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Zenit satellite
Part of Vostok Family
Original concept (1956-1957) for the Soviet Union's first spy satellite; replaced by a common design with the Vostok manned spacecraft using the same code name.

Status: Cancelled 1957.



Family: Military surveillance sat, Surveillance, Surveillance orbit, Technology. Country: Russia. Agency: Korolev bureau, MO. Bibliography: 21, 283, 445, 474, 85, 7760.

1956 January 30 - .
  • Work began in the Soviet Union on military satellites. - . Nation: Russia. Spacecraft Bus: Vostok. Spacecraft: Zenit satellite.

    Design work starts on the Zenit, the first military photo-reconnaisance satellite. The necessary subsystems were defined incrementally throughout 1956 in a series of specification documents. In April the specifications for a redundant restartable engine and appropriate satellite guidance and control systems were released. In May the technical requirements document was issued for a satellite that could be oriented in orbit. In July tests began of appropriate heat shield materials.


1956 June - . LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: R-7.
  • Zenit preliminary design complete - . Nation: Russia. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft Bus: Vostok. Spacecraft: Zenit satellite. Design was original concept of Zenit reconnaisance spacecraft. The effort would later be included in the Vostok program under the name of Zenit..

1956 August - .
  • Soviet decree authorised design of a military reconnaissance satellite - . Nation: Russia. Spacecraft Bus: Vostok. Spacecraft: Zenit satellite.

    The decree formally authorised design of a military reconnaissance satellite. In October the specification was issued for a comprehensive research program leading to manoeuvrable spacecraft. By April 1957 the military issued a requirements document for experimental solar cell panels. Design bureau work on the reconnaissance satellite began in 1957 in Section 3 of OKB-1 (Tikhonravov and Ryazanov). This spacecraft was initially sized at 1.5 tonnes total for launch by the basic R-7 rocket.


1957 Spring - .
  • Soviet reconnaisance system designs continue - . Nation: Russia. Spacecraft Bus: Vostok. Spacecraft: Zenit satellite, Zenit-2 satellite. Studies were undertaken for military reconnaissance satellites. Code names for these studies were: Shchit - military reconnaissance systems; Osnova - military reconnaissance equipment; Ediniy KIK - military reconnaissance control systems..

1957 July 2 - . LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: R-7A.
  • Tikhonravov defined the development tasks for the Zenit reconnaissance satellite. - . Nation: Russia. Spacecraft Bus: Vostok. Spacecraft: Zenit satellite.

    These included development of a three stage version of R-7, development of satellite guidance and control systems of the precision required for photography from orbit, satellite control equipment, ELINT sensors, guidance systems, film cassette return systems, and tracking systems for recovery of the re-entry vehicle with the film cassette.



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