Energia designed and built
the Mir space station and its various modules.
the breakup of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, two companies
prevailed in the giant Soviet space industry, Energia and Khrunichev. With
histories stretching back more than half a century, these two giants
continue to dominate the Russian space program in the 21st century.
(the Russian word for “Energy”) can lay claim as the founding organization
of the Soviet space program. The company traces its history back to May
1946, when the Soviet government set up a small department in the design
section of a new institute named NII-88 (or “Scientific-Research Institute
No. 88). After the end of World War II, dozens of Soviet engineers,
including the famous Sergey Korolev, spent over a year in Germany
gathering information on the abandoned German V-2 rocket project. The
group returned home to NII-88 to build, at Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's
command, a Soviet version of the V-2. Korolev, then 39 years old, was
appointed chief designer of Department No. 3 at NII-88, the unit in charge
of the V-2 program. At the time, Korolev presided over about 60 engineers
and 80 technicians.
late 1940s, Department No. 3 successfully produced a Soviet copy of the
V-2 known as the R-1, launching the rockets from the barren desert at
Kapustin Yar near the Aral Sea. By the early 1950s, Korolev's team had
been restructured into a large design organization known as OKB-1 (or
“Experimental Design Bureau No. 1”), which in 1956 separated from the
NII-88 institute. Through the 1950s, OKB-1's influence grew as it designed
the first Soviet nuclear-tipped missile, known as the R-5M (called the
SS-3 by Americans), and the world's first submarine-launched ballistic
missile, the R-11FM. In 1954, the Soviet government approved Korolev's
ambitious plan to build an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) known
as the R-7 (or SS-6). In August 1957, this missile successfully flew 6,500
kilometres from a new launch site in Kazakhstan (now called Baikonur) all
the way to the eastern tip of the Soviet Union. It was the world's first
successful ICBM launch.
a spaceflight enthusiast since his youth, convinced the Soviet government
that he could launch a satellite into orbit around the Earth using the
same R-7 ICBM. With government approval in hand, on October 4, 1957,
Korolev launched the world's first satellite—Sputnik1-into orbit around
the Earth, thus inaugurating the era of spaceflight.
next ten years-OKB-1's “golden era”-the organization accumulated a series
of spectacular achievements. Under Korolev's managerial genius, OKB-1
launched the first human in space (Yuri Gagarin in Vostok in 1961), the
first woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova in Vostok 6 in 1963), the first
multi-person spaceflight (Voskhod in 1964), and the first spacewalker
(Alexei Leonov in Voskhod 2 in 1965). In deep space exploration, OKB-1
launched the first probe to reach the Moon (Luna 2 in 1959), the first to
take pictures of the Moon's farside (Luna 3 in 1959), the first to
soft-land on the Moon (Luna 9 in 1966), and the first to reach Venus (Venera
3 in 1966). OKB-1 also developed the first Soviet reconnaissance
satellites (Zenit 2 and Zenit 4) and the first Soviet communications
satellites (Molniya 1), in addition to developing new ICBMs.
Buran/Energiya on pad.
great run came to an end with Korolev's untimely death in 1966. From 1966
to 1974, the organization was headed by Korolev's former deputy, Vasily
Mishin, who presided over the failed Soviet program to reach the Moon
using the giant N1 rocket. It was Mishin, however, who introduced a new
generation of piloted spaceships named Soyuz (Russian for “Union”) that
were eventually transformed into ferry vehicles for the world's first
space stations-named Salyut-launched in the 1970s.
OKB-1 merged with a rocket engine design team to form the giant Energia
conglomerate. From 1974 to 1989, Energia was headed by Valentin Glushko,
the Soviet chief designer for rocket engines. During this period, Energia
developed a series of successful Salyut stations that led to the Mir space
station, assembled in Earth orbit between 1986 and 1996. The Energia
corporation also designed the giant Energia launch vehicle and the Buran
Space Shuttle (a near copy of the U.S. Space Shuttle), both of which had
to be abandoned in the early 1990s due to lack of money.
