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Sputnik 7



This was the first Soviet attempt at a Venus probe. The probe was successfully launched into Earth orbit with a SL-6/A-2-e (Molniya 8K78) launcher. The launch payload consisted of an Earth orbiting launch platform (Tyazheliy Sputnik 4) and the Venera probe. The fourth stage (a Blok L Zond rocket) was supposed to launch the Venera probe towards a landing on Venus after one Earth orbit but ignition failed, probably due to a fault in the power supply to the guidance system, the PT-200 DC transformer had not been designed to work in a vacuum. The spacecraft and launch platform remained attached in a 212 x 318 km, 64.95 degree inclination, 89.8 minute Earth orbit. Because of its large size (6483 kg), the mission was originally thought by non-Soviet observers to be a failed manned mission, and later was described as a test of an Earth orbiting platform from which an interplanetary probe could be launched. This was the first attempt to launch a spacecraft from a preliminary Earth orbit. The orbit decayed and the spacecraft reentered the Earth's atmosphere on 26 February after 22 days.

The Venera probe had a mass of about 645 kg and was based on the M1 (Mars) spacecraft design. It was designed as a Venus atmospheric probe. It carried a 3-axis magnetometer, a variometer (vertical speed indicator), and charged particle monitors. It also carried a small globe which held medallions and other commemorations of the mission. The spacecraft communications were at 66 and 66.2 MHz.

Alternate Names

  • 00071
  • 1961 Beta 1
  • Sputnik7
  • Tyazheliy Sputnik 4
  • Venera-1961A

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1961-02-04
Launch Vehicle: Modified SS-6 (Sapwood) with 2nd Generation Upper Stage + Escape Stage
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R
Mass: 6843 kg

Funding Agency

  • Unknown (U.S.S.R)


  • Planetary Science
  • Engineering

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail

Selected References

  • Shelton, W., Soviet space exploration - the first decade, Arthur Barker Ltd., Unnumbered, London, England, 1969.
  • Harvey, B., The new Russian space programme from competition to collaboration, John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, England, 1996.
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