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R-36M family

Developed in the early 1970s, the R-36M became the largest ballistic missile ever acquired by the Soviet strategic forces. Known in the West as SS-18 Satan, the missile remained in armaments of the Russian military at the turn of the 21st century. However, with the end of the Cold War, a fearsome weapon turned into a space launcher, carrying commercial payloads into orbit.

R-36M family tech dossier: (98)
R-36M R-36M UTTKh R-36M-2 Voevoda
Industrial designation
Treaty name
NATO name
SS-18 Mod 1-3
SS-18 Mod 4
SS-18 Mod 5 and 6
Number of stages
Target accuracy

1.6 km

0.65 km


Warhead configurations
  • 1 "heavy" (6,565 kg) warhead (15F141) x 20 Mt;
  • 1 "light" (5,727 kg) warhead (15B86) x 8 Mt;
  • 10 MIRV (15F143U) x 0.4 Mt with total weight of 7,823 kg;
  • 4 MIRV x 1 Mt and 6 MIRV 0.4 Mt;

10 MIRV (15F183) warhead x 0.5 Mt with the total weight of 8,470 kg;


Flight range

  • 11,200 km with "heavy" warhead;
  • 16,000 km with "light" warhead;
  • 10,500 kilometers with MIRV warheads;
11,000 km
  • 16,000 km with a single warhead;
  • 11,000 km with MIRV warhead;
Weight (fueled)
  • 209.2 tons with "heavy" warhead;
  • 208.3 tons with "light" warhead;
  • 210.4 tons with MIRV warhead;
211.1 tons
  • 211.1 tons with with a single warhead;
  • 211.4 tons with MIRV warhead;
Length of the vehicle

33.65 meters (with MIRV warhead)

34.3 meters

34.3 meters

3.0 meters
3.0 meters
3.0 meters
Fuel (all stages)
Oxidizer (all stages)
Nitrogen tetroxide
Nitrogen tetroxide
Nitrogen tetroxide
In development since:
First launch
1977 Oct.
1986 March 21
1975 Dec. 30
1980 Dec. 17
1988 Aug. 11
beginning in 1988
Launch facility
Tyuratam (15P714)
Tyuratam (15P718)

Stage I propulsion:

RD-264 (4 x RD-263)
RD-264 (4 x RD-263)
RD-274 (4 x RD-273)

Stage I thrust:

  • 424.8 tons on the surface;
  • 461.2 tons in vacuum;
  • 424.8 tons on the surface;
  • 461.2 tons in vacuum;
  • 468.6 tons on the surface;
  • 504.9 tons in vacuum;

Stage I propellant weight:

150.5 tons
150.5 tons
150.2 tons
Stage II propulsion:
RD-0256 (RD-0255)

Stage II thrust:

77.5 tons
77.5 tons
85.3 tons

Stage II propellant weight:

37.6 tons
37.6 tons
37.6 tons
R-36M mods


In 1968, as the nuclear arms race between the US and the USSR continued unabated, the KB Yuzhnoe ("Southern") design bureau in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, proposed a major modernization of the existing R-36 missile system. The main goal of the modernization program was to introduce so-called Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles, MIRVs. At the time, the MIRV technology emerged as the latest breakthrough in the delivery systems for nuclear weapons...

  R-36M UTTKh (R-36MU)

On August 16, 1976, the Central Committee of CPSU and Council of Ministers USSR issued a resolution authorizing the modernization of the R-36M missile designated UTTKh. A primary goal of modernization was further expansion of the missile's strike range and the increase in the survivability of the vehicle and its launch complex under conditions of the incoming nuclear attack. According to the official specifications, a single R-36M UTTKh missile could strike 10 various targets, including large population centers, as well as small military targets, spread over the area of 300,000 square kilometers...


R-36M-2 Voevoda

Even more powerful configuration, designated in the secret Soviet documentation as R-36M-2 and also known under its military name RS-20V Voevoda (an archaic Russian word for "military chief") could carry 10 half-megaton warheads up to 11,000 kilometers, where each could strike within 500 meters of its intended target.


Dnepr launcher

When the new agreement on the total elimination of multiple-warhead R-36M was reached at the end of the 1980's, total 308 missiles of this type had been deployed. Conditions of the treaty set year 2007 as a deadline for the elimination of the R-36M. As an alternative to the physical destruction of the missiles, developers studied different possibilities for civilian use of the weapon.