11 The Sailing Laboratory Named After Gagarin

The Sailing Laboratory Named After Gagarin

Posted on August 11, 2013 by team

“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.



Chart room.

“Volga” aboard the ship.

Upper deck of the ship.

Dining hall.


Closed pool.

via masterok

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11 responses to “The Sailing Laboratory Named After Gagarin”

  1. Kpt Kaint says:

    It was really a communications relay ship. The Soviets lacked land based satellite tracking stations. These ships made up for that. NASA had mostly land based sites around the world to allow near constant communications with US manned spacecraft. NASA now has orbiting Tracking and Data Relay Satellites that replaces almost all the land base sites except for the 3 deep space tracking sites. Russia has a Luch 5A satellite series that performs a similar function for earth orbiting craft.

  2. Jim Beam says:

    And what was the fate of this ship? Sold for scrap or still exists?

  3. Tony Boney says:

    Lots of money spent on a largely propagandistic vessel which contributed to a largely propagandistic space program that save for its initial successes never got off the ground. The USA overtook the soviet program and went to the moon seven times with six landings there; a tribute to its freedom of thought and action

    • Darkness says:

      And generally it ended up with nothing, except for some propaganda goals achieved (only waaay more expansive, then all what the soviets did)

    • javox says:

      hahahaha so funny….so tell me why they never came back there? everyone know is not true and both countries were or r the same, id really love to see for real again where they mooned….como dude…stop the crap

  4. Osip says:

    Seems like ship has over-complicated design for what appears to be her primary function: automobile transport.

  5. sinan says:

    I am from Istanbul and I grew up in a flat overlooking the Bosphorus. I saw this beautiful amazing research vessel several times going up and down the Bosphorus !!! I was amazed, as a child, and dreamt about being on board this vessel. I am now a scientist and sail on research vessels from time to time but never on board something as spectacular as this one !!! Hello old friend and full respect to the good old CCCP !!!!

  6. sinan says:

    By the way, the Soviets did not lack land-based tracking stations. I know of at least two ofthem: one on the Crimean Peninsula, in Yevpatoria where my grandmother is from and another one in Kamchatka. Possibly others as well. The mission of this ship was not just relay but to contribute to the coordination of several space-based activities, both manned and unmanned.

  7. stolichnaya says:

    So many giant dishes on that ship — I bet they received thousands of free Satellite TV channels!

  8. Nachosmuchos says:

    How can something this big (USSR), building things like this vessel, come to an end?
    I just can’t understand it.
    Very sad.

  9. Eehab Khalil says:

    Dear Sir,

    the old version of display for englishrussia was more efficient than that of the new version. At least put an option to scroll with the old version. It take a lot of time to explore the full photos.

    Thank you

    Eehab Khalil

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