Russia's Soyuz: historic symbol of space reliability

Aug 25, 2011

Russia's Soyuz rocket, which failed to put a Russian supply ship into orbit, is descended from launch vehicles of the early days of the space race but until now has been a byword for reliability.

The Soyuz is related to the R-7 family of Soviet rockets which sent the world's first satellite Sputnik into space in 1957, giving Moscow the lead in the Cold War space race.

An R-7 descendant -- the Vostok designed by chief Soviet rocket engineer Sergei Korolyev -- took into orbit in 1961, making him the first man in space.

Another variant, Voskhod (Dawn) was used up the 1970s for hundreds of launches.

The Soyuz (Union) rocket was first launched in the 1960s and since then has developed an enviable record for safety and reliability.

The crash landing of the unmanned Progress supply capsule into Siberia was its first failure of the rocket in recent years.

Soyuz rockets are the backbone of the Russian space programme and are notably used to launch the unmanned Progress cargo vehicles as well as the manned capsules -- also called Soyuz -- for the ISS.

The rocket involved in the Siberia crash was the Soyuz-U. Russia's manned missions to the (ISS) are now carried out by the Soyuz-FG, a modernised version of the Soyuz-U

The newest version is the Soyuz-2, used to place heavy payloads into low earth orbits.

The Soyuz-U has been one of the workhorses of the Russian space programme for years and has been in use since the 1970s.

According to the Russian daily Kommersant, the Soyuz-U has suffered 21 faulty launches out of 769 starts. The Soyuz family of rockets is the world's most used vehicle.

A Soyuz-ST, a spinoff of the Soyuz-2 is due to launch at Kourou, French Guiana on October 20, lifting the first two satellites in Europe's Galileo navigation system.

The (ESA) and Russia are deploying Soyuz at Kourou, under a 2003 accord to provide a mid-sized launcher for Arianespace, which markets ESA's launch vehicles.

Explore further: Spinning up a dust devil on Mars

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

First Soyuz launch from Kourou to go ahead: Arianespace

Aug 25, 2011

The maiden flight of a Soyuz from Europe's space base will go ahead as scheduled on October 20, as it is a different version from the rocket involved in Wednesday's launch failure by Russia, Arianespace said on Thursday.

Soyuz launch from Europe space base set for October

May 10, 2011

The maiden launch of the veteran Soviet-Russian rocket Soyuz from Europe's space base in South America has been scheduled for October, a spokesman for launch operators Arianespace said on Tuesday.

Arianespace says it plans 12 launches in 2011

Jan 04, 2011

Arianespace said on Tuesday that it planned 10 launches in 2011, including six of its Ariane 5 rockets and the first Russian Soyuz rockets from the European space base in French Guiana beginning in August.

Russia declares 'era of Soyuz' after shuttle

Jul 21, 2011

Moscow on Thursday declared it was now "the era of the Soyuz" after the US shuttle's last flight left the Russian system as the sole means for delivering astronauts to the International Space Station.

Recommended for you

Why is Venus so horrible?

6 hours ago

Venus sucks. Seriously, it's the worst. The global temperature is as hot as an oven, the atmospheric pressure is 90 times Earth, and it rains sulfuric acid. Every part of the surface of Venus would kill you ...

Image: Christmas wrapping the Sentinel-3A antenna

9 hours ago

The moment a team of technicians, gowned like hospital surgeons, wraps the Sentinel-3A radar altimeter in multilayer insulation to protect it from the temperature extremes found in Earth orbit.

Video: Flying over Becquerel

9 hours ago

This latest release from the camera on ESA's Mars Express is a simulated flight over the Becquerel crater, showing large-scale deposits of sedimentary material.

Spinning up a dust devil on Mars

10 hours ago

Spinning up a dust devil in the thin air of Mars requires a stronger updraft than is needed to create a similar vortex on Earth, according to research at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.