Lockheed Khrunichev Energia
International (LKEI) Proton launch vehicle erection on pad, Baikonur
1989, Energia has been headed by Yuri Semenov. Through the 1990s, Semenov
sustained operations to Mir that culminated in a series of historic joint
flights with the U.S. Space Shuttle. Mir was eventually abandoned in 2001
when the International Space Station (ISS) came on line. The Energia
corporation supplied the core of the ISS, known as Zvezda (Russian for
“Star”), and continues to provide the Soyuz and Progress supply ships for
ISS. It also provided the Pirs docking module, and in cooperation with the
U.S. company, Spacehab, is offering the Enterprise multi-purpose module
for use on the Russian segment of ISS.
Assembly on orbit of the
International Space Station began with the launch of the U.S.-owned,
Zarya control module, built by the Russian company Khrunichev, on November
from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakstan.
recent years, Energia has tried to enter the commercial market with
projects such as SeaLaunch-a cooperative project for launching the
Ukrainian Zenit booster from sea-based platforms in which Boeing
Commercial Space Company has a 40 percent stake and Energia has a 25
percent share. It has also provided seats to paying customers to fly on
the Soyuz spacecraft. Two tourists, one from the United States and one
from South Africa, flew to ISS in 2001 and 2002 respectively.
officially known as the Energia Rocket-Space Corporation Named After S. P.
Korolev (“RKK Energia”), employed roughly 20,000 people in 1999. It has
faced rough times recently, partly because of the poor Russian economy and
partly because of stiff competition from its primary competitor,
Khrunichev's history dates back to March 1951, when Stalin ordered the
creation of an organization, OKB-23, to design a new generation of
strategic bombers. The design firm was given a giant factory in the Moscow
suburb of Fili to produce these new planes. This plant, later named the
Khrunichev Plant, had originally been set up in 1916 to manufacture
automobiles. OKB-23 designed a series of advanced bombers and cruise
missiles through the 1950s. Some of its plans proved to be too ambitious,
however, and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev closed down all of its
projects in 1960. He turned OKB-23 into a branch (“Branch No. 1”) of
another organization, OKB-52, headed by the famous Vladimir Chelomey, an
ambitious scientist who wanted to compete with Korolev to dominate the new
Soviet space program. Through the next 20 years, Chelomey assigned Branch
No. 1 to design some of his most important products. These included the
heavy Proton booster rocket, a number of advanced Soviet ICBMs such as the
UR-100 (or SS-11) and UR-100N (or SS-19), and the Transport-Supply Ships
for the Almaz military space stations.
Chelomey had lost much of his former influence, and the Soviet government
detached Branch No. 1 from him and transferred the organization to
Chelomey's main competitor, Energia. Through the 1980s, the former Branch
No. 1-now named the Salyut Design Bureau-helped Energia design and build
the Mir space station and its various modules. Salyut became independent
in 1988. Five years later, the new Russian government combined Salyut with
the Khrunichev production plant in Fili to form a giant conglomerate with
the tongue-twisting name of Khrunichev State Space Scientific-Production
Center (GKNPTs Khrunichev).
1993, Khrunichev has been aggressively marketing its assets. Some argue
that it has been much more successful than Energia in earning revenues in
cooperative projects with Western countries and companies. One of
Khrunichev's most notable successes has been International Launch Services
(ILS), a joint American-Russian company (the partners are Lockheed Martin,
Khrunichev, and Energia) formed in June 1995 that markets the Proton
launch vehicle for launching commercial satellites. Other projects include
Eurockot, a joint project with the German Daimler Chrysler corporation to
market the UR-100N (or SS-19) ICBM as a space launcher.
Khrunichev also provided Zarya (the Russian word for “Dawn”), the first
module for the International Space Station, whose design was based on the
old Transport-Supply Ships designed in the 1970s. Khrunichev appears
poised to take over a significant portion of the Russian space launch
market with the introduction of a new family of launch vehicles called the
Angara, which uses a modular design for a wide variety of launch services.