Vladimir Fedorovich Utkin was born in 1923 in the township
of Pustobor of the Ryazan Region. In 1941, he finished high school
with an excellent graduation certificate and practically from the
beginning of the Great Patriotic War till its victorious completion
he fought in the army to defend the freedom and independence of our
Motherland. While in the army he fought in battles all the way from
the Volkhov River to Berlin and took part in the hostilities on the
Volkhov, the 3rd Belarusian, the North-Caucasian, and the 4th Ukrainian
After the end of the war, he entered the Leningrad Military
Mechanical Institute in 1946, from which he graduated in 1952. He
was qualified as a mechanical engineer.
In July 1952, he began to work at the "Yuzhnoe" Design
Office in Dnepropetrovsk. It is from this time that the first very
important stage in his creative activity began. In 1967, he was appointed
first deputy chief and chief designer, in 1971 - chief and chief
designer, and in 1979 - chief designer and chief of the Design
Office. From 1986 Vladimir Fedorovich Utkin was director-general and
chief designer of the "Yuzhnoe" Science and Production Association.
During almost 40 years of work at the "Yuzhnoe" Design
Office, Utkin rose from an engineer to an outstanding scientist and
designer, an active advocate of scientific and technological progress,
who directed all his creative energy toward solving very complex problems
of space-rocket technology.
Under his leadership, four strategic missile systems that
ensured the parity of domestic nuclear missile forces in the world
and allowed the creation of a reliable nuclear missile defense of
the country were developed and added to our armory. Among the engineering
development products of the Design Office are the unique SS-18 strategic
silo-based missile system called Satan in the USA, which is currently
the best in the world, the S-24 railway- and silo-based solid propellant
system, and the highly efficient environmentally safe Zenit carrier
rocket (launcher) with a fully automated start. In a bundle of side
blocks, the first Zenit stage became part of the carrier rocket of
the Energiya-Buran reusable (shuttle)
space system. Today Zenit is the main carrier in the "Maritime Start"
In the field of space exploration, various defense and
research-purpose satellites were realized. In total, more than 300
spacecraft of the Kosmos family developed by the "Yuzhnoe" Design
Office and making up a substantial part of the total number of satellites
were put into orbit.
V. F. Utkin was an active participant in work in the field
of international cooperation in the exploration and mastering of outer
space. The implementation of the vast "Interkosmos" Program that made
a significant contribution to the joint exploration of near-earth
space by scientists of various countries was a remarkable event. The
"Arcade" Project was also realized using the Oreol satellite in cooperation
with French specialists.
Being the creator of formidable weapons, V. F. Utkin, as
chief designer, performed a great amount of work on the use of defense
research and development products in the interests of science and
the national economy and on the transition to conversion research
and development projects: "It is my conviction and hope that we have
an increasingly greater understanding of the need to think less and
less of nuclear weapons and combat missiles and to pay more attention
to the human concerns and anxieties that are still so numerous on
earth. Our minds should be switched to the solution of problems common
to mankind," he said at a function in memory of Academician V. S.
Semenikhin. He constantly put into life this characteristic principle
of his work. Thus, on the basis of the SS-9 combat missile the Tsiklon
converted carrier rocket, designed for putting into orbit medium payloads,
was developed. The Kosmos-1500 satellite was used to lead out convoys
of ships stuck in the ice in the East Siberian Sea (Vostochno-Sibirskoe
More) which made it possible to save hundreds of millions of rubles.
The Kosmos-1500 also became the progenitor of the widely known series
of Okean satellites ensuring a significant increase in the safety
and efficiency of high-seas navigation.
The strategy of designer and scientist V. F. Utkin was
to find alternative scientific and engineering solutions at minimum
cost and to establish close cooperation with cooperating enterprises,
design offices, organizations of the Academy of Sciences, and the
Ministry of Defense.
