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Glushko at age 25
Credit - Aleksandr Zhelyeznakov
Valentin Petrovich Glushko Russian Engineer. Born 2 September 1908. Died 10 January 1989.

Personal: Male, Married, Four children. Born in Odessa, Ukraine, Ukraine.

Soviet rocketry pioneer. Chief Designer and General Designer 1946-1974 of OKB-456. Preeminent Soviet designer of rocket engines for missiles and launch vehicles. Head of NPO Energia 1974-1989, where he directed development of the Energia launch vehicle and Buran spaceplane.

Glushko was born to Ukrainian parents of Cossack and Russian peasant stock. In the spring of 1921, at the age of 15, he began reading the works of Jules Verne. From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon made a particular impression on him. He began to devour astronomy books, notably those by Flammarion and Klein. By 1922 the teenager was involved with the local observatory through a youth group and began work on a (modest!) book – ‘Historical Development of the Idea of Interplanetary and Interstellar Travel’.

In the summer of 1923 Glushko saw an experimental rocket on display at the Military-Naval Museum. It made a powerful impression on him, resulting in his own first naïve pencil sketch of a primitive rocket with a braking unit. On 26 September 1923 he wrote a letter to Konstantin Tsiolkovskiy, the father of Soviet astronautics, and received an encouraging reply on 8 October. It was the beginning of a seven-year correspondence and left him feeling 'anointed' as Tsiolkovsky's successor.

Glushko was first published in 1924 in the journal of the local astronomical observatory. His paper recounted his observations of Mars and Venus. He was greatly influenced by a series of articles by Ya I Perelman - Interplanetary Travel - which was published in ten instalments from 1925-1935.

In August 1925 Glushko entered Leningrad State University. There he designed an interplanetary spacecraft, the ‘Gelioraketoplan’, powered with electric engines. This came to the attention of the military. From 15 May 1929 the young Glushko was a leading light at the Leningrad GDL (Gas Dynamics Laboratory), builders of the earliest Russian liquid rocket engines. By the early 1930's Glushko was testing a series of ORM liquid fuelled rockets of increasing size. These powered RLA- series rockets.

The Soviet military, seeing the potential of rockets, created the RNII (Reaction Propulsion Scientific Research Institute) from Korolev’s Moscow-based GIRD (Group for Investigation of Reactive Motion). Glushko was moved there in January as the supervisor for liquid engines. RNII developed a series of rocket-propelled missiles and gliders during the 1930's, culminating in Korolev's RP-318, Russia's first rocket propelled manned aircraft, powered by Glushko's ORM-65 rocket engine. The 175 kgf ORM-65 began stand tests on 5 November 1936.

However before the aircraft could make a rocket propelled flight, Korolev and Glushko were thrown into the Soviet prison system during the peak of Stalin's insane purges. Glushko was arrested by the Secret Police in March 1938. Korolev was arrested a short time later, based on a denunciation made by Glushko. However Stalin soon recognised the importance of aeronautical engineers in preparing for the impending war with Hitler. A system of sharashkas (prison design bureaux) was set up to exploit the jailed talent. Glushko rose to head TsKB-4, a sharashka in Kazan which was developing rocket installations to improve manoeuvrability and takeoff performance of conventional aircraft. Despite the austere conditions Glushko began testing his RD-1 series of storable propellant engines with 900 kgf thrust for use in Soviet fighter aircraft. This earned him suspension of the remainder of his prison sentence in August 1944 and in December 1944 he was named chief designer of his own design bureau, OKB-SD.

With the war over, it became apparent that the immense progress in rocketry made by the German Von Braun team made Soviet rocket technology obsolete. Stalin, fascinated with the technology, was quite annoyed that the Peenemuende team had gone over to the Americans and that American intelligence had managed to loot most of the V-2 factories and rockets, even in the Russian zone.

From June 1945 to December 1946 Glushko spent much of his time in Germany, supervising the assembly of German experts and technicians and restarting production of the V-2 rocket engine. By August 1945 the Zentralwerke's V-2 engine static test stands were back in operation. German and Russian specialists tweaked the standard V-2 engine for better thrust and performance. A series of 40 test firings between July and September 1946 used modified propellant mixer heads and varying mixture ratios. Thrust of the basic V-2 engine was increased from 25 tonnes to 30 tonnes. Glushko was also part of the official Soviet delegation that observed the British 'Operation Backfire' launch of a V-2 from Altenwaide.

On May 13, 1946 Stalin signed the decree beginning development of Soviet ballistic missiles. The Minister of Armaments, Dmitri Fedorovich Ustinov, was placed in charge of the development. It was decided to move further development and production of the German missile designs to the territory of the USSR. On 3 July 1946 a new OKB-456 was declared in Khimki, near Moscow, with Glushko as the chief designer. On the night of 22-23 October 1946 234 German rocket specialists were rounded up and sent to the Soviet Union. The first priority was developing a Russian copy of the V-2 engine. The drawings for this RD-100 engine were produced by Glushko’s engineers in collaboration with the German experts (sometimes the German text being erased and replaced by Russian). Glushko then turned to developing the technology for a larger series of intercontinental range missiles – and space launchers.

The German team at Khimki completed the first KS-59 'Lilliput' subscale version engines at the end of 1948. This used a radical new combustion chamber design. From the summer of 1949 to April 1950 Glushko’s staff made 100 tests of the engine. A wide range of propellants was used, including exotic fluorine compounds and suspended beryllium hydride fuels. The Russians gradually took over further development. By 1951 they were completely independent and built the German design for the next phase of the engine, the 7 tonne thrust ED-140. This configuration would form the basis of Glushko's rocket engines for the next fifteen years.

For Korolev's R-3 IRBM, Glushko proposed to copy the V-2 approach by using 19 of these 7 tonne chambers as 'preburners' to feed a main mixing chamber, producing a high-performance engine of over 100 tonnes thrust. However during development problems of stability in the mixing chamber could not be solved, and the R-3 was abandoned.

