Elektron was one of the earliest Soviet scientific satellite missions to be authorized following the initial Sputnik (D-1) series. The two spacecraft were designed to be deployed in a single launch of a Vostok-K booster. The spacecraft had the specific task of mapping the Van Allen radiation belts at higher inclinations than that achieved by US satellites of the time (60 degrees vs 30 degrees latitude). The Elektron missions consisted of two different satellites in each pair. Elektron 1 and 3 were used for the lower orbit, while Elektron 2 and 4 were boosted to a higher orbit. Decrees authorizing design and building of the Elektrons were issued on 9 May 1960 and 13 May 1961. Design work began in July 1960.
Elektron 2 and 4, with a design mass of 460 kg, were boosted into a high 450 × 60,000 km orbit to map the outer Van Allen belt, simultaneous with Elektron 1 and 3's study of the inner radiation belt. To attain this orbit it used a perigee kick motor - a solid rocket of 3350 kgf and 12 to 15 seconds duration. Elektron 2 and 4 were 400 mm in diameter and 850 mm long. The spacecraft also measured cosmic rays and the upper atmosphere.
|Type / Application:||Magnetospheric research|
|Power:||Solar cells, batteries|
|Orbit:||460 km × 68200 km, 61° (#1); 459 km × 66235 km, 60.87° (#2)|
|Elektron 2||1964-006B||30.01.1964||Ba LC-1/5||Vostok-K||with Elektron 1|
|Elektron 4||1964-038B||10.07.1964||Ba LC-1/5||Vostok-K||with Elektron 3|