A look ahead to the coming year in space finds the introduction of new launch vehicles in the United States and Russia and a third attempt to launch a Russian-Korean rocket from South Korea. Meanwhile, China will send another crew to its orbiting space station and a rover to the moon.
RussianSpaceWeb.com reports that a planned 200-second firing of the first stage engine failed after only a few seconds, resulting in damage to the propulsion section of the rocket.
The website’s sources indicated that “an erroneous shutdown command had been issued based on data from the RD-0110R steering engine which indicated that the engine’s turbopump exceed an allowable rotation speed. The turbine of RD-0110R was destroyed, even though all input parameters for its operation seemed to be normal.”
The test article and stand have been repaired. The next live firing is now set for the end of February.
In the meantime, the Chemical Automation Design Bureau (KBKhA) reports that it successfully test fired a RD-0110R steering engine on Nov. 22 at its test facility.
The new rocket is a scaled-down “light” version of the traditional Soyuz launch vehicle that is designed to deliver up to 2,800 kg of spacecraft into low Earth orbit. Modifications include eliminating four strap-on boosters and replacing the first-stage engine with the NK-33 motor, which was originally developed for the Soviet Union’s aborted manned moon program.
Russia is moving steadily toward a planned September launch of the stripped Soyuz 2-1v rocket designed to launch small satellites into orbit. Two tests last month verified key elements of the new rocket, Russian officials say.
On April 19, engineers successfully completed the first cold flow test of the first stage using liquid oxygen and kerosene. The test was done in preparation for the first first-scale test firing of the rocket set for later this year.
The following day, engineers at the United Engine Corporation completed the forth and final test firing of the first stage’s NK-33A engine at the Vintay facility. The company announced that the engine has fired without any problems for 157.5 seconds. The total firing time for the four tests is 600 seconds.