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Yasny launch site


To zoom use right mouse button (PC) or control click (Mac). Copyright © 2006 Anatoly Zak

History of Dombarovsky Red Banner Division (13th Division of RVSN)

Dombarovsky missile division is located in Southern Russia, southeast of the city of Orenburg and Orsk, and just north of the border with Kazakhstan near the town of Dombarovsky.

Its origin dates back to the beginning of the 1960s, when the Soviet military launched a search for potential sites of operational deployment of the intercontinental ballistic missiles, ICBMs. The mass construction of the missile launch infrastructure was taking place in mid 1960s, becoming a major burden for the Soviet economy.

The missile division at Dombarovsky was officially formed in 1964 (in February 1965, according to other sources) with Major General Dmitry Chaplygin as its first commander. The site was intended for underground silos, housing heavy ICBMs.

As many as 10 units of the Soviet Strategic Missile Forces manned from 6 to 10 OS-type operational silos each. At the peak of the operations at the Dombarovsky site, total 64 silos were reportedly on alert. According to the Russian press, in 2004, the regiment maintained 52 launchers.

As of 2002, Dombarovsky was one of 18 operational missile divisions within the Russian strategic missile forces. The missiles of the R-36 and R-36M family were deployed in the area.

Dombarovsky missile deployment history:

Geography of the site

The town of Dombarovsky is located at 50°45'59' North latitude and 59°32'40" East longitude. As of 2003, it had a population of 9,600 and boasted Uralstalkonstruktisya plant, a milk plant, a printing plant and forest service. The town is serviced by the Profintern rail station.

In mid-2006, Google Earth application provided very high-resolution imagery of large portions of the former Soviet Union, essentially putting spy-satellite data on the desktop of general public. Although only fragments of the Dombarovsky region were available at one-meter resolution, numerous silos could be easily discerned spreading from Dombarovsky region northeast toward Lake Zhetykol.

Most sites featured a single silo, surrounded by multiple layers of barbwire fences and connected by hard-surface roads with wide radius turns to the main area on the west side of the town of Yasniy -- a home of the division's headquarters. Satellite photos of the military base in Yasniy showed what appeared to be a large storage area, military barracks, a launch silo -- possibly used for training purposes -- and a railway station, where missiles and their warheads are unloaded from trains and transferred onto large tracks for transportation to remote silos. A railway line connected the base with the spur branching out from the Svetliy - Orsk - Orenburg line, which links the site with the rest of Russia.

Other military installations in the area included a military airfield just north of Dombarovsky and the antiaircraft site in Krasnochabanskiy, southeast of Orsk. The site looked long abandoned at the turn of the 21st century.

Post-Soviet period: space missions

In mid-2000s, the Russian government conducted a number of upgrades at the Dombarovsky site, in the effort to transfer here commercial space launches of the Dnepr booster from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

According to, the launches from Dombarovsky could head in southern direction to reach orbits with the inclination 95 degrees, with the first stage of the Dnepr falling in Turkmenistan and the second stage in the Indian Ocean. Besides political advantage of Dombarovsky, located inside the Russian territory, launches from the site could potentially carry larger payloads to highly-inclined sun-synchronous orbit than those originating in Baikonur.

At the same time the launches in eastern direction would enable delivering payloads into the orbit with the inclination 65 degrees, and the first stage drop zone in Tyumen Region and the second stage in the Pacific Ocean.

As of 2004, the plans of military training of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces included as many as seven launches from Dombarovsky site, using decomissioned missiles and delivering commercial payloads.


Russia fires missile from operational base

Published: 2004 Dec. 22

Russian Strategic Missile Forces, RVSN, launched its largest Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, ICBM from an operational base in the south of the country.

The R-36M-2 Voevoda missile, capable of carrying 10 warheads, blasted off from a silo facility of the 13th missile regiment deployed near the town of Dombarovka in Orenburg Region at the border with Kazakhstan at 11:30 Moscow Time on Wednesday, December 22, 2004.

The missile headed in eastern direction toward the Kura impact site in the Kamchatka Peninsula. The Russian government reportedly allocated a slot of uninhabited marshy land in the Vagai, Vikulov and Sorokin Districts of the Tyumen Region as the impact site for the first stage of the missile. Colonel General Nikolai Solovtsov, the commander of the RVSN, personally attended the test.

The R-36M-2 Voevoda is the most advanced missile in the R-36M family.

