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The Tsyklon family of launch vehicles is derived from Yuzhnoye's R-36 (NATO designator SS-9) ICBM and is used in two primary configurations. The two-stage Tsyklon 2 launch vehicle has been launched exclusively from the Baikonur Cosmodrome from Complex 90 left and right for high-value military missions: the co-orbital ASAT, RORSAT, EORSAT, and FOBS (Fractional Orbit Bombardment System). Only the EORSAT program is still operational; thus, the launch rate of the Tsyklon-2 is now only a few per year. Both stages employ hypergolic propellants, the first stage powered by three 11D69 (RD-218) engines and the second stage by one 11D26 (RD-219) engine.

The Tsyklon-3 launch vehicle appeared more than a decade after the Tsyklon-2 for use in both civilian and military space programs. The Tsyklon-3 is launched only from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome from Complex 32 left and right. The restartable third stage of the Tsyklon-3 is powered by the Ukrainian 11 D25(RD-861) which also uses UDMH and N204. A total of 11 Tsyklon-3 launch vehicles were flown during 1993-1994 with one failure occurring on 25 May 1994. The cause of that failure was determined to be a short circuit which prevented a successful separation of the second and third stages. Like its Baikonur cousin, the Tsyklon-3 can be transported to the launch pad, erected, fueled, and launched - all automatically and within only a few hours (References 440-444).


Background Information
First Launch:
September 1966
Flight Rate:
15 per year (maximum recorded launch rate)
Launch Site:
Plesetsk, Russia; Baikonur, Kazakhstan
7,900 lb to LEO


  • Originated in 1960s as the SS-9 ballistic missile
  • Developed into a launch vehicle by NPO Yuzhnoye (Ukraine)
  • Originally used for launching electronic ocean reconnaissance satellites
  • Features automated propellant loading and launch processing
  • Third stage introduced in 1977


  • Three-stage liquid-fueled vehicle
  • Stage 1 has one RD-218 booster engine (one turbopump with six separate combustion chambers) burning N2O4/UDMH fed from stage 1 tanks, generating a total of 617,000 lb of thrust
  • Stage 2 has one RD-219 engine burning N2O4/UDMH, generating 223,000 lb of thrust
  • Stage 3 burns N2O4/UDMH, generating 17,500 lb of thrust


128.8 ft
Launch Weight:
397,000 lb
9.2 ft
Liftoff Thrust:
617,000 lb
Payload Fairing:
19.4 ft x 8.9 ft


Sources and Resources

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