Monday, November 19, 2018

First Launch of Federation Spacecraft May Slip to 2024

An artist's concept of the "Federation" spacecraft. Image Credit: Roscosmos

First uncrewed flight of Russia’s next-generation Federation spacecraft that Russia may be postponed from 2022 to 2024, according to latest remarks made by General Director of the spacecraft's manufacturer.

Federation, being developed RKK Energia, is expected to replace Russia’s flagship Soyuz manned spacecraft. The next-generation vessel is designed to be capable of delivering up to four cosmonauts and cargo to the Moon as well as to space stations positioned in low-Earth orbit (LEO).

RKK Energia to complete the construction of the first Federation spacecraft by 2021. The initial plan was to conduct the maiden flight of this spaceship, with no crew onboard, in 2022. However, Sergey Romanov, the head of RKK Energia, recently revealed that this timeline could not be met.

"At the moment, we are hammering out our proposals for Roscosmos on work that must be completed so that the spacecraft’s unmanned launch will be carried out in 2022. Otherwise, given the vehicle’s current state, it would only be possible to launch it from the spaceport in 2024. So, we need to try very hard to make it happen in 2022," Romanov said.

Two years after Federation’s maiden launch, Roscosmos plans to conduct the first crewed flight of this spacecraft. Romanov underlined that in order to be ready to send first cosmonauts onboard Federation, it is essential to test eight experimental units and finish all manufacturing processes.

"The manned launch is impossible without experimental development. We cannot put people at risk,” he noted.

Federation is planned to measure some 20 feet (6.1 meters) in length and have a mass of approximately 14.4 metric tons. The spacecraft is being designed to operate autonomously for a period of up to 30 days, with the possibility of staying attached to the International Space Station (ISS) for up to a year.

First launch of Federation is expected to be carried out using a medium-capacity Soyuz 5 rocket, which is currently in development. The 160-foot (49-meter) tall booster is being designed to be capable of delivering up to 25 metric tons to LEO in its heaviest variant.

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