luna E-6; Luna Ye-8. Former Lavochkin bureau, part of Chelomei, regained status of a separate design bureau with former Korolev deputy GN Babakin as its head. By the end of 1965 all materials on the E-6, Ye-8, and planetary probes were passed by Korolev to the Lavochkin Bureau, who took over responsibility for all future lunar and planetary unmanned probes.

1966 May 11 - . LV Family: N1. Launch Vehicle: N1.
  • Mishin selected as Korolev's replacement after four-month delay - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Korolev; Ustinov; Mishin; Okhapkin; Keldysh; Babakin; Mozzhorin; Khrushchev. Program: Lunar L3; Lunar L1. Flight: Soyuz 1; Soyuz 2A. Spacecraft: LK; Soyuz 7K-LOK. From 1963-1965 Ustinov was both head of the Soviet for the National Economy and the First Secretary of the Presidium of Soviet Ministers. He supported civilian space projects and instructed the military to co-operate in them. But after Khrushchev was ousted, Ustinov had less influence with the Ministry of Defence.

    After the death of Korolev in January, a letter was sent to the Central Committee requesting that Mishin be appointed director of OKB-1. Ustinov tried to line up support for Mishin, but by the time of the first first Saturn IB orbital flight on 26 February 1966, no decision had been made. America was progressing on the path to the moon, but Russia was stalled. An alternate that had been considered was Sergei Okhapkin, another Deputy Chief Designer at TsKBEM. But Okhapkin knew only spacecraft, he had never developed complete launch-booster-spacecraft systems. By the time Mishin was appointed, it was clear that the race was lost. The American's planned their first Saturn V launch in September 1967 and their first manned flight in 1968. Mishin could not expect trials of the LK lunar lander until 1969 at the earliest. There were insufficient funds allocated, and the schedule had no allowance for test flight failures. Ustinov, Morozhin, and Keldysh pointed fingers as to who had presented such unrealistic schedules to the Politburo. Keldysh now supported unmanned robot lunar landers in development by Babakin. Even these would not land until 1970, allowing three years of flight trials to achieve reliability. Khrushchev, it seemed, was to blame for such enormous unaffordable projects. This in turn put Ustinov in danger, as Khrushchev's point man for space.

1968 February 3 - .
  • Ye-8-5 robot lunar soil return plans - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Babakin. Program: Lunar L1; Luna; Lunar L3. Spacecraft: Luna Ye-8. VVS Party Conference. It is clear to Kamanin that there is no support from the Air Force for manned spaceflight. Kamanin only heard yesterday that Babakin is working on an automatic soil sample return spacecraft. He will need a minimum of two to three years to complete it. Kamanin complained that it would interfere with plans for the L1 program. An uninterrupted series of flights will be needed to complete the L1 spacecraft qualification, and the Ye-8, using the same booster, could be an interference in achieving that goal.

1968 December 30 - . LV Family: N1; Proton.
  • Meeting of the VPK Military-Industrial Commission to discuss how to beat the Americans to the lunar landing - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Mishin; Ustinov; Chelomei; Okhapkin; Keldysh; Pilyugin; Babakin. Program: Lunar L3; Lunar L1; Luna. Spacecraft: Soyuz 7K-L1; Luna Ye-8-5; LK-1. Ustinov called the meeting to order. Mishin was 'sick' again -- Okhapkin represented TsKBEM and gave a summary of the programme to that date:

    • The project had only been authorised on 3 August 1964. It consisted of two parts, circumlunar flights using Chelomei's UR-500K booster and LK-1 spacecraft, and a lunar landing using Korolev's N1 booster and L3 spacecraft.
    • On 25 October 1965 the programme was redirected. Military support was ordered and the decision was made to cancel Chelomei's LK-1 spacecraft and instead use the L1 version of Korolev's Soyuz for the circumlunar flights. This was ordered by the resolution 'On organisation of construction units for support of rocket-space systems for the lunar flyby'. That resolution ordered a manned L1 flight by the end of 1967 or early 1968.
    • The program actually took three years to implement rather than the two planned. Nine launches of he L1 had been made since March 1967, but it had not been possible to man-rate the UR-500K/L1 booster/spacecraft combination due to failures in both the launch vehicle and spacecraft. Flight trials of the N1 booster had not even begun yet.

    Keldysh proposed that further work on the L1 be abandoned, and Proton boosters instead be used to launch the Ye-8-5 lunar soil return robot spacecraft being developed by Babakin. Babakin had been accelerating this programme since the beginning of 1968 with the support of Keldysh, even though it would only return around 100 g of lunar soil, versus the tens of kilograms the Apollo manned flights would return. However it now offered an interesting possibility - he proposed obtaining lunar soil and returning it to earth before an American manned landing. The government's organs of mass communication would say that the Soviet Union's lunar program only consisted of robot probes, emphasising that his was much safer and that Russia would never risk it's citizen's lives for mere political sensation. Additional Details: here....

