Vladimir G. Sergeev | History of Computing in Ukraine

Vladimir G. Sergeev

Vladimir Grigorievich Sergeev was a head of Kharkiv Science and the production association "Khartron" and a chief design engineer of navigation and control systems for leading Soviet missile weapon systems from 1960 to 1986.

Vladimir Sergeev was born on March 5th, 1914, in Moscow. In 1930, he graduated from seventh grade at a secondary school and entered a plant-factory apprenticeship at the Moscow electric plant. Starting in February 1932 he worked as a mechanic at the factory "Moskvashvey", and in September 1934 he entered the Moscow Institute of Communication Systems (now the Moscow Technical University of Communication Systems and Informatics) and graduated in six years.

In June 1941, Sergeev was mobilized into the Red Army and was appointed an engineer of the communication systems department of the Army VIII headquarters. From August 1944 he served as deputy commander of the 449th nonintegrated line battalion, and in February 1946 he became a commander of the battalion. From January 1947 Sergeev was an officer of the telegraph and telephone communication services department of the 39th Army headquarters.

In March 1947, Vladimir was released from service and in June of the same year he started working at the Research Institute-885 of the Ministry of Industry of communication systems. There he advanced from being a research assistant up to the chief of laboratories.

In 1960, during a test of the P16 missiles, the chief design engineer of OKB-692 B.M. Konoplev, was killed and Sergeev was appointed to his position. He became a head-chief design engineer of SPA "Khartron". He was able to organize the work so that within six months the missile R-16, with substantially reworked control system equipment, was taken to the starting position. It also performed flight tests successfully.

In general, the main focus of Sergeev’s activities was the creation of more sophisticated control systems for the intercontinental ballistic missiles Yangel and Chelomei. These missile weapon systems formed the basis of the nuclear missile force of strategic purpose. In the 1960-1980s two control systems for missiles were created by M.K. Yangel. First, the weapon system P-16 with a range of up to 12,000 kilometers, and second, the weapon system R-36 with two types of combat equipment: a light warhead with a range of up to 14,000 kilometers and heavy one with a range of up to 12,000 kilometers. For many years, the team headed by Vladimir was busy creating combat missile systems with new capacities such as the ability to cross the missile defense system.

The SPA "Khartron" under his leadership developed a global missile R36 system of control. It provided a range equal to a single round of a satellite and the ability to approach the target from two diametrically opposite directions. R36 was also a control system for the endoatmospheric controlled trajectory warheads. It provided cross missile defense, aiming at the target on the terrain or radar maps.

Sergeev devoted his life to building control systems of missiles and space systems. Colleagues would lovingly call him V.G. or "grandfather." He was not a convenient person for everyone. In matters of principle, he was not going to compromise. The main aim of his work was: "I’m called to make weapons and it should be safe". He always considered the important issues and listened to the leadership of those companies that had to work on his documentation.

Of special significance in the scientific and technical work of the Sergeev team was the creation of a system control for the barrier-rocket reusable space transportation system "Energia-Buran", which had an unofficial name "The Soviet Shuttle." Few people know that this development was originally assigned to another chief design engineer and the preliminary design had been already submitted. But at the design stage, it became clear that the project was at risk of being a complete failure, and Sergeev was invited to join in.

Vladimir Grigorievich took some time before joining in on the project. He obviously knew or felt that it was his last great project and thoroughly thought through each step. As a result, in May 1987 the first successful launch of the rocket "Energia" took place and in November 1988 the baseline design of the shuttle "Buran" was launched as well.

In 1986 Sergeev resigned as a chief design engineer and a head of the science and production association "Khartron." It happened during the height of the end of the developing tests of "Energia-Buran". From then on he worked at "Khartron" as a scientific consultant.

Vladimir Sergeev died on April 29th, 2009, at 96 years old. His name is an integral part of the history of the USSR defense and the establishment of intercontinental ballistic missiles, the nuclear-missile shield of the Soviet Union.