You are on page 1of 7

Third Generation Soviet Space Systems

Multi-Echelon Antiballistic Missile System


Other Designations: Multi-module orbital base. Manufacturer's Designation: 19K.
Code Name: MOK. Class: Manned. Type: Space Station. Destination: Space Station
Orbit. Nation: Russia. Manufacturer: Korolev.
The culmination of ten years of designs for N1-launched space stations, the MKBS would be
cancelled together with the N1. But the technical legacy would live on in new designs for Soyuz
and Progress space station logistics spacecraft used with Salyut and Mir.

In the second half of 1972 and first half of 1973, simultaneous with other work, TsKBEM began
technical development of a Multi-module Orbital Complex (MOK). The MOK was designed to
solve a wide range of tasks: astronomical and astrophysical research, materials research,
navigation, communications , remote sensing for study of forestry, farming, geology, fisheries,
etc., and military applications.

MOK was not a single spacecraft but an integrated collection of earth-based and near-earth
orbital systems consisting of:

• Multi-module Cosmic Base Station (MKBS)
• Autonomous spacecraft, operating from the MKBS
• Transport systems, using at first expendable supply transport craft, to be replaced later by
reusable systems
• Launch vehicle systems
• Launch sites
• Autonomous test systems
• Search and rescue complexes

The MKBS would control all of the linked orbital systems and provide base quarters for the
crews, an orbital control centre, a supply base, and servicing facilities for on-orbit systems.
Independently functioning spacecraft would dock with MKBS for repair, upgrade, and refueling.
The MKBS would co-ordinate all of the autonomous spacecrafts' activities and maneuvers,
resulting in a unified transport system.

The MKBS consisted of two large core modules of 80 and 88 metric tons each, launched by the
N1. These were powered by a 200 kW nuclear power plant derived from OKB-1's work on
nuclear electric propulsion. Solar arrays totaling 140 square meters of area provided 14 kW of
backup power. Two Proton-launched modules were connected to large arms which spun to
provide artificial gravity for crew conditioning and experiments. Additional Soyuz and TKS-
derived modules could be attached and detached to conduct special studies. Total mass of the
station was to be up to 250 metric tons, with a basic core diameter of 6 m and a length of 100 m.
The operational MKBS would be placed in a sun synchronous orbit of 400 to 450 km altitude at
an inclination of 97.5 degrees. A basic crew of six, with a maximum of ten, would inhabit the
station throughout its ten year life. Crews would serve two to three month tours, with
overlapping crew member replacements four times a year. The station was to be equipped with a
total of eight motor clusters consisting of orbital correction motors of 300 to 1,000 kgf, coarse
orientation motors of 10 to 40 kgf, and ion engines for fine orientation and orbital altitude
maintenance with a thrust of 100 to 300 grams.

The primary overall requirement was to define a MOK system which could perform a broad
range of tasks while minimizing expenditures in the creation of the system and its subsequent
use. These requirements were met by the following technical decisions:
• It was desirable to minimize the quantity, cost, and crew size of orbital spacecraft while
not making any single spacecraft too complex. This was solved by always considering
that a particular part of a task might better be accomplished by another spacecraft, rather
than having a single spacecraft accomplish everything.
• Communications and earth surveillance requirements of the base MOK would best be
met by a sun-synchronous orbit of 97.5 degrees inclination
• The active life of the MOK would be for 7 to 10 years utilizing continual replenishment
of the spacecraft and in-flight repairs
• Consumption of fuel in moving from earth to orbit and from orbit to orbit would be
reduced by having fuel dumps in a supporting orbit and using ion engines for spacecraft
• Landing capsules would at first be used for imagery recovery, but digital downlink would
be developed quickly to eliminate this consumable item
• A special modification of the existing Soyuz 7K with manipulators would be used for
inter-orbital ferry and regular repair service of autonomous spacecraft while being based
at the MKBS
• The development cost would be minimized by use of existing or in-development systems:
o Soyuz 7K-T spacecraft and Soyuz launch vehicle as the basic transport craft
o Development of unpiloted modifications of Soyuz for use as MKBS visiting
o Development of the basic modules from the existing Salyut space station 17K,
launched by the Proton booster
o Use of the N1 for launch of the MKBS core spacecraft
o Use of the N1 with the Block Sr upper stage for delivery of special modules to
geostationary orbit
o Maximum use of existing and in-development facilities for support of MOK, such
as launch complexes, command and control centers, etc.
o Reduction of the cost of transportation to and within the system, by putting all
future satellites as much as possible in the same orbital plane of 97.5 degrees, and
by development of new economical reusable transport systems

It was planned that ultimately the MOK would be supported by a reusable launch vehicle, which
was to be a modification of the N1 Block A. This would use a combination of air-breathing
LACE (Liquid Air Cycle Engines) booster engines and liquid hydrogen/oxygen propellants
sustainer engines on the core.

