MOSCOW, June 3. /TASS/. Russia’s Energomash Research and Production Association is working on the technology of carrier rockets’ reusable first stages, Energomash Chief Designer Pyotr Lyovochkin said in an interview published in the June edition of the Popular Mechanics journal.
"We constantly explain to rocket builders that if we had the operational technology of returning first stages, they would have no need to buy quite an expensive engine from us just for one flight. Today both rocket builders and we have started to develop such technologies," Lyovochkin said.
The rocket’s engine has to be fired again upon landing to ensure optimal conditions for the rocket stage’s flight in the dense layers of the atmosphere, the chief designer said.
"This is a problem. That is, you have to ensure that the fuel and the oxidizer stay below, at intake devices, instead of splashing in the [fuel] tanks. Otherwise, it is actually impossible to ensure a controlled flight," he noted.
The RD-171MV engine for the first stage of a Soyuz-5 carrier rocket, which Russia’s Energia Space Rocket Corporation is developing, can be used for the returnable first stages of future launch vehicles, Lyovochkin noted.
"After a flight or bench firing tests, the engine does not need to be disassembled: we have created the technology of the thermo-vacuum cleaning of the engine and oxygen tract cavities from the components’ residue," the chief designer said.
In the future, the Soyuz-5 spacecraft can become a first stage module of a super-heavy carrier rocket known as the Yenisei or the RN-STK, the first tests of which are scheduled for the turn of the 2020s-2030s. The new rocket is being developed for manned flights to the Moon and, in a perspective, to Mars, the chief designer said.