An ever-increasing need for regular satellite launches brought about the necessity to design a new launch vehicle . Using the heavy R-7 rocket (Sputnik, Vostok, Voskhod) was economically impractical, and the lightweight Kosmos rocket was inadequate from the payload-capability point of view.

The R-14 missile was converted into a space launch vehicle by installing a new second stage on a partly modified first.

Configuration: tandem.

The lightweight launch vehicle provided delivery of up to 8 spacecraft in one cluster into circular orbits.

For the first time in the Soviet Union, the second-stage main engine had a dual-burn capability, which enabled the two-stage launch vehicle to place payloads into high Earth orbits.

Due to heavy workload that Yuzhnoye had with the R-36 and R-56 missile development, the Kosmos-2 launch vehicle development was completed by OKB-10 in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.

Since 1970, the field supervision and production of the Kosmos-2 rocket has been the responsibility of Production Association Polyot in Omsk, Russia. The Polyot company upgraded the vehicle and named it Kosmos-3М.

The first Kosmos-2 was launched on August 18, 1964.

The Kosmos is the only Soviet rocket to be operated from three launch sites: Baikonur, Plesetsk, and Kapustin Yar. More than 700 launches were performed in all, delivering more than 1000 spacecraft into orbit.

Basic Specifications

Number of stages


Dimensions, mm: 


Stage diameter 

Payload fairing diameter


32 400

2 400

2 400

Launch weight, tons








Vacuum thrust, tnf:

Stage 1

Stage 2




Payload capability to circular orbits (200 to 2000 km high), up to, tons