Military Review

How was preparing the launch of the first artificial satellite of the Earth

How was preparing the launch of the first artificial satellite of the Earth

Fifty-eight years ago, the Soviet Union opened the space age to stories of humanity

This year marks the 58 anniversary of the launch of the world's first artificial Earth satellite. This is an achievement that has led our country to lead the process of developing near-Earth space. And although in recent decades, the success in this industry is much more modest, the fact that the first satellite, the first living creature, and the first man went into space from the Russian land, on domestic rockets and through the efforts of thousands of our countrymen, gives us confidence that the situation can and should change.

After all, the country that had just survived the most disastrous war in world history — the Great Patriotic War — and barely recovering from its wounds — managed to find the strength and the ability to look into decades to the future! And the launch of the first satellite was just such a “glimpse”. But it is necessary to remember not only that 4 of October 1957 of the year, the Earth had the first artificial satellite, but this word itself was included in the dictionaries of all the languages ​​of the world. It is worth remembering how long and difficult was the path to this literally the finest hour of the domestic space industry.

German heritage and the Russian mind

If we turn to the most distant sources of the 4 October 1957 Soviet triumph, we must admit that without the design ideas of the Socialist-Revolutionary Nikolai Kibalchich, without the theoretical positions of the scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and, in general, man’s dream of a breakthrough to the stars, nothing of the kind would have happened . But specific events, as a rule, have specific causes and motives, more specific performers and implementers. So it was with the first satellite of the Earth. Among his “parents” are Sergei Korolev, the creator of the national cosmonautics, Mstislav Keldysh, academician and researcher Mikhail Tikhonravov, power engineer and electrical engineer Nikolay Lidorenko, ingenious design engineer Gleb Maximov and one of Korolev's closest associates - design scientist Boris Chertok. It was he who frankly admitted in his memoirs (in fact, the first of all the founders of the Soviet cosmonautics!) That the history of the first artificial satellite by and large "had a German origin in both the Soviet Union and the United States."

Here's how Boris Chertok described the history of this “beginning” in the book “Rockets and People”: “In connection with the ban on the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1919, developing new types of artillery weapons and building combat aircraft the German military drew attention to the prospects of long-range missiles - this document did not prohibit them. Especially active relevant work began in Germany after 1933, with the advent of Hitler to power. Then a small group of enthusiasts led by a young talented engineer Werner von Braun received support from the army, and then (her job. - RP.) Became a priority state armament program. And in 1936 ... they began to build a powerful research, production and test rocket center Peenemünde (Rostock district). And in 1943, the first successful launch of the A4 long-range ballistic missile, which later received the propaganda name FAU-2 (“Fergeltung” - “retribution”), was made. ”

It was with this rocket that the Soviet specialists, who in the last days of the war were sent to study the captured equipment in Peenemünde, dealt with. “The main achievements of the German specialists were the technology of mass production of powerful liquid-propellant rocket engines and flight control systems,” writes Boris Chertok. - The ideas of the Russian scientist and inventor Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, German Herman Obert, American Robert Goddard and other brilliant singles of the late XIX - early XX centuries. turned into concrete engineering systems by teams of powerful firms Siemens, Telefunken, Lorentz, etc., local universities, which conducted research on the tasks of Peenemünde ... Studying her experience in 1,5 years in Germany itself, we including me, I was convinced: their rocket is not a projectile, not a gun, but a large and complex system requiring the use of the latest achievements of aerogasdynamics, radio electronics, heating engineering, materials science and high production standards. ”

Although the last volleys of war still thundered, the Soviet Union was already seriously thinking about what the new, post-war world would be. And it was completely obvious, especially after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that the era of a completely different technology was coming, among which missiles should take the leading place. And it was necessary to understand whether our country, where the issues of rocket flights were engaged in the first twenty years of the twentieth century, is capable of making a technological breakthrough.

