Thursday, July 30, 2015

Russia Reveals Long-term Plans for Its Angara Launch Vehicle

Angara-5 rocket launches from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on Dec. 23, 2014. Photo Credit: Russia's Defence Ministry press service/TASS

The Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, a Moscow-based rocket manufacturer, has revealed its long-term plans for the newest Russian Angara launch vehicle. According to the company’s announcement, the rocket’s busy launch manifest includes 10 test launches in the next few years and a possible participation in the Sea Launch project. The plan also envisions developing reusable stages for Angara around 2025.

Khrunichev plans to complete test launches of Angara heavy carrier rocket from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome by 2020 when the serial production of the booster will start.

"The first Angara launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome is set for 2021. In general, around 10 test-launches of Angara heavy rockets and four test launches of [Angara] light rockets are planned," said Alexander Medvedev, the chief designer of the Khrunichev Space Center.

During the test launches, the rocket will carry spacecraft. The first manned spaceship is planned to be launched by Angara-5, the heavy version of the rocket, in 2021. Weighing 773 tons at lift-off, Angara-5 has a payload capacity of 24.5 tons.

“Angara-5 is set to carry the first manned spacecraft in 2021," Medvedev revealed. "The first rockets will be launched with no people onboard as it is necessary check the launch vehicle’s reliability in real conditions."

The development of the Angara-5 for manned missions will cost at least $166 million.

Angara-5’s second test flight, scheduled for 2016, will carry a special passenger – AngoSat 1, the first Angolan satellite. The AngoSat Project Contract was signed by the Russian and Angolan Parties in 2009. The satellite was initially contracted for a joint launch with the Energia 100 satellite on the Zenit-3SL rocket in 2016. But due to the Ukraine crisis, the availability of the Russian-Ukrainian Zenit launch vehicle has become questionable. As an anternative, a launch on the second flight of the Angara-5 was selected.

Other version of the rocket - Angara-A3 medium-class launch vehicle, is considered as a replacement for Zenit rocket in the Sea Launch project. This version can deliver payloads of up to 14.6 metric tons into a Low Earth Orbit. Medvedev noted that at least two options are being discussed to adapt the floating Sea Launch platform and the Angara carrier rocket.

"For example, we keep the Angara-3 [rocket] unchanged but we adjust and change the equipment earlier installed on the platform. According to the other option, we keep the equipment unhanged but in this case it will be necessary to change the Angara-3 configuration considerably. We’re not forcing the events and are simply considering both options concurrently," he said.

Earlier there were reports of plans for relocating to Brazil the Sea Launch project, which over several years was used to put Zenit rockets from a floating launch pad. Sea Launch suspended launches in 2014 and Russia is currently in talks with Brazil on creating a launch pad for Angara space rockets at the Alcantara space site, located on Brazil's northern Atlantic coast.

Medvedev also acknowledged that Khrunichev plans to develop reusable stages for Angara in the future. He would like it to happen around 2025.

"We have serious intentions in the future to make the universal modules reusable, recoverable. This will make it possible to cut the specific payload launch cost by one-third or even two times," Medvedev said.

Angara, named after a river in Eastern Siberia, is a family of space-launch vehicles being developed to ensure Russia's independent access to space, as the rockets can be launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome as well as the upcoming Vostochny Cosmodrome, instead of having to rely on Baikonur launchpad, which is located on the territory of Kazakhstan. The first test launches of Angara heavy and light rockets were held in 2014 with simulated payloads.

Khrunichev, the developer of Angara, Proton and Rokot launchers, has currently an over 30% market share of the global space launch market.

1 comment:

  1. when my country can create a sophisticated air space like other developed countries ..
    greetings from Indonesia