Korolev wanted to leapfrog the IRBM and concentrate on development of the R-7 intercontinental ballistic missile (and potential satellite launcher). Therefore further IRBM development was spun off to a new design bureau headed by one of Korolev's deputies, Mikhail Kuzmich Yangel. Glushko remained the rocket engine provider for Yangel’s missiles.

Glushko decided to scale up the ED-140 to 65 tonnes thrust for the R-7, as the Germans had planned. This RD-105/RD-106 rocket motor encountered seemingly insoluble combustion chamber instability problems. Moreover the weight of the nuclear warhead to be carried was increased to 5.4 tonnes. The entire vehicle had to be scaled up proportionately, and this meant that Glushko could not deliver a single chamber design by the 1956 date set for the first launch. Glushko's solution was to develop the RD-107/RD-108 design: a cluster of four rocket engine chambers sharing common propellant pumps and developing a total vacuum thrust of 90-100 tonnes. This put each chamber in the V-2 range, where the existing experience base could assure stable combustion. However it greatly increased the complexity of the booster, with a total of twenty main engines and sixteen vernier engines firing at lift-off, as opposed to five engines for the RD-105/106 approach.

Meanwhile, other missile designers were coming on-line. Korolev had spun off further development of storable-propellant submarine launched missiles to his deputy Makeyev. Chelomei, a gifted designer of cruise missiles, was anxious to be involved in the much more exciting areas of space flight. Bomber designer Myashishchev and Glushko himself pushed alternate missile designs. Korolev's R-7, with its enormous launch pads, complex assembly and launching procedures, cryogenic liquid oxygen oxidiser, and radio-controlled guidance was a totally impractical weapon. As a result, it would be deployed at only eight launch pads at Tyuratam and Plesetsk, in the north of the country.

In the United States, Kennedy was elected as the new President, partly on the basis of an alleged ‘missile gap’ between the United States and Russia. The Eisenhower administration, thanks to the U-2 overflights, knew that there was no 'missile gap'. But in that curious logic that pertains to intelligence matters, they would not tell the US public that the Soviet missile threat was virtually non-existent.

However having been elected on the basis of the existence of the threat, Kennedy felt impelled to plunge into a massive program of ICBM construction. Kennedy selected the former general manager of General Motors, Robert McNamara, as his Secretary of Defence. Evidently unable with his motor industry background to think in terms of smaller numbers, McNamara chose the nice round figure of 1,000 ICBM's as a goal. The Minuteman program, already begun under Eisenhower, was expanded to provide a low-maintenance solid-fuelled missile that could be produced and cheaply operated in vast quantities.

The Russians, shocked into being drawn into an expensive arms race involving a thousand missiles as opposed to a few dozen, began development of equivalents. Korolev was tasked to build a solid-fuelled counterpart of the Minuteman, the RT-2. Soviet technology was not up to the task and Chelomei became the pre-eminent missile manufacturer with his less risky, small liquid fuelled missile, the UR-100. This was produced in the hundreds and became the backbone of the Soviet nuclear deterrent.

Chelomei's ascendancy coincided with a huge technical dispute between Korolev and Glushko and the other rocket designers. Glushko had decided that the use of new hypergolic (self-igniting), storable oxidiser and fuel combinations had enormous operational advantages compared to the cryogenic liquid oxygen and kerosene combination preferred by Korolev. The hypergolic fuels could be put in the missile's tanks and stored indefinitely. Such rockets, once fuelled, were available at any time for launch. The drawback of storable propellants was that they were very toxic and dangerously corrosive. They had to be handled very carefully in special chemical protection gear. In the case of spills, accidents, or booster explosions, a dangerous cloud of toxic gas was created.

Glushko felt that the operational advantages of storable propellants outweighed the safety issues. Korolev did not, and insisted in using liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants even in missile applications. The rift first broke out in the R-9 missile development. The Soviet military sided with Glushko - it only deployed 54 of Korolev's R-9 missiles, as against 380 of Yangel's R-16 and 800 of Chelomei's UR-100 – all boosted by Glushko storable liquid propellant engines.

By September 1960 Korolev's engineers had already settled on the configuration of the N1 – the ultimate space booster. Designed for Soviet conquest of Mars, the booster would have a total lift-off mass of 2,000 tonnes and a payload of 75 tonnes. Propellants considered included Lox/Kerosene, Lox/UDMH and Nitric Acid/UDMH.

By this time Glushko had new data from the US on the use of N2O4 (nitrogen tetroxide) as an oxidiser. He told Korolev that he advised using N2O4/UDMH in all three stages of the N1. The N1 required high-performance closed cycle engines, where some of the propellants were burned to run the turbines of the propellant pumps, and then introduced into the combustion chamber. A closed cycle engine burning kerosene resulted in seemingly insoluble problems of coking of engine parts. N2O4/UDMH did not cause any such problems and burned cooler.

Korolev had nothing but contempt for Glushko by this point, going back to his belief that it was Glushko's denunciation in 1938 that landed him in the death-mines of Kolyma. Glushko had failed to solve combustion problems with the RD-105 engine, forcing the use of a four-chamber design in the RD-107 and RD-108 - chambers little larger than those on the V-2. Glushko had refused to solve the vernier rocket design for the R-7, forcing Korolev to do it. Glushko had been unable to expediently provide an upper stage engine for the R-7, forcing Korolev's own bureau to develop the S1.5400. Again with the R-9 engines, Glushko could not solve the problem of producing stable combustion in a large chamber.

Therefore Korolev turned to Nikolai Kuznetsov's design bureau. Kuznetsov's OKB had originally been founded to exploit German engineers and develop the gigantic turboprop engines of the Tu-95 Bear bomber. But with assistance from Korolev's team he promised he could learn rocket technology. Kuznetsov was willing to attempt to produce the higher-efficiency closed cycle engine that Glushko believed was impossible with the Lox/Kerosene propellants.

