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Soyuz R
Part of Soyuz

Soyuz R

Soyuz R

Russian manned spacecraft. Cancelled 1966. A military reconnaissance version of Soyuz, developed by Kozlov at Samara from 1963-1966. It was to consist of an the 11F71 small orbital station and the 11F72 Soyuz 7K-TK manned ferry.

AKA: 11F71;7K-R. Status: Cancelled 1966. Gross mass: 13,000 kg (28,000 lb). Height: 15.00 m (49.00 ft).

The 11F71 was cancelled in 1966, with Chelomei's Almaz being developed instead.

In December 1962 Sergei Korolev released his draft project for a versatile manned spacecraft to follow Vostok. Among the designs was the Soyuz P interceptor and Soyuz R (Razvedki, intelligence) command-reconnaissance spacecraft. The VVS and the Strategic Rocket Forces supported these variants of the Soyuz. They were fully aware that the US Air Force's Manned Orbiting Laboratory was in the advance concept stage (it would be approved for development on December 10, 1963). But Korolev had no time to work on Soyuz 'side-lines'. Therefore he decided to 'subcontract' the military projects Soyuz-P and Soyuz-R to OKB-1 filial number 3, based in Samara (then Kuibishev), headed by Chief Designer Dmitri Ilyich Kozlov.

The Soyuz-R system consisted of two separately launched spacecraft, with the docked complex having a total mass of 13 metric tons. The small orbital station 11F71 would be equipped with photo-reconnaissance and ELINT equipment. This station was based on the Soyuz 7K, but the descent apparatus and living module were replaced with a storage section for modular equipment (this would later be developed further as a free-flyer spacecraft for the giant MOK orbital complex 19K, finally resulting in the 1990 (!) autonomous spacecraft 19KA30 Gamma). It was interesting to note that the external appearance of the Soyuz-R was very similar to pictures published on 1 November 1967 of the docking of Kosmos 186 and 188. These spacecraft were actually 11F615 7K-OK Soyuzes, but at that time the configuration was still secret. Therefore the configuration of the by-then cancelled 7K-R was used for the public release.

To dock with the Soyuz R 11F71 station Samara developed the transport spacecraft 11F72 Soyuz 7K-TK. This version of the Soyuz was equipped with rendezvous and docking equipment, including a hatch in the docking collar that allowed the cosmonauts to enter the station without donning space suits.

For Kozlov development of military spacecraft was nothing new. In 1961 he completed the technical documentation for the serial production of the photo reconnaissance satellite 11F61 Zenit-2, and from 1964, filial 3 undertook development of the 11F69 Zenit-4 reconnaissance satellite from draft project to production. Samara was also responsible for future development and production support of derivatives of the R-7 family of launch vehicles.

Soyuz-R was included by the Defense Ministry in the 1964-1969 five-year space reconnaissance plan. The decree on this subject was issued by Marshal Malinovksiy on 18 June 1964. By 1965 the Soviet Academy of Sciences, the military organs, and Ministry of General Machine Building had approved the advanced design project. Kamanin, the head of the cosmonaut corps, noted problems in training cosmonauts for the complex planned missions.

Vladimir Nikolayevich Chelomei headed a competing space design bureau OKB-52 and was Korolev's arch-rival. He had prospered in the early 1960's when he was backed by Khrushchev. On 12 October 1964, only two days before the overthrow of his patron, Chelomei obtained permission to begin development of a larger military space station, the Almaz. This 20 metric ton station would take three cosmonauts to orbit in a single launch of his UR-500K Proton rocket. Therefore in 1965 there were two competing projects in development for the same mission - Almaz and Soyuz-R.

In January 1966 Korolev died unexpectedly and OKB-1 was leaderless. Chelomei obtained a decision that the 11F71 Soyuz-R space station would be cancelled and the Almaz would be developed in its place. Almaz was assigned the 11F71 index number previously allocated to the Soyuz-R station, and Kozlov was ordered to hand over to Chelomei all of the work completed to that date. However at the same time the leadership directed that Kozlov's Soyuz-R 7K-TK ferry was to continue in development to transport crews to the Almaz.

Crew Size: 2. Habitable Volume: 18.00 m3.

Family: Manned spacecraft, Soviet Space Stations, Surveillance orbit. Country: Russia. Launch Vehicles: R-7. Agency: Kozlov bureau. Bibliography: 102, 121, 376, 474.
Photo Gallery

Kosmos 186/188Kosmos 186/188
Kosmos 186/188 docking. Soyuz-R and OIS would have had a similar appearance.
Credit: © Mark Wade

Military SoyuzMilitary Soyuz
Comparison of military variants of Soyuz. From left to right: Soyuz P, Soyuz PPK, Soyuz R, Soyuz VI (Kozlov), Soyuz VI/OIS (Mishin)
Credit: © Mark Wade

Soyuz RSoyuz R
Soyuz R military research laboratory (conceptual drawing based on description).
Credit: © Mark Wade

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1964 October 12 - . LV Family: Proton. Launch Vehicle: Proton-K.
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