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Molniya-2
Part of KAUR-2 Family
Molniya DU
Molniya DU
Molniya DU manoeuvring engine
Credit: © Mark Wade
Russian communications satellite. Molniya-2 was the elliptical orbit component of the Soviet YeSSS communications satellite system. Communication satellite built by NPO Prikladnoi Mekhaniki (NPO PM), Russia. Launched 1971 - 1977. Used KAUR-2 bus.

AKA: 11F628;Molniya-1M. Status: Operational 1971. First Launch: 1971-11-24. Last Launch: 2005-06-21. Number: 20 . Gross mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Height: 4.40 m (14.40 ft). Span: 8.20 m (26.90 ft).

Flight tests began in 1971, and it had a brief operational career in 1974-1977 before being succeeded in the YeSSS network by the Molniya-3.

It had originally been foreseen that the Molniya-1 was only for use in experiments in long-distance communications. Therefore a decree on 31 October 1961 authorized work on the Molniya-1M production model, providing international communications on the centimeter band. But actually Molniya-1 worked so well that it was taken directly into service, and the -1M was skipped.

Using the common KAUR-2 bus and engineering work done on the -1M, the -2 version was defined. The draft project was completed in 1965 and a decree of 24 October 1968 authorized its development for strategic communications under the code name Kristal. The requirement was for a universal satellite to provide services to many users - the so-called Unified System of Satellite Communications (YeSSS). On 5 April 1972 the YeSSS was defined as the Molniya-2 in elliptical orbit and Raduga (Statsionar) in geosynchronous orbit.

The YeSSS radio rebroadcast system was developed by MNIIRS Minradioprom, followed by Minpromsvyaz (M R Kaplanov) and KBPM Minobshchemash (M F Reshetnev - Reshetnev's bureau had been spun off from Korolev's Filial 2 in the 1960's. It specialized in communications, television, navigation, and geodetic satellites).

Development of Molniya-2 was dogged by the issue of what on-board radio equipment to use. The final version used the retransmitter Segment-2, A G Orlov General Designer. The previous LBV Shunt traveling wave tube was initially to be used, but the final technical solution was an unpressurised satellite and a new type had to be found. Finally the LBV Shunt TWT was only applied to Ekran, where it was used in place of a cascading klystron TWT.

Flight trials of the Molniya-2 were conducted in 1971-1974. Major General N F Shlikov was in charge of the state trials commission, and took a methodical approach to achieving reliability. For example, three trials launches took place at short (2 to 4 month) intervals. Chief Designer was Gregori Markelovich Chrenyavskiy. But he was also a Soviet Minister. The motto 'never test for operations a system that you've developed' was followed. Operational flights came in 1974-1977. Molniya-2, like Molniya-1, consisted of four pairs of spacecraft with orbits at ninety degrees to one another. A total of 19 flights were made.

Molniya-2 was used in the Orbita television system and also for the military Korund communications system. New ground segment components included systems by Chief designer at MNIIRS MPSS, M R Kaplanov, for the communication systems from military units to the center, and the on-board retransmitter. The ground control system was by Ryazanskiy, based on a modernized KIS Saturn. The control system at the center was by NIIT MOM (O N Shishkin).


More at: Molniya-2.

Family: Communications, Molniya orbit. Country: Russia. Engines: KDU-414. Launch Vehicles: R-7, Molniya 8K78M. Projects: Molniya. Launch Sites: Plesetsk, Plesetsk LC43/4, Plesetsk LC43/3, Plesetsk LC16/2. Agency: MOM, Reshetnev bureau. Bibliography: 2, 445, 474, 6, 64, 65, 12852.
Photo Gallery

YeSSS Unified SatellYeSSS Unified Satell
Unified Satellite Communication System
Credit: NASA


Molniya 2-17Molniya 2-17
Credit: Manufacturer Image



1961 October 30 - .
  • Molniya-1 and Meteor-1 satellites authorised. - . Nation: Russia. Spacecraft: Meteor, Molniya-1, Molniya-2.

    Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On approval of work on the Molniya-1 communications satellite and Meteor-1 weather satellite' was issued. Thedecree authorised work on the Molniya-1M production model, providing international communications on the centimetre band. But the protoype Molniya-1 worked so well that it was taken directly into service, and the -1M was skipped.


1968 October 24 - .
  • Molniya-2 satellite authorised. - . Nation: Russia. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On establishment of the Kristall communications system based on Molniya-2 satellites' was issued. Kristall would be used for strategic communications..

1971 November 24 - . 09:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-01 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1976-05-10 . USAF Sat Cat: 5620 . COSPAR: 1971-100A. Apogee: 39,553 km (24,577 mi). Perigee: 516 km (320 mi). Inclination: 65.0000 deg. Period: 712.00 min.

    Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).


1972 April 5 - .
  • Unified System of Satellite Communications (YeSSS) - . Nation: Russia. Spacecraft: Ekran, Molniya-2, Raduga.

    Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On use of Molniya and Ekran for a unified satellite communications system' was issued. The YeSSS was defined as the Molniya-2 in elliptical orbit and Raduga (Statsionar) in geosynchronous orbit.


1972 May 19 - . 14:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-02 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1977-03-22 . USAF Sat Cat: 6031 . COSPAR: 1972-037A. Apogee: 39,293 km (24,415 mi). Perigee: 479 km (297 mi). Inclination: 65.0000 deg. Period: 706.00 min. Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system; transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita network and international cooperation. .

1972 September 30 - . 20:19 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-03 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1978-01-12 . USAF Sat Cat: 6208 . COSPAR: 1972-075A. Apogee: 39,170 km (24,330 mi). Perigee: 470 km (290 mi). Inclination: 65.0000 deg. Period: 703.30 min. Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system; transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita network and international cooperation. .

1972 December 12 - . 06:51 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-04 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1975-01-22 . USAF Sat Cat: 6308 . COSPAR: 1972-098A. Apogee: 39,284 km (24,409 mi). Perigee: 507 km (315 mi). Inclination: 65.3000 deg. Period: 706.40 min. Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system; transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita network and international cooperation. .

1973 April 5 - . 11:11 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-05 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1979-01-06 . USAF Sat Cat: 6418 . COSPAR: 1973-018A. Apogee: 39,822 km (24,744 mi). Perigee: 532 km (330 mi). Inclination: 65.2000 deg. Period: 717.70 min.

    Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).


1973 July 11 - . 09:58 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-06 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1978-08-05 . USAF Sat Cat: 6722 . COSPAR: 1973-045A. Apogee: 39,292 km (24,414 mi). Perigee: 479 km (297 mi). Inclination: 65.0000 deg. Period: 706.00 min.

    Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).


1973 October 19 - . 10:26 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-07 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1983-07-08 . USAF Sat Cat: 6877 . COSPAR: 1973-076A. Apogee: 40,055 km (24,888 mi). Perigee: 555 km (344 mi). Inclination: 62.8000 deg. Period: 722.90 min.

    Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).


1973 December 25 - . 11:17 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-08 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1984-11-24 . USAF Sat Cat: 7000 . COSPAR: 1973-106A. Apogee: 39,934 km (24,813 mi). Perigee: 434 km (269 mi). Inclination: 62.9000 deg. Period: 718.00 min.

    Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).


1974 April 26 - . 14:23 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-09 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. USAF Sat Cat: 7276 . COSPAR: 1974-026A. Apogee: 35,168 km (21,852 mi). Perigee: 1,309 km (813 mi). Inclination: 64.4000 deg. Period: 640.60 min.

    Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).


1974 July 23 - . 01:23 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-10 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. USAF Sat Cat: 7376 . COSPAR: 1974-056A. Apogee: 38,868 km (24,151 mi). Perigee: 1,501 km (932 mi). Inclination: 64.5000 deg. Period: 718.10 min.

    Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).


1974 December 21 - . 02:19 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-11 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1988-07-07 . USAF Sat Cat: 7583 . COSPAR: 1974-102A. Apogee: 40,065 km (24,895 mi). Perigee: 305 km (189 mi). Inclination: 61.9000 deg. Period: 718.10 min. Operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radiocommunications system in the USSR; transmission of television programmes to stations in the Orbita network. .

1975 February 6 - . 04:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-12 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1985-07-04 . USAF Sat Cat: 7641 . COSPAR: 1975-009A. Apogee: 40,746 km (25,318 mi). Perigee: 653 km (405 mi). Inclination: 62.8000 deg. Period: 738.70 min. Decay date suspect Operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radiocommunications system in the USSR; transmission of television programmes to stations in the Orbita network. .

1975 July 8 - . 05:05 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-13 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. USAF Sat Cat: 8015 . COSPAR: 1975-063A. Apogee: 38,492 km (23,917 mi). Perigee: 1,887 km (1,172 mi). Inclination: 63.9000 deg. Period: 718.30 min. Operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radiocommunications system in the USSR; transmission of television programmes to stations in the Orbita network. .

1975 September 9 - . 00:19 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-14 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. USAF Sat Cat: 8195 . COSPAR: 1975-081A. Apogee: 38,534 km (23,943 mi). Perigee: 1,840 km (1,140 mi). Inclination: 64.0000 deg. Period: 718.20 min.

    Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).


1975 December 17 - . 11:06 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-15 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1987-03-07 . USAF Sat Cat: 8492 . COSPAR: 1975-121A. Apogee: 24,113 km (14,983 mi). Perigee: 103 km (64 mi). Inclination: 62.8000 deg. Period: 416.90 min.

    Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).


1976 July 1 - . 08:06 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC43/4. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M. FAILURE: Fourth stage failure.. Failed Stage: U.
  • Cosmos 837 - . Payload: Molniya-2 s/n 27. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1983-11-18 . USAF Sat Cat: 8927 . COSPAR: 1976-062A. Apogee: 936 km (581 mi). Perigee: 438 km (272 mi). Inclination: 62.8000 deg. Period: 98.50 min. Failed Molniya..

1976 September 1 - . 03:23 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC43/3. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M. FAILURE: Fourth stage failure.. Failed Stage: U.
  • Cosmos 853 - . Payload: Molniya-2 s/n 26. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1976-12-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 9398 . COSPAR: 1976-088A. Apogee: 461 km (286 mi). Perigee: 243 km (150 mi). Inclination: 62.8000 deg. Period: 91.60 min. Failed Molniya..

1976 December 2 - . 02:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-16 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. Decay Date: 1991-02-21 . USAF Sat Cat: 9574 . COSPAR: 1976-116A. Apogee: 36,437 km (22,640 mi). Perigee: 85 km (52 mi). Inclination: 62.0000 deg. Period: 641.50 min.

    Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).


1977 February 11 - . 14:57 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M.
  • Molniya 2-17 - . Payload: Molniya-2. Mass: 1,600 kg (3,500 lb). Nation: Russia. Agency: MOM. Program: Molniya. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft Bus: KAUR-2. Spacecraft: Molniya-2. USAF Sat Cat: 9829 . COSPAR: 1977-010A. Apogee: 38,214 km (23,745 mi). Perigee: 2,176 km (1,352 mi). Inclination: 63.3000 deg. Period: 718.50 min.

    Continued operation of the long-range telephone and telegraph radio-communication system within the Soviet Union and transmission of USSR central television programmes to stations in the Orbita and participating international networks (international cooperation scheme).


2005 June 21 - . 00:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Plesetsk. Launch Complex: Plesetsk LC16/2. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M. FAILURE: Failure - Third stage propulsion. Failed Stage: 3.

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