In parallel with the N1, the Yangel and Chelomei bureaux had been developing alternate designs (R-56 and UR-700). Both used clustered 4 m diameter rocket stages with a single large Glushko engine using toxic storable propellants.

These were not approved and the N1 project moon-landing project went forward in 1964, without Glushko or Chelomei or Yangel. By the time the Americans beat the Soviet Union to the moon, Korolev had died and been succeeded by his deputy, Mishin. Under Mishin’s supervision, the N1 blew up on each of its four launch attempts.

On May 18, 1974 the Minister of Medium Machine Building Afanasyev attended a routine meeting of the management at Korolev’s design bureau. In a few clipped sentences he informed the group that the Politburo had decided to remove Mishin. Glushko was directed to combine the Glushko and Korolev design bureaux into a new industrial organisation known as NPO Energia. Afanasyev wished the stunned managers every success, and left the room. The N1 program was cancelled and Glushko was finally in charge of building his own rockets and spacecraft.

Glushko briefed his planned new launch vehicle family to the Military Industrial Commission on 13 August 1974. As required by the Ministry of Defence, they used only non-toxic, inexpensive Lox/Kerosene propellants; the various launch vehicles were modular, and used common engines and rocket bodies. The basic engine would be a four-chamber design with a vacuum thrust of 1,200,000 kgf. Glushko maintained that this remarkable turnabout from his earlier opposition to such propellants on the N1 was brought about by technical progress in the intervening 14 years.

Glushko attempted to put his own mark on Soviet rocketry and push ahead with his childhood dreams of interplanetary manned flight. Harking back to the last rockets of his own design, back in Leningrad in 1932, Glushko called the new rocket RLA - Rocket Flight Apparatus. The RLA-135 would begin flight trials in 1980. Glushko insisted that a permanent lunar base and Mars expeditions in the 1980's were achievable. Total cost of the development program was put at 12.5 billion roubles.

The final decision was that the plan had to be reworked. Brezhnev, Keldysh, and Ustinov would insist that Lox/LH2 technology be used and the capabilities of the US space shuttle be duplicated. The end result would be the Energia launch vehicle and Buran space shuttle, with which neither the military or the Soviet engineering community was happy.

Propellant selection for the boosters was a big controversy. After consideration of solid fuel as used by the Americans, the final decision was to use Lox/Kerosene liquid propellants. Glushko had fought so bitterly with Korolev over the issue. It was surprising that he now accepted use of Lox/Kerosene. But Korolev was dead, and the N1 a failure. Glushko's position had been vindicated; perhaps he now had to agree objectively that use of the expensive and toxic propellants in a launch vehicle of this size was not rational. A serious Proton launch vehicle explosion on the pad in 1971 that almost killed the Soviet and military space leadership observing the launch seems to have driven this change of heart.

Glushko’s RD-170 engine for the booster stage experienced a slow and difficult development program – perhaps vindicating Glushko’s position from the beginning. These were exactly the kind of closed-cycle liquid oxygen/kerosene engines that Glushko had opposed developing in the 1960's. Glushko’s engineers fell back on his old solution when being unable to handle combustion stability problems: an engine unit consisting of four chambers fed by common turbo pumps. Providing adequate wall cooling for the high temperature / high-pressure combustion chambers seemed at times insoluble. One problem followed another and finally the RD-170 became the pacing item, with rocket stages completed but lacking engines. As costs reached the project ceiling, Glushko and Minister Afanasyev had to escalate the fight to the highest levels of the Soviet leadership. But Glushko defended his people, retained his job, and the problems were eventually solved.

Following extended development, Buran made a remarkably successful first unmanned flight on 15 November 1988. But it would never fly again. The Soviet Union was crumbling. Glushko’s ambitious plans -- to build an orbiting defence shield, to renew the ozone layer, dispose of nuclear waste, illuminate polar cities, colonise the moon and Mars -- were not to be. Glushko died just two months later, not living to see the collapse of the Soviet Union and the cancellation of his projects.

Glushko was showered with honours and positions during his lifetime. He was formal with co-workers, never using the familiar pronoun when talking with them. He was a stylish dresser, and tooled around Kaliningrad in the Chevrolet Caprice he had imported through Belgium. After his accession to the position of Chief Designer for the Soviet space program, he published some histories that were felt to be self-serving and had a bust of himself erected in his hometown of Odessa. He was survived by his daughters Yevgeniya (born 1938), Elena (1948), and sons Yuri (1952) and Aleksandr (1972).

Photo Gallery

Glushko Chronology

23 March 1938 - Glushko arrested by Soviet secret police.. Summary: The leading Soviet rocket engine designer is arrested in one of Stalin's purges. Under interrogation he denounces Korolev and two others.

