In July 1940, in order to provide development of the direct injection systems for aircraft engines, the Design Bureau (DB-2) was founded on base of Moscow Aviation Carburetor Factory № 33. Semyon А. Kosberg was appointed as a Head of the Design Bureau and a Deputy Chief Designer of the Factory.
On 13 October 1941, during World War II when fascists attacked Moscow, the DB-2 was transformed into the independent enterprise. It was evacuated to Berdsk of Novosibirsk region, to the Factory № 296 that had been moved from Kharkov. S. Kosberg was appointed as a Chief Designer of the Factory. Upon arrival at the place of severe Siberian conditions, the Design Bureau team of 29 specialists continued developing the direct injection systems and the Factory team started pre-production activity for manufacturing of the first system designated as NB-ZU.
In 1942, the NB-ZU system in conditions of the Su-2 aircraft’s М-82 motor successfully passed its flight tests, and in September 1942, the Factory started the serial production of the system. The flight tests showed that the replacement of carburetor by the NB-ZU system ensured power increase of М-82 motor by ~ 70 h.p. with substantial reduction of specific fuel consumption. This allowed improvement of La-5, La-7, Tu-2, Тu-2D aircraft flight characteristics, such as: rate of climb, maneuverability, speed and flight range. It provided the benefit over the best combat aircrafts. The benefit of direct injection system over the carburetor system was appreciated by all main designers of the aircraft motors (General Designers: A. Shvetsov, A. Mikulin, v. Klimov, v. Dobrynin). Within the period of 1941–1952, the Design Bureau developed about 50 design options of such system.
In April 1946, the Design Bureau moved to Voronezh, to the Factory № 265 under the Ministry of Aviation Industry and was renamed “Design Bureau of Factory 265”, and later, in May 1946 — “Design Bureau of Factory 154” (originally designated ОКБ-154). Within the period from 1946 to 1954, about 80 items were developed, such as fuel injectors, oil pumps, fuel filters, fuel feed regulators, control and regulation systems, etc.
Among these developments there were solid- and liquid-propellant starters for powerful jet-assisted take-off engines (JATO). Liquid-propellant starters incorporated a number of main components of liquid-propellant rocket engines (LRE) as gas generator, turbine, pumps, regulation and control systems that became the basis for beginning of more complicated LRE developments.
In May 1954, for the first time, the company started development of a single-liquid-propellant jet engine, D-154, for application as an additional power unit for Mikoyan’s fighter-interceptor.
Later, on its base, the more effective single-propellant engine RD0100 using ОТ-152 fuel was developed under the leadership of A. Konopatov, Leading Designer of the company.
The first LREs were developed in DB-154 as the additional power units for fighter-interceptors designed by А. Mikoyan (RD0100 and RD0101 LREs) in 1955–56, А. Yakovlev (RD0102) in 1957–59, and P. Sukhoy (RD0103) in 1957.
By Order of the Ministry of Aviation Industry of 12.03.1957 № 544, the Design Bureau under the Factory № 154 (DB-154) was reorganized into the State Bureau of the Soviet Union, DB-154, for the purpose of development and production of LREs and modification of piston engines for aviation application.
In October 1957, two Design Bureaus — Kosberg’s DB-154 and Isayev’s DB-2 were charged to develop the RD0200 LRE for the second stage of 5В11 rocket of air defense system “Dal’” built under the leadership of S. Lavochkin, General Designer.
On 4 October 1957, Sergey Korolev, Chief Designer of DB-1, provided the first in the history of mankind delivery of the artificial satellite to the orbit with the help of two-staged R-7 vehicle. Thereafter, he put the task to increase payload for the future Moon missions.
Start of works was marked by the meeting of S. Korolev and S. Kosberg on February 10, 1958. The result of this meeting was the joint development of LOX-Kerosene engine RD0105 for the third stage of “Luna” launch vehicle (LV).
Thanks to the selfless work of the Voronezh employees, after the seven-month period of development, the first experimental launch of three-staged option of the “Luna” LV was realized in the Soviet Union in September 1958.
On 5 September 1958, the first RD0200 engine fire test was performed at a test stand located in Shilovo forest, becoming the date of birth of the company’s experimental complex.
On January 2, 1959, the first “Luna-1” Space Station (SS) launch towards the Moon was fulfilled with the help of the “Luna” LV powered by the third-stage RD0105 engine. Later on, the “Luna-2” SS landed on the Moon surface and “Luna-3” SS took pictures of the Moon back side in September and October of the same year.
The company was involved into development of the RD0106 engine for the second stage of R-9A intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) built by S. Korolev, Chief Designer.
Development of the RD0109 engine for Korolev’s “Vostok” LV third stage was started.
The DB-154 started development of the RD0107 liquid rocket engine (LRE) for the third stage of “Molniya” rocket. A little later the company built the analogues of this engine — RD0108 and RD0110 with upgraded reliability for space aircrafts “Voskhod” and “Soyuz” intended for team flights. The serial production of these engines was provided by Voronezh Mechanical Plant.
