GIRD (Gruppa Isutcheniya Reaktivnovo Dvisheniya)



  • The Soviet” G.l.R.D. (Group for the Study of Reaction Propulsion) was formed in Leningrad on May 15, 1929 within the G.D.L. (Gas Dynamics Laboratory). Various departments within the GIRD were established, based on the specialties of the members. The group given the most publicised task were those who launched Russia′s first liquid propellant rockets.
    There were a number of amateur groups and solitary researchers in existence, but GIRD was the world′s first large professional rocketry program. The group was organized as four brigades and ten projects to study rocket engines and also winged and wingless missiles. Sergey Korolev, the future leader of the Soviet space program, was the over-all director of GIRD, as well as a brigade leader and the chairman of its technical council. Most of these GIRD rockets used OR/ORM series liquid propellant rocket engines developed by the GDL. They were not launched in numerical order.
  • Fridrikh Tsander headed the GIRD's 1st Brigade, which comprised Tsander's research team, transferred from the Institute of Aircraft Engine Construction (IAM). Tsander had begun to consider rocket-powered interplanetary flight as early as 1907 and was one of the founding members of the Society for the Study of Interplanetary Communication in 1924
  • Tsander had begun work on the OR-1 experimental engine in 1929 while still at the IAM; this subsequently became GIRD Project 01. It ran on compressed air and gasoline and Tsander used it to investigate high-energy fuels including powdered metals mixed with gasoline. The chamber was cooled regeneratively by air entering at the nozzle end and also by water circulating through a coil.
  • Project 02, the OR-2 engine, was designed for Korolev's RP-1 rocket-powered glider. It burned oxygen and gasoline, and its nozzle was made from heat-resistant graphite. The engine was later modified to burn alcohol, which generated less heat than gasoline, and its thrust was increased. After cooling the engine walls, the compressed oxygen entered the top end of the chamber in a swirling pattern. Fuel was injected through an atomizer at the center, to create efficient mixing and combustion.


Types GIRD rockets.

Type 1e Launch Status
GIRD-09 17 Aug 1933 SU 1e flying liquid propellant rocket
GIRD-10 25 Nov 1933 SU first true liquid propellant rocket flight.
GIRD-07 17 Nov 1934 exploded
GIRD-03 1935 -
GIRD-05 1936 was SU. earliest sounding rocket.

  • GIRD-01 and 02 were presumably engineering projects and apparently not launched. No data has been published.
    GIRD-03 was 1.73m (5‘8”) long and O.135m(5.3”) in diameter. Span over four tins was 0.44m (1’5.3"), each fin had a longitudinal axis crease to prevent the tins buckling. lt was launched in 1935, but little else is known.
    GIRD-04 has not been publicised, and was probably an engineering project, or abandoned.
  • GIRD-05 was the Soviet Union′s earliest sounding rocket. In this version it was called: "Aviavnito".
    Launches took place from 1936, and soundings could be taken to 5,6km (3,5 miles) altitude. The rocket was 3,05m (10′) long, and had a diameter of 0,27m (10,6"). Launch weight was 96.6kg, propulsion was by an ORM-50 liquid propellant engine of 150kg thrust. It ran on kerosene and nitric acid, stored in four vertical parallel tanks in the rocket′s body.

    GIRD/GDL members inspect their GIRD-03 rocket, launched in 1935.

    GIRD-05 rocket on the right was called AVIAVNITO in its sounding rocket version.

  • GIRD-06 was 2.2m (7’2.6") long and 0.176m (7”) in diameter, but little else is known.
  • Work started on the ‘strange-shaped' GlRD-07 in 1933. Its liquid propellant engine was above the centre of gravity, and the propellants were stored in four cylindrical tanks (two for alcohol, two for LOX), in the large tins at the rear. lt stood 2.0m (6’7”) tall, and maximum width was 1.0m (3‘3.7”) across the stabilisers. The engine was situated between the stabilisers. Compressed air cylinder and parachute occupied the noseregion. Eight seconds into its first flight on November 17, 1934, one of the stabilisers caught fire and the propellant tank within it exploded. Later models flew better, but the rocket was never really successful.
  • GIRD-08 has not been publicised.

