The R-9 represented Korolev's last attempt to develop a practical military missile and to prove the military worth of the non-toxic liquid oxygen/kerosene propellant combination. Initial design work was authorised in a decree of April 1958 calling for development of an ICBM with a launch mass under 100 tonnes as a practical replacement for the R-7. Solving these problems paradoxically led to his organisation wasting a huge amount of time and effort on this missile, which was only deployed in very limited numbers, at a time when resources were needed for manned, planetary, and lunar space programmes. On the other hand there was a synergy between the R-9 and the GR-1 and N1 rocket development programmes, which used the same propellants and engines.
The original design studies considered two alternative configurations -- the R-9A 8K75 with liquid oxygen/kerosene propellants (engines by Glushko and Kosberg), and the R-9V 8K76 with nitric acid/kerosene storable liquid propellants (engines by Isayev). The studies showed the clear performance advantages of the R-9A. The authority to proceed with development of this version was received on 13 May 1959 in the same resolution that instructed Yangel to start work in earnest on his competing storable-liquid R-16 ICBM. Project leader was Mishin, who would succeed Korolev after his death as head of the design bureau. The draft project for the pad-launched R-9 test missile, using RD-111 booster engines the primary Soviet engine designer, Glushko, was completed in October 1959. For the upper stage engine Korolev turned to the Kosberg bureau, transferring the technology developed by Korolev's staff for the R-7's vernier rockets. It was envisioned that the R-9 would be used to work out technical problems before moving on to the R-9A production model.
In order to provide a facility that could quickly fuel and launch a production missile using cryogenic liquid oxygen, a host of new technologies had to be mastered. Mishin developed new materials and machinery to precool the liquid oxygen to -210 deg C, then devised vacuum isolation storage systems that reduced boil-off losses during storage, transport, and fuelling operations by 500 times. The overall semi-automatic fuelling system was code-named Desna, and Desna-N pad-launched missile and Desna-V silo-launched missile variants were devised. Many other variants were studied, including the Dolina fully-automated hardened launch facility and a mobile system allowing the missile to be launched from a floating naval barge. Finally the Dolina, Desna-N (later renamed Romashka) and Desna-V systems were selected for parallel development for the production missile on 14 June 1960.
Development of the missile was protracted due to the deep antipathy that existed between Glushko, and Korolev. Korolev felt that Glushko was dragging his feet in development of the RD-111 cryogenic engine. In any case the engine suffered combustion instability problems and exploded on the test stand, delaying development.
Korolev tried to develop alternate sources. Turboprop engine maker Kuznetsov was recruited to learn the art of rocket engine development. Korolev planned for Kuznetsov's NK-9 to power the first stage of an alternate R-9M missile. However Kuzenetsov also encountered problems in producing the high-performance motors Korolev demanded using the liquid oxygen/kerosene propellant combination. In the end Korolev had to settle for Glushko's RD-111.
The Desna-N or Romashka pad-launched complex was built at LC-51 at Baikonur. It took 16 hours of preparation time to ready the missile in the operations hangar. Reaction time thereafter was two hours from the order to launch, with 21 minutes required to launch the missile after it was erected on the pad. Measures were found during service to reduce this time to five minutes. Trials launches were made from the complex from 9 April 1961 to 14 February 1963.
The Desna-V semi-automatic silo complex was built at LC-70 at Baikonur. Launches were conducted from 27 September 1963 to February 1964. The complex consisted of three silos, 25 m apart. A fuelled, radio-guided, silo-based missile had to go through ten minutes of auto-test time, then a five minute countdown to launch.
The Dolina prototype complex was built at LC-75 at Baikonur. This was a fully automatic hardened facility. The missile was prepared horizontally, and then automatically docked to the launch table and umbilical connections. There were two launch pads and one hardened command post (with propellant tanks, radio-guidance station, and control room) per complex. The first missile would take 150 minutes to ready for launch from the order to go, but the second would be ready nine minutes after the first bird had gone. After being moved out of the hardened preparation facility, the missile could be launched 20 minutes after being raised to a vertical position. 15 minutes of this delay being due to allow the inertial guidance system's gyros to spin up to 60,000 rpm and for platform alignment. Mishin's engineers wondered how the Americans managed to launch missiles with a two to three minute reaction time, until learning that US ICBM's inertial platforms were kept constantly powered up. Launches were made from LC-75 from 22 February 1963 to February 1964.
