Encyclopedia Astronautica
Almaz-T



almazt1.jpg
Almaz T1
Almaz T1 radarsat version of Almaz. Note that the solar panels have been enlarged and moved forward to the small-diameter section of the station. With the elimination of the man-tended capability, the aft airlock seems to have been removed. Radar data from the large earth-facing antenna are beamed to earth via Potok geostationary satellites using the flat rectangular antenna mounted on the vertical mast at the front of the station.
Credit: Khrunichev
almaztin.jpg
Almaz-T
Russian civilian surveillance radar satellite. 3 launches, 1986.11.29 (Almaz-T s/n 303 Failure) to 1991.03.31 (Almaz 1). The results of the manned Almaz flights showed that manned reconnaissance from space was not worth the expense.

There was minimal time to operate the equipment after the crew took the necessary time for maintenance of station housekeeping and environmental control systems.

The experiments themselves showed good results and especially the value of reconnaissance of the same location in many different spectral bands and parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Therefore the program was not cancelled, but to be followed by the Almaz-T system, which was to be a multi-satellite multi-spectral system for sustained reconnaissance.

As a counterpoint to the American Lacrosse satellite, this version of Almaz had an enormous S-Band synthetic aperture radar which returned images of 10 to 15 meter resolution. The first such Almaz-T was to be launched in 1981. However, an order arrived from Moscow ten days prior to the launch - terminate the Almaz Program as a result of work on Buran. Ustinov had decided to deal the finishing blow to Chelomei. All work on Almaz was suspended by a decree of the Central Committee issued on 19 December 1981.

Only after the deaths of Chelomei and Ustinov (they died the same year two weeks apart) did new Chief Designer Gerbert Yefremov manage to convince Minister of Defense Sokolov that the program needed to be continued. They authorized him to prepare for launch the station that had collected dust for six years at the Baikonur test range.

The VPK Military-Industrial Commission's resolution 126 of 12 April 1986 revived the Almaz program. To the designers' surprise, the Almaz was in decent condition (in contrast to its fairing, which had been used as a toilet). It had only been saved by its external placards - 'Warning - Don't Enter - Self-Destruct Charges on Board'. This much-suffering Almaz was launched on November 29, 1986. But the second stage did not separate for the first time in many years and the same self-destruct charges destroyed the Almaz.

The next Almaz-T was erected on the launch pad on June 25, 1987. The Proton launch vehicle normally cannot be kept fueled, on hold, for more than four days. An order once again arrived at Baikonur - delay the launch and remove the rocket from the launch pad. The order was ignored, with extraordinary measures being taken to keep the station inside the shroud at normal temperatures despite hot summer days of 42 degrees C. Minister of General Machine Building Baklanov was at Baikonur, and he finally agreed to allow launch of the spacecraft. It received the name Cosmos 1870 and provided radar imagery to scientific and commercial customers for two years. The satellite had a sideward-looking radar with a ground resolution of 20 to 25 m, coupled to a high-resolution television system. The satellite functioned from 25 July 1987 to 30 July 1989.

A second Almaz-T was flown in 1991 as Almaz-1. The satellite had an improved radar resolution of 10-12 m, with data streamed directly to users via transponder satellites. This spacecraft was instrumental in the rescue of an expedition lost on the ice of Antarctica aboard the ship Mikhail Somov. No other sensor could locate the ship in the perpetual polar night.

In 1992, the Machine Building NPO began to develop a new Almaz-T, with three radars and an optical telescope. But financing was not forthcoming.

Characteristics

Habitable Volume: 90.00 m3.

AKA: Almaz-K; 11F668; Mech-K.
Gross mass: 18,500 kg (40,700 lb).
Thrust: 7.84 kN (1,763 lbf).
Specific impulse: 291 s.
First Launch: 1986.11.29.
Last Launch: 1991.03.31.
Number: 3 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • RD-0225 Kosberg N2O4/UDMH rocket engine. 3.923 kN. Almaz space station orbital maneuvering. Hardware. Originally designed for UR-100 follow-ons spaceships. Two engines used on Almaz space station for orbital maneuvering, Pressure fed. Isp=287s. First flight 1974. More...

See also
  • Proton The Proton launch vehicle has been the medium-lift workhorse of the Soviet and Russian space programs for over forty years. Although constantly criticized within Russia for its use of toxic and ecologically-damaging storable liquid propellants, it has out-lasted all challengers, and no replacement is in sight. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Proton The Proton launch vehicle has been the medium-lift workhorse of the Soviet and Russian space programs for over forty years. Although constantly criticized within Russia for its use of toxic and ecologically-damaging storable liquid propellants, it has out-lasted all challengers, and no replacement is in sight. Development of the Proton began in 1962 as a two-stage vehicle that could be used to launch large military payloads or act as a ballistic missile with a 100 megaton nuclear warhead. The ICBM was cancelled in 1965, but development of a three-stage version for the crash program to send a Soviet man around the moon began in 1964. The hurried development caused severe reliability problems in early production. But these were eventually solved, and from the 1970's the Proton was used to launch all Russian space stations, medium- and geosynchronous orbit satellites, and lunar and planetary probes. More...
  • Proton-K Russian orbital launch vehicle. Development of a three-stage version of the UR-500 was authorised in the decree of 3 August 1964. Decrees of 12 October and 11 November 1964 authorised development of the Almaz manned military space station and the manned circumlunar spacecraft LK-1 as payloads for the UR-500K. Remarkably, due to continuing failures, the 8K82K did not satisfactorily complete its state trials until its 61st launch (Salyut 6 / serial number 29501 / 29 September 1977). Thereafter it reached a level of launch reliability comparable to that of other world launch vehicles. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • MOM Russian agency overseeing development of spacecraft. Ministry of General Machine Building (Moskva, Russia), Moscow, Russia. More...
  • Reshetnev Russian manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft. Reshetnev Design Bureau, Krasnoyarsk-26/Zhelenogorsk, Russia. More...

