Encyclopedia Astronautica
Zenit



zenit.gif
Zenit LV
Credit: © Mark Wade
Zenit was to be a modular new generation medium Soviet launch vehicle, replacing the various ICBM-derived launch vehicles in use since the 1960's (Tsiklon and Soyuz). A version of the first stage was used as strap-ons for the cancelled Energia heavy booster. But it was built by Yuzhnoye in the Ukraine; when the Soviet Union broke up planned large-scale production for the Soviet military was abandoned (Angara development was begun as an indigenous alternative). Launch pads were completed only at Baikonur; those at Plesetsk were never finished and are planned to be completed as Angara pads. However the vehicle found new life as a commercial launch vehicle, launched from a sea platform by an American/Ukrainian consortium.

Zenit development began in March 1976 in accordance with the specifications of GUKOS-MO. The Chief designer was V F Utkin at KB Yuzhnoye, with V P Radovskiy at KB Energomash being responsible for the engines, V G Sergeyev at NPO Elektropribor being responsible for the guidance system.

Work on the Zenit launch complex began in 1978. Trials of the first stage began in 1982 after a long and difficult development of the first stage engines (see the entry for the Energia launch vehicle for details). The first Zenit pad was ready in December 1983. Although the facilities were ready, the launch vehicles was held up continuing first stage engine problems. Former cosmonaut Gherman Titov was in charge of the state commission overseeing the trials. A series of 11 trials launches finally began on April 13 1985 and extended over the next two years, lofting a series of experimental payloads. In the spring of 1987 the state commission accepted the system for military use. They found that the automated launch system worked well and reliably, and the basic booster was accepted together with the Tselina-2 satellite. However much work remained to be done - construction of a second launch complex at Baikonur, qualification of a third stage for one tonne geostationary payloads, and construction of a third launch complex at Plesetsk for launch of payloads into sun-synchronous and polar orbits.

The collapse of the Soviet Union a few years later ended these plans. The pads at Plesetsk were never completed. A three-stage version of Zenit did fly, but as a commercial vehicle from the Boeing Launch platform in the Pacific Ocean.

Failures: 10. Success Rate: 85.07%. First Fail Date: 1985-04-13. Last Fail Date: 2007-01-30. Launch data is: continuing.

