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The Moscow-based Group for the Study of Reactive Motion was a Soviet research bureau founded in 1931 to study various aspects of rocketry
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

 . In 1933 it was incorporated into the Reaction-Engine Scientific Research Institute .


GIRD was created on September 15, 1931. 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
Soviet space program
The Soviet space program is the rocketry and space exploration programs conducted by the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from the 1930s until its dissolution in 1991...

, was the over-all director of GIRD, as well as a brigade leader and the chairman of its technical council.

Fridrikh Tsander
Friedrich Zander
Friedrich Zander , often transliterated Fridrikh Arturovich Tsander, was a pioneer of rocketry and spaceflight in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union...

 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.


In January 1933 Tsander began development of the GIRD-X 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 by 140 millimetres (5.5 in) in diameter, had a mass of 30 kilograms (66.1 lb), 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).

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.


The first Soviet rocket launch was the GIRD-9, on 17 August 1933, which reached the modest altitude of 400 metres (1,312.3 ft)

Project 05

Mikhail Klavdievich Tikhonravov
Mikhail Klavdievich Tikhonravov
Mikhail Klavdievich Tikhonravov was a Soviet pioneer of spacecraft design and rocketry. Mikhail Klavdievich attended the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy from 1922 to 1925, where he built gliders and was exposed to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky's ideas of spaceflight. In 1932, he joined GIRD, as one of the...

, who would later supervise the design of Sputnik I and the Luna programme
Luna programme
The Luna programme , occasionally called Lunik or Lunnik, was a series of robotic spacecraft missions sent to the Moon by the Soviet Union between 1959 and 1976. Fifteen were successful, each designed as either an orbiter or lander, and accomplished many firsts in space exploration...

, 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
Valentin Glushko
Valentin Petrovich Glushko or Valentyn Petrovych Hlushko was a Soviet engineer, and the principal Soviet designer of rocket engines during the Soviet/American Space Race.-Biography:...

, which was fuelled by nitric acid
Nitric acid
Nitric acid , also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is a highly corrosive and toxic strong acid.Colorless when pure, older samples tend to acquire a yellow cast due to the accumulation of oxides of nitrogen. If the solution contains more than 86% nitric acid, it is referred to as fuming...

 and kerosene
Kerosene, sometimes spelled kerosine in scientific and industrial usage, also known as paraffin or paraffin oil in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Ireland and South Africa, is a combustible hydrocarbon liquid. The name is derived from Greek keros...

 with its nozzle regeneratively cooled by the flow of acid. First tested in November 1933, the ORM-50 predated Eugen Sänger
Eugen Sänger
Eugen Sänger was an Austrian-German aerospace engineer best known for his contributions to lifting body and ramjet technology.-Early career:...

's regeneratively cooled engine, which was not tested in Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 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 3000 m (9,842.5 ft) in 1937.


On 16 May 1932 Mikhail Tukhachevsky
Mikhail Tukhachevsky
Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky was a Marshal of the Soviet Union, commander in chief of the Red Army , and one of the most prominent victims of Joseph Stalin's Great Purge.-Early life:...

 filed a memorandum to the effect that GIRD and the State Gas Dynamics Laboratory (GDL) of Leningrad
Leningrad is the former name of Saint Petersburg, Russia.Leningrad may also refer to:- Places :* Leningrad Oblast, a federal subject of Russia, around Saint Petersburg* Leningrad, Tajikistan, capital of Muminobod district in Khatlon Province...

 should be combined, and the result was the Reaction-Engine Scientific Research Institute (RNII), founded on 21 September 1933.

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