Soyuz Light to Debut, Angara Reaches Pad & RD-0146D Testing Advances

Modle of the Soyuz-21.v launch vehicle. (Credit: Pavel Kolotilov)
Modle of the Soyuz-21.v launch vehicle. (Credit: Pavel Kolotilov)

There is some good news to report out of Russia about two delayed launch vehicle development programs.

The Soyuz 2-1v light launch vehicle has been scheduled for its first test flight on Dec. 23. Meanwhile, the first prototype of the Angara rocket has made it to the launch pad at Plesetsk more than 18 years after the Russian government approved the program.

In related news, engineers have conducted nearly 70 test firings of the cryogenic RD-0146 upper stage engine, which is intended to fly on later versions of the Angara launch vehicle as well as the Proton rocket.

Spaceflight Now reports that the Soyuz 2-1v rocket will launch the student-built AIST microsatellite and SKRL 756 calibration spheres on its inaugural mission scheduled for two days before Christmas.

The Soyuz 2-1v is a light version of the venerable rocket. Four booster strap-on booster rockets have been removed, and the first-stage engine has been replaced with NK-33 engines left over from the Soviet manned lunar program.