15 October 1945 - Backfire 3 Test mission. Third and final launch in Project Backfire, with allied observors. Glushko, Sokolov, Pobedonostsev; Korolev and Gaidukov kept outside fence; Von Karman, Merrill, Seifert, Pickering from US. The launch was successful and the missile reached an altitude of 90 km.
22 May 1947 - Groettrup G-1 design ordered. The G-1 was Groettrup's first design after the German engineering team had been moved to Russia. The first group of 234 specialists was given the task of designing a 600 km range rocket (the G-1/R-10). Work had begun on this already in Germany but the initial challenge in Russia was that the technical documentation was somehow still 'in transit' from the Zentralwerke. The other obstacle was Russian manufacturing technology, which was equivalent to that of Germany at the beginning of the 1930's. The Germans worked at two locations, NII-88 (Korolev OKB) and Gorodmlya Island to complete the design of the G-1. Other groups of Germans worked at Factory 88 (R-1 production) and Factory 456 (Glushko OKB / engine production).
1947 Sept - G-1 design completed by Groettrup team.. The selected design was 14.2 m x 1.62 m, 18,400 kg gross weight, empty weight 1,960 kg, 32,000 kgf thrust, LOX/alochol propellants, 20 atm pressure thrust chamber, integral tanks, turbine driven by exhaust gases, control section in back, radio beam guidance, 900 km range, accuracy - 25% in a 1.0 km box.
14 April 1948 - Decree for production of R-1 and R-2 missiles, design of R-3.. Decree 'On work on the R-1 and R-2 missiles' was issued. To accomplish putting the R-1 into production the resources of 13 research institutes and 35 factories were tapped. Glushko was tasked with producing the RD-100 copy of the V-2 engine. R-1 stand tests began the same day the decree was issued (Prototypes had already begun factory tests at the end of 1947). The decree also set forth design goals for the R-3.The specification was an order of magnitude leap from the other vehicles - to deliver a 3 tonne atomic bomb to any point in Europe from Soviet territory - a required range of 3000 km.
1949 June - Russo-German advanced rocket engine tests.. The planned IRBM's (R-3 or G-4) would use a new design high pressure cylindrical combustion chamber. This would feed a spherical mixing chamber. The German engineers worked with Glushko to build a subscale 7 tonne thrust, 60 atmosphere chamber pressure test model. Given the Russian designation ED-140, this was run 100 times between the summer of 1949 and April of 1950. 19 of these chambers would feed the chamber of the Glushko RD-110 engine slated for use in Korolev's competing R-3 rocket.
20 May 1954 - Soviet government decree for full-scale development of trisonic intercontinental cruise missiles.. Council of Soviet Ministers (SM) Decree 957-409 'On transfer of intercontinental cruise missile work to the Ministry of Aviation Industry' was issued. Korolev had to place the highest priority on development of the R-7 ICBM. Therefore the final government decree authorised the Lavochkin and Myasishchev aircraft design bureaux to proceed in parallel with full-scale development of trisonic intercontinental cruise missiles. Both missiles would use ramjet engines by Bondaryuk, astronavigation systems by R Chachikyan, inertial navigation systems by G Tolstoysov, and aerodynamics developed by TsAGI (Central Hydrodynamics Institute). Lavochkin's Burya would use rocket booster engines built by Glushko, while Myasishchev's Buran would use Isayev engines. Both missiles were to deliver a nuclear warhead over an 8,500 km range. But the warhead design specified for the Lavochkin missile had a total mass of 2,100 kg, while that for the Myasishchev missile weighed 3,500 kg.
30 June 1958 - Development of Soviet nuclear-powered rockets authorised.. Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On the Creation of pockets With Engines on the Basis of Nuclear Energy Applications--work on a draft project for rockets with nuclear engines' was issued. Competing engine designs were in development by Glushko’s OKB-456 and Bondaryuk’s OKB-670. Both designs used existing available reactors in cyldindrical housings, with the reactors operating at 3000 degrees K. The propellant was heated in the reactor and exhausted through four expansion nozzles. The Glushko engine operated with ammonia, while the Bondaryuk engine used a mixture of ammonia and alcohol. With such propellants a specific impulse of 430 seconds was achieved.
23 September 1958 - Luna failure - booster disintegrated at T+92 seconds. Summary: This was the start of an acrimonious debated between Glushko and Korolev design bureaux over the fault and fix for the problem.
5 January 1961 - State Commission Meeting. Rudnev chaired the meeting, which first heard the failure analysis for the failed Mars launches on 10 and 14 October and the R-16 catastrophe on 24 October. All of these had been accelerated to coincide with Khrushchev's visit to the United Nations in New York, in Kamanin's view a criminal rush that led to the death of 74 officers and men in the R-16 explosion. Future plans were then reviewed. Launches of probes toward Venus were planned for 20-23 January, 28-30 January, and 8-10 February. Four Vostok manned spacecraft were completed, with first launch scheduled for 5 February and the second for 15-20 February.
4 February 1961 - Sputnik 7. The escape stage entered parking orbit but the main engine cut off just 0.8 s after ignition due to cavitation in the oxidiser pump and pump failure.. The payload attached together with escape stage remained in Earth orbit.

The booster launched into a beautiful clear sky, and it could be followed by the naked eye for four minutes after launch. The third stage reached earth parking orbit, but the fourth stage didn't ignite. It was at first believed a radio antenna did not deploy from the interior of the stage, and it did not receive the ignition commands. Therefore the Soviet Union has successfully orbited a record eight-tonne 'Big Zero' into orbit. The State Commission meets two hours after the launch, and argues whether to make the launch public or not, and how to announce it. Glushko proposes the following language for a public announcement: 'with the objective of developing larger spacecraft, a payload was successfully orbited which provided on the first revolution the necessary telemetry'. Korolev and the others want to minimize any statement, to prevent speculation that it was a reconnaissance satellite or a failed manned launch. Kamanin's conclusion - the rocket didn't reach Venus, but it did demonstrated a new rocket that could deliver an 8 tonne thermonuclear warhead anywhere on the planet. The commission heads back to Moscow.

