Russia Successfully Tests Upper Stage for Soyuz, Angara

Test of Russian RD-0124 engine. Credit: Roscosmos

Roscosmos Head Vladimir Popovkin was in Voronezh over the weekend where he witnessed the test of an upper stage engine destined to fly aboard Soyuz and Angara rockets.

On Saturday, Popovkin visited the Khimavtomatiki Design Bureau and Voronezh Mechanical Plant, where engineers successfully fired the RD-0124 engine on a test stand. The kerosene/LOX engine is slated to fly aboard a Soyuz 2-1b rocket carrying a GLONASS-K spacecraft at the end of this year. It also will be used on Soyuz-ST-B that will begin flying from Kourou this fall.

A modified version of the engine will be used on the new Angara rocket being developed by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre. That rocket is scheduled to make its first test flights in 2013.

According to a Roscosmos report, Popovkin said that the Voronezh KBKhA will have many engine orders by 2020 for both civilian and military launches.

Interview: Roscosmos Boss Speaks on Space Tourism, Priorities and Agency Restructuring

Roscosmos has posted the transcript of an interview that Vladimir Popovkin gave to the Russian newspaper Kommersant. The space agency chief touches on a wide range of issues, including space tourism, the budget, the restructuring of Roscosmos and the Russian space industry, and the future of the Angara rocket.

The highlights, translated from Russian:

Space Tourism

  • Popovkin views human spaceflight as worthwhile if it produced practical results. “If a person just wants to go to orbit, I believe this is an inefficient activity.”
  • On increasing annual Soyuz production to five spacecraft in order to fly space tourists: “Space tourism must be carried out on extra money. If the corporation Energia or any other corporation, or tourists themselves, will be able to find them [extra funds] and build a ship, then such tourism has the right to exist. Space tourism at the expense of the budget – it’s not space tourism…..This idea will be developed…We [Roscosmos] are for space tourism, but first create a business plan, and we will help take out loans. But there is no reflection of the state program of this issue should not be.”


Angara to Launch in 2013; Third KSLV-1 Flight Set for Next Year

The Angara rocket family. (Credit: Allocer)

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.

Russia Plans Ambitious Year in Space

Soyuz rocket

Speaking to media editors-in-chief today, Roscosmos Head Antaoly Perminov laid out plans for a very busy year in space that includes four dozen launches, Russia’s first interplanetary probe in 15 years, a greater role in the International Space Station, and the development of new rockets and infrastructure.

During an appearance at the Club of the Leading Russian Media Editors-in-Chief in Itar-Tass, Perminov discussed the country’s space plans, which include:

  • 48 launches, an increase from 31 last year
  • October launch for Phobos-Grunt, an ambitious mission to return samples from the Martian moon Phobos
  • assumption of the sole role in transporting crews to and from the International Space Station once the American space shuttle retires
  • construction of roads, railways and worker housing for Russia’s new Vostochny spaceport in the Amur Region
  • completion of the GLONASS navigational satellite constellation
  • debut of the Soyuz launcher in French Guiana
  • development work on the Angara and Rus-M launchers
  • launch of the Resource-P remote sensing spacecraft, which will have  0.4-0.6 meter resolution
  • operation of the Electro-L satellite launched earlier this year
  • design work on the Arctica space system.


Russia Plans Angara Launches in 2012, Works on Answer to X-37

Angara rocket engine test

A couple of brief updates from Russia:

The long-delayed Angara rocket will be ready for testing next year. “We plan that it will be fully prepared for launch in 2012. Everything is going according to plan,” said Space Troops chief Oleg Ostapenko.

Angara is a modular family of rockets designed to be the mainstay for Russia’s strategic launches, replacing several existing rockets. It will be capable of launching between 2 and 40.5 tons of cargo into low Earth orbit. Development of the rocket has been delayed several years due to financial shortfalls.

Ostapenko also told reporters that Russia is developing a spacecraft similar to the U.S. X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle that flew last year.

“Something has been done along these lines, but as to whether we will use it, only time will tell,” Ostapenko said.

Read the full stories here and here.