    GIRD-7 rockets.

    Members of the GIRD team, with test rocket GIRD-10 launched 25 November 1933 in a forest outside Moscow. Far left is Sergei Korolev, head of GIRD, and later to play a major part in the Soviet space programme.

    GIRD-9 rockets.

  • GIRD-9: The first Soviet rocket launch was the GIRD-9, on 17 August 1933, which reached the modest altitude of 400 metres (1,300 ft).
    The GIRD-09 was the Soviet Union′s first flying liquid propellant rocket. Though, strictly speaking, this was a hybrid rocket. lt used Liquid Oxygen and jellified gasoline. The gasoline was mixed with colophony, a dark coloured resin obtained from turpentine. The rocket was designed by Mikhail Tikhonravov and was 2.6m (7’10.5") long and 0.178m (7") in diameter. Launch weight was 19kg and the engine produced between 50 and 10kg thrust, as pressure decreased. lt was first launched on August 17, 1933 from the Nakhabinsky range, in the outskirts of Moscow. Apparently the oxygen tank did not reach the required pressure, owing to a stuck valve, and the firing order was given when only 13.5 atmospheres (13.96'2; 198`2) had been reached. The parachute fuse, a separate device, was lit, and the rocket fired. lt reached about 400m (1312ft) altitude, oscillating two or three times, and descended into a wooded area. It was repaired and flown again. Several GIRD-09 rockets were built and up to about 50 flights took place during the 1930’s. Some reached altitudes up to 1500m (4920ft).
  • GIRD-10: In January 1933 Tsander began development of the GIRD-10 missile. It was originally to use a metallic propellant, but after various metals had been tested without success it was designed without a metallic propellant, and was powered by the Project 10 engine which was first bench tested in March 1933. This design burned liquid oxygen and gasoline and was one of the first engines to be regeneratively cooled by the liquid oxygen, which flowed around the inner wall of the combustion chamber before entering it. Problems with burn-through during testing prompted a switch from gasoline to less energetic alcohol. The final missile, 2.2 metres (7.2 ft) long and 0,155m (6.1 in) in diameter, had a mass of 29,5 kilograms (66 lb). Span over four long chord Ens was 0.43m (1’5"), and it was anticipated that it could carry a 2 kilograms (4.4 lb) payload to an altitude of 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi).
    First launch took place on the 25th November 1933, when it reached 80m (262ft) before the engine bumed through. A modified version was launched in 1934, which reached 4900m (16,076ft) altitude, from where itwas recovered by parachute.
  • Tsander died unexpectedly from an illness on March 28, 1933, and his engineer, Leonid Konstinovich Korneev, became the new leader of his Brigade. An exact copy of the GIRD-X can be found on Tsander′s headstone in Kislovodsk.

  • Project 05:

    Mikhail Klavdievich Tikhonravov, who would later supervise the design of Sputnik I and the Luna programme, headed GIRD′s 2nd Brigade, responsible for the Project 05 rocket in a joint effort with the Gas Dynamics Lab (GDL) in Leningrad. Project 05 used the ORM-50 engine developed by Valentin Glushko, which was fuelled by nitric acid and kerosene with its nozzle regeneratively cooled by the flow of acid. First tested in November 1933, the ORM-50 predated Eugen Sänger's regeneratively cooled engine, which was not tested in Austria until May 1934. The 05 rocket contained four long tanks, enclosed in a body with a four-lobed cross section. It was never completed, but its design formed the basis of the later Aviavnito rocket, powered by Leonid Dushkin's 12-K engine and fueled by liquid oxygen and alcohol, which was first launched in 1936 and achieved an altitude of 3,000 m (9,800 ft) in 1937.

  • RNII:

    On 16 May 1932 Mikhail Tukhachevsky filed a memorandum to the effect that GIRD and the State Gas Dynamics Laboratory (GDL) of Leningrad should be combined, and the result was the Reaction-Engine Scientific Research Institute (RNII), founded on 21 September 1933.

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