As a number of previous launches, the latest mission was intended to certify the R-36M-2 missile for extended period of operational service, currently reaching 20 years. At the same time, the decision of the Russian government to move such launches from a test site in Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, to an operational base aims to validate the use of such facility for commercial space launches, beginning in 2005. As many as six orbital launches, of the converted R-36M ICBM designated Dnepr could earn estimated $40 million for the cash-strapped branch of the Russian Armed Forces. Kosmotras joint venture, marketing Dnepr to commercial customers, hopes to use the launch facility near Dombarovka for launches in southern direction to reach polar orbits.

Russia inaugurates new space launch site

Published: 2006 July 17

A converted ballistic missile orbited a commercial payload, using an operational ICBM base as its launch site for the first time.

The Dnepr rocket, based on the R-36M UTTKh missile, lifted off from Dombarovsky base in southern Russia on July 12, 2006, at 18:53 Moscow Time. It carried the Genesis Pathfinder-1 experimental payload for the US-based Bigelow Aerospace.

The launch vehicle successfully released its cargo into nearly circular orbit with the altitude of about 500 kilometers and the inclination of 64.51 degrees toward the Equator. At 19:08 Moscow Time the control over the spacecraft was transferred to Bigelow, Roskosmos said. According to Bigelow Aerospace, the satellite aims to test inflatable structures, which the company claims could be used for the assembly of orbital hotels.

In the meantime, back on Earth, Dombarovsky provided Moscow-based Kosmotras, which markets Dnepr to commercial customers, with an alternative launch site on the Russian soil to the Baikonur Cosmodrome located several hundreds kilometers to the south in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan.

The launch was previously scheduled for April, June 13 and June 16, 2006.

Environmental concerns

In the wake of the Dnepr rocket failure in July 2006, the administration of the Orenburg Region sought to ban similar launches from the facilities around Dombarovsky, reported. At the request of representatives of the region's legislative assembly, vice-governor of the Orenburg Region Sergei Grachev promised that no further launches from the site would take place, until the assessment of the environmental impact in the area was conducted. At the same time, Russian officials questioned whether Orenburg had a jurisdiction to ban launches from the region.

Russia fires R-36M-2 from Dombarovsky

2006 Dec. 21, 11:20 Moscow Time (8:20 GMT): Russian Strategic Missile Forces, RVSN, launched the R-36M-2 missile from Dombarovsky. A spokesman for the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, RVSN, said that the vehicle successfully reached its target on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Russia launches prototype of a private space station

Published: 2007 June 28

A long-delayed mission launched the new version of the inflatable spacecraft, promising to become a precursor of future private space station. The launch of the Dnepr rocket took place at 19:02 Moscow Time from a strategic missile base near Dombarovsky in southern Russia, carrying Genesis-2 payload into the low-Earth orbit for the American private company Bigelow Aerospace.

Flying south from Dombarovsky

Despite a number of completed launches from Dombarovsky, Kosmotras company, which marketed the Dnepr booster, still faced problems planning future missions due south from the base. The southward trajectory was required in order to reach a polar orbit, which is often desirable for Earth-watching satellites. However launches in southern direction from Dombarovsky would result in the impact of the spent first stage of the Dnepr rocket in Kazakhstan. During 2007 and 2008, at least one commercial launch of the THEOS satellite was continuously delayed apparently in part due to this problem. The 2007 launch of the TanDEM-X remote-sensing satellite was moved from Dombarovsky to Baikonur.

According to Kazakhstan Today, on March 28, 2008, Kosmotras submitted Kazakh government a safety report on the Dnepr's drop zone, apparently in the effort to obtain a clearance for a new launch corridor. At the end of the month Kosmotras underwriters signed an agreement with Kazakh space agency on the use of the Dnepr rocket. On April 30, 2008, Kazakhstan Today announced that Russian and Kazakh governments had agreed to establish a new drop zone for Dombarovsky-based R-36M2 rockets in Karakiyansky Region within Mangistauskaya Oblast, 177 kilometers east of the town of Senek in Kazakhstan and not far from the border with Uzbekistan. The area would be used as a drop zone for the 1st stage of the Dnepr rocket.

In accordance with the Kazakh law, Kosmotras conducted public hearings for the local population around the drop zone on the environmental impact of proposed launches. According to a Kosmotras representative, 89 seconds after the launch from Yasny/Dombarovsky area, the R-36M-2-based vehicle would cross the Kazakh-Russian border at the altitude of 36 kilometers. The separation of the first and the second stage would take place 111 seconds after the launch, as the rocket reaches 84 kilometers downrange from the launch site, 46 kilometers inside Kazakh territory and climbs to the altitude of 63 kilometers. Kosmotras assured local representatives that thorough environmental impact assessments would be conducted before and after each mission and all the results would be publicly available. Environmental cleanup and debris removal would be conducted at the drop zone as well.