The “Molniya” rockets ensured the first in the world launches of “Venera” and “Mars” — the Soviet interplanetary stations — with their later flights implemented close by Venus and Mars (on 19.05.1961 and 19.06.1963, correspondingly).
The “Voskhod” LV provided the first in the world crew flight with three cosmonauts on board: v. Komarov, К. Feoktistov, B. Yegorov (12 October 1964), and the first human being entering into open space made by А. Leonov (18 March1965).
For many decades, the “Soyuz” LVs have been used as the main transportation for delivery of crews to the orbital stations of the Soviet Union and Russia.
In early 1960s, the Design Bureau provided development of powerful LREs using high-boiling propellants for UR-100, UR-200, UR-500 missiles (“Proton”), and RD0225 LRE of multiple ignition intended for correction of “Almaz” Space Station position in orbit.
The RD0109 engine enabled to solve the historical tasks of space exploration: on April 12, 1961, the first manned flight to orbit with “Vostok” LV with Yurii Gagarin onboard, and all further flights of one-seat manned spaceships.
The RD0109 engine for the “Vostok” LV was exhibited at the International Exhibitions of Montreal and Paris in 1967, and then at the Exhibition of Economic Achievements of the USSR.
During several years the DB-154 had produced and delivered 140 off-the-shelf engines to be used in the launch vehicles of various applications. The Voronezh Mechanical Plant was also involved in production of these engines.
The phrase “Kosberg worked!” became famous when Yuri Gagarin exclaimed it at successful ignition of the 3-d stage engines.
In the beginning of 1965, Chief Designer S. Kosberg died after a car accident. Alexander D. Konopatov was appointed as a Chief Designer of the Design Bureau.
In 1965, the company was charged to develop the nuclear rocket engines designated as RD0410 and RD0411. The engines had to speed up and pull up the space-crafts and correct their orbits for deep-space exploration. Due to minimum molecular weight and high thermodynamic properties of the operating fluid (hydrogen), and thanks to its high heating temperatures in the nuclear reactor (up to 3000°К), this new type of the engine had high power characteristics providing wide range potential for application in sphere of near and deep space exploration.
The results of RD0410 nuclear engine development were applied to the LOX–LH2 RD0120 engine development, and became a basis for creation of the multimode space nuclear propulsion systems for the spaceships.
In 1966, the “Soyuz” LV powered by the third stage RD0110 engine developed by the DB-154 was put into serial production. The serial production was entrusted to the Voronezh Mechanical Plant. The DB-154 was renamed as “Konstruktorskoe Bureau KHIMAVTOMATIKY” (KBKhA).
In 1969, for development of the new technical equipment, KBKhA was awarded the state prize — the Order of Lenin. A little earlier, in 1967, the first in the Soviet Union an ampouled intercontinental ballistic missile UR-100 (RS-10) of v. Chelomey, General Designer, and powered by KBKhA’s first stage engines, was commissioned.
In 1967, KBKhA started developing the engine for the second stage of heavy intercontinental ballistic missile RS-20А of М. Yangel, Chief Designer.
In 1970, KBKhA began development of engines for “Stilet” UR-100N missile.
In 1971, the company began development of gas-dynamic lasers. High science and technical level of the design solutions was proved by realization of over one hundred author certificates to inventions received by the company. Already in 1973, the tests of this equipment showed the positive results.
In 1974, the Voronezh Mechanical Plant (VMP) began a serial production of a modified rocket engine 11Д58 М, built on base of its predecessor — 11Д58. By this time, near 300 launches with the engine in conditions of the Earth Departure Stage (EDS) of “DM” series have been fulfilled. In addition, the engine was used for launching the first spacecrafts to geostationary orbits (GEO). The EDSs powered by the 11Д58 М engine had helped to launch the interplanetary stations “Venera-9” — “Venera-16” and the other spacecrafts.
For development of a new technical equipment, KBKhA was awarded the state prize — The Order of October Revolution. A year earlier, the UR-100N and RS-20А missiles powered by KBKhA engines were put into operation.
In 1976, under the Governmental Order, KBKhA began to develop the powerful LOX/LH2 propulsion (RD0120) of 200 tons thrust for the sustainer propulsion stage of the “Energia” LV, designed by General Designer v. Glushko. The propulsion stage contained four RD0120 engines with total thrust 800 tons. The Voronezh Mechanical Plant was producing these engines.
Such aspects as reliability, power and mass characteristics, performance, life, new design and technology solutions, materials used, helped the engine to excel all previously created engines of that type and some best world samples in a number of parameters, including the American SSME of the same size developed at the same period of time for the “Space Shuttle” reusable space system.
KBKhA succeeded in developing the RD-0243 engine with ultimate performances for sea-based ballistic missile RSM-54, and RD-0255 engine for RS-20В ICBM (Voevoda).
In 1987, the first successful flight of “Energia” launcher powered by RD0120 engine developed by KBKhA and manufactured by VMP was accomplished. In 1988, the Soviet Union launched the “Energia-Buran” space transportation complex successfully. It was the first and the only time in history of rocketry when the reusable space ship performed a launch to the orbit and returned back to the Earth automatically without a pilot participation.
