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R-7 Looks Into A Bright Future

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Tue Mar 6, 2007 10:43 pm
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Korolev’s R-7 rocket is the most launched rocket in history. Its most recent variant, the Soyuz 2-1b just flew for the first time in December getting in launch count to impressive 1718 launches.

The basic version was the R-7, the Soviet Unions first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) intended to deliver a deadly warhead to the US. But its designer Sergei Korolev, like his American counterpart Wernher von Braun, had other targets in mind.

It was the R-7 with an upper stage, that orbited the first satellite Sputnik as well as all Soviet and Russian spaceflyers, and a lot of humans from other countries, with a configuration called Soyuz.

The R-7 evolved over the decades to a powerful and modern launcher, that will be the first rocket to be launched in a foreign country starting in 2008 with the launches of the Soyuz-ST from Kourou, French Guiana.

Besides the extremely successful story of the R-7 or today’s Soyuz, Russia continues to serve the launcher market with a complete range of offerings. Russian Space Agency Head Anatoly Perminov said, that Russia had a share or 47% in 2006 on the launcher market, with the Sea Launch program and its Zenit rockets, the share was even higher than 50% with the rest of the world, like the US, Europe, Japan, India and others, sharing the rest of the market.

Russia’s offerings starts from converted ballistic missiles for lightweight payloads like the Rockot. Dnepr or Strela launchers. It continues with medium-sized payloads delivered by rockets like the Soyuz or Molnija. The offering is rounded up at the top with the Zenit and Proton launchers.

Additionally Russia continues to invest in the future with the development of the customable Angara launchers.

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