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IKI – Space Research Institute

USSR Academy of Sciences / Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

IKI – Space Research Institute

Russian Academy of Sciences (USSR Academy of Sciences), Moscow

Excerpts from

my 15 years at iki by mike gruntman

My Fifteen Years at IKI, the Space Research Institute:

Position-Sensitive Detectors and Energetic Neutral Atoms Behind the Iron Curtain

Interstellar Trail Press, 2022. ISBN 979-8985668704

detailed book content    paperback    Kindle    book preview

Chapter 1. From Fiztekh to IKI

New institute in the Academy of Sciences (pp. 18ff)

IKI 15 pages 018-026

The Academy of Sciences had opened the new Space Research Institute several years before the described events. The institute formed its staff by drawing scientists from other research organizations. IKI rapidly grew and evolved administratively. The Academy of Sciences appointed a prominent specialist in gas dynamics, academician Georgii I. Petrov as the first institute director (Fig. 1.14).

On May 4, 1965, Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers Aleksei N. Kosygin sent a draft of the government decree approving the proposal by the Academy of Sciences to establish IKI to the highest body of the country, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The Presidium of the Central Committee approved the draft on May 15, 1965, and the Council of Ministers issued the top-secret decree No. 392-147, signed by Kosygin, on the same day.[19]

The government gave two months to the Academy of Sciences to work out, in coordination with the Ministry of General Machine Building and Ministry of Defense, the "Statute of the Space Research Institute of the Academy of Sciences," and then the overseeing powerful Military-Industrial Commission20 to approve it. The Ministry of General Machine-Building, known by its Russian abbreviation MOM, has directed work on ballistic missiles, rocketry, and space in the country since the mid-1950s.


Construction of the institute buildings quickly began. The Moscow geography at the time substantially differed from the present day. The selected site at the crossing of Profsoyuznaya and Obrucheva streets was at the city's outskirts. Figures 1.15 and 1.16 show satellite photographs of that part of south-southwest Moscow in July 1966. The construction site occupied the southwest corner of the street intersection (Fig. 1.16). At that time apartment buildings reached only the present-day subway (Moscow metro) station "Belyaevo." Agricultural fields stretched beyond that area to the ring road (Fig. 1.15) that defined the administrative boundary of the city. Today, residential areas fill all space to the ring road and beyond.

The IKI part of the building had been fully operational by 1973 when I walked in through the institute doors for the first time (Fig. 1.20). Seven spacious high-ceiling working floors housed offices and laboratories, with the so-called technical floors with somewhat lower ceilings and smaller windows in between (Fig. 1.19).


A CIA report [23] described in 1980 that "IKI consists of 21 buildings with a total floorspace of 131,177 square meters." It estimated the main research building to be 403 m long, 18 m wide, and 52 m high with 116,064 square meters of floorspace. The document also noted that while the institute was focused on open space science research, a “classified research program was begun in 1977 ... to develop large space-based antennas to monitor US microwave communications and radars.” The institute indeed restricted access to one section of the fifth working floor of the building for classified research, with an additional guard at the entrance door leading to that area.


IKI 15 page 011

Fig. 1.21. Satellite photograph of IKI in 1977. The main 400-m (1300-ft) long building cast a shadow to the north-northwest. Therefore, the photograph was taken about one hour before the local noon. One can see several supporting structural parts at the back of the building (Fig. 1.18). Original satellite reconnaissance photograph by KH-9 camera (Mission 1213-1; July 22, 1977) available from the U.S. Geological Survey; photograph identification, interpretation, and processing by Mike Gruntman.


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