If you are among the millions of space enthusiasts who have been losing sleep over why Russia’s new Angara rocket hasn’t flown in more than four years, be prepared to snooze soundly again.
Ruetersreports that engineers have found a flaw in the engine of the Angara A5 booster that could cause it to explode in flight.
The issue with the Angara A5 was brought to attention by scientists at rocket engine manufacturer Energomash in a paper ahead of a space conference later this month.
The paper, reported by RIA news agency on Friday and published online, said the engines of the Angara A5 could produce low frequency oscillations that could ultimately destroy the rocket.
A special valve had been fitted to mitigate the issue, but in some cases the oscillations continued, it said. Energomash did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The Angara A5 rocket is the most powerful of a family of boosters designed to replace the Proton and other launch vehicles currently in the Russian arsenal. The Angara series is based around a common first stage core with additional strap-on stages.
The Reuters story says that Russian President Vladimir Putin is eager to see the rocket start launching more frequently because it is vital to the nation’s national defense.
The Angara 1.2PP rocket made the maiden flight test of the series on July 9, 2014. The booster flew a suborbital mission carrying a mass simulator from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Northern Russia.
Angara A5 flew was launched from Plesetsk five months later on Dec. 23, 2014. Using a Briz-M upper stage, the booster placed a mass simulator into geosynchronous orbit.
The Wikipedia page for Angara lists two launches of the Angara A1.2 and one flight of Angara A5P for 2019. There is one Angara A1.2 flight listed for 2020. However, it is not clear whether this schedule is still valid; it came from a schedule compiled in late 2017.
The United States said this week that a Russian satellite launched last year is exhibiting “very abnormal behavior” in orbit, suggesting that it is a weapons system rather than a “space apparatus inspector” as claimed by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
“In October of last year the Russian Ministry of Defense deployed a space object they claimed was a ‘space apparatus inspector,'” said Yleem D.S. Poblete, assistant secretary at the U.S. Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance. “But its behavior on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities.”
The world’s launch providers were extremely busy in the first half of 2018, with China and the United States battling for the lead.
There with 55 orbital launches through the end of June, which amounted to a launch every 3.29 days or 79 hours. The total is more than half the 90 launches attempted in 2017. With approximately 42 missions scheduled for the last six months of the year, the total could reach 97. (more…)
The world’s launch providers have been extremely busy in the first quarter of 2018, with 31 orbital launches thus far. This is more than one third of the 90 launches conducted last year.
China leads the pack with 10 successful launches. The United States is close behind with a total of nine launches with one failure. The tenth American launch is scheduled for Monday afternoon from Florida.
SpaceX successfully launched 10 Iridium Next satellites aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Friday morning.
Iridium-NEXT satellites 41-50 were successfully deployed from the booster’s second stage about an hour after the launch at 7:13 a.m. PDT. It was the fifth batch of 10 Iridium-NEXT satellites that SpaceX has orbited using three different first stage boosters.
The world’s most powerful booster is set to make a flight test sometime in January. If all goes well, 27 first stage engines will power the new booster off Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The three first stage cores will peel off and land for later reuse while the second stage continues into space.
SpaceX had a banner year in 2017, launching a record 18 times and helping to propel the United States to the top of the global launch table with a perfect 29-0 record. The U.S. total made up 32.2 percent of 90 orbital launches worldwide, which was an increase over the 85 flights conducted in 2016.
The 29 American launches were a leap of seven over the 22 flights conducted the previous year. This is the highest number of American orbital launches since the 31 flights undertaken in 1999. However, that year the nation’s launch providers suffered four failures whereas they were perfect in 2017.
Russia successfully launched a Lotos electronic intelligence spy satellite aboard a Soyuz-2.1b booster on Saturday from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome.
The flight came four days after the failure of a similar Soyuz-2.1b launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. The launch from Plesetsk did not use the Fregat upper stage blamed for the failure on Tuesday.
Officials believe the Fregat upper stage was not properly programmed for a launch from Vostochny. The programming error caused the Fregat to send a Russian weather satellite and 18 secondary payloads into the Atlantic Ocean.
ULA says it scrubbed an early-morning launch of an Atlas V carrying the NROL-52 satellite due to weather violations. The launch has been rescheduled for Sunday, Oct. 15, at 3:28 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It was the third scrub of the flight due to weather constraints and the fourth scrub overall.
A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying a Russian Progress resupply ship blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Saturday. The freighter will take about two days to reach the International Space Station. The launch comes two after a last-minute abort of the Soyuz booster.
On Friday, the European Sentinel 5 Precursor satellite was orbited by a Russian Rockot booster from the Plesestk Cosmodrome. The mission, a joint collaboration of the European Commission and European Space Agency, will measure greenhouse gases.
SpaceX successfully launched the SES 11 and EchoStar 105 communication satellites on Wednesday evening from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket landed on an off-shore drone ship.
Meanwhile, the launch of Progress 68 resupply ship was scrubbed from Baikonur for an unknown reason. The launch of the Soyuz rocket has been rescheduled for no earlier than Saturday Oct. 14 at 4:46 am EDT (0846 GMT).
There is a busy schedule of launches for the rest of the month. Nine launches are on tap, including seven in the next week. SpaceX is planning three flights this month, including launches from Florida and California within two days next week.
Atlas V Payload: NROL-52 reconnaissance satellite Launch time: 0759 GMT (3:59 a.m. EDT) Launch site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
Long March 2D Payload: Venezuelan Remote Sensing Satellite Launch time: Approx. 12:10 a.m. EDT (0410 GMT) Launch site: Jiuquan, China
Falcon 9 Payload: Iridium Next 21-30 communications satellites Launch time: 8:37 a.m. EDT; 5:37 a.m. PDT (1237 GMT ) Launch site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
H-2A Payload: Michibiki 4 navigation satellite Launch time: Approx. 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT) Launch site: Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
Falcon 9 Payload: SES 11/EchoStar 105 communications satellite Launch window: 6:53-8:53 p.m. EDT (2253-0053 GMT) Launch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
The end of the line is coming soon for Russia’s Rockot (Rokot) launch vehicle.
The converted intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has only two more missions on its manifest before the program ends. In the months ahead, it will launch Sentinel 5P and Sentinel 3B Earth observation satellites for ESA and the European Commission.
The Sentinel 5P launch is set for June. Tassreports the Sentinel 3B flight will likely occur late this year or early 2018.
Rockot is a converted SS-19 ICBM built by Khrunichev and operated by Eurockot Launch Services. Flights are conducted from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia.
The three-stage booster is capable of lifting 1,950 kg (4,299 lb) in low Earth orbit (LEO) and 1,200 kilograms (2,646 lb) into sun synchronous orbit (SSO).
Rockot has launched 30 times, with 27 successes, two failures and one partial failure.
The retirement of Rockot ends Russia’s second program that used in converted Soviet-era ICBMs as satellite launchers. In 2015, the country ended a joint program with Ukraine to convert SS-18 missiles into Denpr launch vehicles.
Dnepr was capable of lifting 4,500 kg (9,921 lb) to LEO and 2,300 kg (5,071 lb) to SSO.
The booster was launched 22 times, with 21 successes and one failure. The last flight was on March 25, 2015.
Dnepr launches were conducted out of Yasny in Russia and Baikonur in Kazakhstan.
Back in 1992, the Russian government — newly shone of the republics that made up the old Soviet Union — had a problem. Or rather, lots and lots of problems. Some of them related to space.
Many of the components for the nation’s launch vehicles and space systems were made in the newly independent Ukraine. Its main spaceport was the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the new nation of Kazakhstan. Russia’s independence in space was at risk.