7 March 1961 - R-7 Failure Commission. Flight: Vostok 1. Keldysh, Korolev, Sokolov, Glushko, Bogomolov hear testimony from Kosberg on the causes of the RO-7 engine failure on the 22 December 1960 launch, that resulted in the suborbital flight of the Vostok capsule with a landing in Tura. The causes are not completely understood, but the bottom line is that a fuel line must have leaked. Further testimony is offered on the booster trajectory, landing time at various points along the trajectory, tracking station readiness, communications lessons, and recovery efforts. The communications are clearly unreliable. The radius of the HF radio is 5000 km, and 1500 km for UHF. TsP Moscow and PU Tyuratam, plus Novosibirsk, Kolpachev, Khabarovsk, and Yelizov (Kamchatka) all have HF and UHF transceivers. But due to practical reception problems, only UHF communications were available at Tyuratam, Kolpachev, and Yelizov, and only HF at Novosibirsk and Khabarovsk. It is recommended that each IP tracking station should have a Chief Communications Officer, a cosmonaut to act as capsule communicator, a physician, and a representative from the Ministry of Communications to assure action on problems.
1961 November - Preliminary design work by Chelomei on UR-500 (Proton) rocket.. OKB-52 began to collaborate with V P Glushko’s OKB-456 in developing an appropriate engine. Glushko had completed a storable liquid engine design of 150 tonnes for use in Korolev’s N1. However Korolev refused to accept this design, due to his refusal to use toxic propellants in his rockets and his belief that such propellants could never deliver the required specific impulse.
15 November 1961 - Development of RD-253 engine begun.. OKB-52 began to collaborate with V P Glushko’s OKB-456 in developing a high thrust storable propellant engine for the UR-500 Proton launch vehicle. Glushko had completed a storable liquid engine design of 150 tonnes for use in Korolev’s N1. However Korolev refused to accept this design, due to his categorical refusal to use toxic propellants in his rockets and his belief that such propellants could never deliver the required specific impulse. Korolev insisted on development of an oxygen-kerosene engine; Glushko categorically refused to do so. As a result, the two leading Soviet rocket designers irrevocably split. Korolev had to turn for development of his N1 engines to the aviation engine design OKB of N D Kuznetsov.
21 March 1963 - Presidium of Inter-institution Soviet. The expert commission report on Soyuz is reviewed by the Chief Designers from 10:00 to 14:00. The primary objective of the Soyuz project is to develop the technology for docking in orbit. This will allow the spacecraft to make flights of many months duration and allow manned flyby of the moon. Using docking of 70 tonne components launched by the N1 booster will allow manned flight to the Moon, Venus, and Mars. Keldysh, Chelomei and Glushko all support the main objective of Soyuz, to obtain and perfect docking technology. But Chelomei and Glushko warn of the unknowns of the project. Korolev agrees with the assessment that not all the components of the system - the 7K, 9K, and 11K spacecraft - will fly by the end of 1964. But he does argue that the first 7K will fly in 1964, and the first manned 7K flight will come in 1965.
1963 May - Nuclear N1 designs. At the end of 1961 the Glushko and Bondaryuk bureaux completed their draft projects on nuclear thermal engines for space vehicle upper stages. It was decided to continue work on development of an engine in the 30 to 40 tonne thrust range. In the following year Korolev was asked to study application of such engines, followed by a specific demand in May 1963 from the Scientific-Technical Soviet for specific recommendations. For a Mars expedition, it was calculated that the AF engine would deliver 40% more payload than a chemical stage, and the V would deliver 50% more. But Korolev’s study also effectively killed the program by noting that his favoured solution, a nuclear electric ion engine, would deliver 70% more payload than the Lox/LH2 stage. Further investigation of nuclear thermal stages for the N1 does not seem to be pursued. Bondaryuk and Glushko turned to Chelomei and his competing UR-700 rocket for future application of such stages.
9 May 1963 - Cosmonauts Tour Glushko Factory. Flight: Vostok 5. Victory Day Holiday in the Soviet Union. The cosmonauts toured Glushko's engine factory. Glushko has 11,000 employees at four locations. The resentment between Glushko and Korolev, going back to their time in the Gulag, is apparent. Korolev calls during the tour but Glushko does not return his call. Later Alekseyev contacts Kamanin and proposes that Komarov be the back-up cosmonaut for Vostok 5 rather than Khrunov - because he hasn't finished the suit yet for Khrunov!
1963 June - Tests of clustered Proton engines begun. Glushko conducted tests of the new engine from 1961 to 1963, followed by tests of the clustered engine assembly from June 1963 to January 1965. Through use of a regenerative fuel pump cycle Glushko was able to improve the thrust of the engine by 12.5%. It was therefore decided to use only the large Glushko engine in the first stage. The first layout had one engine at the base of the core and 4 to 8 fuel tanks with peripheral engines. Now the centre engine was abandoned and the ‘clean’ oxidiser tank core was surrounded by six fuel tank/engine assemblies. This had the advantage of reducing the length of the stage while increasing the dry weight fraction.
19 July 1964 - Korolev obtains preliminary approval for a single-launch, lunar orbit rendezvous, manned landing.. Work on the original N1-L3 had begun in 1963. This had been preceded by two years of working on a draft project for the LK lunar lander and its propulsion system. But there was no money for full scale development -- no code name from Gosplan against which to charge such work. It was annoying that Chelomei, Glushko, and Yangel were wasting resources on alternate designs at the same time.

The original plan was for three N1 boosters to assemble a 200 tonne payload in low ...more...

21 July 1964 - Korolev's single-launch lunar scheme reviewed by the Chief Designers. Summary: How to achieve the additional N1 payload was a key point of discussion.

Isayev was working on an 8 tonne thrust Lox/LH2 engine, and Lyulka on a 40 tonne ...more...

24 September 1964 - Khrushchev visits Baikonur. Flight: Voskhod 2. This was his last visit, just weeks before his overthrow. The Soviet leadership were shown the UR-100 and observed launches of the competing UR-200 and R-36. Khrushchev agreed with the decision to put the R-36 into production instead of Chelomei’s UR-200. He felt he couldn’t turn down Yangel a third time after approving Korolev’s N1 instead of Yangel’s R-56 and Chelomei’s UR-100 instead of Yangel’s R-26. Khrushchev decided to cancel Korolev’s badly behind schedule R-9A, even though Smirnov and Ustinov insisted they wanted it in their arsenal (in May 1965, after Khrushchev’s overthrow, this decision was reversed and the R-9A went into production).

