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Russian private firm to start reusable rocket launches for satellite delivery in 2024-2026

The launch of an orbital light rocket is estimated at $2.5-3 million
Vostochny spaceport Valery Sharifulin/TASS
Vostochny spaceport
© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, October 31. /TASS/. The Russian private company Laros will begin launches of its reusable carrier rocket capable of delivering up to 200 kg of payloads into orbit at an altitude of 500 km in 2024-2026, Laros owner Oleg Larionov told TASS on Thursday.

The company chief earlier told TASS that in 2020 Laros planned to begin the launches of a sub-orbital one-stage rocket to an altitude of up to 130 km to practice propulsive landing. In this case, the rocket lands onto a special site at landing pads with zero speed, using its own thrusters. The same method is employed by the US SpaceX.

"Then we will switch over to the two-stage orbital rocket, which will already deliver payloads of up to 200 kg into orbits at an altitude of 400-500 km. The first stage will also return on this rocket, using the landing method tested by the suborbital model. We are planning the first launch in 2024-2026," Larionov said.

The company’s plans also include the return of the second stage. This work envisages testing the heat shield and braking devices of future rocket systems, he added.

Eight engines with a thrust of 2.5 tonnes each will be mounted on the first stage of the orbital rocket. The engines will be derived from the sub-orbital carrier’s 500 kg thruster, the company’s head specified.

There are also plans to develop a semi-mobile version of the orbital rocket’s launch: the carrier will be transported on a launcher based on a heavy-duty trailer and launched from quickly deployed sites, Larionov said.

A test range will be required for the launch of Laros orbital rockets, the company’s head said. "For the first test flights, this can be the Kapustin Yar range. However, other test ranges will be required for launches into polar orbits that are in demand for large satellite groupings, for example, the new Russian spaceport Vostochny. Agreeing drop areas is a complex task for a small private company and we hope for the help of Roscosmos in this case," he said.

The launch of an orbital light rocket is estimated at $2.5-3 million and the readiness for the launch should be no later than two weeks after placing an order, he said.

A carrier rocket should be in demand for replenishing large satellite groupings in low orbit where small satellites have an active service life of no more than three-four years, Larionov said.

The work on the suborbital rocket project is being financed through the company’s own funds. However, the project of the orbital carrier rocket will require extra funds, he said.