Re: satellites carrying atomic reactors

From: Vitek, Antonin (
Date: Fri Aug 24 2001 - 21:55:39 PDT

  • Next message: Vitek, Antonin: "Re: satellites carrying atomic reactors"

    Joe wrote:
    > An experimental nuclear reactor power system, the SNAP 10A which used
    The former Soviet Union put on orbit toghether 33 RORSAT satellites with
    nuclear reactor (electrical power output 1 kW) of type Buk (in English
    Beech), later with Topaz-1 reactor, and powerfull radar. The operational
    orbit was rather low (cca 250 km), but the rector core containing 31
    rods of 90% enriched U-235 (cca 31 kg = 68 lbs) was injected into a
    higher circular orbit (cca 1000 km)  shortly before  the propellant for
    orbit adjustments and orientation control was exhausted. The Russian
    name of this RORSAT system was "Sistema morskoi kosmicheskoi razvedki i
    tseleukazanija" (= Ocean space reconnaisance and targeting system),
    probably developed in KB Yuzhnoe in Dnepropetrovsk (now Ukraine) and
    built in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) at NPO Arzenal im. M. W. Frunze.
    Only two of those satellites were lost before Soviets succeeded in
    putting the reactor core in higher "graveyard" orbit (our descendants -
    take care of them!!!! lifetime given in RAE tables is cca. 600 yr.) and
    decayed in the atmosphere, with some parts of reactor reaching the Earth
    surface, namely in the case of Kosmos 954 (1977-090A = 10361). Remnants
    of this craft were found in Canada near Great Slave Lake. The Russians
    incorporated in the desing of the nuclear reactor a selfdestructive
    charge in the wake of this accident, which was used during the loss of
    the second spacecraft, Kosmos 1402 (1982-084A = 13441). Spacecraft
    entered Earth's atmosphere over southern Atlantic Ocean, destruction
    device probaly succesfully dispersed radioactive materie, because in the
    vicinity of splashdown point on traces of radioactivity were found. The
    command link was also lost with Kosmos 1900 (1987-101A = 18665), but
    onboard control system was able to put the reactor on graveyard orbit.
    After only one further test (Kosmos 1932, 1988-019A = 18957) program was
    terminated, mainly due international protests.
    Therefore from the Soviet Union there are (at least) 31 reactors
    circling the Earth in 1000-km orbits.
    It is also known that at least one spacecraft was lost during launch
    Most complete report can be found in literature:
    Staring at the Sea: The Soviet RORSAT and EORSAT Programmes / A.
    Siddiqi. - J. Brit. Interplanet. Soc. 52 [11/12] 397-416 (1999).
    (You may also follow the programm on my pages, starting at first
    prototype without nuclear reactor at using link between
    spacecraft. Those links are placed in the line preceding the heading
    "Prubeh letu" (ie. Flight history, rightmost button on the bottom of the
    screen). Sorry, text is in Czech, but the introductory table for each
    spacecraft is rather self-explanatory).
    Excuse please my poor English (I am autodidact only).
    Mgr. Antonin Vitek, CSc.
    Office: Main Library, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
      Narodni 3, CZ-11522 Praha 1 - Phone: +420(2)21403255, fax
    Home: Kytin 127, CZ-25210 Mnisek p. B., Czech Republic
    Phone: +420(305)592865 - Coord.: 14.2194 deg E, 49.8488 deg N, 442 m ASL
    My satellite home page:
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