Tsyklon – Space Launch Report

Tsyklon - Space Launch Report

The Tsyklon space launch vehicle (also called Cyclone) first appeared in 1966. It was a derivative of the Soviet Union’s R-36 ICBM (NATO designation SS-9). The  inital flights were tests of the R-36O FOBS (Fractional Orbital Bombardment System), a missile designed to place warheads into orbit, then decelerate them to reenter over their targets before completing one full orbit.

Tsyklon - Space Launch Report

The two-stage Tsyklon 2 first flew in 1967. Tsyklon 2, which flew from Baykonur’s Area 90, usually carried military ocean surveillance satellites.  In 1977, a restartable third stage was added to create the Tsyklon 3 space launcher.  Tsyklon 3 flew from Area 32 at the Plesetsk Northern Cosmodrome with elnit and Meteor payloads..

Both R-36 and Tsyklon were produced by the Yangel (Yuzhnoye) Design Bureau in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. The first and second stage engines were built by Glushko in Moscow.  The third stage engine was developed by Yuzhnoye.  All of the Tsyklon stages used the storable propellants nitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine.

Tsyklon-2 could put 3.2 tonnes into a 200 km low earth orbit (LEO) at a 65 degree inclination.  Tsyklon-3 could lift up to 3.6 tonnes into a 200 km polar orbit.
 
The Tsyklon 3 first stage was powered by three nonsteerable dual-chamber RD-261 main engines augmented by a four-chamber RD-855 vernier engine. The second stage was powered by a dual chamber RD-262 main engine and a four-chamber RD-856 vernier engine.

Tsyklon was the first space launch vehicle system designed to use a completely automated prelaunch cycle, including use of a special transporter-erector outfitted with automatic couplers for pneumatic, fluid, and electrical connections.

Tsyklon proved to be one of the world’s most reliable space launch vehicles. The final Tsyklon 2 variant had only recorded one failure in 104 orbital attempts by the end of 2004. Tsyklon 3 had eight failures in 121 attempts by the same date, most of which did not involve the original R-36 stages.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Tsyklon production line at Dnepropetrovsk was shut down.  Launches continued at a reduced pace, but the stockpile of Tsyklon vehicles was steadily depleted.  The United Start Corporation attempted to market Tsyklon commercially, but no contracts were signed. 

In 2004, however, the governments of Ukraine and Brazil agreed to cooperate in the development and use of an R-36-derived Tsyklon-4 rocket from Brazil’s launch centre at Alcantara. This agreement called for the creation of a joint Ukrainian-Brazilian company named Alcantara Tsyklon Space with headquarters in Brasilia.

Also read: Titan – Never Flown Variants

 Vehicle Configurations

 LEO
Payload
(metric tons)
200 km x
65 deg
LEO
Payload
(metric
tons) 200 km x 90 deg
ConfigurationLIftoff
Height
(meters)
Liftoff
Mass
(metric
tons)
Tsyklon 23.2 t2.7 tTwo stage R-36 + PLF35.5 m182 t
Tsyklon 3 3.6 t Two stage R-36 + S5M stg 3 + PLF39.3 m190 t

Vehicle Components

 Tsyklon 2
Stage 1
Tsyklon 2
Stage 2
Tsyklon 3
Stage 1
Tsyklon 3
Stage 2
Tsykon 3
Stage 3
(S5M)
PLFPLF
Diameter (m)3 m3 m3 m3 m2.25 m m m
Length (m)18.9 m9.4 m18.9 m9.4 m2.58 m m m
Empty Mass (tonnes)6.3 t3.7 t6.3 t4.36 t1.407 t
Propellant Mass (tonnes)116 t 45.6 t t tt
Total Mass (tonnes)122.3 t49.3 t121.7 t49.8 t t4.6 t
EngineRD251RD252RD261RD262RD861
Engine Mfgr Glushko Glushko Glushko Glushko 
FuelUDMHUDMHUDMHUDMHUDMH
OxidizerN2O4N2O4N2O4N2O4N2O4
Thrust
(SL tons)
241 t  t 
Thrust
(Vac tons)
270.4 t96 t309.2 t96 t8.03 t
ISP (SL sec)     
ISP (Vac sec)301 s317 s301 s318 s317 s
Burn Time (sec)120 s160 s120 s160 s125 s
No. Engines3
(2 chmbrs ea)
1
(2 chmbrs)
3
(2 chmbrs ea)
1
 (2 chmbrs)
1
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