R-7 (rocket family)
The R-7 family of rockets (Russian: Р-7) is a series of rockets, derived from the Soviet R-7 Semyorka, the world's first ICBM (Intercontinental ballistic missile). More R-7 rockets have been launched than any other family of large rockets.
This article needs to be updated. (October 2017)
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When Soviet nuclear warheads became lighter, the R-7 turned out to be impractical as a ballistic missile, and there were no other heavy payloads with a military application. However, long-term development has made the rockets useful in the Soviet, and later, Russian space programmes. Their purpose shifted primarily to launching satellites, probes, crewed and uncrewed spacecraft, and other non-threatening payloads. The R-7 family consists of both missiles and orbital carrier rockets. Derivatives include the Vostok, Voskhod and Soyuz rockets, which as of 2022 have been used for all Soviet, and later Russian human spaceflights. The type has a unique configuration where four break-away liquid-fueled engines surround a central core. The core acts as, in effect, a "second stage" after the other four engines are jettisoned. These rockets are expendable.
Later modifications were standardised around the Soyuz design. The Soyuz-2 is currently in use.
The Soyuz-FG was retired in 2019 in favour of the Soyuz-2.1a. R-7 rockets are launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Guiana Space Centre (since 2011, see Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre), and the Vostochny Cosmodrome (first launch 2016).