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Roscosmos in talks on converting SS-18 Satan ICBMs for space launches

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin Vladimir Gerdo/TASS
Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin
© Vladimir Gerdo/TASS

KRASNOYARSK, July 7. /TASS/. Russian state-run space corporation Roscosmos and the Defense Ministry are discussing conversion of R-36M2 Voyevoda (NATO reporting name SS-18 Satan) intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) for satellite launches, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin has said.

"The matter is now being discussed, first of all with the Defense Ministry, because they are the number one here," Rogozin said on Saturday, answering to a question about the possibility of converting Voyevoda ICBMs.

He said it would be "wrong to simply scrap" this "beautiful, legendary ICBM."

"We could easily refit it for projects related to putting small spacecraft to civilian orbits. The matter is being discussed. This tactics should be applied to all combat missiles when they are being removed from combat duty, including Sarmat," he said.

According to Rogozin, test launches indicate that the Sarmat ICBM, which is to replace R-36M2 Voyevoda, has huge potential and when the time comes to scrap it decades later, this potential should not be wasted.

"It’s time to create the full life cycle technology - from the design, the project, the launch of production and up to retirement - not in the form of scrapping, but in the form of conversion, of making the most of it whenever possible," he said.

The RS-28 Sarmat is a Russian advanced silo-based system with a heavy liquid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile. It has been in the process of its development since the 2000s to replace the R-36M2 Voyevoda ICBM. It weighs about 200 tonnes and has a throw weight of around 10 tonnes. The Sarmat is capable of breaching any existing and future missile defenses.

According to Rogozin, the closing stage of Sarmat tests is expected at the end of 2020.