“After the surrender of the fascists, I was among the organizers of the reconstruction of the German rocket technology in Germany itself,” Boris Chertok recalled. “Even then, we were convinced: no new physical laws were needed for the creation of powerful long-range missiles flying through outer space. In 1947, the flight tests of the FAU-2 assembled in Germany began work on its actual development in the USSR. It became the first long-range unmanned automatically controlled device ... In 1948, at the first Russian Kapustin Yar missile range (the Volga interfluve and its left arm Akhtuba), the P-1 missiles, copies of German V-2, but made entirely from domestic materials, were tested. And in 1949, a series of high-altitude flights of these devices for exploring outer space took place. And in 1950, the following tests began - P-2 - at a distance of 600 km. The final “separation” from the heritage of the FAU-2 was our rocket P-5 at a distance of 1200 km, whose checks were carried out with 1953. At the same time, with the help of P-5, we, together with other domestic scientists, launched research on the use of a rocket as a carrier of the atomic bomb. ".

The legendary "seven"

It turns out that a completely peaceful achievement - the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite - is of military origin ?! Yes this is true. And one should not be surprised at such a twist of fate: in those years, many scientific discoveries, which later received purely peaceful significance, were made in the framework of purely military projects. Moreover, as the future Hero of Socialist Labor noted in 1939, the outstanding theoretical rocketist Mikhail Tikhonravov, “all work without exception in the field of rocket technology ultimately leads to space flight.”

So, going back to the beginning, it is worth repeating after Boris Chertok: "The history of the creation of the first satellite is connected with the work on the rocket as such." After a series of experiments, literally by trial and error, the Soviet designers of rocket technology created, without exaggeration, an ingenious design - the legendary “seven”, intercontinental ballistic missile R-7. Its genius lies in the fact that this system, which made its first flight in the distant 1957 year, a few months before the beginning of the space era, is still launching spacecraft and astronauts into orbit.

The layout of the 1-th artificial Earth satellite. Photo: Valentina Kuzmina / TASS

“During 1955 – 1956. The first technological complex of the P-7 rocket was completed, tested at the Leningrad Metal Works in conjunction with a real launch system, writes Boris Chertok in his memoirs. - At the fire stands near Zagorsk (now the city of Peresvet) began fire tests of individual rocket blocks. Under the leadership of N. Pilyugin, modeling and complex testing of the control system were carried out ... 14 January 1957. The USSR Council of Ministers approved the P-7 missile flight test program. And the first technological “fitting” rocket was sent to Tyuratam (later Baikonur. - RP) at the test site already in January. I spent many days and nights at the test station. We carried out autonomous and complex electrical checks of the rocket: first, block by block, then we assembled the package and conducted its tests as a whole. And no wonder: they found a lot of errors in the documentation and complex electrical circuits. However, there is nothing surprising: instead of the usual one propulsion system, we had five! 12 steering engines alone! 32 combustion chambers (20 main and 12 steering). "

The first flight of the "seven" took place on 5 on May 1957 of the year and continued, if we keep in mind the controlled section, in just 98 seconds. The fourth launch, which took place on 21 in August, became a frontier: despite the fact that it ended in failure, after six days the official organ of the Soviet media, TASS, transmitted to the whole world a message that the first intercontinental ballistic world was developed and tested in the USSR rocket.

And here in the history of space exploration, which was still the history of the creation of the most terrible weapons on Earth, His Majesty intervened. As Boris Chertok recalls, “September 7 1957 was held the next launch of the Р-7 (№ М1-9). The entire active site, all blocks worked fine. However, the head part again burned in the dense layers of the atmosphere, although this time we managed to find a few remnants of the structure ... It was obvious: the product could fly, but its head part needed to be drafted, which required at least six months of intensive labor. But every cloud has a silver lining: the destruction of the head parts opened the way for the launch of the first simplest satellite of the Earth: after all, he did not need to enter the dense layers of the atmosphere. And Korolev received Khrushchev's consent to use two missiles for an experimental launch of the novelty. 17 September 1957, at a solemn meeting dedicated to the 100 anniversary of the birth of K. Tsiolkovsky, almost no-one was then reported to a member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Sergei Korolyov. He said that in our country in the near future an artificial Earth satellite could be delivered into space. And after 5 days, the launch vehicle 8K71PS (product M1-PS) arrived at the test site. ”

It is this rocket that will go down in history in just twelve days, launching the first artificial satellite of the Earth into orbit. Which, by the way, also turned out the way the whole world now knows him, almost by accident.

