|Space Launch Report: Start-1|
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The Moscow Institute of Heat Technology (MIHT) developed the three-stage Topol ICBM, a missle with approximately the same characteristics as the U.S. Minuteman ICBM, during the 1980s. The missile was designed from the outset to be a mobile system, launched from a container carried by a mobile transporter erector launcher (TEL).
At the end of the Cold War, surplus Topol missiles were offered for use as space launchers. With a new fourth stage added to provide the final orbital kick, the launcher was named "Start-1". A second "Start" model, which used two Topol second stages (5 stages total) was also offered. The first Start-1 orbital test launch, a success, took place from Plestesk in 1993. A single "Start" test flight attempt failed the following year. No subsequent 5-stage "Start" attempts had been made as of mid-2006.
Operational Start-1 launches began from Svobodny in 1997. Six orbital flights, all successful, had taken place by mid-2006.
Start-1 is 22.7 meters tall and 1.8 meters in diameter. It weighs about 47 tonnes at liftoff. Start-1 is ejected from its erected transporter canister by gas pressure developed by a solid propellant gas generator. Its first stage motor ignites shortly after the vehicle clears the canister.
The first stage is controlled by four jet vanes in the exhaust and by four fold-out, grid-type air vanes at the base of the vehicle. The vehicle coasts for about 21 seconds after first stage burn-out before the second stage ignites and separates. Flight control during the second and third stage burns is provided by gas injection into the fixed nozzle exhaust.
The Start-1 fourth stage coasts for several minutes after
the third stage falls away. During the coast, flight control is provided by a
gas-dynamic reaction control system (GRACS). During the fourth stage burn, the GRACS
provides roll control. Yaw and pitch control is provided by main nozzle gimballing.
After the fourth stage burn, a cold-nitrogen gas post-boost propulsion system works
for up to 200 seconds to provide the final orbital insertion fine-tuning.
Start-1 User's Guide, United Start, 2002
Last Update: June 10, 2006