Russian spacecraft

Space flight insider

Over many centuries, the idea of space travel has been taking shape with the humanity’s improving understanding of the Universe. Before flying machines could attempt to escape the Earth’s gravity, generations of astronomers had been bluilding a realistic stage for space exploration, while their tools served as the earliest space research instruments.

After millennia of dreams, centuries of scientific research and decades of engineering experimentation, the Space Age began in 1957 with the launch of the Earth’s first artificial satellite.

Sputnik: The Soviet satellite project | Sputnik-2: Laika’s mission | Sputnik-3: The multi-purpose orbital science lab

The Soviet Union pioneered human conquest of space sending the first piloted spacecraft into orbit in 1961. Since then, several generations of transport ships and orbital stations were developed in the country. Much more ambitious projects of giant orbital settlements, lunar bases and expeditions to Mars were conceived, but could not be implemented due to their tremendous cost. Yet, along with the United States, Russia had remained one of two nations in the world sending people in space in the 20th century.


  • Myasishev Project 48: An early Soviet attempt to develop reusable spacecraft
  • Raketoplan/Kosmoplan: Vladimir Chelomei’s early attempt to develop reusable and planetary spacecraft

The Moon Race: The early Soyuz missions, L1, N-1/L3 programs (1967-1974)

Mars mission: Russian plans for a manned expedition to the Red Planet (1960s-1990s)

LKS: Vladimir Chelomei’s alternative to Buran (1974-1983)

Buran: The Energia-Buran reusable spacecraft program (1974-1993)

Mir space station: The first permanent manned outpost in space (1986-2001)

Kliper space plane: A study of a reusable orbiter to replace Soyuz (2000-2006)

TKS follow-on: Proposals for a follow-on series to the TKS spacecraft by Khrunichev enterprise (2005-2009)


International Space Station: A multinational effort to build human outpost in the Earth orbit

American segment of ISS

European segment of ISS


Future modules of the Russian ISS segment:

Russian space station projects to succeed the ISS:

PTK Federatsiya design:

PTK Federatsiya development history:

Vision for Space Exploration, VSE: A NASA program for a manned lunar base, which could involve international partners, including Russia

Modules and major components:

Systems and operations:

As soon as rockets learned to fly beyond the atmosphere, the spacecraft developers on both sides of the Atlantic drafted the plans for planetary exploration. The Soviet space probes opened the race to the Moon, Venus and Mars. The projects of unmanned missions to Mercury and Jupiter were also under consideration in the former USSR.

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