Yuzhnoye State Design Office was founded in 1954 based on a design department of Yuzhny Machine-Building Plant.
The first missile developed by Yuzhnoye was the R-12 (SS-4), the most mass-produced medium-range missile in the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces. Four missile complex generations in all were created, with liquid-propellant and solid-propellant strategic missiles of different kinds of deployment: from the first medium-range missile to orbital and intercontinental missiles with multiple reentry vehicles and penetration aids. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, development of strategic missile systems was terminated.
The missile complex development significantly increased the scientific and technical potential of Yuzhnoye and cooperating companies, which offered scope for pursuing peaceful space exploration. Yuzhnoye developed and put into service space launch systems such as Kosmos, Cyclone-2, and Cyclone-3, with launch vehicles converted from in-house designed missiles. These launch vehicles were widely used in the Soviet and first international space programs.
Commissioned in 1985, the Yuzhnoye’s environmentally friendly Zenit launch vehicle with a fully automated unmanned launch played an important role in the development of the Soviet rocket technology. This rocket became one of the best launch vehicles in the world. A cluster of four Zenit first stages was used as a boost stage of the Energia-Buran space transportation system.
To support Earth and space exploration, Yuzhnoye developed more than sixty types of spacecraft and automatic orbital stations to perform space research, Earth remote sensing, and defense functions. A lot of research was made possible thanks to Yuzhnoye-designed standard satellite buses, which allowed using a set of support systems, satellite structure, and onboard equipment control circuit irrespective of a scientific mission at hand.
Development of new missiles called forth the development of respective propulsion in- house. In the late 1950s, a propulsion design bureau was formed within Yuzhnoye to develop liquid-propellant engines. Starting from the 1970s, Yuzhnoye and Yuzhmash, which then included Pavlograd mechanical plant, successfully began producing solid-propellant rocket motors. To date, they have developed about 50 types of mature rocket motors.
In 1991, when Ukraine gained independence, the country created its own aerospace industry with the National Space Agency at the head. The primary objectives of the industry include implementation of national space programs and big space projects in close cooperation with the international space community.
In the period of transition from the leading Soviet rocket-production organization to a company of the independent Ukraine, Yuzhnoye developed and manufactured a number of products for different sectors of the economy: production prototypes of passenger transport (buses and trolley-buses), conforming to world standards, wind-electric installations of different capacity, etc.
However, the main area of Yuzhnoye’s business is space technology. Yuzhnoye is the main actor in the national space programs. On Yuzhnoye’s credit side is the development and launch of Sich series remote sensing satellites.
The company was successful in entering the world’s launch services market. For example, the upgraded Zenit launch vehicle became the rocket segment of international programs Sea Launch, where it is operated from the equatorial launch site in the Pacific, and Land Launch, where it lifts off from Baikonur Cosmodrome.
By upgrading decommissioned missiles, Yuzhnoye and its partners from International Space Company Kostmotras developed a conversion light-weight three-stage Dnepr launch vehicle used for peaceful purposes to launch spacecraft operated by various countries.
Within the framework of cooperation with Egypt, Yuzhnoye designed and orbited the EgyptSat-1 satellite and trained Egyptian personnel, to whom they transferred control over the satellite.
In 2000s, Yuzhnoye started developing components for other than in-house designed launch vehicles. E.g., a Yuzhnoye-developed and Yuzhmash-produced liquid-propellant rocket engine is used in the fourth stage of the European VEGA launch vehicle operated from Kourou Space Center. Yuzhnoye developed and Yuzhmash produces the Stage 1 Core Structure for the Antares launch vehicle made by Orbital Sciences Corporation of the United States.