2 Mar 2020 12:35

Serial production of Angara rockets to begin in 2022

MOSCOW. March 2 (Interfax) - Serial production of Angara rockets will begin in 2022, Sergei Kuznetsov, General Designer of the Salyut Design Bureau, an affiliate of the Khrunichev Center, said in an interview with Interfax.

 "As you understand, our latest family of launch vehicles, Angara, including Angara-A5 heavy-lift rockets, is supposed to replace the previous series of launch vehicles, Proton. Therefore, an agreement was reached with the Defense Ministry, and the technical assignment was given to complete their design by 2022. Then serial production of Angara rockets will be authorized," Kuznetsov said.

According to the existent contract, there will be six launches of Angara-A5 heavy-lift rockets, he said.

"One launch has already been accomplished, and there are five launches left to demonstrate that Angara meets every requirement before we can start serial production," Kuznetsov said.

The second launch of an Angara-A5 heavy-lift rocket is scheduled for the second half of this year, he said.

"Our industry traditionally makes quarterly plans. For now, we are planning to launch an Angara-A5 rocket in the third quarter. As for the goals of the next Angara launch with a payload, they are determined by a resolution signed by the defense minister," Kuznetsov said.

The first test launch of an Angara-A5 was performed in 2014.

All the Angara test launches will be performed from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome [a launch site for serial Angara rockets is under construction in Vostochny], he said.

The effectiveness of the engines of Angara rockets will enable them to take into orbit more useful loads than their foreign analogues, Kuznetsov said.

"First of all, it is, of course, our engines. If you look at the characteristics of the engines used on the Angara, they are much higher than the engines used on the Falcon," he said, responding to a question about the advantages of the Angara over Falcon rockets made by the company SpaceX.

Up until now, the U.S. has bought such engines for their rockets in Russia, he said.

"We initially used on the Angara engines made by NPO Energomash and Chemical Automatics Design Bureau (CADB) with extra high energy-to-weight ratio. This technological solution reflects favorably on fuel use and, accordingly, the Angara can take larger useful loads on the same amount of fuel," Kuznetsov said.

These engines are currently somewhat more expensive than the Merlin engines used by Elon Musk's company SpaceX, but cost reduction comes as a matter of time with the development of the serial production of Angara rockets, he said.

"The price will definitely decrease with serial production, and the characteristics will remain on the same high level. Therefore, it's a serious competitive advantage, which makes the Angara a decent competitor for SpaceX products, despite the worse geographical conditions of the launch cosmodromes," Kuznetsov said.

Angara is a new family of Russian launch vehicles of various lifting capacity based on universal rocket modules and powered by oxygen-kerosene engines. The rockets range from light to heavy and have a lifting capacity from 3.5 tonnes (Angara-1.2.) to 38 tonnes (Angara-A5B) for low orbit missions.

The variety of Angara rockets is achieved by means of different numbers of universal rocket modules: URM-1 (for the first and second stages) and URM-2 (for upper stages). The rocket's lifting capacity depends on the number of universal modules it has in the first stage. URM-1 is powered by the RD-191 liquid-fuel rocket engine designed by NPO Energomash, and URM-2 is powered by the RD-0124A engine designed by the Chemical Automatics Design Bureau.

It was reported in May 2019 that the Russian Defense Ministry would test launch three Angara-A5 rockets and one Angara-1.2 in 2019-2021 but the launch due in 2019 was postponed until 2020. The Defense Ministry is the main buyer of Angara rockets.

The second stage of the Vostochny Cosmodrome infrastructure is being built to allow Angara launches.