Russia’s long-delayed Angara family of rockets will finally take to the skies above the Plesetsk Cosmodrome beginning in 2013, according to Vladimir Nesterov, general director of the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center.
Speaking to reporters at Baikonur on Saturday, Nesterov also said that the third flight of South Korea’s KSLV-1 rocket, which uses the Angara first stage, will take place during the second half of next year.
Nesterov said the Angara 1.2 rocket, which can lift 3.7 metric tons into low Earth orbit (LEO), would fly during the first half of the year. This launch would be followed by a flight of the heavier Angara 5 rocket, which is designed to launch between 18-28.5 metric tons to LEO depending upon which version is used.
“Both [launches] are feeling good, I am absolutely certain. So far we see no reason not to fulfill the president’s decree,” Nesterov said.
The Angara is a modular series of rockets designed to replace several existing boosters. The largest, Angara 7, will be able to send a payload of 40.5 metric tons to LEO. The first Angara was supposed to fly by the mid-2000s, but the program has suffered numerous delays due to funding and other issues.
Nesterov said that the third flight of South Korea’s KSLV-1 rocket would likely take place in August or September 2012. The rocket is composed of the first stage of the Angara booster and a South Korean upper stage.
The first two flights failed. On the inaugural launch in August 2009, both stages performed as planned. However, half of the satellite’s protective cover stayed attached to the second stage instead of separating, causing the vehicle to fall into the sea.
The failure of the second flight in June 2010 is a mystery. The rocket was lost after 2 minutes and 17 seconds, although officials have had a difficult time determining precisely why, with each side blaming the other. During the press conference, Nesterov said that an independent commission was still examining the failure and would make its findings public at a future date.