A distinguished scientist and designer in the field of space rocket engineering. General Designer – General Director of Yuzhnoye design office (1971 – 1990). Doctor of Engineering (1967), Academician of Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (1976), Academician of Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1984), Academician of Russian Academy of Sciences (1992), Full Member of the International Academy of Astronautics, President of K.E. Tsiolkovsky Russian Academy of Cosmonautics.
Vladimir Fyodorovich Utkin was born in the village of Pustobor, Yerakhtursk area of Ryazan region, Russia. After graduation, he was drafted into the army, fought at the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, was awarded with war decorations. After graduation from Jet Armament department of Leningrad military engineering institute in 1952, Utkin was sent to Special Design Bureau #586 in Dnepropetrovsk, were he worked on the organization of series production of first Soviet ballistic missiles R-1, R-2, R-5 designed by Chief Designer Sergey Korolev. After the foundation of Yuzhnoye design office, he worked as an engineer, senior engineer, group head, sector head, department head, Deputy and First Deputy Chief Designer. In 1971, he became Chief Designer, and then General Designer of Yuzhnoye design office. In 1990 – 2000, Vladimir Utkin worked as General Director of TsNIIMASh, Russia.
As Yuzhnoye’s General Designer, Vladimir Utkin became a worthy successor of the cause of his brilliant predecessor: the concepts and projects conceived by Mikhail Yangel were put into actual hardware.
Under Utkin’s leadership, Yuzhnoye developed and put into service world’s unrivalled strategic missile systems which formed the basis of Strategic Rocket Forces of the Soviet Union and, later, Russia. Among these missiles were the SS-18, one of the most powerful and efficient liquid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missiles, called Satan by the Americans, and the solid-propellant SS-24 ICBM (Scalpel) in silo-based and rail-mobile versions, etc. Highly efficient and reliable space launch systems Cyclone and Zenit and a wide range of military, scientific, and civil application spacecraft were developed and put into service.
Many challenging scientific and technical problems were solved during development of the missile systems: leak-tightness of propellant system was achieved, missiles could stand by on alert for a long time in a fueled state, heavy missiles were launched from containers mortar style, anti-ballistic missile defense penetration aids were developed. Silos were superhardened, missile were hardened against nuclear strike; high degree of combat readiness and high missile firing accuracy were achieved. The performance of the rail-mobile system with the SS-24 missile is unparalleled in the world’s rocket production.
Vasiliy Utkin placed emphasis on environmental protection, automation of prelaunch operations, missile firing rates, and other topical issues. Solution of a number of scientific and technical problems led to the development of Zenit, the best medium-lift launch vehicle in the world, which subsequently became the basis of big international projects Sea Launch and Land Launch.
Vasiliy Utkin was an active participant in international cooperation in space research and exploration, including the Interkosmos program: the Arcade project with the Aureole satellite was implemented jointly with French specialists; Aryabhata and Bhaskara satellites were built and launched into orbit in cooperation with India.
A lot of the credit must go to Vasiliy Utkin for using decommissioned missiles to launch spacecraft (under the Dnepr program, etc.).
Vasiliy Utkin is the author and co-author of more than 200 scientific studies: projects, articles, inventions.
He took an active part in social life, management of the state affairs. He was repeatedly elected to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR (1972-1991); he was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR (1976-1991).
Twice Hero of Socialist Labor (1969, 1976), winner of Lenin Prize (1964) and the USSR State Prize (1980). Utkin was decorated with the Medal for Labor Valor (1956), Order of the Red Banner of Labor (1959), Orders of Lenin (1961, 1966, 1969, 1973, 1976, 1983).
Vasiliy Utkin rests in Troyekurovskoye cemetery, Moscow.
The Golden and the Silver medal were established in memory of Vasiliy Utikin. Today, these medals are awarded to scientists and designers for outstanding achievements in aerospace technology development.