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Proton 3



Proton 3 was a Soviet magnetospheric research satellite that contained physics experiments to investigate ultra-high-energy cosmic particles and the radiation environment in the vicinity of the Earth.

The Proton 1, 2, and 3 satellites (the N4 series of satellites) were essentially identical. Each satellite was a hermetically sealed cylinder with convex ends. It had four solar arrays mounted in a paddlewheel configuration on top of the cylinder. Total mass was 12,200 kg. There was no onboard propulsion, it was spin-stabilized using gas jets plus what was referred to as a "power damping device". It had antennas protruding from the top and bottom, and a pyramidal truss-like structure on top holding the pickups for the axis-orienting system. Communication was via a beacon operating at 19.910 MHz. Thermal control was maintained using a heat exchanger. It also held chemical fuel cells. The experiments on board were held in a pressurized instrument compartment. the gamma-ray telescope, scintillator telescope, proportional counters, and gas-Cerenkov-scintillator telescope were capable of studying cosmic rays in the range up to 10 million MeV. Proton 3 also studied the nuclear interaction of particles of energies up to one million MeV.

Proton 3 launched on 6 July 1966 at 12:57 UT from Baikonur Cosmodrome into a 63.5 degree inclination, 185 x 585 km altitude orbit with a period of 92.5 minutes. The Proton satellites were widely thought to be uncrewed test vehicles for eventual crewed orbital laboratories. This payload decayed after 72 days in orbit.

Image from Corliss, 1967

Alternate Names

  • 02290
  • Proton3

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1966-07-06
Launch Vehicle: Proton Booster Plus Upper Stage
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R
Mass: 12200 kg

Funding Agency

  • Unknown (U.S.S.R)


  • Space Physics

Additional Information

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



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail

Selected References

  • Corliss, W. R., Scientific satellites, NASA, SP-133, Wash., D.C., 1967.
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