Russia Gears Up for Angara 5 Test, Eyes Ending Use of Rockot

Rockot launch vehicle
Rockot launch vehicle

Following a successful suborbital flight of the Angara 1 booster in July, Russian space officials are gearing up to test the larger Angara 5 launch vehicle by the end of the year.

The Khrunichev-built Angara is a modular family of rockets on which additional boosters are added to the first-stage core.  Angara 5 is designed to place 24.5 metric tons of cargo into low Earth orbit (LEO). The smaller Angara 1 can loft 3.8 metric tons to LEO.

Aerospace Defense Forces commander Lt. Gen. Alexander Golovko said this week that Russia plans to end its reliance on the Rockot light launch vehicle by switching over to Angara 1 and Soyuz-2.1v, the latter having first flown successfully at the end of last year.

“Today the launches of the Rokot rocket carriers are used in the interests of the Defense Ministry within the framework of the space program and international cooperation programs.

In the interests of the Defense Ministry there will be four launches, three in 2015 and one in 2016. Afterwards, the Defense Ministry may complete its tasks using the Soyuz-2 and Angara light rocket carriers,” Golovko told Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Shoigu said that the change would mean that Russia “would no longer depend on [parts] imports for light-class rocket carriers.”

Russian has been under Western sanctions since its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula earlier this year. It’s not clear precisely where parts are imported from for the Rockot launch vehicle.

Rockot is an converted Soviet-era SS-19 intercontinental ballistic missile that can lift up to 1.95 metric tons to LEO. It is operated by Eurockot Launch Services, a joint venture of Russian-based Khrunichev (49 percent share) and Astrium GmbH of Germany (51 percent).

In addition to Angara 1, Russia also plans to launch small satellites on Soyuz-2.1v, which is a light version of the medium-lift Soyuz booster. Built by TsSKB-Progress, Soyuz-2.1v can lift up to 2.85 metric tons to LEO.

  • windbourne

    Good luck to Russia.
    Interestingly, this is a similar system to what engineers at ula wants.
    Sadly, ULA execs never look past their next bonus.

  • Pete Zaitcev

    The control system of Rokot is made in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

  • Michael J. Listner

    Not to mention that the fuels used by the SS-19/Rockot are extremely toxic.

  • Douglas Messier

    Russians have been trying to get away from toxic fuels. The Cyclone rocket is toxic, and the Russians stopped launching those years ago. (Poor Brazilians; wait until one those crashes at Alcantara.)

    Angara is also supposed to eventually replace Proton, which caused a big and expensive environmental mess at Baikonur last year when one of them nosedived at the launch site.

  • Michael J. Listner

    That’s one of the reasons the Russians decommissioned the SS-19s as ICBMs. They were too difficult to maintain in their silos and the skin was paper thin like the original Atlas. Accidentally puncture one and it would go Boom pretty easily.

  • Wayne Martin

    CH4/LOX Tis the place to be 😉

  • Linsey Young

    Modular is the way ahead. I wonder what sort of capacity a five core Falcon super heavy would get?

  • Kapitalist

    I’ve heard that more than 2 common core boosters would require expensive investments in the start pad towers to reach the rocket from more than one side. Also, Falcon Heavy has 27 rocket engines already, maybe another 18 would increase the risk of something going wrong. They might go with their planned huge “MCT” rocket instead.

  • Paul451

    About 80-90 tonnes to LEO. But it would require a new dedicated launch pad, a new larger, more powerful upper-stage, and re-engineering the core to handle the added (crushing) forces of pushing nearly double the thrust against nearly double the payload.

  • Michael J. Listner

    As opposed to N2O4…dinitrogen tetroxide is nasty stuff.

  • windbourne

    Nah. Just go with the BFR, which will likely be a 150-200 tonne rocket.
    That is PLENTY big.

  • Wayne Martin

    The Falcon Heavy first needs to address its up Mass capability to GTO and beyond… i.e. a larger second stage with more fuel !
    The Falcon Heavy will get a lot more up mass from improving its second stage as opposed to adding to its first stage…

  • Terry Stetler

    A more logical intermediate step may be BFR 1; a single Raptor first stage with a 5 meter core and the RaptorVac upper stage. Prove the engine, make a few bucks with it as a super-EELV, then move on to BFR 9.

  • Paul451

    That was the original Merlin 2 plan. Replace the nine M1 engines with a single M2 in F9, and three of those in FH. Then build a three-M2 single-core FX. Then a nine-M2 triple-core FXH. Then a nine-M2 single-core FXX.

    BFR seems to be skipping over several intermediate steps. IMO, that’s a mistake. You have to prove the new engine on a new core, in a multi-engine configuration, all in one shot. Too many things to go wrong.

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