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Russia may make decision on new super-heavy carrier rocket shortly

February 07, 2014, 5:56 UTC+3 BAIKONUR
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BAIKONUR, February 07, 5:30 /ITAR-TASS/. Russia should make the decision on building a new super-heavy lift launch vehicle as soon as possible, Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) chief Oleg Ostapenko said.

“We are working on this matter very closely with the Russian Academy of Sciences. When we have finished it, we will submit it to the Military Industrial Commission,” Ostapenko said on Thursday, February 6.

“It would be advisable to make the decision within the shortest time possible,” he added.

Ostapenko said the modernisation of the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was underway and spoke of the progress in building Angara carrier rockets. “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 earlier that the Angara development had reached the flight test stage and the focus was on finalising 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 U.S. dollars a year.

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.

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