Kurs (docking system)

Kurs (docking system)

Kurs (Ukrainian: Курс, Russian: Курс, Course) is a radio telemetry system used by the Soviet and later Russian space program.

Kurs was developed by the Research Institute of Precision Instruments (NII TP, Russian: НИИ Точных Приборов) before 1985[1][2] and manufactured by the Kiev Radio Factory (Ukrainian: Київський Радіозавод).[3]


Kurs was the successor to the Igla system and today provides navigation beaconing for Russian space vehicles including the Soyuz spacecraft and Progress spacecraft. Kurs provided the automated docking system for all Russian spacecraft that docked with the Mir space station.[4][5] When used for docking, the Soyuz or Progress vehicle broadcasts radar pulses from multiple antennas. The variation in strength between the antennas allows the system to compute relative position, attitude, and approach rate. The system is designed for automatic rendezvous and docking, but in an emergency cosmonauts may take command of the vehicle either locally, or from the International Space Station.[6]

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Kurs system became the property of Ukraine; its manufacturer became a competitor in the space launch business with RKA. Due to hard-currency problems, Kiev also raised the price of the Kurs system. Consequently, RKA sought to phase out its use in its vehicles.[7]


The Kurs-NA system is replacing Kurs-A which required five rendezvous antennas, the Kurs-NA will require only one, it will also use less power.[8] It was tested by Progress M-15M in July 2012.[8]



The now Russian-built antenna part of the Kurs system also serves as an independent and redundant docking monitoring system for the European Automated Transfer Vehicle.[9] It serves as an additional monitoring system but cannot be used to control the approach or docking of ATV in any way.[10]

See also