The design bureaus

Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)


The organizational core of the Russian space program is the design bureau. This could be classified by design bureau (KB) or experimental design bureau (Opytnoye Konstruktorskoye Buro, OKB). The design bureau was the middle element in a three-part chain, a system developed in Stalin’s time [1]. First, concepts were tested in a scientific research institute (NII) (Nauk Issledovatl Institut). Once deemed possible or desirable, hardware was designed, built and tested by an OKB or KB. Once perfected, it was put into production in the third part, the factory. The operation of the system was actually more complex than this, because some design institutes grew up with factories alongside and were closely associated with one another. Furthermore, a design product of an OKB could be sent for production in a factory affiliated to a rival design bureau. A complex set of relationships and rivalries thus built up over the years. Their work in the new century is now reviewed. Nowadays, many of these organizations are called NPOs (scientific and production associations), companies or corporations, but the term “bureau” is still widely used.


International Space Station European Space Agency Communication Satellite Solar Sail Space Program 
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© Praxis Publishing Ltd 2007

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