The development of the MOK would been undertaken in two phases: An experimental phase
(near earth orbit around 51.5 degrees) and an operational phase (sun-synchronous orbit of 97.5
degrees). In May 1974 the N1 was cancelled, and with it, the MOK.

Technical development of the MOK was the first large-scale space technology study which used
combined , earth resources studies, economic analysis to determine the best engineering
solutions. Various technical results obtained in the process of this work were used for a long time
after. In particular the development of the Progress replenishment spacecraft, Soyuz space station
ferries, and special-purpose modules of the Mir spacecraft could be traced directly to the
concepts and designs for the MOK. Leading participants in the project were I N Sadovskiy, V V
Simakin, B E Chertok, V S Ovchinnikov,, M V Melnikov, A P Abramov, V D Vachnadze, V K
Bezverbiy, A A Ryzhanov, I E Yurasov, V Z Ilin, G A Dolgopolov, N P Bersenev, K B Ivanov, V
C Anfyrev, B G Sypryn , V P Zaitsev, E A Shtarkov, I V Gordeev, B V Korolev, V G Osipov, V N
Lakeyev, V P Byrdakov, A A Kochkin.

It was interesting to note that American propulsion engineer Peter James described the MOK in
considerable and accurate detail in his 1974 book Soviet Conquest from Space. The book was
dismissed by many authorities because the systems described in it never appeared. Only in the
last two years has it become apparent that the system described to Mr James was in development,
but was cancelled at just about the same time his book appeared.

Typical orbit: Sun synchronous orbit of 400 to 450 km. Length: 100.00 m (320.00 ft). Maximum
Diameter: 6.00 m (19.60 ft). Mass: 250,000 kg (550,000 lb).
MKBS Chronology
• 1969 August 1 - The DOS Conspiracy begins - Program: Lunar L3, Almaz, Salyut.
Launch Vehicle: Proton.
With the collapse of the work on the N1, the whole reason for Mishin's design bureau's
existence simply vanished in the air. A new high-priority project was needed. Korolev
had begun development of a Multi-Module Space Base (MKBS) before 1966. However
MKBS was to be launched by the N1; as long as this was not available, there would be no
MKBS. Almaz on the other hand did not require a new launch vehicle, although the UR-
500 was in a period of intense 'baby sickness'. So while TsKBEM was in a period of
analysis and instability, Chelomei's Reutov and Fili facilities were building space stations
for the Ministry of Defence.

On one of these August 1969 days, three of Chelomei's TsKBM engineers came to the
office of Mishin's deputy, Chertok, with a plan to get a space station orbited before the
American Skylab. They wanted a collaboration between the two competing design
bureaux. Their plan was to take an Almaz spaceframe, install Soyuz systems, add a new
docking tunnel with a hatch to reach the interior, and presto - a space station was
finished. Tentative discussions with potential allies within Chelomei's design bureau
found support there as well. The DOS 'long-duration orbiting station' was the result of
this 'conspiracy'.

• 1971 January 20 - Mishin pushing 'Big Orbital Station'. - Program: Almaz, Salyut.
Mishin is attempting to set up a separate training centre for civilian cosmonauts at the
Moscow Aviation Institute. Mishin and the civilian cosmonauts come to view the TsPK
premises to get ideas. This is a new attack by Mishin, in Kamanin's eyes. Mishin has been
ill for a long time, but it doesn't stop him from meddling in the details of work of his
deputies. Now they are working on a Big Orbital Station (BOS) for 9-12 crew. This
amounts to nothing more than a new move against Chelomei. Mishin is intent on
monopolising manned spaceflight at any cost. He attempts to take over any other such
projects allocated to Chelomei or Kozlov.

• 1971 January 26 - ECS technology review. - Program: Salyut.
Keldysh heads a review of spacecraft environmental control system development. The
work of the IMBP is not well organised. They have been developing systems for eight
years with no concrete results. G I Voronin is responsible for oxygen regenerator and
thermal regulation systems; G I Severin, for space suits; O G Gazenko for biosensors,
medicines, and space food. Two problems need to be solved: to understand and counter
the effects of zero gravity on the human organism; and to develop a reliable
environmental control system with a guaranteed life of two to three years. Keldysh
declares that in the next five to ten years the Soviet Union will not fly space stations with
artificial gravity. Therefore, due to the inevitable deterioration of the human body in zero
gravity, crews will have to be rotated every 30 to 60 days. Development must continue
with an eye to supporting eventual lunar bases and manned expeditions to Mars.
• 1971 April 15 - Salyut preparations - Program: Lunar L3, Salyut, Almaz. Launch
Vehicle: N1.
The Salyut station was prepared in a huge two story bunker built for launch vehicle /
payload processing. The contrast between the money lavished by the military on this
facility for Chelomei's projects and the limited funds available for a proper N1
preparation and test facilities was enormous. Here funds were available without limit.
The air was controlled by a self-contained environmental control system with its own
independent electrical-diesel generators. The facility was a miracle. It was shocking that
this was made available for Almaz, while the military told Mishin that he would have to
prepare the immense MKBS station in the uncontrolled environment, subject to frequent
power blackouts, of the N1 facility. At Chelomei's facility, everything was completely
checked out on earth prior to launch.

