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Russia’s space agency urges to expedite transition from Proton to Angara carrier rockets

June 03, 2015, 12:11 UTC+3 OMSK

The reason is a series of recent space launch failures

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Angara rocket launch

Angara rocket launch

© Кussian Defense Ministery press service/TASS

Infographics Russia’s Angara A5 heavy-load space carrier rocket

Russia’s Angara A5 heavy-load space carrier rocket

The new Russian Angara A5 heavy-load rocket was successfully test-launched on December 23, 2014. Infographics by TASS

OMSK, June 3. /TASS/. Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) urges to expedite the replacement of Proton carrier rockets with the new Angara heavy rocket, Roscosmos Head Igor Komarov said on Wednesday after a series of recent space launch failures.

‘It is necessary to expedite the transition of launches from Protons to the Angara rocket," he said at a meeting held by Vice-Premier Dmitry Rogozin in the Siberian city of Omsk.

The Angara is a new generation of Russia’s carrier rockets. Its light and heavy models performed their first flights in the middle and the end of last year, respectively.

The Angara-5 heavy rocket modification currently under development in Russia is expected for use in the country’s lunar exploration program.

Recent Proton accidents

Russia lost a Proton carrier rocket with a Mexican satellite aboard during an abortive launch on May 16.

The Proton-M carrier rocket with the Briz-M acceleration unit and Mexica’s Mexsat-1 satellite blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan at 08:47 a.m. Moscow time (05:47 GMT) on May 16.

The Briz-M acceleration unit with the Mexican satellite was expected to separate from the carrier rocket at 08:57 a.m. Moscow time (05:57 GMT). However, a minute before the designated separation, an emergency situation occurred at an altitude of 161 km, due to which the rocket’s head section and third stage failed to separate and burnt up in the dense layers of the Earth’s atmosphere above the Trans-Baikal area in East Siberia.

According to preliminary information, a breakdown occurred in a steering engine of the third stage, similar to the Proton accident last year.

The failure in the launch of a Proton-M carrier rocket in May 2014 was caused by a breakdown of a bearing in the turbine pump system of a steering engine.

Vice-Premier Rogozin said last week Russia should switch to digital designing in the space rocket industry, gradually giving up Proton boosters and opting for other models, like the Angara rocket.

"Generally, our conclusion is also related to the need to switch exclusively to digital designing and modelling of this sort of situations and, of course, it is necessary to expedite the transition to modern carrier rockets like the Angara, gradually giving up the Protons," Rogozin said.

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