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Foton 8



Beginning in 1985 the USSR/CIS conducted annual unmanned space missions dedicated to materials science research. The Photon (Foton) spacecraft used for these flights was a derivative of the 1960's era Vostok/Voskhod manned spacecraft and the Zenit military reconnaissance satellites and were very similar to the operational Bion and Resurs-F satellites. Prototype Photon satellites were launched during 1985-1987 as Cosmos 1645, Cosmos 1744, and Cosmos 1841. Since 1988, the spacecraft have been officially designated as Photon. Photon 8 conducted space materials research jointly with Germany.

The 6,200-kg spacecraft was 6.2 m in length with a maximum diameter of 2.5 m and was divided into three major sections: the service/retro module, the payload capsule, and an equipment block. The 2.3 m diameter recoverable capsule handled a payload of up to 700 kg and a volume of 4.7 m cubed. Electrical power was supplied entirely by storage batteries with 400 W average per day allocated to the payload (up to 700 W for 90 minutes each day). Mission durations for the 8 Photon flights to the end of 1992 were 13-16 days.

To minimize perturbation forces, thereby maximizing microgravity conditions, Photon spacecraft were placed in a mildly eccentric orbit at 62.8 degrees inclination and were not maneuvered during the mission. Prior to 1991 the annual Photon missions had always been launched in April or May. Launches were performed by the Soyuz booster from the Plesetsk cosmodrome, and recoveries made in Kazakhstan in the primary manned recovery region northeast of the Baikonur cosmodrome.

Alternate Names

  • 22173
  • Foton8
  • Photon 8

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1992-10-08
Launch Vehicle: Soyuz
Launch Site: Plesetsk, Russia
Mass: 6200 kg

Funding Agency

  • Unknown (U.S.S.R)


  • Microgravity

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office

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