Information about the early space age that may be lost forever

Surely, many military space programs are still hidden behind veils of secrecy. But there are energeitic researchers that will keep digging into the archives (as things get declassified). This is certainly true of the U.S. satellite reconnaissance program where Dwayne Day is hot on the trail. Russian researchers have also been successful in revealing much and after the break-up of the Soviet Union much interesting information was released by Russian space companies themselves. What I am worrying about is that nobody cares about the less spectacular little secrets still not revealed. The risk is that archives are being purged while there is, at the same time, very little interest in hunting for the last tidbits of information. So, some facts may be lost to space history forever. Let me mention a few examples:

The problem is that we have become so used to sleuthing for information on the Internet, but the really interesting stuff is not on-line. It is hidden in old dusty archives where you have to go yourself. I much regret that I am unable to do such research in other places than in the archives of space organizations of my own country.

However, suddenly something from the obscure past pops up. Here is a picture  of the launch arrangement of the 8-cluster Strela communcations satellites launched by the Kosmos-3M launch vehicle. I have always wondered how it was done!

P.S.: After posting this Bob Christy sent me this about Elektron:

"...From the Energiya official history book, section covering the Elektron satellites -  scanned and translated via Microsoft:

The E-1 satellite was placed in a tube located perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the rocket, and fired with a gunpowder engine, thrust of 3350 kg and 12-15ms of work while the third stage was active. E-2 satellite separation was provided by the standard scheme after reaching a given speed.So that's how you get a satellite safely off an accelerating rocket... BANG!Elsewhere, I've seen 20s quoted between Elektron 1 departure and third stage shut down..."


After having read this I seemed to remember that I had seen a picture of the elaunch arrangement. I looked in the Russian space books I have in my shelves and found the picture on the right in the Energia picture book. Here we can also see how the appendages on the top satellite were styowed amd the tube for deploying the other satellirte perpendicualr to the longitudinal axis of the rocket. So, mystery solved. It would be nicve to see a apicture of these two mounted on the launch vecle - but perhaps that is to ask for too much to ask for!





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