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The TKS (Tкс, Транспортный корабль снабжения, transl. transport logistics ship) is a large spacecraft, which was designed for supplying Russian military space stations of the Almaz program. It weighs around 20 metric tons and is 17.5 m long. It only flew 3 times in its original configuration. It was designed for launching with a crew of 3 cosmonauts and 4500 kg of cargo in its pressurized section.

Later its hull formed the skeleton of the Russian space station modules Cosmos 1686 for Salyut 7, Kvant, Kvant 2, Kristall, Piroda for Mir and the FGB of the ISS. It was also used as the service module for the titanic Polyus satellite.


Launch weight about 19,000 kg
Length 17.51 m
Diameter 4.15 m
Span across solar arrays 16 m
Number of main engines 2
Main engine thrust (each) 400 kg
Habitable volume about 60 m³
Number of crew 3
Capsule diameter 305 cm
Capsule height 206 cm


The TKS consists of two parts, the FGB and the Merkur capsule. The Merkur capsule is an Apollo like reentry vessel with a base diameter of 3m and a long slender nose containing deorbit engines, RCS and parachutes. The Merkur is attached at the aft end of the FGB. It is entered from the FGB by a hatch through the heatshield. The heatshield is not ablative, which maks the spacecraft reuseable.

The FGB consists of a large diameter section on the front, which contains the control systems and a docking port. Directly above the docking ports are two windows which allow the crew to control the docking or manually dock to a station. Behind the large diameter section is the small diameter with only 2.9 m diameter, which contains most of the cargo.

It has two solar panels, and two main engines on the small diameter section. The TKS could remain docked to a station for months, providing it with attitude control, orbit reboosts, additional volume and power from its solar arrays. The small diameter section can be surrounded by up to 16 propellant tanks.

It was launched by a three stage Proton launcher

Flight history[edit]

December 15, 1976 Kosmos 881 and Kosmos 882 Test flight for two Merkur capsules, launched with a single Proton.
July 17, 1977 Kosmos 929 First test of the complete TKS spacecraft.
August 4, 1977 Launch failure Launch failure during a Merkur test. Top Capsule got rescued by the SAS.
March 30, 1978 Kosmos 997 and Kosmos 998 Merkur dual launch test
May 22, 1979 Kosmos 1100 and Kosmos 1101 Merkur dual launch test
April 25, 1981 Kosmos 1267 Docked with Salyut 6 and deorbited it later.
March 2,1983 Kosmos 1443 Docked with Salyut 7. Merkur capsule sold at Sotheby's for $552,500.