Status: Active.
First Launch: 1967.10.27.
Last Launch: 1972.12.13.
Number: 4 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Yantar-4K2 Russian military surveillance satellite. Cancelled 1991. Improved military photo-reconnaissance satellite, using the basic Yantar-4K1 bus. Boost by the Zenit-2 launch vehicle would have allowed 22 film return capsules to be used over a 180 day mission. More...
  • MicroSat-70 British technology satellite. 14 launches, 1981.10.06 (Oscar 9) to 2002.11.28 (Picosat). Basic Surrey Microsat bus. More...
  • Multipurpose Satellite Gals Russian earth resources radar satellite. Study 1983. Heavy radar satellite based on the DOS 17K space station bus and using a KRT-30, a 30 m diameter radiotelescope. More...
  • Yantar-4KS2 Russian military surveillance satellite. Cancelled 1983. The Yantar-4KS2 was a heavy military optical reconnaissance satellite, required to have the same capabilities as the KH-11/Crystal reconnaissance satellite of the United States. More...
  • Tselina-2 Ukrainian military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 25 launches, 1984.09.28 (Cosmos 1603) to 2007.06.29 (Cosmos 2406). More...
  • OK-M Russian manned spaceplane. Study 1984. 1980's design for a spaceplane, smaller than Buran, to replace Soyuz and Progress spacecraft for space station crew rotation/replenishment tasks. More...
  • Zarya Russian manned spacecraft. Cancelled 1989.' Super Soyuz' replacement for Soyuz and Progress. More...
  • Resurs-O1 Russian earth land resources satellite. 4 launches, 1985.10.03 (Cosmos 1689) to 1998.07.10 (Resurs-O1 No. 4). A decree of 5 May 1977 authorized development of three earth resource satellites. More...
  • Koltso Russian military target satellite. One launch, 1986.10.22, Cosmos 1786. Calibration mission. Tentatively identified as third generation replacement for Taifun-2, perhaps to have been launched by the Tsyklon 3 launch vehicle. More...
  • Orlets-2 Russian military surveillance satellite. 4 launches, 1986.10.22 (GVM) to 2000.09.25 (Cosmos 2372). More...
  • Pirs-1 Russian military naval surveillance radar satellite. 2 launches, 1987.02.02 and 1987.07.10 . More...
  • Uragan Space Interceptor Russian manned combat spacecraft. 2 launches, 1987.08.01 (Cosmos 1871) to 1987.08.28 (Cosmos 1873). Russian sources continue to maintain that the Uragan manned spaceplane project never existed. More...
  • Pirs-2 Russian military naval radar satellite. Cancelled 1988. The Pirs-2 was the second phase nuclear-powered active-radar naval targeting spacecraft. More...
  • FS-1300 American communications satellite bus. Operational, first launch 1989.06.05. More...
  • HS 601 American communications satellite bus. First launch 1990.01.09. 3-axis unified ARC 22 N and one Marquardt 490 N bipropellant thrusters, Sun and Barnes Earth sensors and two 61 Nms 2-axis gimbaled momentum bias wheels. More...
  • Badr Pakistani communications technology satellite. 3 launches, 1990.07.16 (Badr-A) to 2008.07.07 (Badr B). Pakistani experimental series with a variety of payloads. More...
  • Tubsat German communications technology satellite. 7 launches, 1991.07.17 (Tubsat-A) to 2007.01.10 (Maroc-Tubsat). Germany's Technical University of Berlin (TUB) built a successful series of 40 kg 'Tubsat' experimental technology satellites. More...
  • Progress M2 Russian logistics spacecraft. Cancelled 1993. As Phase 2 of the third generation Soviet space systems it was planned to use a more capable resupply craft for the Mir-2 space station. More...
  • Gurwin Israeli technology satellite. 2 launches, 1995.03.28 (Gurwin 1) and 1998.07.10 (Gurwin Techsat 1B). Gurwin satellites were built by the Technion Institute of Technology, Israel. More...
  • GFZ-1 German earth geodetic satellite. 2 launches, 1995.04.19 (GFZ-1) and 1998.07.10 (WESTPAC). GFZ-1 was a geodetic satellite designed to improve the current knowledge of the Earth's gravity field. More...
  • AMOS Israeli communications satellite. 3 launches, 1996.05.16 (AMOS) to 2008.04.28 (Amos-2). 7 Ku-band transponders. Israeli indigenous communications satellite program. More...
  • AS 2100 American communications satellite. Operational, first launch 1996.09.08 (GE 1). Cost per satellite $100 million for the spacecraft including ground support equipment, but not including launch costs. 3-axis stabilized. More...
  • Globalstar American communications satellite. 72 launches, 1998.02.14 (Globalstar FM1) to 2007.10.20 (Globalstar D). The Globalstar constellation was a Medium Earth Orbit system for mobile voice and data communications. More...
  • Safir German civilian store-dump communications satellite. One launch, 1998.07.10. Relay satellite built by OHB System of Bremen. More...
  • VKK Russian manned spaceplane. Study 1998. A Russian concept of the 1990's harking back to Chelomei's Raketoplan of three decades earlier. A manned aircraft would be protected during launch and re-entry by an expendable aeroshell heat shield. More...
  • Okean-O Ukrainian earth resources radar satellite. One launch, 1999.07.17. More...
  • HS 702 American communications satellite bus. Operational, first launched 1999.12.22. More...
  • Reflektor Russian technology satellite. One launch, 2001.12.10. The 8 kg Reflektor was built by NII KP in Russia for space debris studies in a joint experiment with the Air Force Research Lab. More...
  • Kompas Russian earth seismology satellite. 2 launches, 2001.12.10 (Kompas) and 2006.05.26 (Kompas). More...
  • Meteor-3M Russian earth weather satellite. One launch, 2001.12.10. The Meteor-3 weather satellite was to be followed in 1996 by the first of the Meteor-3M class, which was finally put into orbit in 2001. No further launches, and succeeded by the Meteor-M in 2010. More...
  • Kliper Russian manned spaceplane. Study 2004. The Kliper manned spacecraft replacement for Soyuz was first announced at a Moscow news conference on 17 February 2004. More...
  • Spacebus 4000 European communications satellite bus. Operational, first launch 2005.02.03. The Spacebus 4000 represented a new larger platform to meet customer demand. More...
  • Eurostar 3000 French communications satellite bus. Operational, first launch 2005.03.11 (Inmarsat 4-F1). Third generation of Matra Marconi Space GEO satellite platforms serving mainly commercial telecommunications applications. More...

