The Energia (Russian Энергия, energy ',' energy '; GRAU index 11K25, NATO designation SL- 17) is a Soviet rocket that was designed to transport the Buran space shuttle in orbit. The rocket came twice, in 1987 and 1988, successfully used. The Energia was like the Space Shuttle Buran from OKB -1 design bureau Korolev, RKK Energia today developed.


The two-stage rocket was at a height of 58.8 meters and a takeoff thrust of 35,000 kN. You could carry a payload of about 96 tons into low-Earth orbit and about 22 tonnes transported into a geostationary transfer orbit and was up today next to the Saturn V and the N-1 the most powerful rocket ever built.

The first stage were the booster, developed parallel to the zenith Energia as independent rocket. With the RD -170 this was the strongest ever flown thrust liquid rocket engine used. The zenith is still used today and is the most technologically advanced, operational Russian launcher. It is to be replaced in the future of the Angara rocket.

With the number of Booster: two, four, six or eight, each of which was connected in pairs, the payload capacity of the Energia was changed. Also the separation of the booster later in flight went in pairs. They were powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene, and should be reusable by the attached parachute systems. The reappearance of the boosters to the ground but was never tested in the single flights of Energia.

The (second stage) central stage was powered by four equipped with a respective combustion chamber RD -0120 engines, which use liquid hydrogen and oxygen ( LH2/LOX ) burned, which was a first for the Soviet space program at the time. Since the central level similar to the Space Shuttle practically consisted only of fuel tanks and disposal at the top of the rocket does not have a payload adapter that is to be transported payload had to be mounted on the side of the central level, but also allowed for bulky payloads.

Externally, the structure and design of the Energia Buran space shuttle to the space shuttle was very similar. However, these were not a copy, but one based in a wide range of different technologies construction, which led to an externally similar shape due to similar objectives. The most important difference between the two systems was that the Energia also was able to start without the Buran space shuttle, which was not possible with the Space Shuttle system. Thus, the Energia / Buran system was flexible in use. More in this article: Buran ( space program ).


As a next stage Energia -2 was planned, which should be fully reusable. To this end, the central level should after stopping the payload enter the atmosphere and glide to a landing place, where developed for Buran technologies should be used.

It was also planned with the volcano a severe variant of the Energia, which had eight booster as well as an additional, driven to an RD -0120 engine advanced level. The volcano should be able to carry about 175 tons payload into a low earth orbit. Both versions were never designed to use maturity.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union attempted to offer early 1990s the Energia commercially on the market for launchers. Since the existing model was too large for the existing payloads, they designed the Energia - M variant. This was much smaller and came with only two boosters and one RD -0120 engine in the central stage from. This allowed the rocket today about the payload capacity Delta IV Heavy or Ariane rockets 5ECA be downgraded. But could the Energia -M then get hold of no starting jobs and so was still at planning stage. It was only built a model (mock -up ) full-size, with which one tested the transport of the rocket and the erection on the launch platform.


In the first start of the Energia on May 15, 1987 Polyus was a technology prototype systems for missile defense in space started. The start was successful, although Polyus has not reached the orbit due to a control error of the satellite. In the second and final launch on 15 November 1988, the Buran space shuttle was launched into space unmanned. Return and landing were made automatically controlled.

Later they should be used both for the start of heavy space station modules, communications satellites and military payloads as well as for the realization of manned Mars flight.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, but there was no longer start, and the program was discontinued due to budget shortages. Although it is reported several times in the media of plans to revive the Energia, no plans have been confirmed so far.

Start list

This is a complete start list of the Energia rocket.

¹ Gross Weight = ( Satellite Adapter, enclosure etc. )

² NOT necessarily the target orbit of the payload - but the path to the payload of the advanced level should be suspended.