In 1993, KBKhA started the RD0124 LRE development for “Soyuz-2” LV family with a record specific impulse compared to all LOX/Kerosene rocket engines known in the world.
At that time, A. Konopatov, the Hero of Socialist Labor, Academician of RAS, leaves the post of KBKhA’s leader. The employees of the enterprise elect Sergei v. Rachuk as a new leader of the company.
In 1994–1998, KBKhA together with the Central Institute of Aviation Motors (CIAM) named after Baranov developed an experimental hypersonic scramjet (58L) intended for investigation of hydrogen propellant combustion processes in flight conditions at velocities of 3–6.5 M and altitude of 20 to 35 km. It uses liquid hydrogen as a fuel, which passes through the combustion chamber (CC) cooling duct and gets to the combustion zones. The engine was entirely designed and manufactured by KBKhA with the original design and technology solutions. In 1998, the scramjet successfully passed the flight tests in “Igla” unit conditions. The engine ignited at 3 M velocity, at the end of flight the velocity reached 6.47 М. For the first time in history, hydrogen was combusted in a supersonic stream. The engine passed the complete test program without any remarks.
At that time period, KBKhA continued a number of R&D works on advanced rocket engines.
In 2001, KBKhA performed the first firing of a new oxygen-hydrogen engine RD0146. It was the first in Russia expander cycle engine, and the first in the LRE history the autonomous two-shaft feed schematic engine with sequential gas supply to the turbine. This condition allowed the feed system to demonstrate an optimal performance.
The first flight test of the RD0124 LRE within “Soyuz-2.1б” LV was performed. Orbiting of an expensive European space telescope “Corot” was fulfilled at the first flight of the launch vehicle with the new engine on the third stage.
Later on, the engine ensured the tens of successful “Soyuz-2” LV launches from four spaceports of the planet.
In 2013, the first launch of a new light “Soyuz-2.1в” LV powered by a new first stage RD0110Р engine developed by KBKhA and produced by VMP was fulfilled. This engine was developed for a short period of time, and it has been used as the first stage thruster in a cluster with NK-33-1 sustainer developed by Kuznetsov’s Design Bureau. The second stage of “Soyuz-2.1в” is equipped with KBKhA’s RD0124 engine.
In 2014, a new upper stage RD0124А LRE of KBKhA development ensured two successful flight tests of light “Angara 1.2-ПП” LV and heavy “Angara-5” LV.
The RD0124А was developed on basis of RD0124 LRE, but with a number of design differences as fuel extraction for combustion chamber deflection control, tanks pressurization, and increased operation time in flight. The on-ground development of the RD0124А engine was finalized by successful exploratory tests.
In 2016, a new cosmodrome “Vostochny” was actuated by the first space launch vehicle launch of “Soyuz-2.1а” LV powered by the third stage engine RD0110 developed by KBKhA and manufactured by VMP. Later on, the upgraded “Soyuz-2.1б” LV with KBKhA’s RD0124 engine on the third stage has been launched.
In that year, the company began to develop a pilot sample of LOX-Methane engine RD0177 to lay the groundwork for the advanced launch vehicles development.
In 2017, the company began the design works on a new LOX/Kerosene LRE RD0124 МS to power the second stage of an advanced “Soyuz-5” LV.
On November 1, 2019, the “Voronezh Mechanical Plant” — an affiliate of “Khrunichev Space Center”, and JSC Konstruktorskoe Buro Khimavomatiky (JSC KBKhA), were merged into “Voronezh Center of Rocket Engine Building”. Sergei v. Kovalev was appointed a leader of the merged company.
The jointed production area combined the activities continued on development and manufacturing of rocket engines, aircraft equipment, and oil and gas production equipment under the “VMP” trademark.
History of the Voronezh Mechanical Plant (VMP) started since October 1928, when the plant began manufacturing of the grain cleaning machines in Voronezh city. In November 1931, it was renamed “Diesel Plant”, and involved in manufacturing of diesels for low energetics and river crafts.
In July 1940, an active production of M-11 aviation motors for PO-2 aircrafts began.
In the beginning of World War II, the plant was evacuated to Andijan, where, within the war period, it has produced over 30 thousand aviation motors for light-class aviation.
In 1946, the plant renewed the aviation motor production in Voronezh.
1957–1958ss — a successive milestone in history of the plant. The liquid rocket engine serial production was started. The state-of-the-art space technologies were mastered: unique equipment was manufactured, new materials and control methods were developed.
High technical potential of the plant and professional competence of the staff were confirmed by successful flights of “Energia-Buran” space transportation system powered by the engines produced by VMP, and stable space flights of “Soyuz”, “Proton” and other LVs.
In early 90s, in cooperation with JSC “Gazprom”, the company mastered the manufacturing process of the oil and gas production equipment. The products such as: an X-mas tree, landing heads, shut-off and control valves, ejectors, blowout protection equipment, were up to the international standards of quality.
Since 2010, the company has been developing and manufacturing the field control stations for X-mas trees, hookup modules, and well intervention control systems.
The Voronezh Mechanical Plant is a recipient of the Prize of the Russian Federation Government for Quality.