Rockets of Today

START (Старт) — Russia, 1993

The START treaty between the USA and the USSR made both countries decommission a number of nuclear missiles. The Russians recycled one type, the RT-2PM Topol, into an orbital rocket, and named it after the treaty. The missile had three solid stages, so they slapped on a fourth and voila. For one launch they added a fifth stage, but that failed.

This rocket essentially retired in 2006, but in 2019 they decided they wanted to bring it back, as they have nothing else that’s as good a fit for small payloads. But it has yet to actually resume launches. So it’s a part of Russia’s launch fleet on paper, and maybe one of these days they’ll feel a need to actually whup it out.

The one cool thing about the rocket is that it launches from a big truck: a transporter-erector-launcher unmodified from the Topol version.

Start-1: mass 47 t, diam 1.6 m, thrust 980 kN, imp 2.6 km/s, solid fuel, payload 0.53 t (1.1%), cost unknown, record 6/0/1 with no launches from 2007 to 2023.