Russia's Angara Launch Scrubbed, Next Attempt Uncertain – UPDATE

Russia's Angara Launch Scrubbed, Next Attempt Uncertain – UPDATE

UPDATE, JUNE 28, 2014, 8:00 am ET:   No news about when the launch will take place.

JUNE 27, 2014:  Russia’s attempt at a suborbital test launch of its new Angara rocket was scrubbed today.  One Russian official indicated early on that another attempt could be made tomorrow (Saturday, June 28), but no official announcement has been made yet.  Rumors circulating on the Internet suggest it may be several days or even longer.  

The launch was intended to take place at 11:15 GMT (7:15 am EDT) but was aborted by an automatic system in the final minutes.  Some reports say that the scrub was just over a minute before launch while others say it was less than a minute.

Angara is a family of launch vehicles developed and built after the collapse of the Soviet Union and is ultimately intended to replace many of the Soviet-era rockets.   This test launch is of the smallest version of Angara.  It will be launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome near the Arctic Circle with a trajectory that will take it over Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula.  The flight time is about 25 minutes.  A dummy payload is the cargo.

Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, which manufactures Angara and many other Russian rockets, posted a cryptic statement in Russian on its website that the launch did not take place and a new date “will be announced later.”  (The press release is only on the Russian-language version of the company’s website, not the English-language version.)

No details of the abort have been provided yet, only that it was for “technical reasons.”  One Russian media source quoted Alexander Golovko, commander of Russia’s aerospace defense troops, as saying the next attempt would be tomorrow (July 28) at 3:15 pm Moscow Time (11:15 GMT, 7:15 am EDT — the same time as today).  That report was soon after the abort, however.  No further word has appeared in the Russian media and there are rumors that it may be a several day delay at least.  Anatoly Zak at cites industry sources chatting on a Russian space news forum (Novosti Kosmonavtiki) as suggesting it could take a week if the problem was a loss of pressure on a flexible gas line or more than one week if it was a valve on the oxidizer line.

Check back here for updates as they become available.

A lot is riding on a success for Khrunichev, which is under pressure because of a string of launch failures including a Proton failure in May.  Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly was watching the launch via teleconference and demanded answers within an hour as to what went wrong.

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