“Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin” is a research ship, flagship of the space research service of the USSR.
It was built in Leningrad in 1971. The length of the eleven-decked ship was 231,6 m, width – 32 m, power of the main engine – 14 000 KW, speed – eighteen knots, displacement – 45000 tons. The crew consisted of136 persons, expedition crew – 212 persons. There were 1250 premises aboard including 86 laboratories. The ship was intended to perform tasks related to control and communication with satellite vehicles and the Mission Control Centre through the satellite vehicle “Molniya” (“Lightning”).
The ship had 75 antennas including two antennas with parabolic reflectors with diameter of 25 meters. It could be in autonomous sailing for 130 days. “Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin” was functioning in the Atlantic Ocean.
Maritime space fleet is a big fleet of Soviet expedition vessels and military ships which actively participated in creation of the missile-nuclear shield of the USSR, provided development testing of space vehicles, flight control of manned spacecrafts and orbital stations launched from Soviet launch sites. Such vessels also participated in the international space programs.
In 1959 it became necessary to carry out control of ballistic missile heads drop accuracy during their test launches to the central part of the Pacific Ocean. With such a purpose the first sailing measuring complex was created. It consisted of “Siberia”, “Sakhalin”, “Suchan”, “Chukotka” ships and all together were called “The Pacific Hydrographic Expedition-4″.
The ships “Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin” and “Academician Sergey Korolev” were created under the Soviet program of the Moon research. They embodied the newest achievements of the Soviet science and technology and were able to complete all tasks related with flight support of various space vehicles, manned spaceships and orbital stations.
In 1979 the Maritime Space Fleet consisted of eleven specialized vessels and had taken part in flight support of various space vehicles till the collapse of the USSR.
Such vessels are included into the class of ocean-going ships.
No other ship had such abundance of antennas!
Sea endurance was one of the main requirements to the vessels of the space fleet. They had to be able to be in the open sea for a long period of time without port calls for fuelling, lubricating oils, fresh water or food. High sea endurance allowed not to interrupt control sessions program, not to waste time.
The real steaming distance of “Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin” amounted to twenty thousand miles. It’s not much less than the imagined ocean passage around the Earth along the equator.
The main four space antennas of the ship had weight of 1000 tons (including their foundations), they were installed on the decks 15-25 meters over the waterline.