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Rokot Launch Vehicle

The two newest additions to the Russian launch vehicle stable come from the conversion of ballistic missiles declared excess following the START arms control agreements. The Start and Rokot launch vehicles are derived from the RS-12M (NATO designator SS-25) and RS-18 (NATO designator SS-19), respectively, and both flew maiden orbital missions during 1993-1994.

Debuting in late 1994 was the Rokot launch vehicle developed by the Salyut Design Bureau of the Khrunichev State Space Research and Production Center. By adding a new iiquid propellant third stage Briz (Breeze) to the two stage RS-18 ICBM, Russian aerospace engineers created a 2.5 m diameter, 24.6 m tallspace launch vehicle with a LEO payload capacity of nearly 1.9 metric tons. All three stages burn UDMH and N204. Following two sub-orbital missions (20 November 1990 and 20 December 1991), Rokot finally launched an amateur radio satellite, Radio-ROSTO, into an orbit of 1,884 km by 2,161 km with an inclination of 64.8 degrees on 26 December 1994. Although the satellite deployment portion of the mission was successful, the Rokot third stage exploded a few hours after launch. This initial Rokot space mission originated from a silo at the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Site 175), but regular flights are envisioned from the Kosmos-3M facilities at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome starting in 1997 or from silos at the proposed Svobodnyy Cosmodrome as early as 1996. The German company Daimler-Benz Aerospace is teaming with Khrunichev to market Rokot commercially under the Eurockot Launch Services GmbH of Bremen (References 217-228).


Background Information
First Launch:
December 1994
Flight Rate:
15 per year advertised
Launch Site:
Baikonur, Kazakhstan
4,400 lb to LEO (advertised)
154 lb to LEO (Demonstrated)


  • Originated as the SS-19 two stage ICBM developed by the Chelomei Design Bureau in the 1970ís
  • Converted to a space launch vehicle in 1994 by the Khrunichev State Space Research Center with the addition of a third stage for orbital insertion
  • Marketed internationally by the German Space Agency (DARA) as a commercial launch vehicle for small satellites


  • Newest addition to the Russian space launch fleet
  • Three-stage rocket
  • Stage 1 and stage 2 from SS-19 "Stiletto" ICBM are liquid fueled burning N2O2 and UDMH
  • Stage 3 developed by the Khrunichev State Space Research Center (details unavailable)


>197 ft
Launch Weight:
>198,000 lb
8.2 ft
Liftoff Thrust:
>300,000 lb


Sources and Resources

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