In all a total of 54 test launches were made of preproduction R-9's from 1961 to 1964. In the first 29 of this series, through the end of 1962, 13 were failures. Of the remaining 25 tests, 8 were failures. Some of these flights were part of 62 tests made aboard R-9, R-36, and UR-100 missiles of the radio-corrected guidance system developed by NII-885. Of 13 tests of production R-9A missiles from 1964-1966, 4 were failures. While the tests dragged on, Yangel's R-16 and Chelomei's UR-100 both entered service and were deployed in the hundreds.
On 24 October 1963 an R-9 was being prepared for launch in a Desna-V silo. Unknown to the 11 man launch crew, an oxygen leak in the fuelling system had raised the oxygen partial pressure in the silo from the 21% maximum allowed to 32%. Whie the crew was descending in a lift to the 8th level of the silo, a spark from an electrical panel created a fire in the explosive atmosphere, killing seven and destroying the silo. This happened on the same day as the Nedelin disaster three years earlier, and became the cosmodrome's 'Black Day'. Forever after no launches were attempted from Baikonur on October 24.
In the end, despite the poor test record, the R-9A, and Dolina, Romashka, and Desna-V complexes were accepted for military service. Series production was undertaken at Factory 1001 in Krasnoyarsk and another plant at closed site Krasnoyarsk-26. Construction of four launch pads for the R-9 began in 1962 at Maloye Usovo and Bolshoye Usovo as part of the Angara missile base near Plesetsk. Construction of another 23-28 launchers for the missile began in 1963-1964 at Kozelsk, Omsk, and Tyumen.
A full R-9A regiment was defined as three rockets divisions, one with a Romashka pad-launched complex, one with a Desna silo complex, and one with a Dolina complex. The first R-9A Romashka firing units became operational on 14 December 1964 at Kozelsk, and 15 December at Plesetsk. These were followed by the first silo unit at Kozelsk on 26 December. Further regiments were formed at Omsk and Tyumen. In services the launch complexes at Plesetsk and Baikonur served as reserve operational launchers. On 21 July 1965 the R-9A was officially accepted into service, four years behind its R-16 competitor. A total of only 27 operational launchers and 70 missiles were built, and they were mainly useful as bargaining chips in the Strategic Arms Limitation talks. Under the resulting SALT-1 treaty, the R-9 complexes were put on stand-by status in 1972, and demolished in 1974-1977.
The R-9 used aluminium-magnesium alloy for its propellant tanks. Turbine gases were used to pressurise the fuel tank, and gaseous oxygen for the liquid oxygen tank. The R-9's accuracy (90%) was 8 km in range and 5 km laterally using radio-update guidance during ascent. On autonomous inertial guidance only, this dropped to 20 km in range and 10 km laterally. The inertial navigation system was designed by Pilyugin using Ryazinsky gyroscopes, and two versions were developed, 8A2113 and 8A211M.
Another proposed variant of the R-9 was the 8K77, with vacuum-flask insulation of the oxygen tank aboard the missile, for instant reaction while being held in readiness for long periods. An alternate version with a heavier re-entry vehicle, 5 megaton warhead, and shorter range was developed as part of the program, but was not deployed.
OKB-1 Filial 2 at Krasnoyarsk-26 proposed a light ballistic missile based on the R-9, but this did not interest the Soviet authorities.
Failures: 22. Success Rate: 68.57%. First Fail Date: 1961-04-25. Last Fail Date: 1969-12-15. Launch data is: incomplete. Standard warhead: 1,100 kg (2,400 lb). Maximum range: 16,000 km (9,000 mi). Number Standard Warheads: 1. Warhead yield: 1,650 KT. CEP: 5.00 km (3.10 mi). Alternate warhead: 2,100 kg (4,600 lb). Maximum range with alternate warhead: 12,500 km (7,700 mi). Number Alternate Warheads: 1. Alternate warhead yield: 5,000 KT. Alternate warhead CEP: 5.00 km (3.10 mi). Boost Propulsion: Liquid rocket, Lox/Kerosene. Cruise engine: RD-0106. Maximum speed: 25,920 kph (16,100 mph). Initial Operational Capability: 1964. Total Number Built: 130. Total Development Built: 60. Total Production Built: 70.
Stage Data - R-9
AKA: 8K75; Sasin.
Status: Retired 1969.
Gross mass: 80,500 kg (177,400 lb).
Payload: 1,100 kg (2,400 lb).
Height: 26.50 m (86.90 ft).
Diameter: 2.68 m (8.79 ft).
Thrust: 1,378.50 kN (309,899 lbf).
Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).
First Launch: 1961.04.09.
Last Launch: 1969.12.15.
Number: 70 .