Samara University

The History of Samara University

The Aviation institute, which in 2015 became the heart of today’s Samara University, opened in Samara (then known as Kuibyshev) in October 1942. By that time, the city had emerged as the evacuation center for roughly 30 aviation-industry enterprises and organizations fleeing wartime hostilities. It was the scene of the rollout for mass production of the ground-attack IL-2 aircraft, which went on to become the single most-produced warplane in the history of aviation. Kuibyshev-based enterprises made nearly three-quarters of the more than 36,000 IL-2 that our country produced. The Kuibyshev Aviation Institute (KuAI) became the foundry for the engineering corps for these enterprises.


The Aerospace museum named after S.P. Korolev.

In the post-war years, KuAI was the scene of advanced research-and-development work on the production of breakthrough prototypes of aviation equipment, including the first jet-fighters and bombers, as well as their propulsion systems.


Left: Back in 1942 Kuibyshev Aviation Institute was located in this building at Molodogvardeyskaya St. Right: KuAI Laboratory building at Ulyanovskaya St.


KuAI, A lecture being presented.


1954, Defence of a graduation work. Members of the examining board: M.I.Razumikhin, V.Y. Litvinov, F.I. Stebikhov, A.A. Komarov

Since 1957, KuAI has been training specialists for the development of space-rocket equipment. The institute’s scientists, specialists and graduates took part in the development and startup production of the first domestically-produced intercontinental ballistic missiles – the R-7, R-7А, R-9; the carrier rockets “Vostok” (East), “Molniya” (Lightning) and “Soyuz” (Union); a space-rocket complex for a manned flight to the Moon; and the Energiya–Buran space shuttle. They developed spacecraft of varying purposes, including for national systems monitoring the Earth’s surface, developed programs for the MIR orbital complex, and participated in many other projects, including international endeavors.


The first computer “Ural-1” KuAI acquired in 1960. Photo of operator Yuri Ershov.


SSAU main building (34, Moskovskoe shosse St.)

In the late 1950s, KuAI initiated the creation of industry-specific R&D laboratories, which lent powerful impetus to the advancement of university-based scientific pursuits. The institute’s work involved the recruitment of prominent scientists and industrial workers. Among them – the principal designer of aviation and rocket engines Nikolai Kuznetsov, as well as a leading Soviet and Russian designer of space-rocket equipment, the chief engineer of the legendary R-7 rocket, Dmitri Kozlov. In 1992, KuAI was reorganized into the Samara State Aerospace University (SSAU).


Commemorative plaque in memory of V.P. Lukachev, former SSAU rector (1956 – 1988).


Bust of S.P Korolev.

September 1969 saw the opening of Samara (then Kuibyshev) State University (SamSU). It was to provide training for scientific manpower in the natural and social sciences, as well as the humanities. The formation of academic schools at SamSU unfolded with support from the Moscow, St. Petersburg and Saratov State Universities. In 2016, SSAU and SamSU amalgamated into the Samara National Research University named after Academician S.P. Korolev (Samara University).