Plesetsk Cosmodrome
Overview
 
Plesetsk Cosmodrome is a Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n spaceport
Spaceport
A spaceport or cosmodrome is a site for launching spacecraft, by analogy with seaport for ships or airport for aircraft. The word spaceport, and even more so cosmodrome, has traditionally been used for sites capable of launching spacecraft into orbit around Earth or on interplanetary trajectories...

, located in Arkhangelsk Oblast
Arkhangelsk Oblast
Arkhangelsk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . It includes the Arctic archipelagos of Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya, as well as the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea....

, about 800 km north of Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 and approximately 200 km south of Arkhangelsk
Arkhangelsk
Arkhangelsk , formerly known as Archangel in English, is a city and the administrative center of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia. It lies on both banks of the Northern Dvina River near its exit into the White Sea in the north of European Russia. The city spreads for over along the banks of the river...

.
Plesetsk is used especially for military satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

s placed into high inclination and polar orbits since the range for falling debris is clear to the north which is largely uninhabited Arctic and polar terrain. It is situated in a region of taiga
Taiga
Taiga , also known as the boreal forest, is a biome characterized by coniferous forests.Taiga is the world's largest terrestrial biome. In North America it covers most of inland Canada and Alaska as well as parts of the extreme northern continental United States and is known as the Northwoods...

, or flat terrain with boreal pine forests.

The Soyuz rocket, Cosmos-3M
Cosmos-3M
The Kosmos-3M is a Russian space launch vehicle. It is a liquid-fueled two-stage rocket, first launched in 1967 and with over 420 successful launches to its name. The Cosmos 3M uses nitrogen tetroxide as an oxidizer to lift roughly 1400 kg of payload into orbit...

, Rockot
Rockot
The Rokot , also transliterated as a the pun Rockot, is a Russian space launch vehicle that can launch a payload of 1,950 kilograms into a 200 kilometre high Earth orbit with 63° inclination. It is a derivative of the UR-100N intercontinental ballistic missile , supplied and operated by Eurockot...

, and Tsyklon
Tsyklon
The Tsyklon , GRAU index 11K67, was a Soviet/Ukrainian-designed expendable launch system, primarily used to put Cosmos satellites into low Earth orbit. It is based on the R-36 intercontinental ballistic missile designed by Mikhail Yangel and made eight launches, with seven successes, and one failure...

 are launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.
Encyclopedia
Plesetsk Cosmodrome is a Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n spaceport
Spaceport
A spaceport or cosmodrome is a site for launching spacecraft, by analogy with seaport for ships or airport for aircraft. The word spaceport, and even more so cosmodrome, has traditionally been used for sites capable of launching spacecraft into orbit around Earth or on interplanetary trajectories...

, located in Arkhangelsk Oblast
Arkhangelsk Oblast
Arkhangelsk Oblast is a federal subject of Russia . It includes the Arctic archipelagos of Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya, as well as the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea....

, about 800 km north of Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 and approximately 200 km south of Arkhangelsk
Arkhangelsk
Arkhangelsk , formerly known as Archangel in English, is a city and the administrative center of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia. It lies on both banks of the Northern Dvina River near its exit into the White Sea in the north of European Russia. The city spreads for over along the banks of the river...

.

Overview

Plesetsk is used especially for military satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

s placed into high inclination and polar orbits since the range for falling debris is clear to the north which is largely uninhabited Arctic and polar terrain. It is situated in a region of taiga
Taiga
Taiga , also known as the boreal forest, is a biome characterized by coniferous forests.Taiga is the world's largest terrestrial biome. In North America it covers most of inland Canada and Alaska as well as parts of the extreme northern continental United States and is known as the Northwoods...

, or flat terrain with boreal pine forests.

The Soyuz rocket, Cosmos-3M
Cosmos-3M
The Kosmos-3M is a Russian space launch vehicle. It is a liquid-fueled two-stage rocket, first launched in 1967 and with over 420 successful launches to its name. The Cosmos 3M uses nitrogen tetroxide as an oxidizer to lift roughly 1400 kg of payload into orbit...