Angara Project Hits Snag With Funding Issues

RIA Novosti reports that Russia’s delay plagued Angara rocket is facing some additional funding issues, this time involving the $446 million launch complex being built for it at Baikonur:

Kazakhstan’s national space agency, Kazcosmos, has requested more funding for the joint Russian-Kazakh project to build a new launch pad at the Baikonur space center.

In late December 2004, Russia and Kazakhstan signed the deal to build a new launch pad, named Baiterek, to send into space Angara carrier rockets capable of delivering 26 metric tons of payload to low-Earth orbits. The project is being implemented on a parity basis.

“Today a problem emerged in implementing this project – we have trouble with repaying a budgeting loan, the grace period of which expired in November,” the agency’s chief, Talgat Musabayev, told Prime Minister Karim Masimov.

Musabayev requested the premier to convene a special meeting “to address the future funding of the Baiterek [launch] complex.”

Read the full story.

Russian Engineers Complete Angara Bench Tests, Eye Revival of Energia Engines

Angara rocket engine test


NITS RKP, Peresvet, completed firing tests of Universal Rocket Module URM-2 for Angara launcher.

Cold testing of URM-2 with kerosene filling, as well as totally-filled system tests, had been conducted successfully. The firing test, aimed at confirming URM proper operation as a part of Angara’s third stage, took place on Nov. 18 at test bench 102 (TB-102), the largest test bench in Europe.

URM-2 is to be used in the third stage of the rocket. The first and second sessions of the cold firing tests have been completed in June-July.

Angara’s URM-1 bench tests were completed in 2009.

Development of the Angara launcher is the high-priority national objective. Angara‘s customers are Russian Federal Space Agency and the Ministry of Defense. Khrunichev Space Center is the prime contractor in the project.

And in related news….

Russia’s advanced super heavy-lift launcher to use modified propulsion of Energia rocket developed under Energia-Buran project, KBKhA DG Vladimir Rachuk told Interfax-AVN.

He reminded that oxygen-hydrogen engine RD-0120 designed by KBKhA was used in Energia project. Development of the advanced super heavy-lift launcher is to begin in 2018.

Russian Design Bureau Nears Verification on New Soyuz Engine

Soyuz rocket

Russia’s Chemical Automatics Design Bureau (KBKhA) “have almost completed validation and verification of the RD-0124 engine to be used on Soyuz-2-1b carrier,” according to a story on the Roscosmos website. “Governmental acceptance of the engine is the next step.”

The new RD-0124 upper-stage engine increases the Soyuz rocket’s capacity by 1 metric ton. It will be used on Soyuz commercial launches out of French Guiana that are set to begin next year.

A variant of the engine, the RD-0124А, will be used on the new family of Angara rocket that is being designed by the Khrunichev Space Center. “The validation of this engines is also coming close to a significant stage – the first stage firing tests are to be carried out soon,” the report states.

The Angara, which is set to be a mainstay for Russian military launches, has been repeatedly postponed due to funding issues. The first test launch is now scheduled for 2013.


Khrunichev Completes Second Angara Engine Test


On  1 October another test firing of the Universal Rocket Module (URM)-1 for Russia’s  Angara family of launch vehicles – currently under development – took place at the Rocket & Space Industry Research & Testing Center near Moscow.

The URM-1 test article was fired at a specially built test stand, the largest in Europe, to verify the engine performance at its maximum power level. The test, which lasted 203.4 seconds, was the second in a series of firing tests planned for the URM-1.


Russian Angara Rocket Progressing Toward Launch

Angara rocket engine test
Angara rocket engine test

Russia to invest $143 mln in engines for new Angara rocket
RIA Novosti

Russia will invest about 4.5 billion rubles ($143 mln) by 2015 in the production of engines for a family of Angara carrier rockets, the Perm Territory’s government said on Monday.

The environmentally-friendly Angara rocket, currently under development by the Khrunichev center, is designed to put heavy payloads into orbit. It is intended mainly for launch from the Plesetsk space center to reduce Moscow’s dependence on Kazakhstan’s Baikonur, the main launch facility for the current generation of Russian rockets.

The new line of rockets will complement, and eventually replace, the existing line of Rockot and Proton launch vehicles. It will be available in a range of configurations capable of lifting between two and 24.5 metric tons into low-earth orbit.

Read the full story.