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State-owned company
Industry Aerospace and defense
Key people
Semyon Lavochkin, designer
Products Spacecraft

NPO Lavochkin (OKB-301, also called Lavochkin Research and Production Association or shortly Lavochkin Association, LA) is a Russian aerospace company. It is a major player in the Russian space program, being the developer and manufacturer of the Fregat upper stage, as well as interplanetary probes such as Fobos-Grunt. Currently it is headed by Victor Khartov.[1]


  • Overview 1
  • History 2
    • August 2014 Fregat failure 2.1
  • Aircraft 3
  • Rockets and missiles 4
    • Surface-to-air missiles 4.1
  • Spacecraft 5
  • Designers and engineers 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8


The company develops and manufactures spacecraft such as the Fregat rocket upper stages, satellites and interplanetary probes. It is a contractor for a number of military programs, such as the Oko early warning satellite, Prognoz and Araks programmes as well as the civilian program Kupon. One of the company's most notable projects was the participation in the failed Fobos-Grunt sample return mission.[2] NPO Lavochkin has also developed the Elektro–L series of new-generation weather satellites, as well as the Navigator standardised satellite platform, which will serve as the basis for several future Russian satellites.[3]


The company was founded in 1937 as OKB-301, a Soviet aircraft design bureau (OKB). The head designer was Vladimir P. Gorbunov. On October, 1945 Semyon Lavochkin was promoted for the head designer of the design bureau. It gained distinction for its family of piston-engined fighter aircraft during World War II, and later shifted to missile and jet fighter designs. Following the death of the head designer, the OKB-301 succumbed to the growing power of Vladimir Chelomey and became OKB-52 Branch No. 3 on 18 December 1962.[4]:300 Later, it turned to work on interplanetary probe designs for Luna sample return program, the Lunokhod program, Vega program, Phobos program, etc. The former OKB-301 became named NPO Lavochkin.

In January 2012, officials of Lavochkin faced administrative punishment for not taking into account of designing the computer system after the crash of Russia's Mars moon spacecraft Fobos-Grunt.[5]

August 2014 Fregat failure

The Arianespace-operated flight of a Russian-built Soyuz ST-B (Fregat MT) launch vehicle ended in an embarrassing failure on 22 August 2014 after the launch vehicle put two EU/ESA Galileo navigation satellites into the wrong orbit. The lift off at 1227 GMT from the Sinnamary launch site near Kourou, French Guiana, appeared to go well. However, a failure was only apparent later when, after the second firing of the Fregat MT upper stage had taken place, the satellites were detected as being in the wrong orbit.[6]

The Independent Inquiry Board formed to analyze the causes of the "anomaly" announced its definitive conclusions on October 7, 2014 following a meeting at Arianespace headquarters in Évry, near Paris.[7]

The failure occurred during the flight of the launcher's fourth stage, Fregat, designed and produced by NPO Lavochkin. It occurred about 35 minutes after lift-off, at the beginning of the ballistic phase preceding the second ignition of this stage.

The scenario that led to an error in the orbital injection of the satellites was precisely reconstructed, as follows:

  • The orbital error resulted from an error in the thrust orientation of the main engine on the Fregat stage during its second powered phase.
  • This orientation error was the result of the loss of inertial reference for the stage.
  • This loss occurred when the stage's inertial system operated outside its authorized operating envelope, an excursion that was caused by the failure of two of Fregat's attitude control thrusters during the preceding ballistic phase.
  • This failure was due to a temporary interruption of the joint hydrazine propellant supply to these thrusters.
  • The interruption in the flow was caused by freezing of the hydrazine.
  • The freezing resulted from the proximity of hydrazine and cold helium feed lines, these lines being connected by the same support structure, which acted as a thermal bridge.
  • Ambiguities in the design documents allowed the installation of this type of thermal "bridge" between the two lines. In fact, such bridges have also been seen on other Fregat stages now under production at NPO Lavochkin.
  • The design ambiguity is the result of not taking into account the relevant thermal transfers during the thermal analyses of the stage system design.

The root cause of the failure of flight VS09 is therefore a shortcoming in the system thermal analysis performed during stage design, and not an operator error during stage assembly.[7]


Rockets and missiles

Surface-to-air missiles


Designers and engineers

See also


  1. ^ "Russia starts building Moon spaceship, eyes Lunar base". Space Travel. 2012-07-24. 
  2. ^ Harvey, Brian (2007). "The design bureaus". The Rebirth of the Russian Space Program (1st ed.). Germany: Springer.  
  3. ^ "Russia meteo satellite Electro-L successfully orbited". ITAR-TASS. 2011-01-21. 
  4. ^  
  5. ^ "Phobos-Grunt chips supposedly were counterfeit". ITAR-TASS. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2012. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b
  • William H Mott, Robert B Sheldon, L Philip Sheldon (2000). Laser Satellite Communication: The Third Generation. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 132. ISBN 1-56720-329-9
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