FunctionOrbital carrier rocket
Country of originSoviet Union (original build),
Ukraine (commercial launches after 1999)
Cost per launchUS$29 million [1]
Height34.3 m (113 ft)
Diameter3 m (9.8 ft)
Mass211,000 kg (465,000 lb)
Payload to LEO
Mass4,500 kilograms (9,900 lb)
Payload to the ISS
Mass3,200 kilograms (7,100 lb)
Payload to SSO
Mass2,300 kilograms (5,100 lb)
Payload to TLI
Mass550 kilograms (1,210 lb) (with ST-1)
Associated rockets
Based on
  • R-36M
Launch history
Launch sitesSite 109/95, Baikonur
LC-13, Yasny
Total launches22
First flight21 April 1999
Last flight25 March 2015
First stage
Powered by1 RD-264 module
(four RD-263 engines)
Maximum thrust4,520 kN (1,020,000 lbf)
Specific impulse318 s (3.12 km/s)
Burn time130 seconds
PropellantN2O4 / UDMH
Second stage
Powered by1 RD-0255 module
(one RD-0256 main engine and one RD-0257 vernier)
Maximum thrust755 kN (170,000 lbf)
Specific impulse340 s (3.3 km/s)
Burn time190 seconds
PropellantN2O4 / UDMH
Third stage
Powered by1 RD-864
Maximum thrust20.2 kN (4,500 lbf)
Specific impulse309 s (3.03 km/s)
Burn time1,000 seconds
PropellantN2O4 / UDMH

The Dnepr rocket (Russian: Днепр, romanizedDnepr; Ukrainian: Дніпро, romanizedDnipró) was a space launch vehicle named after the Dnieper River. It was a converted ICBM used for launching artificial satellites into orbit, operated by launch service provider ISC Kosmotras. The first launch, on April 21, 1999, successfully placed UoSAT-12, a 350 kg demonstration mini-satellite, into a 650 km circular Low Earth orbit.[2][3]


Dnepr launch video

The Dnepr was based on the R-36MUTTH Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) – called the SS-18 Satan by NATO – designed in the 1970s by the Yuzhnoe Design Bureau in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukrainian SSR. among the outstanding authors of the project there are people like Boris Gubanov, Sergey Sopov.[4]

The Dnepr control system was developed and produced by the JSC "Khartron", Kharkiv. The Dnepr was a three-stage rocket using storable hypergolic liquid propellants. The launch vehicles used for satellite launches have been withdrawn from ballistic missile service with the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces and stored for commercial use. A group of a total of 150 ICBMs were allowed under certain geopolitical disarmament protocols to be converted for use, and can be launched through 2020. The Dnepr was launched from the Russian-controlled Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and the Dombarovsky launch base, near Yasny, in the Orenburg region of Russia.

In February 2015, following a year of strained relations including the Euromaidan and the Russo-Ukrainian war, Russia announced that it would sever its "joint program with Ukraine to launch Dnepr rockets and [was] no longer interested in buying Ukrainian Zenit boosters, deepening problems for [Ukraine's] space program and its struggling Yuzhmash factory."[5] However ISC Kosmotras reported that they would continue to fulfill their obligations for three Dnepr launches in 2015,[6] of which only one took place.[7]

By the end of 2016, no further launch had materialized and the remaining customers had switched to alternative launch providers.[8][9][10][1]

Business magnate Elon Musk tried to purchase refurbished Dnepr rockets for a low price from Russia but returned empty-handed after failing to find any that were affordable. This led him to the creation of a successful private rocket launch company now known as SpaceX.[11][12]


The Dnepr launch vehicle had only a small number of modifications compared to the R-36M ICBM in service.The main difference was the payload adapter located in the space head module and modified flight-control unit. This baseline version could lift 3,600 kg into a 300 km low Earth orbit at an inclination of 50.6°, or 2,300 kg to a 300 km Sun-synchronous orbit at an inclination of 98.0°. On a typical mission the Dnepr deployed a larger main payload and a secondary payload of Miniaturized satellites and CubeSats.

Launch history

Before the Dnepr entered commercial service it was in service with the Strategic Rocket Forces which launched the ICBM version over 160 times with a reliability of 97%. The rocket had been used several times for commercial purposes with a single failure.

The Dnepr has at two points held the record for the most satellites orbited in a single launch; the April 2007 launch with 14 payloads held the record until 20 November 2013, when an American Minotaur I placed 29 satellites and two experiment packages into orbit.[13] The next day a Dnepr re-took the record, placing 32 satellites and an experiment package bolted to the upper stage into low Earth orbit.[14] This record was broken by an Antares launch in January 2014 which carried 34 spacecraft.

Flight Date (UTC) Payload Orbit Site
1 April 21, 1999
UoSAT-12 LEO 650 km / 65˚ Baikonur
2 September 26, 2000
  • MegSat-1 (Italy)
  • UniSat (Italy)
  • TiungSat-1 (Malaysia)
  • SaudiSat-1A/1B (Saudi Arabia)
LEO 650 km / 65˚ Baikonur
3 December 20, 2002
LEO 650 km / 65˚ Baikonur
4 June 29, 2004
  • Demeter (France)
  • Saudicomsat-1/2 (Saudi Arabia)
  • SaudiSat 2 (Saudi Arabia)
  • LatinSat C/D (Argentina)
  • Unisat-3 (Italy)
  • Amsat Echo (USA)
SSO 700 × 850 km / 98˚ Baikonur
5 August 23, 2005
SSO 600 × 550 km / 98˚ Baikonur
6 July 12, 2006
Genesis I (USA) LEO 560 km / 65˚ Yasny
7 July 26, 2006
failed to reach orbit Baikonur
8 April 17, 2007
SSO 692 × 665 km / 98˚[15] Baikonur
9 June 15, 2007
TerraSAR-X LEO 514 km / 97˚[16] Baikonur
10 June 28, 2007
Genesis II LEO 560 km / 65˚ Yasny
11 August 29, 2008
RapidEye 1-5 [17] Baikonur
12[18] October 1, 2008
13 July 29, 2009
SSO Baikonur
14 April 8, 2010
Cryosat-2 Polar Baikonur
15[19] June 15, 2010
SSO Yasny
16 June 21, 2010
TanDEM-X LEO Baikonur
17[20] August 17, 2011
LEO Yasny
18[21] August 22, 2013
KOMPSat-5 LEO Yasny
19[22] November 21, 2013
LEO Yasny
20[23] June 19, 2014
LEO Yasny
21[24] November 6, 2014
LEO Yasny
22[25] March 25, 2015
KOMPSat-3A LEO Yasny