• 1971 June 1 - N1-6L launch commission - Program: Lunar L3. Flight: Soyuz 11.
Launch Vehicle: N1.
The review of launch preparations veers off into a discussion of what the booster was
now for. Pilyugin questioned the seriousness of intent of the TsKBEM staff. The digital
control system priorities within the bureau were with DOS and Almaz -- why wasn't the
N1-L3 the priority? Mishin had never been told that the N1-L3 development was lagging.
It had no priority with the leadership. Top priority at TsKBEM was Nadiradze's solid
propellant ICBM's, followed by the DOS Salyut station, and now Soyuz-Apollo
preparations. Meanwhile it was finally recognised that a single-launch scenario was
simply impossible, and two N1 launches would be needed to accomplish the lunar
landing. But there was no political will to tell the Politburo the bad news -- that two N1's
would be needed to be launched to accomplish the landing. The final conclusion was that
the bureau needed a new direction, a project with national priority, like the DOS station.
Strategic rocket work could be ruled out, as there were already too many players in that
field. Additional Details: N1-6L launch commission.

• 1972 January 1 - TsKBEM reorganised - Program: Lunar L3, Soyuz, Almaz. Launch
Vehicle: N1, RT-2.
TsKBEM was given a completely new structure as a result of the findings of the expert
commissions on the disasters for the previous year, Mishin remained as the Chief
Designer for the organisation, but each programme now had its own chief designer:
o N1: Boris Dorofeyev
o 8K98P solid propellant ICBM: Igor Sadovskiy
o N1 payloads: Vladimir Brorov [check]
o Soyuz 7K-TM, or Soyuz M, for Soyuz-Apollo: Konstantin Bushuyev
o Soyuz 7K-T: Yuri Semenov
o Soyuz 7K-S or Soyuz VI: Yevgeni Shabarov

Additional Details: TsKBEM reorganised.

• 1972 February 23 - MOK technical proposal authorised. - Launch Vehicle: N1.
Decree 'On work on the technical proposal for the creation of the MOK' was issued.
• 1972 June 1 - Multi-module Orbital Complex (MOK) designed -
In the second half of 1972 and first half of 1973 TsKBEM began technical development
of a Multi-module Orbital Complex (MOK). MOK was not a single spacecraft but an
integrated collection of earth-based and near-earth orbital systems consisting of the
Multi-module Cosmic Base Station (MKBS); autonomous spacecraft, operating from the
MKBS; and logistics systems (expendable and reusable launch vehicles, interorbital tugs,
earth launch sites, etc). MOK was dependent on the N1 launch vehicle, and was
abandoned when this was cancelled in 1974.

• 1974 May 1 - N1 cancellation imminent - Program: Lunar L3. Launch Vehicle: N1.
Ustinov achieved a leadership consensus to kill the N1 by the beginning of May 1974. He
achieved the agreement of the other Ministers on the Military-Industrial Commission, and
finally Keldysh. Projects that were ongoing that were linked with the N1 included: the
lunar base, MKBS space station, Mars robotic soil return spacecraft and manned
expedition, a space radio telescope with a 100 m antenna, and multiple channel
communications satellites. All of these died with the cancellation. If 8L had been
successful, then after 1 or 2 further test launches, the N1-L3M could begin flying. That
meant that the Soviet Union was within 3 to 4 years of establishing long-term lunar
expeditions and a moon base. The Americans would have been leapfrogged. Instead, the
leadership decided to develop a completely new heavy-lift launch vehicle, which never
became operational before the Soviet Union collapsed.


• Semenov, Yu. P., S P Korolev Space Corporation Energia, RKK Energia, 1994.
• Chertok, Boris Yevseyevich, Raketi i lyudi, Mashinostroenie, Moscow, 1994-1999.. Web Address when
• Kamanin, N P, Skritiy kosmos, Infortext, Moscow, 1995.
• Siddiqi, Asif A, The Soviet Space Race With Apollo, University Press of Florida, 2003.

Contact us with any corrections, additions, or comments.
Conditions for use of drawings, pictures, or other materials from this site..
To contact astronauts or cosmonauts.