Russia to Test Angara 5 on Dec. 23

First Angara-A5 launch vehicle rolled out to the pad. (Credit: Khrunichev)
First Angara A5 launch vehicle rolled out to the pad. (Credit: Khrunichev)

Russia hopes to cap off nearly 20 years of development work with a successful launch of its new Angara A5 rocket on Dec 23.

If all goes well, the new booster will place a dummy payload into orbit. It will be the first orbital launch for the Angara rocket, which was approved in 1995. A smaller version of the rocket, the Angara A1.2, conducted a suborbital flight test in July.

Angara, which is produced by Khrunichev, is designed to replace a number of Soviet-era launch vehicles, including the Proton and Zenit systems.  It will initially launch from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, with eventual plans to operate from the new Vostochny facility under construction in the Russian Far East.

The Angara rocket family. (Credit: Allocer)
The Angara rocket family. (Credit: Allocer)

Angara is a modular family of launch vehicles capable of lifting from 3.8 to 35 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO). The vehicle uses a common core booster (CCB) that can be clustered together for different variants. One CCB is used for the Angara-A1.2 with seven used for the heavy-lift Angara-A7.

Liftoff Mass (Tons)1714817731,133
Payload to LEO (Tons)
Payload to GTO (Tons)
3.6 (KVTK), 2.4 (Breeze-M)7.5 (KVTK), 5.4 (Breeze-M)12.5 (KVTK-A7)
Payload to GSO (Tons)2.0 (KVTK), 1.0 (Breeze-M)4.6 (KVTK), 3.0 (Breeze-M)7.6 (KVTK-A7)
Launch SitePlesetskPlesetskPlesetskPlesetsk

Each CCB is powered by a single RD-191 liquid engine. The RD-191 was developed based on RD-170/171 engine that is used in the Zenit launch vehicle and and an engine from the retired Energia rocket.

The Angara A1.2 uses the Breeze-KM as its upper stage. Payload capability for the Angara A3 and Angara A5 rockets depend upon whether the Breeze-M or KVTK upper stage is used.

Khrunichev tested Angara’s first stage three times as part of the KSLV-1 launch vehicle it developed for South Korea. Those flights occurred in 2009, 2010 and 2013.

Editor’s Note: The Russians moved the launch date up from Dec. 25 to Dec. 23.