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Molniya 8K78 – Strategic Rocket Forces

Molniya 8K78 – Strategic Rocket Forces

  • Length: 43.44 m
  • Diameter: 3 m
  • Launch Mass: 305 T
  • Low Earth Orbit Capacity: 1900 kg

The Molniya 8K78, manufactured by Strategic Rocket Forces established in 1959, undertook its inaugural launch on 10/10/1960. Notably, Molniya 8K78 has 20 successful launches and 20 failed attempts, with a cumulative tally of 40 launches, currently with 0 pending launches in the pipeline.

The Molniya was a modification of the well-known R-7 Semyorka rocket and had four stages.

The 8K78 resulted from a crash program by the Korolev Bureau to develop a booster for launching planetary probes. A larger third stage was added along with a fourth stage (Blok L) that was designed to fire in-orbit to send the payload out of LEO. The basic R-7 core was also structurally strengthened and given more powerful engines. A rushed development produced multiple malfunctions of the upper stages, which led to its being replaced by the improved Molniya-M in 1964, but there were enough 8K78s left to continue flying them into 1967.

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