History of SRC-Progress

The PROGRESS Space-Rocket Centre JSC (RKTs-Progress) is a leader both among Russian and foreign companies in the field of developing, building and operating medium-lift launch vehicles.

RKTs-Progress is a unique enterprise. All its history is a path of creating completely new hardware and assimilating the most advanced technologies.

Having started from Russia’s first series production of bicycles in 1894, the Dux factory of Moscow radically changed its life in 15 years that followed and took on the most difficult task – production of first Russian airplanes and airships. By 1917, the factory was already one of the largest aircraft building centres of tsarist Russia. Dux built famous Nieuport, Morane, Farman, Sopwith airplanes and airships Kretchet (Falcon), Dux, Yastreb (Hawk).

In Soviet period, Aviation Plant №1 (former Dux) successfully developed production of many experimental and series models of aircraft – the Polikarpov R-1, R-5 reconnaissance bombers, the Polikarpov I-1, I-15, I-153 fighters, and the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 fighters. These aircraft have a lot of world records in speed and flight altitude, gold medals of international aviation competitions and warfare participation to their credit.

In the autumn of 1941, the history of State Aviation Plant № 1 took a new turn года. It was evacuated from Moscow to the city of Kuibyshev (now Samara), where, under incredibly difficult conditions, workers arranged production of the Ilyushin Il-2 ground-attack aircraft. The first Il-2 rose into the sky in December of 1941. In the Great Patriotic War, the plant made a significant contribution to the Victory of the Soviet people over fascist Germany – every sixth aircraft, which fought at the fronts of the Great Patriotic War, was made in the shops of Aviation Plant № 1.

In the postwar years, Aviation Plant № 1 developed production of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-9, MiG-15, MiG-17 jet fighters and the Ilyushin Il-28 and the Tupolev Tu-16 jet bombers.

On January 2, 1958, the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted a resolution on organizing series production of the R-7 intercontinental ballistic missiles at State Aviation Plant № 1 in Kuibyshev. For that purpose, Sergey Korolev, Chief Designer of the OKB-1 design bureau, sent his deputy Dmitri Kozlov to Kuibyshev, who first organized a design bureau and later OKB-1’s branch №3 to become its head. In the fourth quarter of 1958, never stopping the Tu-16 aircraft production, Aviation Plant № 1, led by V.Ya. Litvinov reconstructed its production facilities and developed production of the R-7 (Semyorka) intercontinental ballistic missiles.

On February 17, 1959, the maiden launch of the R-7 made in Kuibyshev was performed. That launch proved engineering capabilities of the plant and the readiness to add intercontinental ballistic missiles to the Soviet Army’s armory. In 1959, a batch of the R-7s was sent to the missile troops and introduced into service and the plant acquired the right for the R-7 series production on order of the Defence Ministry of the USSR. Thus the country obtained a reliable nuclear shield in uneasy years of the ‘cold war’.

The world’s first manned space flight of Yu. A. Gagarin was a triumph of the space-rocket industry of the country. Stage I and stage II of Gagarin’s rocket were made at Aviation Plant № 1. Since 1961 till now all manned spacecraft of our country have been launched by rockets made in Samara.

The legendary R-7 served as a base for development of a series of three-stage medium-lift launch vehicles, Soyuz, by adding a Stage III unit. The launch vehicle was greatly upgraded in 1973 and named Soyuz-U. Further upgraded versions of Soyuz-U include Soyuz-FG, Soyuz-2-1a, Soyuz-2-1b, Soyuz-ST (for the Guiana Space Centre).

The Soyuz-U, Soyuz-FG, Soyuz-2 launch vehicles are the standard workhorses of the Russian launchers system. They account for major launches of spacecraft performed within the framework of the Federal Space Program and international cooperation in the field of space exploration. At present, Soyuz-FG launch vehicles are the world’s only means of launching manned spacecraft to support the International Space Station work program. The confirmed reliability index of Soyuz-U and Soyuz-FG is 0.985. It is the highest reliability index among launch vehicles in the world.

In 1962-1991, RKTs-Progress participated in such large-scale space projects as creation of the N1-L3 moon expedition complex and the reusable Energia-Buran space system and gained enormous experience both in design and production.

Since early 1960s, Branch №3 of OKB-1 (TsSKB since 1974) and the Progress plant were engaged in production of spacecraft of different purposes including Zenit, Yantar, Resurs, Bion, Foton and others.

RKTs-Progress developed and put into operation over 12 versions of medium-lift launch vehicles and 29 types of spacecraft of different purposes.

As of January 1, 2017, RKTs-Progress performed 1867 launches. Now rockets made in Samara are launched from the Baikonur and Plesetsk cosmodromes and from the Guiana Space Centre. And in April 2016, a maiden launch was performed from the Vostochny Cosmodrome using a Soyuz-2-1a launch vehicle with a Volga upper stage and three satellites. This is the fourth cosmodrome for the Samara rocket to lift off from.

At present, a constellation of three Resurs-P Earth remote sensing satellites shows stable operation in orbit. This allows obtaining much fuller information about any area of the earth surface. The Aist-2D small satellite, new promising development by RKTs-Progress in cooperation with the Samara University, showed to best advantage.

The work is ongoing to conduct flight development tests of a two-stage light-weight launch vehicle, Soyuz-2-1v, developed and built by RKTs-Progress.

A wealth of experience in developing the most advanced space hardware secures for the company the front line of Russia’s space-rocket industry and enables participation in large-scale long-term international projects.