Khrushchev also visited a secret space fair, with Korolev, Chelomei, Yangel, and Glushko presenting their rockets and spacecraft. Chelomei presented his UR-700 heavy lift design as an alternative to Korolev’s N1. This presentation was a surprise to Ustinov and Dementiev. Khrushchev ordered Chelomei to prepare a draft proposal for the design. Chelomei hoped that 12 to 18 months later, when the UR-700 draft project would be completed, the fallacy of Korolev’s N1 design would be apparent to all. Korolev’s N1 plans were also reviewed and approved at the meeting.

Over the two days, Khruschev witnessed five launches of rockets by Korolev, Yangel, and Chelomei, all of them successful. Gagarin and Belyayev explained the Vykhod spacecraft to him, and Leonov donned a spacesuit and demonstrated how he would exit into open space form the inflatable airlock and return thereafter. All went very well.

This was the last time Khrushchev saw the chief designers of the Soviet rocket industry. Despite his support for them not one of them visited him in his retirement.

28 April 1965 - Cosmonauts tour Leningrad. Summary: Kamanin, Gagarin, Titov, Komarov, Belyayev, and Leonov began a major public relations tour of Leningrad. With Glushko they visit the Petropavlovsk Fortress, where he conducted the first rocket experiments in 1931.
22 December 1965 - Kamanin and Korolev clash. Flight: Voskhod 3. The two have a difficult discussion over crewing for Voskhod 3. Korolev has found that Katys has been taken out of training for the mission. He does not agree with Kamanin's all-military pilot crew of Volynov and Gorbatko. Kamanin is tired of Korolev's caprices and his endless fighting with Glushko, Pilyugin, Voronin, Kosberg, and other chief designers. Korolev has had it with the military excluding civilians and civilian objectives from manned space.
7 October 1967 - Soviet of Chief Designers. In Moscow, Mishin heads a meeting of all the Chief Designers (including Chelomei, Mishin, and Glushko). Glushko says that the last UR-500K failure was due to errors made during manufacture of an engine in 1965 at Factory 19 at Perm. Ustinov notes that the failure has cost the state 100 million roubles and has delayed the program two to three months. He brutally attacks Dementiev, Minister of Aviation Industry, for the poor work of his factories on the space program. Another issue is continued delays in the Salyut computer for the L1. Ustinov orders an alternate technical solution to be developed in parallel with the digital computer development. The next Soyuz flight is set for the end of December, the next L1 attempt for 21-22 November.
21 November 1967 - Cause of Proton failure in last launch.. Summary: Glushko at Baikonur. He reports the Perm factory is under close supervision - the engine that failed on the last launch was found to have resin in the main fuel line.
22 November 1967 - Soyuz 7K-L1 s/n 5L. The launch takes place at 00:07 local time (22:07 on 22 November Moscow time). Glushko, Chelomei, and Kamanin observe the launch from an observation point in -5 deg C weather. Three to four seconds after second stage ignition, the SAS pulls the spacecraft away from the booster. Telemetry shows that engine number 4 of stage 2 never ignited, and after 3.9 seconds the remaining three engines were shut dwon by the SBN (Booster Safety System) and the SAS abort tower fired. The capsule's radio beacon was detected and the spacecraft was found 80 km southwest of Dzhezkazgan, 285 km down range. The Proton problems are maddening. Over 100 rocket launches have used engines from this factory, with no previous failure. Of ten of the last launches under Mishin's direction (6 Soyuz and 4 L1) only two have went well - an 80% failure rate! Mishin is totally without luck. Kamanin and Leonov take an An-12 to see the L1 at its landing point. Leonov wants to see proof that the cosmonauts would be saved in any conditions. The capsule landed in -17 deg C and 12 m/s winds. The parachute pulled the capsule along the ground for 550 m, and the soft landing rockets fired somewhere above the 1.2 m design height. After safing of the APO self-destruct package, the capsule is lifted to an airfield by a Mi-4.
23 January 1968 - Three-launch Soviet lunar expedition pitched. The 'big' Soviet of Chief Designers meets and the three-launch landing concept developed a month earlier is presented in detail. Pilyugin pointed out that this was a typical contradiction. Mishin had just made a presentation to the expert commission justifying that the one-launch scheme was safe and reliable. Now they wanted to put forward a new scheme because the one-launch scheme was unsafe and unfeasible.

Glushko piled on by reiterating that the Kuznetsov engines for the N1 were rotten ...more...

21 February 1968 - L1 Launch Commission.. The booster failure on the previous launch was found to be due to premature fuel injection during engine start, causing initial chamber temperatures to rise 200 degrees above normal. Glushko and Konopatov both guarantee their engines for the next launch. The next L1 flight will use the 'Kruga' landing predictor. This will predict the landing point to within a 150 x 150 km area two to three hours before re-entry. Landing points on the three previous flights would have been 2000 km from Madagascar and India, Novosibirsk, and the North Pole... Mishin plans the next dual Soyuz flight for 5-10 April. Kamanin protests that the parachute and sea trials of the redesigned capsule are not yet complete. Mishin, as usual, dismisses his concerns.
22 October 1968 - Soyuz 2/3 State Commission.. Flight: Soyuz 3. Summary: Soyuz 2/3 State Commission. All the 'grey eminences' are there - Keldysh, Barmin, Glushko, Kirillov, etc. There are a huge number of physicians - 22 from the VVS, 100 from Minzdrav - all to check the single cosmonaut.
24 October 1968 - N1 - lost opportunity in 1961. Flight: Soyuz 3. Glushko has a private conversation with Isayev at the N1 MIK during the Soyuz 3 launch preparations. Glushko revealed to Isayev that in 1961 he had offered Korolev a compromise - if Korolev would use the same 'packet' scheme for the N1 that he had used on the R-7, so that the individual engine modules could be individually tested on the ground before flight, Glushko would give up his insistence on the use of storable propellants. However, after checking with Mishin, Korolev would not compromise.

