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R-7 (rocket family)

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Title: R-7 (rocket family)  
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Subject: Soyuz-2-1v, Vostok-L, Soyuz (rocket), Soyuz-L, Soyuz-2 (rocket)
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R-7 (rocket family)

The R-7 family of rockets (Russian: Р-7) is a series of rockets, derived from the Soviet R-7 Semyorka, the world's first ICBM. More R-7 rockets have been launched than any other family of large rockets.


When Soviet nuclear warheads got lighter, the R-7 turned out to be impractical as a ballistic missile. It was not necessary to launch such heavy payloads in a military application. The rockets remained useful in the Soviet and then Russian space programmes with long term development. The R-7 family consists of both missiles and orbital carrier rockets. Derivatives include the Vostok, Voskhod and Soyuz rockets, which as of 2014 have been used for all Soviet, and later Russian manned spaceflights. The type has a unique configuration where four break-away liquid-fueled engines surround a central core. The core acts as, in effect, a "second stage" after the other four engines are jettisoned.

Later modifications were standardised around the Soyuz design. The Soyuz-U, Soyuz-FG and Soyuz-2 are currently in use. The Soyuz-U and FG are to be retired over the next few years, in favour of the Soyuz-2. R-7 rockets are launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome and the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. A third launch site, at the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana, was to open in 2009 but the first Soyuz launch had been postponed several times. The first launch from Guiana Space centre took place on October 21, 2011. Guiana will be used primarily for commercial launches to geosynchronous orbit, taking advantage of the launch site's proximity to the equator.

Some R-7 variants

Summary of variants

Function N° Core
Maiden flight Final flight Launches Remarks
Total Success Failure
R-7 Semyorka 8K71 ICBM 1 15 May 1957 27 February 1961 27 18 9 World's first ICBM
Sputnik-PS 8K71PS Carrier rocket 1 4 October 1957 3 November 1957 2 2 0 World's first carrier rocket
Launched Sputnik 1 and Sputnik 2
Sputnik 8A91 Carrier rocket 1 27 April 1958 15 May 1958 2 1 1 Launched Sputnik 3
Luna 8K72 Carrier rocket 2 23 September 1958 16 April 1960 9 2 7 Launched first Lunar probes
R-7A Semyorka 8K74 ICBM 1 23 December 1959 25 July 1967 21 18 3
Vostok-L 8K72L Carrier rocket 2 15 May 1960 1 December 1960 4 3 1
Molniya 8K78 Carrier rocket 3 20 January 1960 3 December 1965 26 12 14
Vostok-K 8K72K Carrier rocket 2 22 December 1960 10 July 1964 13 11 2 Used for manned Vostok missions
First rocket to launch a man into space
Molniya-L 8K78L Carrier rocket 4
Vostok-2 8A92 Carrier rocket 2 1 June 1962 12 May 1967 45 40 5
Polyot 11A59 Carrier rocket 1 1 November 1963 12 April 1964 2 2 0
Voskhod 11A57 Carrier rocket 2 16 November 1963 29 June 1976 300 277 23 Launched manned Voskhod 1 and Voskhod 2 missions
Molniya-M 8K78M Carrier rocket 3 19 February 1964 30 September 2010[1] 297 276 21
Vostok-2M 8A92M Carrier rocket 2 28 August 1964 29 August 1991 94 92 2
Soyuz/Vostok 11A510 Carrier rocket 3 27 December 1965 20 July 1966 2 2 0
Soyuz 11A511 Carrier rocket 2 28 November 1966 24 May 1975 30 28 2 Launched several manned Soyuz missions
Soyuz-B 11K55 Carrier rocket 2
Soyuz-V 11K56 Carrier rocket 2
Soyuz-R 11A514 Carrier rocket 2
Soyuz-L 11A511L Carrier rocket 2 24 November 1970 12 August 1971 3 3 0
Soyuz-M 11A511M Carrier rocket 2 27 December 1971 31 March 1976 8 8 0
Soyuz-U 11A511U Carrier rocket 2 18 May 1973 Active 727 708 19 Single most launched carrier rocket ever built
Used for a number of manned Soyuz launches
Soyuz-U2 11A511U2 Carrier rocket 2 23 December 1982 3 September 1995 92? 90? 2? Used for a number of manned Soyuz launches
Soyuz-FG 11A511U-FG Carrier rocket 2 20 May 2001 Active 29 29 0 Used for current manned Soyuz launches
Soyuz-2.1a 14A14A Carrier rocket 2 8 November 2004 Active 8 7 1
Soyuz-2.1b 14A14B Carrier rocket 2 27 December 2006 Active 7 6 1
Soyuz-2.1v 14A15 Carrier rocket 2 28 December 2013 Active 1 1 0
* Not including boosters

Korolev cross

Korolev cross observed during Soyuz TMA-12 launch.

The Korolev cross is a visual effect observed in the smoke plumes of the R-7 series rockets during separation of the four liquid-fueled booster rockets attached to the core stage.[2] As the boosters fall away from the rocket, they pitch over symmetrically due to aerodynamic forces acting on them, forming a cross shape behind the rocket. The effect is named after Sergey Korolev, who designed the R-7. When the rocket is launched into clear skies, the effect can be seen from the ground at the launch site.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ NASA TV coverage of Soyuz TMA-12 launch

External links

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