, Rockot
Rockot
The Rokot , also transliterated as a the pun Rockot, is a Russian space launch vehicle that can launch a payload of 1,950 kilograms into a 200 kilometre high Earth orbit with 63° inclination. It is a derivative of the UR-100N intercontinental ballistic missile , supplied and operated by Eurockot...

, and Tsyklon
Tsyklon
The Tsyklon , GRAU index 11K67, was a Soviet/Ukrainian-designed expendable launch system, primarily used to put Cosmos satellites into low Earth orbit. It is based on the R-36 intercontinental ballistic missile designed by Mikhail Yangel and made eight launches, with seven successes, and one failure...

 are launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. The heavy Proton
Proton rocket
Proton is an expendable launch system used for both commercial and Russian government space launches. The first Proton rocket was launched in 1965 and the launch system is still in use as of 2011, which makes it one of the most successful heavy boosters in the history of spaceflight...

 and Zenit
Zenit rocket
Zenit is a family of space launch vehicles designed by the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau of Ukraine. Zenit was built in the 1980s for two purposes: as a liquid rocket booster for the Energia rocket and, equipped with a second stage, as a stand-alone rocket...

 rockets can only be land-launched from Baikonur
Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Baikonur Cosmodrome , also called Tyuratam, is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It is located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about east of the Aral Sea, north of the Syr Darya river, near Tyuratam railway station, at 90 meters above sea level...

 (Zenit may also be launched at sea).

History

Plesetsk Cosmodrome was originally developed by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 as a launch site for intercontinental ballistic missile
Intercontinental ballistic missile
An intercontinental ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a long range typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery...

s. On January 11, 1957 the Soviet Government passed the resolution about the foundation of special military object with secret name “Angara”. This secret object had to be situated in Plesetsk District, Arhangelsk Oblast. It was named after the town of Plesetsk
Plesetsk
Plesetsk is an urban locality Plesetsk is an urban locality Plesetsk is an urban locality (a work settlement and the administrative center of Plesetsky District, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia, situated about northeast of Moscow and south of Arkhangelsk. Municipally, it is the administrative...

. The first Soviet Combat formation of intercontinental ballistic missiles R-7 of General designer Koroljev had to be located in that place, in thick northern taiga to the south of Arhangelsk. July 15, 1957, was the official birthday of the proving ground. That day Colonel Gregorjev assumed his post as the missile unit commander. By July 15, 1961, four missile complexes for ballistic missile R-7 were on combat patrol.

March 17, 1966, was the space birthday of Plesetsk. That day was the first missile launching of the rocket booster Vostok with space vehicle Cosmos 112. Since that time the rocket base Angara has become cosmodrome Plesetsk. Construction started in 1957 and it was declared operational for R-7 rockets in December 1959. The urban-type settlement of Plesetsk
Plesetsk
Plesetsk is an urban locality Plesetsk is an urban locality Plesetsk is an urban locality (a work settlement and the administrative center of Plesetsky District, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia, situated about northeast of Moscow and south of Arkhangelsk. Municipally, it is the administrative...

 in Arkhangelsk Oblast had a railway station, essential for the transport of missile components. A new town for the support of the facility was named Mirny
Mirny, Arkhangelsk Oblast
Mirny is a closed town in the west of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia, serving the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. Administratively, it is incorporated as a town of oblast significance, while municipally, it is incorporated as Mirny Urban Okrug of Arkhangelsk Oblast...

, Russian for "peaceful". By 1997, more than 1,500 launches to space had been made from the site, more than for any other launch facility, although the usage has declined significantly since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

The existence of Plesetsk Cosmodrome was originally kept secret, but it was discovered by British physics teacher Geoffrey Perry
Geoffrey Perry
Geoffrey E. Perry was a physics teacher at Kettering Grammar School, Northamptonshire, England who, together with his colleague Derek Slater, and students, deduced the existence of the previously-secret Plesetsk Cosmodrome in 1966 by analyzing the orbit of the Cosmos 112 satellite.The New York...

 and his students, who carefully analyzed the orbit of the Cosmos 112 satellite in 1966 and deduced it had not been launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome
Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Baikonur Cosmodrome , also called Tyuratam, is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It is located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about east of the Aral Sea, north of the Syr Darya river, near Tyuratam railway station, at 90 meters above sea level...