Glushko decided then to go ahead on this own and develop a 600 tonne thrust storable ...more...

22 July 1969 - Soviet post-mortems after Apollo 11. Two sequential N1 failures could not just be blamed on the poor reliability of the first stage. It was apparent that, compared to the Americans, both the management and the development practices of the Soviet space programme were inferior to the Americans. Politically there was no consensus within the Soviet state of the need for a space programme. Glushko and Ustinov waged a perpetual struggle against Afanasyev, Keldysh, and Mishin. RVSN Commander Kirillov wrote a letter to Smirnov on behalf of Afanasyev on the root causes of the failures. His faction believed these were the continued use of artillery/military rocket development practices for large, complex systems. These outdated practices required 20 to 60 flight tests to achieve reliability before a rocket could be put into production.

The poor results of all of the current generation of space programmes - Luna, Mars, ...more...

26 December 1969 - DOS formally authorised. Ustinov called the DOS 'conspirators' to Kuibyshev Street. Mishin was sent away to Kslovodsk and Chelomei and Glushko were not invited. No one wanted to listen to any more of Glushko's diatribes about Kuznetsov's engines.

Ustinov supported presentation of the DOS concept to the Central Committee. Chelomei categorically opposed DOS and was trying to kill it through military channels. But the allure of an '18 month' station - one which would not only beat the American Skylab, but be in space in time for the 24th Party Congress - seemed too alluring. Mishin also rejected DOS, but deputies at both design bureaux supported the concept and were eager to proceed.

DOS was therefore created only when the moon project failed. Chelomei was forced to work on DOS, and it severely impacted Almaz schedules. The Salyut name was later applied to both the DOS and Almaz stations, creating the impression in the outside world that they were built by one designer.

3 March 1971 - Soviet of Chief Designers.. Flight: Soyuz 10, Soyuz 11, Soyuz 12 / DOS 1. DOS-7K #1 completed its factory testing on 3 March. Checkout at Baikonur is to be completed by 9 April, and launch is scheduled for 15 April. The first crew to the station will be launched aboard a Soyuz on 18-20 April. Remaining items to be cleared:
  • Vibration qualification test of the station test article are not complete. They will only begin on 5 March and will take two months using 3-shift work. Mishin wants the preliminary results on 20 March.
  • Four complete Igla systems are required. Five have been completed and are working satisfactorily.
  • The expiration date on the parachute installed in the Soyuz 10 capsule is 15 April. It will have to be repacked before the flight.
  • There were numerous failures in the first phase of environmental control system qualification tests. They have to be repaired before the second phase can even be started.
  • Mishin wants the first crew to stay on the station for 30 days, the second crew 45 days. Glushko and the doctors say this is a grave risk.

2 May 1974 - N1-L3 program is cancelled. The N1 program was cancelled before the next test flight. Mishin was removed as head of NPO Energia. Kozlov is first asked to replace him, but he prefers to stay in Samara. Glushko is appointed as the second choice. Two fully assembled (serial numbers 8L and 9L), and four partially assembled rockets were available at time of cancellation. These would have been the first to use the new modernized series NK-33/NK-39 engines. 8L was planned for launch in the fourth quarter of 1974. Confidence was high that, based on the massive telemetry received on the 7L flight, that all problems would have been rectified. A total of 3.6 billion rubles was spent on the N1-L3 program, of which 2.4 billion rubles went into N1 development. Those on the project felt that they were within months of finally providing the Soviet Union with a heavy-lift booster. Instead the work was discarded, and Glushko began design of the RLA/Vulkan with entirely new configuration and engines.
30 June 1974 - Spiral project resurrected. Summary: Glushko supports modest project to do subsonic flight tests of Spiral orbiter configuration.
30 July 1974 - Kozlov given own design bureau in Samara.. Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) Decree 'On separation of TsSKB from NPO Energia and creation of the Volzhkiy Branch' was issued. After the fall of Mishin, Kozlov was offered the Chief Designer job. He rejected it and Glushko was made head of a reorganised NPO Energia. KB Kozlov itself was made a separate entity with the name of Central Specialised Construction Bureau.
1 August 1974 - New heavy-lift vehicle. Glushko's first action was to implement a decision of the leadership to develop a completely new heavy-lift launch vehicle. This work started in 1974, with a planned first flight in 1984, at a total estimated cost of 5 to 6 billion roubles. One factor in the decision was the fact that Keldysh was greatly disturbed by the manoeuvrability of the space shuttle. He talked the matter up until he managed to get Ustinov and Brezhnev worked as well. He told them a US shuttle could manoeuvre around Soviet PVO and PKO anti-missile and satellite defences and deliver a 25 tonne nuclear bomb of greater than 25 megatons force directly on Moscow.

Keldysh was convinced that the US planned to use the shuttle for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on Russia. Therefore the USSR needed an analogous capability to maintain the strategic balance. While this discussion was going on, the energies of TsKBEM were completely absorbed in the Apollo-Soyuz program, on which the prestige of the Soviet Union depended.

Following the firing of Mishin and the takeover by Glushko, Glushko personally directed ...more...

13 August 1974 - N1 work cancelled. Glushko formally cancelled the N1 within the new NPO Energia on 13 August 1974 with the support of Ustinov, even though he had no decree of the VPK Military-Industrial Commission or the Central Committee authorising such an act. The N1-L3 itself was not officially closed down until the resolution of February 1976 starting work on the Energia/Buran boosters. By that time 6 billion roubles had been spent on the N1 over 17 years.

Looking back in February 1996, Chertok observed that the N1 would have been successful ...more...