1969 January 5 - . 06:28 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. Launch Pad: LC1 or LC31. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Venera 5 - . Payload: 2V (V-69) s/n 330. Mass: 1,128 kg (2,486 lb). Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Babakin. Agency: MOM. Program: Venera. Class: Venus. Type: Venus probe. Spacecraft: Venera 2V (V-69). Decay Date: 1969-05-16 . USAF Sat Cat: 3642 . COSPAR: 1969-001A. Venera 5 is launched at 9:26 Moscow time from LC-31 in -23 deg C temperatures. All proceeds according to plan. Afterwards Kamanin meets Babakin. Venera 6 is planned for launch in 10 January. He also plans two moon landings in 1969 and two in 1970 of soil sample return spacecraft. Kamanin does not believe America can achieve a manned moon landing in 1969, and therefore that Babakin has a very good chance of stealing their thunder.

    Meanwhile Venera 5 was launched from its parking orbit towards Venus to obtain atmospheric data. The spacecraft was very similar to Venera 4 although it was of a stronger design. When the atmosphere of Venus was approached, a capsule weighing 405 kg and containing scientific instruments was jettisoned from the main spacecraft. During satellite descent towards the surface of Venus, a parachute opened to slow the rate of descent. For 53 min on May 16, 1969, while the capsule was suspended from the parachute, data from the Venusian atmosphere were returned. The spacecraft also carried a medallion bearing the coat of arms of the U.S.S.R. and a bas-relief of V.I. Lenin to the night side of Venus.

1969 January 8 - .
  • Plan for Soviet lunar and planetary launches to answer America's Apollo program during 1969 approved. - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Babakin. Spacecraft: Luna Ye-8; Lunokhod; Luna Ye-8-5; Soyuz 7K-L1; Venera 2V (V-69); Mars M-69. Summary: Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 19-10 'On Work on Research of the Moon, Venus and Mars by Automatic Stations--work on automated lunar and interplanetary spacecraft' was issued.. Additional Details: here....

1969 January 18 - .
  • Volynov's survival celebrated - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Mishin; Volynov; Babakin. Program: Soyuz. Flight: Soyuz 4; Soyuz 5; Soyuz 4/5. The engineering team at Yevpatoriya celebrated Mishin's birthday and Volynov's survival after his re-entry. These were four stressful days -- aside from the Soyuz missions, Babakin was commanding the Venera 5 and 6 probes to Venus, which had been launched on 5 and 10 January.

1969 February 4 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K/D.
  • UR-500K failure state commission - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Konopatov; Babakin. Program: Luna. Spacecraft: Luna Ye-8. At Area 81 a State Commission is held on failures of the UR-500K booster. A D Konopatov describes the analysis of the stage 2 and 3 failures on the 20 January launch attempt. The number 4 engine of stage 2 shut down 25 seconds into its burn due to high temperatures detected in the turbopump. The same thing occurred on the third stage. The couldn't pin down the source of the problem. Engines of this type had worked correctly 700 times on earlier flights. Despite the cause of the failure not being identified, approval is given at 14:30 for the launch of the Ye-8 to proceed. Babakin confirms the spacecraft is ready.

1969 May 16 - .
  • Myth 'we were never in the moon race' disseminated by the Soviet Union - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Keldysh; Babakin. Program: Luna; Apollo; Lunar L3; Lunar L1. Flight: Apollo 11. Spacecraft: Luna Ye-8-5. Keldysh first revealed the new 'party line' at a press conference on the semi-successful Venera 5 landing on Venus. When asked about Soviet lunar plans, he revealed that Russia would only use robot probes, that it wouldn't risk men's lives in such an endeavour. At the same time Babakin was hard at work finishing the first Ye-8-5 robot lunar soil return spacecraft, to be launched before Apollo 11.

1971 April 14 - . LV Family: N1. Launch Vehicle: N1.
  • N1 threatened again - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Mishin; Keldysh; Babakin; Afanasyev, Sergei; Ustinov. Program: Lunar L3. Spacecraft: LK; Soyuz 7K-LOK. An expert commission met to consider the N1-L3. Keldysh made several categorical demands:

    • the laser-based Kontakt rendezvous and docking system had to either be backed up with redundancy throughout, or an independent back-up system had to be developed
    • the L3 had to be designed with an internal transfer compartment, as was being done for the DOS/7K-T space station system
    • each stage of the N1 had to undergo flammability tests
    • the mission scenario had to be reformulated to provide support by more than one cosmonaut on the moon at a time, and use of automated landers and rovers from Babakin at Lavochkin
    • landings of the capsule in the equatorial oceans of the world had to be eliminated. The capsules had to land on the territory of the USSR
    Additional Details: here....

1971 August 3 - .
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