The Soyuz-U launch
(LV) is an improved version of the original Soyuz
LV. Soyuz-U is part of the R-7 family
of rockets based on the
missile. Members of this rocket
family were designed by the TsSKB design bureau and constructed at
the Progress Factory in Samara, Russia. (These two are now a united company, TsSKB-Progress).
The first Soyuz-U flight took place on 18
May, 1973, carrying as its payload Kosmos 559
, a Zenit
The Soyuz-U vehicle replaced earlier Soyuz launch vehicle variants
and the Voskhod rocket
, all of
which were closely related vehicles derived from the Soviet
. The Soyuz-U is a unified,
single vehicle capable of launching manned and unmanned
Soyuz-U is still in use today, making several launches a
Soyuz-U/Ikar is version of
Soyuz-U, using Ikar as its 3rd stage, produced
by the same company, TsSKB-Progress.
Ikar is used to impove capabilities of
Soyuz-U and deliver various payloads with masses of 750 kg
to 3920 kg
to 1400 km
's performance is
lower than that of Fregat
, but it is more
precise in maneuvring and it can operate longer autonomously than
version of Soyuz-U is Soyuz-U/Fregat with Fregat as its 3rd stage, developed and produced by
Lavochkin Association in Khimki.
There was also one variant of Soyuz-U, the Soyuz-U2
launcher. It had the same hardware as the
basic Soyuz-U, but used a high energy, synthetic kerosene
instead of normal kerosene as the first stage fuel.
This variant last flew in 1996
production of Syntin ended.
Soyuz-U became a basic platform for development of Soyuz-FG launch
, which uses all-new first stage. However, in future
both Soyuz-U and Soyuz-FG will be replaced by the Soyuz-2
Launches of human spaceflight missions
The first use of a Soyuz-U to launch a human spaceflight
mission took place 2
December 1974, when the Soyuz 16
launched in preparation for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
, which as part of the ASTP docked
with the last Apollo spacecraft
ever flown, was also launched by a Soyuz-U rocket.
On 6 July 1976 a Soyuz-U launched Soyuz 21
which took a crew of two to the Salyut 5
space station. Many subsequent space station crews were launched on
Soyuz-U launchers. The final human spaceflight mission to utilize
the Soyuz-U was Soyuz TM-34
, a Soyuz
ferry flight to the International Space
Lately Soyuz-U vehicles have been used by the Russian Federal Space Agency
mostly with Progress-M robotic
to resupply the International Space Station
The most recent Soyuz-U mission launched Progress M-67 to the ISS
on 24 July 2009.
Its most recent non-Progress launch was on 14 November 2008, when a
Soyuz-U was used to carry the spacecraft to orbit. As of February
2008, a total of 714 Soyuz-U launch vehicles were launched, with 19
launch failures and 695 successes, making it one of the most
reliable LVs ever made.