The agreement cleared the way for the first launch of the Dnepr booster along the new trajectory with a long-delayed THEOS satellite, which at the time was scheduled for the end of June 2008, but finally took place on October 1, 2008. Originally, two test launches were planned annually.

Still, diplomatic wrangling between Russian and Kazakh governments on south-bound missions from Dombarovsky continued well into 2010. On February 24, official Kazakh media reported that two sides had discussed a draft agreement on the overflight of the Aktyubinsk Oblast and the drop of Dnepr's first stage in Mangistauskaya Oblast following launches from Dombarovsky. Kazakh officials from the nation's space agency, ministry of defense and other government ministries discussed the issue with representatives of the Russian ministry of defense and officials at Kosmotras. According to the protocol of the meeting, two sides agreed on all points of the draft agreement, which took into account Kazakh position. After verification of the document by the ministries of jurisprudence and foreign affairs in Kazakhstan, the document would be channeled to the Russian government, KazInform said. (379) The news agency cited deputy chairman of Kazkosmos Yerkin Shaimagametov and Russian ministry of defense representative Igor Rogoza as saying that with no new objections, an inter-government agreement would be ready for signing in the first half of 2010.

19th Dnepr rocket launches cluster of satellites

The Dnepr rocket, converted from the R-36M UTTKh intercontinental ballistic missile, lifted off as scheduled on Nov. 21, 2013, at 11:10:11 Moscow Time (07:10:11 GMT) from a silo facility in Dombarovsky missile deployment area in Southern Russia.

Russian-Ukrainian Dnepr to fly in the midst of political crisis

As Russia and Ukraine are locked in the most serious political crisis and the military confrontation since the end of the USSR, specialists from both sides prepare to launch a converted Soviet ballistic missile originally built in Ukraine. The liftoff of the 20th Dnepr rocket, is scheduled for June 19, 2014, at 23:11:11 Moscow Summer Time (3:11 p.m. EST) from an underground silo facility No. 370/13 in the Dombarosvsky ICBM deployment area in southern Russia.


Summary of launches from Dombarovsky (Yasny):

  Date Time Launcher Payload Type
1 2004 Dec. 22 11:30 Moscow Time R-36M-2 Voevoda Warhead mockup suborbital
2 2006 July 12 18:53 Moscow Time R-36M UTTKh/Dnepr Genesis Pathfinder-1 orbital
3 2006 Dec. 21 11:20 Moscow Time R-36M-2 Voevoda Warhead mockup suborbital
4 2007 June 28 19:02 Moscow Time R-36M UTTKh/Dnepr Genesis-2 orbital
5 2008 Oct. 1 10:37 Moscow Time R-36M UTTKh/Dnepr THEOS orbital
6 2009 Dec. 24 09:30 Moscow Time R-36M-2 Voevoda Warhead mockups suborbital
7 2013 Oct. 30 ? R-36M-2 Voevoda Warhead mockups suborbital
8 2013 Nov. 21 11:10:11 Moscow Time R-36M UTTKh/Dnepr Cluster of satellites orbital
9 2014 June 19 23:11:11 Moscow Summer Time R-36M UTTKh/Dnepr Cluster of satellites orbital
10 2014 Nov. 6 10:35:49 Moscow Time R-36M UTTKh/Dnepr Asnaro-1 and four secondary payloads orbital

This page is maintained by Anatoly Zak

Last update: April 4, 2015

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Cutaway view of the silo launch complex for the R-36M ICBM. Credit: KB Yuzhnoe

A booster stage of the R-36M missile is being loaded into its silo in Baikonur. Credit: Kosmotras

A warhead section of the R-36M missile is being loaded into its silo in Baikonur. Credit: Kosmotras

Copyright: © 2005 Seiji Yoshimoto

A hotel in the Dombarovsky area, which housed western contractors working on upgrades to the facility for commercial launches around 2004 and 2005. Click to enlarge Copyright: © 2005 Seiji Yoshimoto


A Dnepr rocket with a Sich-2 satellite lifts off from Dombarovsky/Yasny area on Aug. 17, 2011.



Dnepr emerges from its launch silo on Nov. 6, 2014. Credit: Zvezda TV