From the space laboratory - to the half-meter ball

Despite the fact that the idea of ​​launching an artificial satellite in the literal sense of the word was in the air from the end of 1940-x, it began to acquire real features only at the beginning of 1950-x. The summer of 1954 can be considered the starting point of the work on the “embodiment” of the first satellite in metal: May 27 Sergey Korolev presented to the Minister of Defense Industry Dmitry Ustinov a memorandum “On the artificial satellite of the Earth”. In particular, it said: “At present, there are real technical possibilities to achieve with the help of rockets a speed sufficient to create an artificial satellite of the Earth. The most realistic and feasible in the shortest possible time is the creation of an artificial satellite of the Earth in the form of an automatic device that would be equipped with scientific equipment, had radio communication with the Earth and circulated around the Earth at a distance of about 170 – 1100 km from its surface. Such a device will be called the simplest satellite. "

The process of preparing more detailed and specific proposals and approvals “at the top” took almost a year and a half. Only 30 January 1956 of the year issued a decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR on the creation of an undirected artificial Earth satellite. In the documents, as Boris Chertok recalls, he passed “under the secret code“ Object D ”with a mass of 1000 – 1400 kg with scientific research equipment with a mass of 200 – 300 kg. The general scientific management and provision of equipment for the scientific research of outer space was assigned to the USSR Academy of Sciences, the development of the satellite itself to OKB-1 (led by Korolev), and the conduct of experimental launches to the Ministry of Defense. ”

The project “Object D” was completed by July 1956 of the year, and at the same time determined the range of scientific problems that it was intended to solve. In fact, the whole remote-controlled laboratory was supposed to go into space! Her tasks included measuring the ionic composition of space and solar corpuscular radiation, studying magnetic fields and cosmic rays, recording the thermal mode of a satellite, controlling its deceleration in the upper atmosphere, estimating the duration of its existence in orbit, accuracy of determining the coordinates and parameters of the orbit, etc. And since such a work in the USSR, and anywhere else in the world, has not yet been done by anyone, the deadlines for the preparation of the “Object D” were continually sabotaged and moved back further and further. And soon, as Boris Chertok writes in his memoirs, “Korolev, who was satisfied with the deadlines for the production of the first satellite in the space laboratory version, came to the government with a proposal:“ There are reports that in connection with the International Physical Year, the United States intends to 1958 launch a satellite. We risk losing priority. I propose instead of a complex laboratory "Object D" to put into space the simplest satellite ". The proposal was accepted - the launching of the launch of the simplest satellite PS began. ”

The world's first artificial satellite of the Earth. Photo: Nikolai Akimov / TASS photo chronicle

It is under this name - PS-1, that is, the “simplest satellite” - the device went down in history. It was a ball with a diameter of 58 cm, assembled from two half-shells with docking frames interconnected by 36 bolts. Since the satellite was to be filled with dried nitrogen after assembly, the joint was sealed with a rubber gasket. There were four antennas in the upper semi-envelope, of different lengths: two of them were 2,4 m long, and the other two were half a meter longer, 2,9 m. There was also a spring mechanism that, after separating the satellite from the launch vehicle, spread the antennas at an angle of 35 ° from the longitudinal axis. The PS-1 power supply unit, designed for uninterrupted operation for two weeks, consisted of three batteries based on silver-zinc cells and was created at the Institute of Current Sources under the guidance of Nikolay Lidorenko. The equipment of the first satellite also included a remote switch, a fan of a thermal control system, a dual thermostat and control thermo and a relay. All together, the structure weighed 83,6 kg - 12 times less than the original plans for "Object D".

Half a second to make history

At the launching point of the test site No. 5 of the USSR Ministry of Defense Tyuratam, which only a few years later would become known to the whole world by the name of Baikonur, the P-7 rocket No. М1-9, at the head of which PS-1 was hidden under the fairing, dawned at 3 October 1957 of the year. A day and a half was spent preparing for the start. And in 22 hours 28 minutes 34 seconds, the world's first artificial Earth satellite launched into space.

