Astron was a Soviet spacecraft launched on 23 March 1983 at 12:45:06 UTC, using Proton launcher, which was designed to fulfill an astrophysics mission. It was based on the Venera spacecraft design and was operational for six years as the largest ultraviolet space telescope during its lifetime. The project was headed by Alexandr Boyarchuk.
The spacecraft was designed and constructed by the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory and NPO Lavochkin. A group of scientists from these institutions was awarded the USSR State Prize for their work on Astron.
Astron's payload consisted of an 80 cm ultraviolet telescope which was designed jointly by the USSR and France, and an X-ray spectroscope on board. It could take UV spectra 150-350 nm.
Placed into an orbit with an apogee of 185,000 kilometres (115,000 mi) it could make observations outside the Earth's umbra and radiation belt. Among the most important observations by Astron were those of the SN 1987A supernova on March 4–12, 1987 and of Halley's Comet in December, 1985, that allowed a group of Soviet scientists to develop a model of the coma surrounding Halley's Comet.