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Russia begins comprehensive Angara rocket testing at Plesetsk

June 26, 2014, 21:55 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The cosmodrome’s crew has finished testing the rocket’s components and systems
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Angara launching complex at Plesetsk cosmodrome

Angara launching complex at Plesetsk cosmodrome

© ITAR-TASS/Alexander Astafyev

MOSCOW, June 26. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia has begun testing its new Angara rocket carrier at the northern Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Arkhangelsk Region.

The cosmodrome’s crew has finished testing the rocket’s components and systems and has begun comprehensive rocket tests. “Based on the results of the comprehensive tests, the state commission will make the final decision on Angara’s readiness for the first launch,” Colonel Alexei Zolotukhin, the Defense Ministry’s spokesperson for the Aerospace Defense Troops, told ITAR-TASS on Thursday, June 26.

The first launch of the light-weight version of the rocket is scheduled for June 27.

Russia has stepped up preparations for the first launch of its new Angara rocket carrier, Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said earlier.

“We have done a tremendous amount of work to step up preparations for the Angara launch and to catch up with the schedule,” he said.

Russia will launch its new Angara rocket carrier this year, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said.

“Angara has such characteristics that I hope it will be able to compete with the world’s best analogues in the future. The rocket was fully designed and made in Russia, using environmentally friendly fuel components - oxygen and kerosene,” the prime minister said.

“What is important is that we have laid the solid scientific and technical groundwork for improving our space systems and infrastructure,” he said.

The new rocket carrier will be used to launch both civilian and military spacecraft and for international space cooperation projects.


The Angara project

Angara is one of the priorities in the development of the Plesetsk spaceport. In November 2013, a full-scale mock-up of the rocket was for the first time put up on the launch pad. It was a fully operational rocket but intended for ground testing only, not for launching.

Work to create the ground infrastructure for the new rocket and prepare an Angara launch is part of the federal program for the development of Russia’s cosmodromes in 2006-2015.

Zolotukhin said that there had been a lag of up to six months in the work on some elements of the ground infrastructure. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had to take the situation under his personal control and ordered video cameras to be installed at the construction site to monitor the work round the clock.

Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) Chief Oleg Ostapenko said that work on the Angara rocket carrier was now proceeding as scheduled.

“We stick to the schedule. Work is now in progress to create a medium lift launch vehicle and in parallel with that we will move over to the heavy version Angara-5. Work is also underway to create the Soyuz-2 rocket and space system, and we plan to use the builders’ capacities for constructing the launch pad for Angara,” Ostapenko said.

A super-heavy lift launch vehicle will be able to carry a payload of 80 tonnes to low-earth orbits. In the future, its capacity can be increased to 160 tonnes and more.

The launch site for super-heavy lift vehicles will be built at Russia’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome now under construction in the Far Eastern Amur Region.

Khrunichev Space Centre Director-General Alexander Seliverstov said that the Angara development had reached the flight test stage and the focus was on finalizing the launch site in Plesetsk.

The Angara 1.2 vehicle was shipped to Plesetsk in late May 2013 to allow adequate time for extensive testing and interface verification efforts being performed prior to the planned launch in the first half of 2014. The Angara 5 vehicle is expected to launch later in 2014, he said.

Seliverstov said that light and heavy versions of Angara rockets would be launched in 2014 and work was proceeding as scheduled.

“The first rocket is to be launched in 2014,” Seliverstov said.

A heavy version of the rocket is being assembled. “Work is proceeding as scheduled. We have to make the heavy version before the end of the year as its launch is scheduled for the end of 2014,” he said last year.

Angara will allow Russia to launch all kinds of spacecraft to any orbit. Now Russia can launch heavy satellites only aboard Proton rockets from Baikonur, which it leases from Kazakhstan for about $115 million annually.

According to Khrunichev, a big advantage of the new rocket carrier is that “it is a universal space rocket system” capable of taking three types of rockets into space: light with a payload of up to 3.5 tonnes, medium with a payload of up to 14.6 tonnes, and heavy with a payload of up to 24.5 tonnes.

Medium lift and heavy lift launch vehicles can take payloads to the geostationary orbit as well.

The vehicle uses a unique engineering solution: the carrier can be assembled of the same modules. Their maximum number is five in a heavy version, three in a medium version, and one in a light version. They can all be launched form the same pad, not like now at Baikonur where each carrier requires its own launching pad.

The Angara class of rockets comprises four types of vehicles, with payload capacities ranging between 3.7 tones (light class, intended for low orbits) and 28.5 tonnes.

The rockets are based on a universal rocket module powered by the RD-191 engine using kerosene and liquid oxygen. One such module makes up the first stage of the light class Angara 1.1 and Angara 1.2 boosters. Their second stages are different. The medium and heavy class boosters Angara-3 and Angara 4 are an extension of the light class types with additional three or four universal modules. Depending on the specific tasks, the booster can be equipped with the Briz-M or KVRB accelerator units.

Angara rockets will not use aggressive and toxic heptyl-based fuel, which will make them much more environmentally friendly.

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