. After the end of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 it was learned that the CIA had begun to suspect the existence of an ICBM launch site at Plesetsk in the late 1950s. The Soviet Union did not officially admit the existence of Plesetsk Cosmodrome until 1983.

The use of the cosmodrome will likely increase in the future since there are concerns with security in operating the Baikonur Cosmodrome
Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Baikonur Cosmodrome , also called Tyuratam, is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It is located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about east of the Aral Sea, north of the Syr Darya river, near Tyuratam railway station, at 90 meters above sea level...

 in now-independent Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, which also demands rent for its continued use. Plesetsk is not ideally suited for low inclination or geostationary launches because of its high latitude of 62 degrees north (as compared to the Guiana Space Centre at 5° north or the Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center
The John F. Kennedy Space Center is the NASA installation that has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968. Although such flights are currently on hiatus, KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America's civilian space program...

 at around 28° north).

Still, the new all-Russian Angara rocket is designed to be launched primarily from Plesetsk when it comes into service.

The Iranian satellite Sina 1 was launched from Plesetsk Cosmodrome on 27 October 2005.

In May 2007, a new ICBM, called the RS-24 has been tested and launched there, and is seen as eventually replacing the aging RS-18s and RS-20s that are the backbone of Russia's missile forces. Those missiles are known in the West as the SS-19 Stiletto and the SS-18 Satan.

On September 2011 Space Forces spokesman Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin said Russia will spend over 5 billion rubles ($170 mln) on the development and expansion of the cosmodrome in 2011. This includes the reconstruction of a local motorway, the construction of a new barracks
Barracks
Barracks are specialised buildings for permanent military accommodation; the word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes. Their main object is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training and esprit de corps. They were sometimes called...

 and a cafeteria
Cafeteria
A cafeteria is a type of food service location in which there is little or no waiting staff table service, whether a restaurant or within an institution such as a large office building or school; a school dining location is also referred to as a dining hall or canteen...

. The center's energy supply system will also be modernized. New facilities will be built, including a dormitory, a medical center, parking lots, a hospital, and healthcare facilities.

Accidents

  • On 26 June 1973, 9 people were killed by an explosion of Cosmos-3M
    Cosmos-3M
    The Kosmos-3M is a Russian space launch vehicle. It is a liquid-fueled two-stage rocket, first launched in 1967 and with over 420 successful launches to its name. The Cosmos 3M uses nitrogen tetroxide as an oxidizer to lift roughly 1400 kg of payload into orbit...

     rocket, ready for launch.
  • On 18 March 1980, 48 people were killed by an explosion of a Vostok-2M rocket
    Vostok rocket
    Vostok was a family of rockets derived from the Soviet R-7 Semyorka ICBM designed for the human spaceflight programme. This family of rockets launched the first artificial satellite and the first manned spacecraft in human history...

     with a Tselina satellite, during a fueling operation.
  • On 15 October 2002, a Soyuz-U
    Soyuz-U
    The Soyuz-U launch vehicle is an improved version of the original Soyuz LV. Soyuz-U is part of the R-7 family of rockets based on the R-7 Semyorka missile. Members of this rocket family were designed by the TsSKB design bureau and constructed at the Progress Factory in Samara, Russia....

     carrying the ESA
    European Space Agency
    The European Space Agency , established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 18 member states...

     Foton-M1
    Foton-M1
    Foton-M1 was an unmanned space mission by the European Space Agency aboard a Russian Soyuz-U rocket that failed to launch successfully. The rocket's payload consisted of 44 experiments prepared by the European Space Agency, Fluidpac, Biopan, Telescience Support Unit, and others...

    project failed to launch and exploded, killing one.

External links

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