Roscosmos has canceled its planned Rus-M rocket and will launch its new six-person Soyuz replacement spacecraft on an upgraded Soyuz-2 rocket instead, according to space agency officials.
“We have come to the conclusion that we do not need a new rocket, we can continue using those we already have,” Roscosmos Head Vladimir Popovkin told Russian media.
The two-stage rocket was designed to replace the venerable Soyuz booster. Built by Energia, Rus-M was schedule to begin test flights from the new Vostochny spaceport in the Far East beginning around 2015. Human missions would have followed three years later.
The first two Soyuz launchers have left Russia for the Guiana Space Center, Europeâ€™s Spaceport in French Guiana (northern part of South America). The legendary Russian launcher will lift off from its new launch pad, now being completed, for the first time in 2010.
The two Soyuz launchers left St. Petersburg today aboard the MN Colibri, which is one of two ships used by Arianespace to transport Ariane launch vehicles from their European manufacturing sites to French Guiana.Â The ship will arrive in a port near Kourou, French Guiana, in about two weeks.
Aviation Week reports that EADS-Astrium is pushing Europe to fund the development of a new medium-lift launcher to replace the Soyuz 2 rocket that will begin operating later this year from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana:
An Indian PSLV rocket launched 10 – count ’em 10 – satellites into orbit on Monday. The cargo included the Cartosat-2A remote sensing satellite, an Indian mini-sat, and eight foreign nano-sats. The Times of India has details.
Meanwhile, the folks at Sea Launch are celebrating their first successful takeoff from terra firma. A Land Launch Zenit-3SLB blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Monday carrying an Israeli communications satellite. The company is a joint venture between Sea Launch and Russia’s Space International Services. More details here.
In other news, the ever reliable Soyuz rocket orbited the second demonstration satellite for Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation system on Sunday. And a Chinese Long March rocket launched a data relay satellite on Friday that will support China’s human spaceflight program.