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Elektron (Russian: электрон) ("electron") was a series of particle physics satellites launched by the Soviet Union in 1964. Designed to be launched in pairs, they allowed simultaneous monitoring of the lower and upper Van Allen radiation belts. Two of the four launched satellites are still in orbit.

Elektron 1, 2, 3, and 4
Mission typeEarth science
OperatorSoviet Union
COSPAR ID
  • 1964-006A (Elektron 1')
  • 1964-006B (Elektron 2)
  • 1964-038A (Elektron 3)
  • 1964-038B (Elektron 4)
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerOKB-1
Launch mass
  • 329 kg (Elektron 1)
  • 444 kg (Elektron 2)
  • 350 kg (Elektron 3)
  • 444 kg (Elektron 4)
Start of mission
Launch date
  • Elektron 1 and 2: January 30, 1964, 09:45 (1964-01-30UTC09:45Z) UTC
  • Elektron 3 and 4: July 11, 1964, 21:51 (1964-07-11UTC21:51Z) UTC
RocketVostok 8K72K
Launch siteBaikonur LC1
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
Perigee altitude
  • Elektron 1: 408 kilometres (254 mi)
  • Elektron 2: 5,611 kilometres (3,487 mi)
  • Elektron 3: 413 kilometres (257 mi)
  • Elektron 4: 447 kilometres (278 mi)
Apogee altitude
  • Elektron 1: 6,439 kilometres (4,001 mi)
  • Elektron 2: 62,811 kilometres (39,029 mi)
  • Elektron 3: 6,302 kilometres (3,916 mi)
  • Elektron 4: 66,269 kilometres (41,178 mi)
Inclination60.2-.9 degrees
Period160 minutes (1/3); 22.5 hours (2/4)
 

HistoryEdit

On June 23, 1960, Soviet spaceflight engineer Sergei Korolev's "big space plan" for the future of Soviet space endeavors was approved by the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Council of Soviet Ministers. The plan included provisions for two pairs of scientific spacecraft to simultaneously map Earth's lower and upper Van Allen radiation belts [3] at higher inclinations than those achieved by US satellites of the time (60 degrees vs 30 degrees latitude), to be deployed simultaneously in a single launch of a Vostok rocket. Korolev's design bureau, OKB-1 began design work in July.[1].

In addition to the charged particles of the Van Allen Belts, the spacecraft were also designed to measure cosmic rays, galactic radio emissions,[4] magnetic fields, radio propagation[5], and micrometeoroid flux. They were also meant to study artificial radiation belts created by high altitude nuclear tests, but the ratification of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in August 1963 ended such tests before the launch of the Elektrons.[6]

Spacecraft designEdit

Elektrons 1 and 3 had design masses of 350 kg, were 325 mm in diameter, and were to be placed in an eccentric 425 km × 6,000 km orbit. They were cylindrical with six solar panels for power generation.[1]

Elektrons 2 and 4 had design masses of 460 kg, were 400 mm in diameter and 850 mm long, also cylindrical, but without extended solar panels. They were to be boosted into a highly eccentric 450 × 60,000 km orbit to map the outer Van Allen belt, simultaneous with Elektron 1/3's study of the inner radiation belt. To attain this orbit, they used a solid-propellant perigee kick motor of 3350 kgf and 12 to 15 seconds duration.[2]

MissionsEdit

 
The orbits of satellites Elektron 2 and 4 with respect to the Earth's magnetosphere

All of the Elektrons were launched in pairs into orbit via Vostok 8K72K rocket.

Elektron 1Edit

Elektron 1, with a mass of 329 kg,was launched on January 30, 1964 at 09:45 UTC.[1]

Per the Soviet news agency, TASS, the spacecraft was still operating as of February 6, 1964, having completed 53 orbits.[7] It is still in orbit.[8]

Elektron 2Edit

Elektron 2, with a mass of 444 kg, was launched on January 30, 1964 at 09:45 UTC.[2]

Per the Soviet news agency, TASS, the spacecraft was still operating as of February 6, 1964, having completed 6 orbits.[7]

Its orbit decayed on 20 July 1997.[9]

Elektron 3Edit

Elektron 3, with a mass of 350 kg, was launched on July 11, 1964 at 21:51 UTC with an identical mission to that of Elektron 1.[1]

It is still in orbit.[10]

Elektron 4Edit

Elektron 4, with a mass of 444 kg, was launched on July 11, 1964 at 21:51 UTC with an identical mission to that of Elektron 2.[2]

Its orbit decayed on 12 October 1983.[11]

LegacyEdit

Data obtained from the Elektron satellites resulted in many technical papers on a variety of subjects[12] and allowed the assessment of risk to cosmonauts and satellites from radiation in outer space.[6] They and the Kosmos satellites bolstered the impression that the Soviets, like the Americans, were committed to civilian as well as military application of satellites.[13]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e Wade, Mark. "Elektron-A". Archived from the original on 25 May 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  2. ^ a b c d Wade, Mark. "Elektron-B". Archived from the original on 25 May 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  3. ^ Siddiqi, Asaf (1989). Challenge to Apollo. NASA. p. 240. ISBN 5551266508.
  4. ^ Garland, Kenneth (1989). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Space Technology. Bison Books Corp. p. 127. ISBN 978-0517574270.
  5. ^ "Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1964" (PDF). NASA. p. 42. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 January 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. ^ a b "Space Exploration and Humanity: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 ..., Volume 2". American Astronautical Society. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1964" (PDF). NASA. p. 42. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 January 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  8. ^ "Elektron 1". Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  9. ^ "Elektron 2". Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  10. ^ "Elektron 3". Archived from the original on 2 January 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  11. ^ "Elektron 4". Archived from the original on 1 January 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  12. ^ "NASA Technical Reports Server". Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  13. ^ "Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1964" (PDF). NASA. p. 152. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 January 2019. Retrieved 31 December 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)

External linksEdit