Launch failure

The committee investigating the failed launch on July 26, 2006, concluded that the failure was caused by a malfunctioning of the pumping hydraulic drive of combustion chamber #4. The control malfunctioning brought about the disturbances, which led to the roll instability, excessive dispersions of the yaw and pitch angles. Thrust termination occurred at 74 seconds after lift-off. The crash site was located 150 km from the launch pad in an unpopulated area of Kazakhstan. Toxic propellants polluted the crash site, forcing Russia to pay US$1.1m in compensation.[26] The rocket used for this launch was more than twenty years old. Procedures for launch have been changed to prevent future malfunctions of this kind.

See also


  1. ^ a b Clark, Stephen (30 December 2016). "Iridium satellites closed up for launch on Falcon 9 rocket". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 30 December 2016. Russian officials have said they plan to discontinue Dnepr launches.
  2. ^ "The Dnepr launcher". RussianSpaceWeb.com.
  3. ^ "UoSAT-12 Integrates with Dnepr for Launch on 21 April". Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28.
  4. ^ Казанский национальный исследовательский технический университет имени А. Н. Туполева - КАИ, Казанский национальный исследовательский технический университет имени А. Н. Туполева - КАИ (2024-04-02). "Первый заместитель генерального конструктора Научно-производственного объединения "Энергия", ведущий конструктор ракетно-космического комплекса "Энергия-Буран"". kai.ru. Retrieved 2024-04-02.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Messier, Doug (6 February 2015). "Russia Severing Ties With Ukraine on Dnepr, Zenit Launch Programs". Parabolic Arc. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  6. ^ Clark, Stephen (6 February 2015). "Customers assured of Dnepr rocket's near-term availability". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  7. ^ McDowell, Jonathan (18 April 2022). "General Catalog of Artificial Space Objects - R-36". planet4589.org. Archived from the original on 18 April 2022. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  8. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Iridium-NEXT". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 30 December 2016. Kosmotras has received a contract to provide supplemental launch services on Dnepr launch vehicles. Dnepr can carry two satellites on each launch. One Dnepr launch, carrying the first two satellites, was planned, but it was delayed and finally canceled due to bureaucratic hurdles.
  9. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "GRACE-FO". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 30 December 2016. Originally a launch on a Dnepr rocket from Baikonur in 2017 was planned, but with Dnepr becoming unavailable, the launch was switched to a Falcon-9 v1.2 subcontracted from Iridium, flying together with five Iridium-NEXT satellites in December 2017.
  10. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Paz". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 30 December 2016. Originally Kosmotras was contracted to provide the Dnepr launch vehicle for a launch from Dombarovsky (Yasny) in 2015. After an 18 months delay, Hisdesat canceled the launch contract in July 2016. Launch on a not yet disclosed vehicle is planned for 2017.
  11. ^ "Is SpaceX Changing the Rocket Equation? | Space | Air & Space Magazine". 2017-02-23. Archived from the original on 2017-02-23. Retrieved 2022-01-07.
  12. ^ Vance, Ashlee (14 May 2015). "Elon Musk's Space Dream Almost Killed Tesla". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 2022-03-26. Retrieved 2022-01-07.
  13. ^ Graham, William (20 November 2013). "Orbital's Minotaur I successfully lofts multitude of payloads". NASASpaceflight.com. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  14. ^ Graham, William (21 November 2013). "Russian Dnepr conducts record-breaking 32 satellite haul". NASASpaceflight.com. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  15. ^ "EgyptSat 1/Saudisat-3 launch details" (in Russian). Roskosmos.
  16. ^ "TerraSAR-X launch details" (in Russian). Roskosmos. Archived from the original on 2007-07-08. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  17. ^ "Five RapidEye remote sensing satellites launched". Spaceflight Now.
  18. ^ "Space briefs - Dnepr Launches Thai Remote Sensing Craft". Space News. 2008-10-10.
  19. ^ Stephen Clark (June 15, 2010). "French Sun Satellite and Swedish Experiment Blast Off on Russian Rocket". Spaceflight Now (Space.com). Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  20. ^ "RASAT takes off into space". Anatolia News Agency. August 17, 2011.
  21. ^ William Graham (2013-08-22). "Russian Dnepr rocket launches with Arirang-5". NASASpaceflight.com.
  22. ^ Stephen Clark (21 November 2013). "Silo-launched Dnepr rocket delivers 32 satellites to space". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  23. ^ Stephen Clark. "Russian Dnepr rocket lofts record haul of 37 satellites". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  24. ^ Stephen Clark (6 November 2014). "Japanese satellites launched on Soviet-era missile". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  25. ^ William Graham and Chris Bergin (2015-03-25). "Russia's Dnepr rocket launches Kompsat-3A mission". NASASpaceflight.com.
  26. ^ "Russia to pay Kazakhstan over US$1 million in compensation for damage from rocket crash". International Herald Tribune. 2006-10-03.