The "Yuzhnoe" Design Office and, personally, V. F. Utkin
maintained close creative and production ties with representatives
of the Central Scientific-Research Institute of Mechanical Engineering.
The cooperation of the scientists of the Central Scientific-Research
Institute of Mechanical Engineering with those of the Design Office
in the creation, refinement, and trials of space-rocket technology
products made it possible to promptly solve in the shortest time many
emerging technical problems and to reduce the time of creation of
products. V. F. Utkin personally knew many scientists of the Institute
due to their joint work.
From 1990, V. F. Utkin was director of the Central Scientific-Research
Institute of Mechanical Engineering of the Russian Space Agency. At
this time, the second very important stage in Utkin's work begins.
Relying on the powerful team of scientists of the Institute and showing
consideration for its history and traditions, he immediately plunged
into the life of the Institute, actively familiarizing himself with
the employees, the subjects of research and the structure of the Institute,
and also with the experimental base, getting to the heart of the matter
V. F. Utkin's outstanding talent as an organizer of research,
his inexhaustible energy and capacity for work, his immense prestige
as a designer and scientist, and his ability to forecast forthcoming
coming events made it possible at this time of difficulty for the
country to preserve the scientific potential of the Institute and
its main research areas and to remain the leading organization of
the country in the field of space-rocket technology.
Vladimir Fedorovich Utkin took an active part in the reorganization
of the administration and management of the space-rocket industry
and its restructuring under new economic conditions. Under his scientific
leadership and with his direct participation the Federal Space Program
of the Russian Federation for the period of up to 2000 was developed
and implemented. The Federal Space Program up to 2005 was developed
and approved by the decree of the Government of the Russian Federation.
Under his supervision as the chief designer, scientific
investigations and research and development work to ensure the creation
of experimental special-purpose aircraft were conducted for the first
time in the Institute's practice and are being conducted today. Large-scale
work has gotten under way on conversion research subjects (environmental
problems, monitoring of the residual life of lock gates, etc.). It
is difficult even to enumerate the aspects of the enormous multifaceted
work which Vladimir Fedorovich performed in that period. He published
over 30 papers. He repeatedly made brilliant statements on major scientific
and technical problems at Russian and International forums. He demonstrated
the fundamental possibility of a short-term forecast of an earthquake
using space devices on the basis of observation of anomalous electromagnetic
and plasma effects manifesting themselves in the near-earth space
on the eve of a strong earthquake and being its short-term precursor.
Much work has been done by Vladimir Fedorovich within the framework
of the functioning of commissions (he was their chairman) to determine
the causes of emergency situations with space-rocket technology products.
During the same period of time, he took part in the organization of
scientific and technical forums and meetings and headed the K. E.
Tsiolkovskii Russian Academy of Space Exploration. Simultaneously,
he continued to devote a lot of time and energy to international cooperation
in the field of outer space. In accordance with a decision of the
Russian-American Government Commission on economic and technological
cooperation, a coordinating consultative-expert board of the Russian
Space Agency for programs of scientific and applied research and experiments
on manned spacecraft was set up in 1994 under the chairmanship of
V. F. Utkin by a joint decision of the President of the Russian Academy
of Sciences and the Director-General of the Russian Space Agency.
In conjunction with the Special Commission of the NASA Consultative
Committee under the chairmanship of Lt. General of the U.S. Airforce
Thomas Patten Stafford, the "Utkin-Stafford Commission" implemented
mutual control over the problematic issues of setting up an International
Space Station and scientific and technical support in key points connected
with the creation of the station. Applications (about 360 proposals)
for scientific research were analyzed and selected by competition.
The "Long-Term Program of Scientific and Applied Investigations and
Experiments Planned at the Russian Segment of the International Space
Station," the program of implementation of scientific and applied
investigations at the Russian segment of the International Space Station
in the period of its deployment (1999-2003) in the interests of
organizations and industrial enterprises, the Academy of Sciences
and various departments of the Russian Federation, and also the CIS
countries, and the programs of the development and creation of target-oriented
equipment suggested for use at the International Space Station and
programs of international cooperation were formed.
