It is sometimes confusing that the Russians call the booster rocket Soyuz, and the payload Soyuz.

Is there a reason for this naming model?

Reading Anatloy Zak's book he notes several proposed launchers/payloads that would have followed the same model (Rus-M was one I think) but does not propose an explanation as to why they would do that.


1 Answer 1


It is a common situation of the early Soviet program. The rockets themselves didn't have names at all initially. Only top secret internal indexes and project designations. (The spacecrafts often didn't have names too, btw. The public names have often been assigned only after a successful launch. See the stories of Vostok/Zenit, Almaz/Salyut etc).

The whole R7 rocket family (such as Molnia, Soyuz, Vostok) is named after their spacecrafts.

The UR-500 rocket have got its name only after serving as the vehicle for the Proton satellite.

  • $\begingroup$ I've just realized that the brand new Soyuz-2.1V rocket launched yesterday could have been called Aist (Stork) because that's the name of the satellite. Unfortunately the times have changed and it doesn't seem to work that way anymore. $\endgroup$
    – user54
    Dec 29, 2013 at 19:46
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Now Soyuz is a brand name, with excellent name recognition and high reliability to boot. Even if the Soyuz-2 had nothing in common with the Soyuz, you would still want to call it Soyuz for marketing reasons. Good capitalists these russkies. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Adler
    Dec 29, 2013 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkAdler Google Translate tells me that Angara means "shed" and that Rokot, which one could've guessed meant rocket, means "boom". They need to work on their launcher brand naming. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Feb 28, 2017 at 6:49
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    $\begingroup$ No, not "shed" at all. While there is a Russian word form "ангара" meaning genitive "of shed". The stress is different and it is clearly an accidental homonym. Angara rather refers to the river en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angara_River $\endgroup$
    – user54
    Mar 3, 2017 at 12:06

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