Russia Ships Angara 5 to Plesetsk for December Test Flight

Russia Ships Angara 5 to Plesetsk for December Test Flight

With the success of the Angara-1.2PP suborbital test launch under its belt, Russia now is preparing for a test of a much more powerful version — Angara 5 – at the end of this year.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees Russia’s space sector, tweeted from several locations in the days immediately after the July 9 Angara-1.2PP test heralding plans to launch Angara 5 in December as he toured rocket manufacturing and related facilities in Russia.

Today (July 14 Eastern Daylight Time), a top official of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, provided more details.  The agency’s First Deputy Head Alexander Ivanov also revealed that the rocket is being shipped to the Plesetsk Cosmodrome tonight (July 14-15 Moscow Time) from its manufacturer, Khruinchev State Research and Production Space Center, near Moscow.

Angara is a family of launch vehicles in development since the collapse of the Soviet Union and intended eventually to replace many of the Soviet-era rockets now in use.  Three versions are in development capable of launching approximately 4 tons (Angara 1), 15 tons (Angara 3) and 25 tons (Angara 5) to low Earth orbit (LEO).  Russian officials say an 80-ton and 160-ton version of Angara may be built.

Angara 5 is roughly equivalent to the U.S. Delta IV Heavy, currently the most capable U.S. launch vehicle.  The larger versions under consideration would be in the same class as the Space Launch System (SLS) that NASA is now developing.

The successful Angara-1.2PP test was of the smallest version of Angara and a brief 21-minute suborbital flight.   Angara 5’s test, by contrast, will be to geostationary orbit (GEO), 35,800 kilometers above the equator.  Like Angara-1.2PP, it will be launched from Plesetsk.  Russian launches to GEO usually take place from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which, at roughly 50 degrees North latitude, is considerably further south than Plesetsk (63 degrees North) and therefore more advantageous for getting to GEO.

Russia is trying to ease its dependence on Baikonur, however, and plans are to launch Angara only from Plesetsk and the new Vostochny Cosmodrome still under construction in Russia’s Far East.  Baikonur is in Kazakhstan, which charges Russia $115 million a year to lease the facilities there.   Russia wants to avoid those charges as well as launch its satellites from within its own borders.

Ivanvov told Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency that the purpose of the December launch “is to test the whole route all the way up to the geostationary orbit.”  The rocket will carry a dummy payload.  The plan is for Angara 5 to replace Russia’s workhorse Proton rocket, which has been in use since 1965 and has suffered a number of failures in recent years.

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.