Associated Engines
  • RD-120 Glushko Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 833 kN. Zenit stage 2. In production. Isp=350s. High altitude engine used in the Zenit second stage. First production Russian engine to be test fired in the United States (3 test burns were made). First flight 1985. More...
  • RD-171 Glushko Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 7903 kN. Zenit stage 1. In production. Isp=337s. RD-171 used two-plane gimablling versus one-plane gimablling on RD-170 developed in parallel for Energia. First flight 1985. More...
  • RD-58Z Korolev Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 71 kN. Zenit stage 3. Developed 1981-1990. Isp=361s. More...

See also
  • Zenit Zenit was to be a modular new generation medium Soviet launch vehicle, replacing the various ICBM-derived launch vehicles in use since the 1960's (Tsiklon and Soyuz). A version of the first stage was used as strap-ons for the cancelled Energia heavy booster. But it was built by Yuzhnoye in the Ukraine; when the Soviet Union broke up planned large-scale production for the Soviet military was abandoned (Angara development was begun as an indigenous alternative). Launch pads were completed only at Baikonur; those at Plesetsk were never finished and are planned to be completed as Angara pads. However the vehicle found new life as a commercial launch vehicle, launched from a sea platform by an American/Ukrainian consortium. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Yuzhnoye Ukrainian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Yangel Design Bureau, Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Report (Internet Newsletter), Harvard University, Weekly, 1989 to Present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Krebs, Gunter, Gunter's Space Page, University of Frankfurt, 1996. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Isakowitz, Steven J,, International Reference to Space Launch Systems Second Edition, AIAA, Washington DC, 1991 (succeeded by 2000 edition).
  • Wilson, Andrew, editor,, Jane's/Interavia Space Directory, Jane's Information Group, Coulsdon, Surrey, 1992 et al.
  • "Proizveden zapusk KA 'Resurs O1' No 3", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1994, Issue 22, page 46.
  • NASA GSFC Orbital Parameters,
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Launch Log, October 1998. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • National Space Science Center Planetary Page, As of 19 February 1999.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Isakowitz, Steven J, Hopkins, Joshua B, and Hopkins, Joseph P, International Reference to Space Launch Systems, AIAA, Washington DC, 2004.
  • Siddiqi, Asif A, The Soviet Space Race With Apollo, University Press of Florida, 2003.
  • NASA/GSFC Orbital Information Group Website, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Space-Launcher.com, Orbital Report News Agency. Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Salto di Quirra Salto di Quirra, in southeast Sardinia near the town of Perdas de Fogu, is an inter-service missile test center operated by the Italian Air Force. It also supports sounding rocket launches and test of larger rockets in support of Italy's abandoned ballistic missile and on-and-of satellite launcher programs. More...
  • Andoya Andoya Rocket Range (ARR) is the world's northernmost permanent launch facility for sounding rockets and scientific balloons and is responsible for all scientific-related balloon and rocket operations in Norwegian territory. ARR provides complete services for launch, operations, data acquisition, recovery and ground instrumentation support. The range has conducted more than 650 rocket launches and hosted scientists and engineers from more than 70 institutes and universities. More...

Zenit Chronology


1967 October 27 - . Launch Site: Salto di Quirra. LV Family: Micon. Launch Vehicle: Zenit.
  • Test mission - . Nation: Switzerland. Apogee: 145 km (90 mi).

1971 July 30 - . Launch Site: Salto di Quirra. Launch Vehicle: Zenit. LV Configuration: Zenit Zenit-Cuckoo.
  • ESRO Z82/1 - . Nation: Italy. Agency: ESRO. Apogee: 26 km (16 mi).

1971 July 30 - . Launch Site: Salto di Quirra. LV Family: Micon. Launch Vehicle: Zenit. LV Configuration: Zenit-C Zenit-Cuckoo. FAILURE: Failure.
  • ESRO Z82 / 1 Meteorites mission - . Nation: Europe. Agency: ESRO. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1972 December 13 - . 14:19 GMT - . Launch Site: Andoya. LV Family: Micon. Launch Vehicle: Zenit. LV Configuration: Zenit-C Zenit-Cuckoo.
  • DLR A-ZC-48 Astrik Ionosphere mission - . Nation: Germany. Agency: DFVLR. Apogee: 144 km (89 mi).

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