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Above: A mosaic of satellite images showing Site 41 in Plesetsk. Credit: Google Earth
A launch pad for the R-7-based launch vehicles in Plesetsk.
Previous chapter: Origin of launch facilities for R-7 rockets in Plesetsk
The construction of the original launch pad in Plesetsk known as (Pad No. 1 or SK-1) was completed by the end of 1959. At the time, the R-7 ICBM was still in development and, as a result, the launch hardware had to be constantly tuned up in the course of construction, to reflect changes introduced into the missile. Still, benefiting from the experience in Tyuratam, the first pad in Plesetsk required 800,000 tons less Earth moving and 14,000 cubic meters less concrete work.
After a replacement of the original launch structures started on March 19, 1965, Pad No. 1 (SK-1) hosted first real launches from Plesetsk, sending an R-7 ballistic missile on a suborbital trajectory toward the Kamchatka Peninsula on Dec. 14.
The first orbital mission originating from Plesetsk also lifted off from Pad No. 1 on March 17, 1966. Until 1968, the launch pad No. 1 and its personnel supported both ICBM operations and space missions.
On Sept. 30, 1972, the first Molniya-2 satellite was launched from Pad 1 and from March 1973, Soyuz-U rockets were prepared for launch here. The launch vehicle carrying Bion satellite lifted off on October 31.
In 1977, the SK-1 underwent renovations, with all space launches transferred to Pads 3 and 4. Repairs were continuing as late as April 1978.
On May 15, 1982, a Soyuz-U rocket failed less than half a minute after a liftoff from the pad and crashed apparently around 140 meters northeast of the pad.
A total of 310 launches (319 according to another source) originated from Pad No. 1, however it was dismantled after the last launch on Sept. 15, 1989.
Next chapter: Site 16
Launch facilities for space vehicles based on the R-7 ballistic missile:
Page author: Anatoly Zak
Last update: August 3, 2015
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