R-7, "Semyorka"

he missile was found to take too long to fuel and launch to be an effective weapon. It also required large above ground launch facilities that were very vulnerable to attack. It could also only standby fueled for 24 hours before the propellant line seals and valves began to degrade dangerously.The system reaction time in the normal readiness condition was approximately ten hours. Because of the cryogenic oxidizer, the allowable hold time in the maximum alert condition (reaction time equals five to ten minutes) was approximately one hour. By August 1961, there were only four R-7 ICBM's in operational service. This included two missiles in storage to reload the two operational launch pads at Plesetsk. The R-7's were taken out of service by 1967 and new launch facilities with an enclosed service structure buildings were built to serve as space launch pads for the R-7  

booster. By that time the Soviet Union had used the R-7 to demonstrate the first full-range ICBM and orbit the first two artificial satellites of the earth. In its intended military mission, the R-7 was quickly overtaken by technological improvements. These allowed the Soviet Union to build missiles using "zero warning launch" storable propellants and smaller nuclear warheads (Yangel's R-16 and R-36, Chelomei's UR-100). Deployment of the R-7 was very limited, and its service life extended only from 1960 to 1966. Only one dedicated ICBM pad was built at Baykonur, and six to eight in the "Angara" complex at Plesetsk. By 1966 they were all converted to space launch use and the military service life of the rocket was over.  But as a space launcher, the R-7, with upper stages,  became the most successful in history. By the year 2000 over 1,628 had been launched with an unmatched success rate of 97.5% for production models. At mid-1968 the SS-6 ICBM had been phased out of the operational inventory. Use of the SS-6 is now restricted to space applications.


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