Associated Programs
  • Almaz The only manned military space station to have ever flown, it served only to prove that manned stations provided no cost-effective substitute to unmanned military satellites. Derivatives of the design continue in service into the 21st Century as modules of the Salyut, Mir, and International Space Stations. More...

Associated Propellants
  • N2O4/UDMH Nitrogen tetroxide became the storable liquid propellant of choice from the late 1950's. Unsymmetrical Dimethylhydrazine ((CH3)2NNH2) became the storable liquid fuel of choice by the mid-1950's. Development of UDMH in the Soviet Union began in 1949. It is used in virtually all storable liquid rocket engines except for some orbital manoeuvring engines in the United States, where MMH has been preferred due to a slightly higher density and performance. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Kaesmann, Ferdinand, et. al., "Proton - Development of A Russian Launch Vehicle", Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 1998, Volume 51, page 3.
  • Voevodin, Sergey A, "Sergey A. Voevodin's Reports", VSA072 - Space Apparatus, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Vladimirov, A, "Tablitsa zapuskov RN 'Proton' i 'Proton K'", Novosti kosmonavtiki, 1998, Issue 10, page 25.
  • Gorodnichev, Yu P, et. al., 80 let GKNPTs imemi M V Khrunicheva, GKNPTs i Khrunicheva, 1995.
  • Yeteyev, Ivan, Operezhaya vremya, Ocherki, Moscow, 1999..
  • Melnik, T G, Voenno-Kosmicheskiy Siliy, Nauka, Moscow, 1997..

Associated Launch Sites
  • Baikonur Russia's largest cosmodrome, the only one used for manned launches and with facilities for the larger Proton, N1, and Energia launch vehicles. The spaceport ended up on foreign soil after the break-up of Soviet Union. The official designations NIIP-5 and GIK-5 are used in official Soviet histories. It was also universally referred to as Tyuratam by both Soviet military staff and engineers, and the US intelligence agencies. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union the Russian Federation has insisted on continued use of the old Soviet 'public' name of Baikonur. In its Kazakh (Kazak) version this is rendered Baykonur. More...

Almaz-T Chronology


1986 November 29 - . 08:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC200/40. LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K. LV Configuration: Proton-K 338-01. FAILURE: Second stage explosion.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Almaz-T s/n 303 Failure - . Payload: Almaz-K s/n 303. Mass: 18,550 kg (40,890 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: UNKS. Program: Almaz. Class: Surveillance. Type: Civilian surveillance radar satellite. Spacecraft: Almaz-T. Decay Date: 1986-12-29 . COSPAR: F861129A. Summary: In the second half of 1986 the first Almaz-T s/n 303 was readied for launch. General V V Favorskiy ordered it to be completed and launched with a full-up lab module in place of trials equipment. Unfortunately did not reach orbit..

1987 July 25 - . 09:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC200/40. LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K. LV Configuration: Proton-K 347-01.
  • Cosmos 1870 - . Payload: Almaz-K s/n 304. Mass: 18,550 kg (40,890 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Almaz. Class: Surveillance. Type: Civilian surveillance radar satellite. Spacecraft: Almaz-T. Duration: 734.00 days. Decay Date: 1989-07-29 . USAF Sat Cat: 18225 . COSPAR: 1987-064A. Apogee: 278 km (172 mi). Perigee: 263 km (163 mi). Inclination: 71.9000 deg. Period: 89.90 min. First flight of Almaz radars imaging satellite taken out of mothballs after death of Ustinov. At the beginning of 1987 it was decided not to man the Almaz-T, instead operate it in a fully automatic mode. Thus the final Almaz cosmonaut training group was disbanded. Cosmos 1870 conducted remote sensing of the earth's surface, oceans and seas in the interests of various branches of science and the economy. Its side-looking radar had a 20-25 m ground resolution and functioned throughout its two year service life.

1991 March 31 - . 15:12 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC200/40. LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K. LV Configuration: Proton-K 365-01.
  • Almaz 1 - . Payload: Almaz-K s/n 305. Mass: 18,550 kg (40,890 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Almaz. Class: Surveillance. Type: Civilian surveillance radar satellite. Spacecraft: Almaz-T. Decay Date: 1992-10-17 . USAF Sat Cat: 21213 . COSPAR: 1991-024A. Apogee: 351 km (218 mi). Perigee: 337 km (209 mi). Inclination: 72.7000 deg. Period: 91.40 min. Second flight of Almaz radar imaging satellite. Surveyed the territory of the Soviet Union and of other countries for purposes of geology, cartography, oceanology, ecology and agriculture, and studied the ice situation at high latitudes. Launched eight months after its target date into an initial operational orbit of approximately 270 km with an inclination of 72.7 degrees, slightly higher than the 71.9 degrees inclination of Cosmos 1870. Unfortunately, the failure of one of the SAR antennas to deploy fully rendered that side inoperable. Returned images of 10 to 15 meter resolution through 17 October 1992. Its radiometer provided images of 10 to 30 km radiometer resolution over a 600 km swath. Its engines completed 760,000 firings during its 18 month service life.

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