Proposals were developed to organize ties with the CIS
countries and advanced space-exploration powers in the creation and
use of space devices to monitor the natural environment. One of the
practical outcomes of the realization of these proposals is the creation
of the Dnepr space-rocket system with the use of RS-20 strategic missiles
to be destroyed in accordance with the agreements concluded with the
U.S. on the reduction of offensive weapons. In April 1999, an English
spacecraft was successfully launched using a modernized RS-20 missile.
Successful first launches of Start-1, Rokot, Volna, and Shtil converted
carrier rockets were conducted.
V. F. Utkin's productive work and colossal achievements
in the field of creating modern space rocket systems brought him world
fame. Practically every year he was nominated for the title of "Man
of the Year" and then "Man of the Century.".
Vladimir Fedorovich Utkin was a versatile scientist who
took an interest in a great variety of fields of science and technology.
He had a good understanding of many technical questions that were
not related to his main qualification. His broad erudition, rich engineering
experience, courage and initiative in the formulation and solution
of complex problems, and outstanding organizational ability enabled
him to successfully deal with simple but urgent problems that are
important for humanity - the ozone layer, the removal of radioactive
waste of nuclear power plants, the possibility of predicting environmental
disasters, and many others.
Possessing an indisputable authority as a designer and
enormous experience and knowledge, Vladimir Fedorovich came into contact
with his interlocutors exceptionally easily and simply; he found agreed
solutions of problems in situations where the viewpoints of the debating
speakers substantially differed, and he could solve problems at any
level without offending his interlocutor and prove that he was right.
His speeches and statements were always bright, emotional,
and remarkable for their depth and originality. The words of a poem
cited by him on the day of celebration of the 50th anniversary of
space exploration sounded prophetically as appreciation of the achieved
results and his entire work:
"Our efforts have been rewarded by the fact that,
Having overcome the absence of rights and darkness,
We forged flaming wings,
For ourselves, our country, and our time,"
of which the last lines were inscribed on the pedestal
of the monument in his honor.
He dearly loved life, nature, and his Little Homeland -
the region of Ryazan. He was glad to meet and have numerous conversations
with fellow towns-people and others who came from the same part of
the country whom he helped to deal with their problems. He was the
moving spirit, organizer, and chairman of the International Science
and Technology Conference "Space Exploration. Radio Electronics. Geoinformatics"
in Ryazan which became a traditional event.
The International Conference timed to coincide with the
75th anniversary of V. F. Utkin's birth and involving the participation
of not only residents of Ryazan, but also those of the village of
Izhorskoe (the birthplace of K. E. Tsiolkovskii) developed into a
grand popular occasion; it was attended by scientists, factory personnel
and officials, office employees, and university, college, and school
students of the city of Kasimov and other neighboring towns and townships
of the Ryazan Region. The meeting with his great fellow countrymen,
the cosmonauts Klimuk, Kovalenok, and Glazkov, and the U.S. astronauts
Stafford, Engle, and Anderson, was a genuine triumph for the cause
to which K. E. Tsiolkovskii and V. F. Utkin had devoted their lives
and also a brilliant awareness-raising promotion campaign for rocket-technology
achievements. It was confirmed with confidence that cosmonautics and
astronautics had lived and would continue to live for the benefit
Vladimir Fedorovich Utkin passed away on February 15, 2000.
Years pass and events change fast. New achievements emerge,
and new names appear. Some things lose their topicality and disappear.
Some things, on the contrary, begin to be recollected, and many things
acquire significance and become meaningful decades later. But the
name of Vladimir Fedorovich Utkin - Man, Citizen, Designer, and
Scientist - one of the initiators of the exploration of outer
space, will remain in mankind's memory forever.
"All that has been genuinely great, will remain great forever."
Professor I. V. Ershov, Doctor of Technical Sciences