“Through 295,4 from the satellite and the central unit of the launch vehicle went into orbit,” recalled Boris Chertok. - For the first time, the first cosmic speed, calculated by the Englishman Isaac Newton, the founder of classical physics and the law of the world, was achieved (1643 – 1727). It was for the first satellite 7780 m / s. The inclination of the satellite orbit was equal to 65,1 °, the height of the perigee 228 km, the height of the apogee - 947 km, orbital period 96,17 min. After the first enthusiasm, when the signals “Beep-beep-beep”, which became immediately known to all mankind, were received at the test site and, finally, were processed by telemetry, it turned out that the rocket launched on the eyebrows. The engine of the side unit "G" went to the mode with a delay, i.e. less than a second before the control time. If it were still slightly delayed, the scheme would automatically “reset” the installation and the start would be canceled. Moreover, on the 16 second flight, the tank control ahead system failed. This led to an increased consumption of kerosene, and the engine of the central unit was turned off on the 1 with a previously calculated value. There were other problems. If only a little more, the first cosmic velocity could not have been achieved. ”

But history does not know the subjunctive mood, and the 4 day of October 1957 of the year will forever remain the day of the greatest triumph of our country, its scientists, engineers, workers, military and all others who, one way or another, turned out to be involved in the beginning of the space era. In fact, they include all of our people, who managed, on their shoulders, to bear the brunt of opposition to the most advanced military machine of the mid-twentieth century, to win - and immediately begin to dream about the future. And not just to dream, but to embody it.

... The satellite went into orbit with the inclination 65 ° 6 ', the height in the perigee 228 km and the maximum distance from the Earth's surface 947 km. Spending 1 minutes and 96 seconds spent on each orbit around the planet PS-10,2. At a quarter to two in the morning of October 5, 1957, the satellite passed over Moscow, and soon TASS distributed to the whole world a statement about the first successful space launch in the history of mankind.

The first satellite was in space 92 of the day, until January 4 1958. During this time, he made 1440 revolutions around the Earth, flying a total of about 60 million km. As its creators expected, the satellite’s batteries worked for the required two weeks, and all this time it was broadcasting its famous “beep-beep-beep” signal. By the way, it is interesting that the duration of the signals and the pauses between them was not constant. Since it was not possible to establish telemetry equipment on the satellite due to its small size, the Soviet specialists who monitored its flight assessed the state of the apparatus precisely by the duration of the signals and pauses. On average, it was 0,4 seconds and changed if the temperature rose above 50 ° С or fell below 0 ° С, and also if the pressure inside PS-1 fell below 0,35 atmosphere.

The first - forever!

From then until now 4 October 1957, the year remains the date of the beginning of space exploration by man. It will then go there first animals, and then people. It will later appear satellites, which will reach first to the moon, and then to Venus, Mars and other planets of the solar system. Much later, spy satellites and satellite guards will appear in near-earth orbits, the ideas of "star wars", orbital laser guns and other space weapons will be born ... And at that moment no one in the world thought about it, unknown

And this breakthrough was and will forever remain a Russian achievement. After all, the first satellite of our competitors - America - went into space only four months later, February 1 1958 of the year ...
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  1. Engineer
    Engineer 9 October 2015 09: 53 New
    If the first satellite was a little more than 80 kg, then the second satellite was already half a ton - it was the second stage of the rocket with equipment and a capsule for the dog. And the Americans by this time were preparing only their first 8,3kg satellite!!!
    1. Scraptor
      Scraptor 9 October 2015 19: 45 New
      And not the Americans, but in fact the Germans ...

      It was impossible (and therefore also) to write in the article "The Soviet Mind and the German Inheritance?"
  2. lilian
    lilian 9 October 2015 11: 13 New
    PS-1 is the simplest satellite, the first. Korolev decided to launch it, as work on a complex satellite was delayed and he was afraid that the Americans would get ahead of him. As it turned out, things were not going well with the Americans, it might have been slow. But then, the appearance of the PS looked good and turned out to be a suitable symbol of the scientific and technological superiority of the USSR.
  3. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 9 October 2015 12: 50 New
    Thank you so much for the great informative article! I learned a lot for myself.