14 August 1974 - Glushko meets with TsKBEM staff. He solicited their support in the reorganization and new projects for the bureau. Glushko was sartorially perfect, and had an aristocratic air, never using the familiar forms of address in Russian. He only loosened up a little in the last years of his life. He was a nitpicker, correcting Russian syntax in documents. He was capable of clear logic but did not have the intuitive genius of Korolev (according to Barmin, while Korolev did not look after his appearance, he possessed a pure 'Russian' intelligence).
31 August 1974 - Cosmonaut reunion as Soyuz 15 crew arrives in Moscow.. Flight: Soyuz 15. Kamanin attends a reunion of cosmonauts on the occasion of the arrival of the Soyuz 15 crew at Chkalovsky Airfield. Demin has flown at the age of 48, the oldest astronaut ever, until Slayton makes his flight. Kamanin talks to Glushko and learns that the N1 has finally been cancelled. The misbegotten project went for eight years only because of the unconditional support of Mishin by Keldysh, Smirnov, and Ustinov. The earliest Soviet lunar landing cannot occur earlier than the Tenth Five Year Plan (e.g. 1980). Kamanin learns that Soyuz 15 was supposed to be a thirty-day flight, but the Igla automatic docking system failed yet again.
31 August 1974 - Competitive bidding for new vehicle. Summary: Glushko proposed obtaining competitive bids for the launch complexes and booster subsystems for new boosters developed by OKB-1, dropping the traditional OKB-1 subcontractors.
1 January 1975 - Vulkan Mars Expedition. Glushko proposed a Mars expedition launched by the Vulkan heavy-lift launch vehicle. The concept was treated like a bad allergy by the VPK. He later scaled it down and proposed it for launch by Energia (using 100 tonne modules instead of 230 tonne modules).
1 January 1975 - Vulkan Lunar Base. Mishin and Barmin, using budget provided by the Ministry of Defence, had designed a lunar base for launch by the N1 in 1969-1974. After the cancellation of the N1, Glushko pleaded with the Military-Industrial Commission for the work to be taken from Barmin and be given to NPO Energia. Glushko's alternative, Vulkan-launched base was elaborated within his bureau. Bushuyev developed spacecraft for the base. Prudnikova developed a modular lunar city, with living modules, factory modules, a nuclear reactor power module, and a lunar crawler with a 200 km radius of action. The project work was only finally cancelled after the Apollo-Soyuz flights.
29 April 1975 - UR-500MK designed. In response to the Ministry of Defence's guidelines for third generation launch vehicles, the Ministry of General Machine Building issued instructions for Chelomei to study boosters meeting the military's requirements. These included Lox/Kerosene propellants in place of the toxic N2O4/UDMH favoured previously. Chelomei's competitor in the design, Glushko, was then head of NPO Energia which included Glushko's former OKB-456 engine design bureau. Therefore Chelomei was forced to propose using Kuznetsov Lox/Kerosene engines from the cancelled N1 moon program. The use of existing Proton tankage tooling for the stages and the Kuznetsov engines would allow a high-performance vehicle to be developed at minimum cost. However Chelomei was out of favour, Kuznetsov was discredited after the N1 fiasco, and Glushko was ascendant. The proposal stood no chance. Glushko's Zenit launch vehicle became the accepted solution.
1977 July - Soyuz 25A (cancelled). Flight: Soyuz 25A. A Soyuz 25 mission to the Salyut 5 space station with the crew of Berzovoi and Lisun was to have followed Soyuz 24. However during the four months it took to prepare the Soyuz, Salyut 5 consumed higher than expected fuel in maintaining the station's orientation. The flight was cancelled and the spacecraft allocated for Soyuz 25 flew as Soyuz 30 to Glushko's civilian Salyut station.
1978 - During the year - Manned Almaz program terminated. Almaz station portion of the project already severely cut back after Marshal Grechko's heart attack in early 1976. Chelomei lost his most active patron and was unable to withstand the slow strangulation of his projects by Ustinov and Glushko. Almaz finally completely scrapped in 1980, but Chelomei hid the completed space stations in a corner of his complex, labelling them as 'radioactive material'. Chelomei finally forced to retire in October 1983. TKS shuttle craft used to dock with Salyut stations but never in manned mode. Following Ustinov's death, Almaz stations finally flown as unmanned radarsats, but Chelomei did not live to see this.
1 January 1978 - Vulkan Lunar Base rejected. An expert commission led by Keldysh examines the plan for a lunar base launched by the Vulkan booster. The plan is completely rejected. NPO Energia was told to quit dreaming and devote itself only to projects with national economic importance, like Buran. This put a definitive end to Glushko's lunar base projects studied in 1976-1978. But he just waited and started design work again on a lunar base using the Energia launch vehicle after the first Buran launch in 1988.
1984 Spring - Glushko ordered to launch Mir by March 1986. By early 1984 work on Mir ground to a halt as all resources were put on getting the Buran space shuttle into flight test. This changed in the spring 1984 when Glushko was called into the office of the Central Committee's Secretary for Space and Defence and ordered to orbit Mir by the 27th Communist Party Congress in the spring of 1986.
1986 August - UKSS static tests of Energia. Further UKSS tests of Energia were conducted in preparation of a test launch without Buran. These were conducted using a dummy payload and solid rocket motors to simulate loads from the booster rockets. Following this vehicle 6SL was selected for the first actual launch. The launch vehicle used by itself without Buran was named Energia by Glushko only just before the launch.

Bibliography and Further Reading
  • Rakhmanin, V F, Odnazhdy i Navsegda, NPO Energomash, Moscow 1998 via Dietrich Haeseler. Biography and history of development of the rocket motors of Glushko.
  • Vetrov, G S, S. P. Korolev i evo delo, Nauka, Moscow, 1998. ISBN: 5020036846. The collected papers of Soviet Chief Designer Korolev. A tremendous source of new information and insight on the Soviet space program. Russian language. More at
  • Sagdeev, Roald Z, The Making of a Soviet Scientist, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1987. ISBN: 0471020311. Autobiographical account from the man at the center of Russia's unmanned planetary exploration program. Many revelations of the infighting between the Chief Designers and their Kremlin patrons. More at

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