SS-20 "Pioneer"

The treaty that banned these ballistic missiles was a step back from nuclear war and a harbinger of the Cold War’s end.

Display Status:

This object is on display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Collection Item Summary:

The SS-20, known as the "Pioneer" in Russian, is a two-stage, solid propellant missile with three multiple targetable reentry warheads. The missile is almost 16.5 meters tall.

The exterior of the first stage is yellow fiberglass with numbers and Cyrillic letters printed along the circumference. The letters and numbers are used as guides in the manufacturing process when the solid fuel is covered with fiberglass. Two thirds of the way up the missile are the letters "CCCP" and a yellow five-point star.

The second stage has similar markings. The reentry vehicle consists of three warheads. The predominant color of the missile is green. Along the base of the missile are white fan stabilizers that assist in guidance.

The Votkinsk Machine Building Plant, USSR, constructed the missile for the exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum. Exhibition of this missile complies with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement between the US and USSR that provided for the preservation of fifteen SS-20 and Pershing II missiles to commemorate the first international agreement to ban an entire class of nuclear arms exhibition. It does not contain fuel or any live components. The Ministry of Defense of the USSR donated the missile to the Smithsonian.

Collection Item Long Description:

  • What are the numbers for?

    The numbers and letters on the sides of the SS-20 were a part of the manufacturing process, in which the fiberglass body of the missile was wrapped around the solid rocket fuel.

Inventory Number


Credit Line

Gift of USSR Ministry of Defense

Country of Origin

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics


Metal (steel?), fiberglass, paint, plastic


Overall: 5 ft. 10 1/2 in. wide x 54 ft. 11 in. tall (179.1 x 1673.9cm)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


CRAFT-Missiles & Rockets